What’s the best way to remove mould? We asked an expert

Cruel Mistress La Niña ensured large parts of Queensland and New South Wales were drenched with water over the summer and autumn and, according to the BOM, the wet weather is likely to continue into winter.

The relentless moistness has ensured that even people in homes and businesses are not devastated by flooding are now battling a serious mold and mildew problems.

For those not used to dealing with rampant fungi, it’s proving tough to get rid of, with tips flying all over social media about the best methods.

Lisa Bentley — of Lisa’s Eco Cleaning on Brisbane’s westside — has been gathering tips on the best way to remove mold for 17 years. Through extensive research and experimentation, this is the effective formula she’s come up with.

A woman leans against a statue.
Lisa Bentley reckons she can get mold off just about anything.(supplied)

How to remove mold from walls and other hard surfaces

Ms Bentley says clove oil is key to killing the mold spores. (But it can be toxic to humans and pets, so don’t ingest!)

While some cleaners will use bleach, that simply discolours the mold for a while so it’s no longer visible, but it’s likely to return.

Black mold on a ceiling
Bleach doesn’t kill mold spores, it just hides them for a while.(Supplied: Gillian Akers)

She says this technique will work on most surfaces, excluding limestone or marble:

  • Put 1/4 teaspoon of clove oil into a liter of water — no more clove oil is necessary as it can discolour surfaces
  • Use the spray bottle to lightly mist it onto the mould, then leave it for 24 hours
  • After a day, wipe the surface over with a white vinegar and water mixture (three parts vinegar, two parts water)
  • A 1-liter bottle of the formula should last about a year for the whole house.

Treating mold on leather or timber:

Speckles of green mold are spread all over the soles of a pair of leather sandals.
Mold can grow on all types of surfaces, especially if they are not kept clean.(ABC News: Damien Larkins)
  • Mix 1/4 teaspoon of clove oil into 250 milliliters of baby oil and shake
  • Apply very lightly to leather and timber surfaces to kill the mold
  • Do not overuse! — this small bottle should also last about a year.

Getting mold out of soft surfaces and fabrics:

  • Put 1 kilogram of non-iodised cooking salt into a 9 liter bucket of water
  • Stir with your hands until it dissolves
  • Put the moldy item of clothing into the solution and soak overnight
  • Take the soaking wet item and hang it on the clothes line to slowly dry
  • The slower it dries the better — as the salt crystals reform, they expand in the fibres, pulling the mold out
  • When it’s dry, brush off the mold.

Canvas awnings/umbrellas, etc:

  • Dip a broom into the salt solution above and slather over the surface
  • Wait for it to dry then brush off.

Preventing mold

Prevention is always better than cure, of course, but sometimes that’s easier said than done.

Removing the dampness and humidity is the key to stopping moisture, as it needs and nutrients to grow.

Read more tips on how to mold-proof your home here.

safety tips

an image of a woman wearing goggles, masks, gloves cleaning a window,
Queensland Health recommends wearing a mask and protecting your eyes when cleaning mould.(Unsplash: CDC)

The Queensland Health website says to take precautions when cleaning mould, as it can be dangerous to breathe in.

It suggests you “obtain personal protective equipment, including half-face disposable respirators with P1 or P2 filters, to avoid inhaling mold spores when cleaning.

“You’ll find these at hardware stores.”

It also says to place drop sheets on the floor and to make sure others are not around while you clean, if they don’t need to be.

They say not to put dirty clothes back into your cleaning solution, and “always use a different cloth with each process and throw them away after, or the mold spores will spread and mold will reappear”.

Other formulas to remove mold

Queensland Health has a few different suggestions:

  • A solution of 3 parts vinegar and 2 parts water
  • A solution of 70 percent methylated spirits and 30 percent water
  • The tea tree oil and water solution
  • commercial products from the supermarket but ensure to follow the safety instructions to protect your eyes and skin.

Where to find clove oil?

A small bottle of clove oil.
Clove oil is proving hard to find people search for solutions to their mold problems.(ABC News: Dan Colasimone)

Products like clove oil and white vinegar can be tricky to find at the moment, with so many people battling mold problems.

Clove oil — which one retailer described as “like liquid gold at the moment” — can be found, when available, at some chemists, health food and organic shops or through online retailers.

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