Thanks New York Family for this lovely feature:
The Green Guru
How Organic Living Expert And NYC Mom Alexandra Zissu Keeps Her Loft Clean, Cozy And Eco-Friendly
I live in a 17th Century building with very thick walls and lots of black mold. We Clorox-spray it off in the winter, but now have a newborn baby whose lungs are probably going to be black with mold before he picks up his first Gitane / or perhaps bleached with Clorox before his first sniff of blow. It’s too cold to leave the windows open (what rids us of the mold).
Any suggestions on getting rid of it other than Clorox?
Well leave it to my old school buddy to ask an extremely colorful and yet important question. (Hi, Daisy!)
Mold can grow anywhere in your house, and it can be easy to get rid of. But you have to know what you’re dealing with. There is black mold (bad for you) and then there is black mold (unsightly but safe). It can be hard to tell which is which, but the toxic stuff is rare and tends to crop up primarily on consistently moist material that contains cellulose (paper, wood, ceiling tile etc.). That doesn’t sound like what you’re contending with on those walls. But if it is, I’d call in an expert asap.
If you know that your black gunk is the run of the mill variety, here is an excerpt from Planet Home on how to deal with mold in your bathroom. This method involves hydrogen peroxide and can work elsewhere, too.
I’m more concerned about that Clorox spray than I am about Gitanes, especially for the moment. Chlorine bleach is the most common cleaner accidentally swallowed by children. If mixed with ammonia, the combo releases highly toxic chloramine gas. It’s considered a severe irritant and a carcinogen precursor. And there are all sorts of environmental concerns that come up regarding what happens when chlorine bleach is released via wastewater and comes into contact with natural materials (it can form dioxins, furans, trihalomethanes, and more). It’s best avoided, especially in a home with a newborn.
If you see any mold forming, particularly at the bottom of your shower curtain or on that hard-to-keep-dry crack between the tub and the wall, use a cleaner containing hydrogen peroxide or plain old 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. Keep in mind that peroxide is good at killing active mold, not mold spores. The gray color won’t go away immediately or sometimes ever (this usually comes from mildew that has gone deep into porous grout). It can’t hurt to spray this area daily if you have a perpetual mold issue.
And do keep those windows open from time to time, even if it is chilly. Ventilation is key when battling mold, so is reducing moisture.
How are YOU dealing with mold?
I was reading my April issue of Health this morning and came across my name and this mention of Planet Home. Fun! I love vanilla.
“Kick household stenches (and maybe even some germs) to the curb—sans chemicals—with vanilla. Not only does it lift odors, but a compound in vanilla may serve as an antibacterial. You can concoct your own nontoxic deodorizing spray by adding a few drops of pure vanilla essential oil (preferably organic) to a few cups of water in a spray bottle, says Alexandra Zissu, co-author of Planet Home. Spray it in stinky spots throughout your house to make your place smell like baked goods. Sweet!”
There’s also a sweet tip for how/where to store vanilla beans (hint: it involves sugar) in the article. Click here for more.
My appearance on NBC Nightly News at 11.