Getting rid of mold

Take everything in this article with a cup of salt, I’m not even close to an expert.

Recently I’ve been itchy, so I’m treating a couple areas of my house for mold and mildew–the walls of my basement, and a new couch I got. I’ve been researching mold treatments. Some of them are clearly absolute nonsense.

never trust any cleaning procedure that involves mixing baking soda and vinegar

– za3k’s 42nd law

The sensical mold-killing strategies I’ve found boil down to “Remove moisture, so the mold doesn’t come back”, plus one of the following. I do not know which of these are effective. I also can’t guarantee the specific procedures I tried work.

Sunlight / UV lamp (UV light): I didn’t get good data about whether this works, but it makes some sense. The recommendation I got was 1-3 hours.
My attempt: None. I’d need a UV lamp, since I can’t easily get sunlight where I’m cleaning.

Bleach (oxidizer): Generally held to be pretty effective. Not good for fabrics.
My attempt: I tried it on my basement (dilute to about 0.15%, then pour or spray, scrub afterwards).
My attempt: I also added a little to laundry while I washed the couch cushions and my sheets.

Vinegar (acid): I would suspect vinegar is not very effective (several people claim mold can tolerate low pH better than high pH, and Drew Frye who does a lot of actual testing on boats claims that vinegar acts as food for the mold, helping it come back). OTOH I have anecdotal evidence that it works.
My attempt: None.

Concrobium (a base): This is a mix of trisodium phosphate (pH 12), sodium carbonate or “washing soda” (pH 11) and sodium bicarbonate or “baking soda” (pH 9). I suspect it works really well, because there’s a good explanation as to why it should. Store-bought concrobium is also quite expensive, so I’d make your own. I suspect you don’t need all three ingredients, because I think they’re doing the same thing.
My attempt: I sprayed spray-can concrobium on my couch, which covered maybe 1/6 of the couch with a $13 can. Plan to make some homemade to finish the job.
Edit: Muurkha advises that you can make sodium carbonate by boiling sodium bicarbonate for about an hour.

Clove oil (anti-microbial): Most people who recommend it have a bit of an anti-science attitude, which means they tend to give… silly specific advice. But there’s published research that it works, I just don’t know the best way to apply it, how long it works, or how it works. It seems possible that clove oil is a bit more species-specific than the other methods.
My attempt: None.

Mechanisms, as I understand them:

  • Sunlight and bleach should destroy mold and mold spores, by denaturing things.
  • Vinegar and concrobium should prevent mold growth by making an environment mold can’t grow in (wrong pH)
  • I have no idea how clove oil might work, but both applying the oil and vapor work.

I do not think high or low temperatures will work to kill molds generally, from my research.

The hardest part of this research is that I don’t have a large, visible mold patch. I’m just itchy. So don’t expect a report back about whether this stuff worked, honestly.

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