What words come to mind when you think of a newly cleaned bathroom or kitchen?
Shining. Pristine. Lemony-fresh. Sterile.
Now, what products do you use to clean it?
You probably use a liquid, gel, or something in between—and likely purchase new products once or twice a year. Armed with an array of products, you splash and spray these onto almost every surface in your home.
As promised, the vast majority of cleaning products appeal to our mistrust of microbes mold, mildew, bacteria, and germs. You know, the teeny, tiny things you haven’t thought about since high school science class lectures.
It’s estimated that consumers spend between $573 and $854 each year on cleaning supplies. Naturally, everyone wants to rid their surfaces of unhealthy bacteria, since these can cause health issues and affect your home’s aesthetics.
But can this plethora of cleaning products keep frequent, albeit unwanted, mold and mildew at bay?
What Is an Antibacterial Surface?
Despite common belief, an antibacterial surface or product cannot truly exist. The term “antibacterial” describes any agent, pharmaceutical or otherwise, that kills or prevents further growth of bacteria. It’s one of several agents falling under the antimicrobial and antibiotic umbrella.
But what exactly is an agent? It’s the cleaning spray bottle underneath your kitchen sink with the sides puckered. Or the sliver of soap lying on your bathroom counter.
In theory, a surface becomes an antibacterial surface when cleaned with any agent. No matter which agent you use to clean, no surface stays without bacteria for long.
As you likely remember from science class, bacteria are single-celled microorganisms. They reproduce by a single bacterium splitting itself into two daughter cells, called binary fission. Not all bacteria reproduce at the same rate, so using an antibacterial agent can keep them at bay.
Nevertheless, bacteria have a survival tactic we’ve all heard about. Endospores lie dormant, but as needed, they make the bacteria resistant to UV radiation, heat, and chemicals.
How Do Antibacterial Agents Differ from Antimicrobial?
While antibacterial agents are primarily used to kill bacteria, antimicrobials kill or slow the growth of microorganisms, such as mold and mildew.
Mold and mildew are fungi and more complex than bacteria. The incredible growth difference between fungi and bacteria is what sets them apart to the naked eye. As mold grows, its hyphae, long, multi-celled filaments, grow into the mycelia, or large masses, we’re used to seeing in damp bathrooms or leaking cabinets.
Do Antibacterials and Antimicrobials Really Help Clean?
Technically yes. If you purchase the right products, you can keep your showers, bathrooms, and kitchens clean. For public use, there are three kinds of antimicrobials approved: sterilizers, disinfectants, and sanitizers.
Sanitizers, in this instance, won’t do a thing for a mold or mildew problem. These products will reduce the bacteria on a surface, but won’t affect fungi. Although sanitizers are the most common way to keep hands and surfaces clean, they are the weakest antimicrobials. To solve a mold or mildew problem, you’ll need a much stronger product.
To fight the tougher fungi, you’ll need a disinfectant or sterilizer. These kill both mold and mildew, along with bacteria. Common disinfectant products come in sprays, liquids, and gels. Due to their strength, sterilizers have more restrictions for everyday use, with many classified as restricted use pesticides.
Can Mold and Mildew Still Form on Properly Cleaned Surfaces?
Unfortunately, yes. Even the cleanest, most disinfected surface still grows mold and/or mildew if the underlying issue of water damage isn’t fixed.
In your home, a bent or broken pipe dripping water can provide the moisture fungi need to grow. Another common problem that leads to mold growth is not running a dehumidifier in a finished basement. If not allowed to dry out properly, moisture will linger and create a prime environment for mold and mildew to develop.
When cleaning a mold or mildew infected area, using an antimicrobial on the surface will get rid of the fungi for a short amount of time. But if there’s an underlying water problem, you’ll likely see the fungi quickly return. If you believe you have a water damage or moisture issue in your home that’s difficult to fix yourself, make sure to consult a professional water restoration service. The faster you correct the problem, the healthier and happier your family (and home) will be.
If you do run into an extreme mold problem caused by flooding, unknown pipe leaks or excessive moisture, give our service professionals at Water Extraction Experts a call. We have the expertise and knowledge to remove the surface and air pollutants from your home and surfaces. No matter the time or day, our experts are available 24/7 to help preserve your home, health, and peace of mind.