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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cheap mildew killer recipes

Mildew is a mold (mould for you Canadians and Brits). It has a distinctive black stain that grows on moist surfaces, especially in warm conditions, but it doesn't mind a bit of cold it just grows more slowly. It has a distinctive unpleasant smell which is very hard to get out of fabrics or paper products. There are other fungus types that will grow in slightly less moist conditions especially on household dust particles that have accumulated. I hate to say it, but our grandmothers were right. Dusting is a good thing...sigh. I think I have too much stuff ;-)

The best formula is the mildew killer “cleaning soda” so beloved of our foremothers.  (It is now marketed as Concrobium if you want to spend a lot of money on it. That product does come in a nice spray bottle, though.)

Practical Sailor magazine* recently did a test of anti-mildew sprays and this cleaning soda was the best formula that you can currently get. The cleaning borax solution came pretty close and was slightly cheaper ($0.39 as opposed to $0.49 per quart!) Bleach also works to kill mildew (and will help with stains) but it’s nasty and doesn’t last long to stop re-infestation.

Best solution is to get rid of the damp conditions that mould likes. If you can’t, use the cleaning soda solution to spray the area that is mildewed. Let it dry and leave it alone. Check every few months and reapply if the problem reoccurs. Apply at yearly intervals if you can remember. It does work even if the area is always wet.

Cleaning soda - best results, kills mildew and prevents re-infestation.
Alkaline. Use in spray or wipe on with a cloth. Safe in use, although I wouldn't drink it.
When dry this leaves a harmless, white, powdery residue especially on dark items. Later you may think this is mildew. Don’t worry, it probably isn’t. Brush or wipe it off if you need to.

in 1 quart (2 litres) hot water dissolve:
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) washing soda (sodium carbonate)
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) TSP (trisodium phosphate)

These other recipes are given in case you don’t have the ingredients above:

Cleaning borax - pretty good, kills mildew and prevents re-infestation.
Somewhat toxic, if you breathe borax or spray.
Alkaline. Use in spray or cloth. I'd use rubber gloves. Avoid breathing spray.

in 1 quart (2 litres)  hot water dissolve:
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) Borax (sodium tetraborate)
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) TSP (trisodium phosphate)

Bleach - removes mildew stains somewhat and kills mildew. Only short-lived protection (the chlorine evaporates), it's a bit unpleasant to use, toxic. However you can get it everywhere.
Alkaline. Use in spray or cloth. Use rubber gloves. Avoid breathing spray.
Can discolour fabrics and soft materials.

In one quart (2 litres) hot water mix in :
4 oz. (200 ml) of 3% bleach (sodium hypochlorite)

* Practical Sailor magazine November 2013. (They should know; boats always have damp and often have mildew problems).

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