We have all spent time on our hands and knees in our bathroom scrubbing away at the black substance that appears on our tiles, shower curtains and in other dark and damp corners. Mold and mildew are not only unsightly but can be dangerous if left unattended.
Even if you are not allergic, mold can be dangerous to your health. Of course, when you see visible mold or smell something musty, you know that you have a problem. The bigger problem is that most mold floating in the air is actually invisible but can cause great harm to your health.
Clean and fresh air is one of the most important components of both physical and mental health. Since the average American spends about 90 percent of the time indoors and over 60 percent inside our houses, it is important to monitor air quality.
Studies indicate that mold spores  in the air may cause depression and even death.
Where does mold and mildew come from?
Experts tell us that both mold and mildew spores are types of fungi that can enter our home through open doors and windows and take hold on any moist surface.
It is also true that mold spores can travel on our clothing, shoes, pets and even our bodies. This breaks the common stereotype that only “dirty” homes or those damaged by water leaks or floods are susceptible to mold and mildew outbreaks.
Although every home can have opportunistic environments for mold and mildew to grow, there are ways that you can control the fungi naturally. Keep in mind that while commercial, chemically based cleaners are available, there is a rise in concern regarding the negative impact these products have on humans, animals and the environment.
Here are some tips to not only keep mold and mildew at bay, but also on how to respond in the most natural manner possible if spores happen to take hold in your home.
The importance of controlling moisture
Keeping moisture in check is one way that you can naturally prevent a mold or mildew outbreak. The EPA suggests keeping areas likes kitchens and bathrooms, that are often wet, as dry as possible. This means venting a window or using a fan when you shower, wiping down tiles in the shower and keeping countertops dry — especially in areas where water collects. It is also important to be cognizant of leaky pipes, especially under sinks, connected to your washer or even under your home.
Oftentimes, a leak may occur and soak an area for a long time before you are even aware of it. This gives plenty of time for mold spores to populate. It is a good idea to check pipes frequently and be sure to make repairs immediately. Being preventative is always the first best step and can save you a lot of time and headache in the long run.
Investigating the infected area
Mold and mildew has a particular smell. If you find an outbreak in your home, it is paramount that you wear gloves to investigate. You may also want to wear a face mask, especially if you think the problem is widespread. If severe enough, the problem may warrant examination by a professional.
Natural mold and mildew cleaners
There are a number of natural mold and mildew cleaners that are available for purchase. However, if you don’t want to spend the money, there are also quite a few safe and effective natural options available, including:
White vinegar. Vinegar  is an excellent all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant that everyone should keep on hand. The best way to combat a mild mold and mildew outbreak is to spray full strength vinegar on the infected area. No need to rinse off – just let the vinegar air dry. If you don’t care for the aroma of vinegar, add a few drops of essential oil. 
Tea tree oil and water. Tea tree oil is extracted from the Melaleuca tree that grows in Australia. It has natural anti-microbial properties that make it effective against almost any bacteria and fungi. Simply mix two teaspoons of essential tea tree oil with two cups of clean water in a spray bottle. Wet the infected area well. Spray the area with the mixture and allow it to dry. Don’t rinse. Although the odor is strong, it will dissipate in a few days.
Grapefruit seed extract. Although grapefruit seed extract is entirely odorless, it is highly effective in fighting mold and mildew spores. Mix 20 drops of grapefruit seed extract with two cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle well and spray directly on infected area. Allow the extract to dry naturally.
Although not directly related to preventing mold or treating mold, it is important to remember to spend as much time outdoors in fresh air as possible. This will minimize the risk of exposure to mold and mildew spores and other indoor air contaminants.
What tips do you have for eliminating mold and mildew? Tell us in the comments section below.