Don't use chlorine bleach to clean flood-damaged surfaces

This fabulous tip was in the latest e-mail update from the Center on Sustainable Communities (a great non-profit organization, by the way):

Flood Clean-up

Stay away from bleach

Our first instinct is to bring out the chlorine to disinfect and kill mold. But a study conducted by Professor Jeffrey Morrell, Dept. of Wood Science, Oregon State University found that bleach “doesn’t eliminate the surface micro flora.” It doesn’t kill the roots of the mold, only bleaches it so we think it’s been cleaned away when it hasn’t. So not only is it ineffective, its fumes are harmful to both humans and the environment.

Try This Instead


2 ounces of borax and

1 cup of white vinegar

Spray on the mold, let sit for up to 60 minutes and then wipe the area. The mixture will prevent mold from growing back.

— from After the Flood, Green Living Online

This website of a certified toxic mold inspection company confirms that “Chlorine Bleach is NOT Recommended for Mold Remediation.”

Here’s another document explaining “Why Chlorine Bleach is Not Effective in Killing Mold.”

The Green Guide briefly summarizes the health and environmental risks associated with household bleach here.

Using chlorine bleach indoors generates chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which may be carcinogenic. Household bleach also causes numerous accidental poisonings in children.

Click here to find a pdf file on Safer Cleaning Products from the Washington Toxics Coalition.

General non-toxic cleaning tips can also be found here.

Spread the word to anyone you know whose home suffered water damage this summer.

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