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Debunking Mould Myths: Why Vinegar, Bleach and Other DIY Chemicals Fail to Tackle Mould at Its Roots

Debunking Mould Myths: Why Vinegar, Bleach and Other DIY Chemicals Fail to Tackle Mould at Its Roots

, by Aussie Pharma Direct, 7 min reading time

For years, bleach and vinegar have been touted as the go-to solutions for tackling mould. We've all heard it – their potent cleaning power supposedly “eliminates mould at its source”. Now, for some of us, vinegar's appeal lies in its natural acidity. It's an eco-friendly option that effectively removes visible mould without harming the environment. Others, however, might prefer the faster-acting power of harsher chemical solutions to get rid of mould quickly.

But here's the surprising truth: despite their perceived "effectiveness," both bleach and vinegar, or even other stronger chemical solutions often fall short of completely eradicating mould. They might tackle surface mould, but they often don't address the root of the problem – the spores that cause mould to reappear.

So, what are the alternatives for truly tackling mould? This is where SAN-AIR comes in. And no, we're not here for a sales pitch, but rather explore the characteristics of bleach, vinegar, and SAN-AIR, comparing how each interacts with mould, and why SAN-AIR may be the better option for long-term mould management.

Types of anti-microbial agents to know

First things first, it's important to understand the different types of anti-microbial agents available. Here, we'll explore three key classifications: biostats, biocides, and virucides. Each type of agent has a specific role and effectiveness level in combating microbial growth, which includes not just bacteria and viruses, but also moulds.

  1. Biocides

Biocides are perhaps the broadest category, encompassing a range of products designed to kill or control living organisms. This includes everything from bacteria and viruses to fungi and moulds. Biocides work by directly killing these organisms, often on contact, through various mechanisms depending on the specific type of biocide. This immediate action can be very effective but comes with potential drawbacks, such as the release of mycotoxins from the organisms as they die—a defensive response that can perpetuate contamination. 

Furthermore, biocides often pose a significant risk to human health and the environment due to their potent chemical nature. Common cleaning agents like bleach and many quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) fall under the biocide category.

  1. Virucides

Virucides are a specific class of antimicrobial agents designed to target and destroy viruses. Unlike bacteria and fungi, viruses are not considered living organisms in the traditional sense; they lack cellular structure and can only replicate within a host cell. This unique nature requires specialised approaches for their elimination. Virucides work by disrupting the structure or function of viruses, rendering them incapable of infecting host cells and replicating. It’s essential to note that not all antimicrobial agents possess virucidal properties. Some products may be effective against bacteria and fungi but lack the specific formulation required to target viruses.

  1. Biostats

Biostats are agents designed to control the growth of microbes by inhibiting their reproduction. Rather than killing microbes outright, biostats prevent them from multiplying, effectively containing the spread and leading to their natural demise as they are unable to sustain their population. This method is less aggressive and considered safer for the environment and potentially for human health, as it minimises the chance of causing microbes to release harmful substances in a defensive response.

Which of these classifications does SAN-AIR fall into?

Primarily, SAN-AIR is classified as a biostat. This classification is based on its mode of action against microbes, particularly how it handles bacteria and mould. As a biostat, SAN-AIR works by neutralising these microbes upon contact. It achieves this by stopping bacteria from reproducing and preventing mould from receiving the oxygen it needs to grow. This mode of action is crucial because it doesn't just kill the microbes; it inhibits their growth and ability to spread. This is particularly important in managing mould, as it ensures that the mould does not continue to grow and invade more areas, providing a sustainable and less aggressive approach to microbial control.

Interestingly, while SAN-AIR operates primarily as a biostat, recent testing results from Eurofin have demonstrated that SAN-AIR has “virucidal efficacy”. This means that beyond just inhibiting microbial growth, SAN-AIR has the ability to kill them on contact.

Effectiveness of other types of natural solutions

Does vinegar kill mould?

Vinegar is frequently cited as a natural alternative to chemical cleaners. When applied to mouldy surfaces, vinegar can be effective to some extent against some types of mould on contact, primarily those on non-porous surfaces like glass and tiles. It helps to remove the visible mould, making it a quick fix for surface-level infestations. The acetic acid in vinegar is what provides these antimicrobial properties, disrupting the mould's structure and deterring further growth—at least on the surface.

The critical limitation of vinegar lies in its inability to kill mould at its roots, particularly when the mould has penetrated into porous materials like wood or drywall. In these cases, vinegar might reduce the visible signs of mould, but it does not eliminate the underlying problem. This partial removal can lead to recontamination, as mould can regrow from any remaining roots or spores that were not entirely eradicated.

Is tea tree oil effective against mould?

Tea tree oil, derived from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree native to Australia, is renowned for its antimicrobial properties. It contains compounds such as terpinen-4-ol, which exhibit strong antifungal and antibacterial properties. This makes tea tree oil a popular choice for various skincare and household cleaning products.

Moreover, tea tree oil has the advantage of being relatively safe for humans and pets when used in appropriate concentrations. Unlike harsh chemical cleaners, tea tree oil does not emit toxic fumes or leave behind harmful residues, making it a more environmentally friendly option.

Limitations and safety concerns of tea tree oil

  1. May not be as effective against all types of mould. Certain strains of mould may be more resistant to its antimicrobial properties, requiring repeated or prolonged exposure for adequate control.
  2. Higher concentrations of tea tree oil (more than 2%) can cause irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals, and are considered as respiratory sensitiser or irritant.
  3. Safe concentrations for humans, typically less than 2%, may not be effective enough to combat mould comprehensively.

The SAN-AIR advantage: Safe and effective mould control

Traditional cleaning methods like bleach and vinegar might offer a quick fix, but the risk of releasing harmful toxins and the potential for regrowth make them less than ideal solutions. Thanks to Australian made SAN-AIR's biostatic properties and natural formulation, it is 100% natural and offers a safer alternative to effectively kill mould and prevent future growth.

With a range of products available like the Surface Mould Remover Spray and Mould Gone gel for both surface treatment and air treatment, SAN-AIR offers convenience, making it a versatile solution for various applications -  whether you're tackling mould in your bathroom, wardrobes, boats, caravans, or even storage rooms!

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