Nicole Bijlsma Interview – Part 3 – Cleaning & Natural Mould Removal

Below is a transcript of part 3 of my Nicole Bijlsma interview. This 10 minute video concentrated on a small selection of natural cleaning questions we had, and in particular, how to clean mould. I have provided a transcript because we filmed this on an iPad with no external microphone and some of the audio is a little hard to hear (especially from me – I was tired, had the flu and was progressively losing my voice as the day went on). The video will be added in to this post when I’ve had a bit of a digital fiddle with it :)

JOANNE – Hi, Joanne from Shop Naturally here again. I’m with Nicole Bijlsma, author of Healthy Home Healthy Family and my own personal naturopath and consultant for our store Julie McNab. Hello ladies :)

Today we’re going to be talking about the thing that everybody hates doing, it’s about cleaning. Let’s face it, if you’ve got a dirty home, you can have all kinds of health problems, it’s just one of those things that we have to do, and we should do it properly. When I asked all our customers to send in questions to ask Nicole, this is the number one question that got asked so many times that I can’t believe it and that is, what is the best way to clean mould and to stop it from coming back. So, we have a super duper expert here on this, Nicole, and Julie also has some great tips that I wasn’t aware of either until today.

NICOLE – So when it comes to mould, the first thing to know is that fungi is everywhere. They’re natures greatest decomposer. So, if you provide the right conditions in the house, they’re going to want to stay there.

So, the first thing to know is that pretty much most building materials are going to be the right food for mould. They love <sorry, couldn’t catch this little bit> building materials, which is pretty much everything in the house. The key to determining whether mould is going to be an issue is water. You’ve got to see where the source of the moisture is coming from. Is it a plumbing issue, is it a drainage issue, is it a flood. You’ve got to mop it up within 24 hours. If you don’t, they start sporulating, germinating, and that’s when it becomes an issue. So, that’s absolutely critical. Having good housekeeping practices to address the source of the moisture and get to it as fast as possible and dry it out. If mould does become an issue, the most effective way to address that is to have a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter, and the HEPA filter is not something you can retrospectively put in to the vacuum cleaner, you buy it with it in it. And that means it filters down to .3 microns. Your hair is about 70 to 100 microns in diameter, this filters down to .3, which is your dust mites, a lot of your germs, for example and certainly your mould spores. So, getting a HEPA vacuum cleaner with a brush, say for example, it’s in this particular area here (Nicole touches the wall behind her), you get the vacuum cleaner and you actually brush it, you brush the mould to pick up as much of the spores as you possibly can.

JOANNE – Well, I just learned something. I didn’t know that.

NICOLE – and then to filter it in to the bag. The next thing you do is to get a microfibre cloth, and you get a bucket of water with some good dishwashing liquid, like the Abode range of course. And the way this works is that it’s a surfactent detergent and it emulsifies the organic matter or the dirt or the actual dust that’s sitting on the surface so it actually breaks the food source the mould is growing on. Therefore, you wet this (the microfibre cloth) put a bit of detergent in the bucket of water, put it in (the microfibre cloth) and actually wipe it (the wall) and the beauty of the microfibre cloth is that it’s trapping the dirt, it’s not just spreading it like a typical sponge would do that.

Then, you wipe that quite a few times, put it in the bucket etc and of course wipe the brush and the HEPA filter of your vacuum cleaner. That’s one of the most effective ways.  Now, the reason why that’s more effective than almost anything on the market is because the way that mould spores are, 75% of mould spores are dead, so killing more mould spores isn’t actually the issue here. When you inhale spores, whether they’re dead or not, they contain micotoxins, which can cause health effects, so it’s important to reduce the load. When it comes to any type of bacteria or microorganisms in the house, it’s always to reduce the level of exposure as much as possible, but nto getting rid of everything, and not creating a sterile home which will then increase the risk of asthma, and allergies in kids because of the hygeine hypothesis that says that kids need to be more dirt, need to be exposed  to healthy germs, so that’s one of the most effective ways to address mould and that’s what most mould remediators around the world do to address mould when they’re dealing with an issue in the home.

JULIE – So, that’s great. So bleach, and the old fashioned ways of treating mould are very ineffective.

NICOLE – Bleach is probably one of the worst things you can use. Sodium hyprochloride or bleach is extremely toxic to the lungs and the skin. It actually bleaches the mould so you can’t see it, and what happens is within two weeks or so, it grows back, because it never went. All you’ve done is stripped the colour of it out of the mould, so you’ve bleached the mould. That’s a problem, and  you’ve exposed your family to a toxic chemical. Bleach should never ever be used in a house, pronto.

JULIE – OK, that’s interesting.

JOANNE – So, one of the remedies that I’ve read about a lot, people talk about to actually stop mould growing back is things like Clove Oil, and Julie, you also mentioned …

JULIE – it’s really easy to make your own home treatment by mixing together equal parts of Clove Owl and Eucalyptus Oil, and you put that in to a squirter bottle and you need to make that in to a solution with water and it won’t happen unless you put in some alcohol, so just put in, if you’ve got a container about that big (points to a small spray bottle) you put an equal amount of Clove Oil and Eucalyptus Oil, it’s going to make a pretty strong solution and I would probably put about 4 or 5 tablespoons of alcohol, methylated spirits, and then top it up with water, and just give it a good shake and use that sparingly, you’re not going to use too much of it because it is quite a strong solution but it’s so effective, and then I would do what Nicole was suggesting, and go over it with a microfibre cloth and detergent.

NICOLE – and get to the source of the moisture, because if you don’t get to the source of the moisture, you’ll just have it all come back.

JULIE – it’s just band-aids then isn’t it.

JOANNE – So hopefully that answers most people’s questions. Because mould is just one of those revolting things none of us like. We have another question here, what’s the safest way to wipe down and clean baby furniture & toys.

NICOLE – That’s easy. Microfibre cloth. Don’t use any type of chemical, use a little bit of detergent and water to be able to wipe down baby toys etc, and then expose it to the best cleaning agent of all, the sun. Sun, is UV radiation, it’s fantastic, it’s cheap, and it’s very simple to do. So, you should do that with all your furnishings, your pillows, your mattresses, anything that you can put outside in the sun on a regular basis, well, it’s fantastic. Toys. If dust mites are an issue, then that’s recommended, or if it’s a soft toy, then, you know, wash it in hot water, at least 60 degrees, and expose it to the sun. It’s the most effective way. Some people freeze the toys, putting them in a plastic bag and freezing it, you know, I’ve got 3 kids under 3, and I haven’t got time for that, so I just throw it in the washing machine, put it on the line, and I know it’s going to be as healthy and clean as it possibly can be.

JOANNE – And one thing too that we actually talked about off camera, when you’re dealing with babies, regardless of how natural & safe it is, don’t use anything with an essential oil in it. Actually choose the fragrance free & unscented products, so whether it’s the powder, or the dishwashing liquid, keep little babies and toddlers away from essential oils.

NICOLE – Definitely.

JOANNE – OK, well the last question that we have, which is everybody, if I’m time poor, ME, which cleaning job should I make a priority for my children’ health. We don’t all have … we can’t all be Stepford Wives, and we can’t all dedicate 45 minutes a day cleaning the house. Sometimes we have 5 minutes here and 2 minutes there.  So, if we’re a crazy mum with 20 million things to do, and we only have time to do a couple of things, what do we put a priority on.

NICOLE – Two things. A really good vacuum cleaner, that’s fitted with a HEPA filter, and a motorised head, so it actually digs in to the pile, of course, a motorised head is only useful if you’ve got carpets & rugs. If you don’t have carpets & rugs, then obviously that’s not relevant, but a HEPA filter is critical, because it will filter down to .3 microns which means most of the things you’ve just put in to the vacuum cleaner aren’t going to become airborne and take days to fall and expose your asthmatic child to other types of allergens. So, a good vacuum cleaner, and the way to use it properly is to actually spend a minute or two per square metre, over that area to actually get in to the pile. Now, that’s far more effective than vacuuming every week just for a split second, a once over, and doing that every week. It’s about trapping as much particulates as you can, and of course, dust is full of pesticides, and microorganisms, and VOC’s and chemicals and all those sort of things.

The second thing for cleaning would definitely be, again, the microfibre cloth and usinga wet dust. Slightly damp, wet dust the entire house followed by a clean tea towel to reduce the dust load.

JOANNE – Excellent. I’m a big believer, even though we sell lots of Spray & Wipey kind of natural cleaning products, pardon me, I’m losing my voice, (and yes folks, this is about the stage my voice decided to pack it in, and 24 hours later as I type up this transcript, I can’t even get a squeak out!), I’m a firm believer that if you can do something with a microfibre cloth, do it. I’ve seen plenty of videos and reports on the internet of bacteria test results from cleaning. There’s been commercial grade cleaning products, and there’s been the old vinegar and bi-carb soda and a microfibre cloth then they’ve gone over at the end testing all of them for bacteria. Every single one that I’ve seen, this gave the best performance (and yes, I was waving about a microfibre cloth) for getting rid of bacteria, so, better for the environment, if I’m going to lose some sales, so be it (Nicole & Julie are both laughing at me at this point), this is my number one tip for actually cleaning benches, greasy stove tops, whatever, you can get all the greasy olive oil, coconut oil, and garbage off your stove top with a wet one of these (and again, still flapping about with my cloth!).

JULIE – and a bit of detergent if you need to.

NICOLE – Detergent, or we’ve (Abode Cleaning Products) actually got some surface sprays specifically designed for more stubborn stains etc, that are also very low allergy, low chemical, etc, so they work really effectively.

JOANNE – Ok, thanks for talking about grotty cleaning stuff today ladies.

So there you have it. Completely unscripted awkwardness from me (Joanne), well informed information from Nicole, and some tips from Julie that she’d been keeping secret from me until today as well. I hope you’ve all found this useful. The mould cleaning tips in particular were nothing like what I was expecting. And Nicole recently spent a 3 week stint learning specifically about issues with mould, so this information is up to date and world class. I thank both Nicole & Julie for their time.

You can read more about Nicole Bijlsma at her Building Biology website. Julie McNab runs Central Coast Natural Therapies, and is a practicing Central Coast Naturopath. Julie has been treating me for several years now. Private consultations are available in her clinic at Wyoming or via Skype.

At Shop Naturally, from early June, we will have the complete range of Abode Cleaning Products and we have a selection of microfibre cloths that don’t cost the earth. We don’t sell vacuum cleaners, I personally adore my Dyson and have no affiliation with them whatsoever.



Joanne is the owner & founder of Shop Naturally. She is a Holistic Health Coach and studying the Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine.

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