What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘mold’? Probably something unpleasant like wasted food or a stubborn ring around a bathtub, unless you’re a potter. Technically, molds are a type of microscopic fungi, related to mushrooms, that grow in multicellular filaments or finger-like projections. They can eat and thrive on any organic matter, such as leather, clothing, paper, floors, walls, and ceilings of homes. Eventually, they can build up a strong odor.
We can all agree that we don’t like that kind of mold growing on things we like, but it’s worth giving a thought to what we use to control mold. There are known adverse health impacts of using antimicrobials to kill and inhibit microbes like mold. Some have been shown to be highly toxic to aquatic life, and some individuals are hypersensitive to them. Another big concern is antimicrobial resistance. Multiple governments, studies, and medical doctors are warning that microbes are increasingly becoming resistant to antimicrobials, which is producing resistance to antibiotics that humans and animals depend on to ward off diseases and infections.
There are many chemicals in cleaners for which we do not know the full extent of their impact on our health. Often chemical information is withheld as proprietary information. However, what we do know is in some mold preventative cleaners, we can say there are risks associated with them. For example, many cleaners contain quaternary ammonium compounds (quats). Quats in mice have been linked to neural tube defects, and developmental, and fertility damage. They can often disrupt critical cellular pathways and trigger asthma symptoms, skin sensitization, and dermal irritation.
Mabel Mold Preventative Chemicals
Ingredients: Water, Lauramine oxide, Decyl glucoside, Coco glucoside, Capryl glucoside, citric acid, tea tree oil. Naturally antimicrobial and antifungal, tea tree oil acts in place of toxic chemicals like bleach and sodium hypochlorite.
This potent formula penetrates surfaces and eliminates mold spores at the root, which prevents spores from growing back. While a lot can be written about why ingredients in conventional cleaners can have health downsides, let’s explore how Mabel’s ingredients have a long proven safety track record.
Amine-based oxides like Lauramine oxide (derived from the coconut fruit) are completely biodegradable. This is important because if surfactants in household and industrial applications are not biodegradable, hazardous pollutants can build up in wastewater, aquatic ecosystems, and in terrestrial organisms at significant concentrations. These surfactants can be toxic to microorganisms that we don’t want by disturbing the function of their cell membranes, disrupting endocrines, and interfering with enzymes; but, they can also be toxic to organisms that we do want such as those that live on our skin and in our bodies.
In case you’re wondering if a cleaner that’s ‘green’, environmentally safe, and non-toxic could actually clean, the answer is yes. Lots of naturally-derived compounds like lauramine oxide have antibacterial properties, which are amplified when combined with other ingredients. Lauramine oxide can remove crud from surfaces, all while being non-irritating to the skin and environmentally benign. In fact, it is commonly used in skin-care, is non-mutagenic, non-carcinogenic, and is not a sensitizer. A sensitizer is a substance to which, when you are exposed to it over and over again, you can become sensitive although you were not previously. Lauramine oxide is a detergent that is powerful and efficient enough for removing dirt films, but mild enough to get on skin and not worry about fumes. When it goes down the drain, it biodegrades quickly and doesn’t have any phosphates, which can contribute to aquatic habitat issues like algal blooms.
Derived from plants such as corn, Decyl glucoside is safe enough to be used in cosmetics and baby shampoo. Not only is it safe to use, but it actually conditions skin and hair while having a cleaning and protective effect. Again, like all Mabel products, it is an ecologically friendly ingredient because it is biodegradable and naturally-derived. We can positively say that it is not an endocrine (or hormone) disruptor.
Decyl glucoside is a natural, non-synthetic member of alkyl glucosides, the use of which goes back to the 1930s. It is generally marketed as hypoallergenic, although some people who have pre-existing severe conditions like eczema and severe allergies can sometimes have an allergic reaction to even hypoallergenic substances. However, for the vast majority of people, decyl glucoside is so mild, yet so cleansing, that it is even used for wound cleansing applications in hospitals. In combination with aloe vera, it even statistically beat saline for wound cleansing in a head-to-head test. Moreover, this study was conducted on the elderly and similarly frail patients with potentially compromised immune systems.
Like its name would suggest, coco-glucoside is derived from coconuts. Found in many topical and medicinal applications, coco-glucoside enhances the uptake and bioavailability of what we want to put into our bodies, whether it be moisturizers, proteins, or peptides. Coco-glucoside naturally lends itself to environmentally-friendly detergents due to its mildness, biodegradability, yet ability to clean. Far from being inferior to conventional cleaners and detergent, it is equivalent or superior. This is especially important as we generally wash detergents down the drain, and we’d like to not harm our fishy friends.
Coco-glucosides, due to their gentleness, can be put in the most intimate of feminine hygiene products. This is backed up by randomized double-blind control trials. Cleansing without stripping, in natural materials like wood or skin, it can simultaneously aid in hydration. That is one reason why it is used in many baby products, like baby wipes and cleansing formulas. Another reason is that coco-glucosides keep mold from forming in natural products, and so do the same when fighting mold in bathrooms, refrigerators, offices, and kitchens. It is naturally antibacterial, without destroying the good bacteria.
Coming from fatty acids and glucose of vegetable origin, capryl glucoside is a non-ionic surfactant. By non-ionic, that simply means that it is without charge, positive or negative. It is optimal for everything from cosmetics, facial cleansers, candles, baby products, and mold and mildew cleaners. When combined with other ingredients used in Mabel products, a synergistic effect is attained for cleaning. Meaning, they work better in combination than alone. This is demonstrated by better surface tension, foaming ability, and viscosity. This gentleness is the same kind of removal you would want with a face wash, being able to clean sebum and inside pores without stripping your skin of its natural oils.
When mold and bacterial growth get to the point where they start to smell, you want something that will get rid of the microorganisms, not just cover up the odors. Capryl glucoside has been demonstrated to do just that. Moreover, it is even safe to consume. In certain products like wine, it has been known for many years that capryl glucoside can prevent unwanted mold growth. Cosmetics can also grow mold too, which you definitely don’t want on your skin. Capryl glucoside is particularly suited to prevent mold in cosmetics for an extended period of time. It can do the same when you use it with Mabel cleaning products, and let’s not forget that it doesn’t hang around in the environment like many other surfactants, but breaks down.
The ingredient that most people probably recognize immediately is citric acid. The term rightly conjures up images of oranges, lemons, Vitamin C, and citrus smells. As amazing a job it does in our bodies with essential cellular processes like the citric acid cycle, it can almost equally impress as a mold inhibitor. It is a natural adhesive and preservative for wood, leather, and furniture. Of course, citric acid’s safety profile is quite well known. Even as a supplement, the body can tolerate massive doses of Vitamin C. Not that that is advisable, but the body can handle quite large amounts with no ill effects.
Preventing everything from rickets disease to mold, citric acid is truly amazing. Our ancestors have been using it to preserve food for a long time. It is also a natural substance to treat wood. There aren’t many substances that one can unequivocally say are safe, but citric acid is one of the few. Cut vegetables, fruits, and flowers are often dipped in citric acid solutions to preserve their color and vitamins longer, and to inhibit microbes. Citric acid is critical for our body’s detoxification processes. Basically, it can detoxify both inside our bodies and in the modern environment which we inhabit, which includes bathrooms and kitchens.
Tea Tree Oil
The Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) is quite a magnificent plant. Hailing from Oceania (Australia), the tea tree has been used medicinally by aboriginal natives and now by complementary medicine, as well as other modern uses. One of its natural properties is its ability to fight off pathogenic bacteria as it is both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Although tea tree oil is composed of different compounds, its terpenes are where a lot of its antibacterial strength comes from. Tea Tree oil has demonstrated the ability to inhibit Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Escherichia coli (E.coli), and Streptococcus (Strep) and influenza viruses.
How does a plant-derived oil like tea tree oil actually inhibit mold and bacteria? Although there are several components in it that work in concert, parts known as monoterpenoids disrupt and damage cell membrane structures by diffusing into them. What usually protects the inside of a cell is a lipid bi-layer. Monoterpenoids are lipophilic, meaning they are attracted to fat. Nasty mold, mildew, and bacteria cells attract monoterpenoids, which then go on to expand the membrane and break apart their protective barrier.
The ability of certain plants like tea tree oil to eliminate mold fungal colonies is called a phytoncidal property (phyton = “plant”; cide = “kill”). This neat weaponry of nature is tough enough to use for microorganisms that can become problems for human environments, but selective enough that tea tree oil can be used to prevent food-borne illness without contaminating food. For this reason, tea tree oil is ideal for use around children, people with sensitivities, food, and pets. In fact, tea tree oil can be used to delay spoilage and decay for even delicate fruit like strawberries after harvest.
Chemicals contained in other ‘Green’ Products:
- Dyes or colorants
- Sulfates, phosphates, or parabens
- Petro-chemicals (petroleum-derived synthetic chemicals)
- Synthetic or added fragrances
- Alcohols and ethers
- Synthetic preservatives
- Unsafe for use in enclosed spaces without ventilation
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate
We hope we have given you confidence to give Mabel a try. Every day scientists are showing that compounds all around us can be harnessed to fight dust, dirt, mold, rust, and diseases. Mabel harnesses that power into products that are tough enough when you need them, but give you the peace of mind that you’re not using something that could potentially harm you or your family, including furry members!