The Chemistry of Cleaning Mold
Cesar Collado
February 25, 2020

What is a Surfactant? Why is it Important in Removing Mold from Your Home? The Chemistry of Cleaning Mold

By Cesar Collado

I was recently asked “what is a “Surfactant”? (listed in the ingredients of CitriSafe Products).  Before answering,  I asked myself “why a surfactant is necessary in a mold solution cleaner”.   My initial response was to emphasize that it is important to select a mold solution cleaner that is all natural and does not contain harmful, toxic chemicals.  Many mold sensitive patients are also chemically sensitive and can be adversely affected by cleaning products.  That being said, there is more to the formulation that makes a mold solution more effective in removing mold from your furnishings, clothing, and home in general.

The EPA states clearly that “Dead mold is allergenic and may cause allergic reactions and other health effects in some individuals, so it is not enough to simply kill the mold. It must also be removed.”1

A Surfactant, also called surface-active agent, is a substance such as a detergent that, when added to a liquid, reduces its surface tension, thereby increasing its spreading and wetting properties. As the name implies, surfactants stir up activity on the surface you are cleaning to help trap dirt and remove it from the surface.  

Surfactants are the ingredients that create the foaming or suds when applied to a surface.  There are potent surfactants that might create too much foaming making them difficult to rinse and require complete wetting of the surface or materials.  There are also mold surfactants that will loosen up soil and mold debris allowing a physical cleaning to occur easily, either by hand or HEPA vacuum.

How do Surfactants Work?

Cleaning Mold Information

Cleaning Mold

When cleaning for mold, there are four elements that are key for a product that removes mold from any surface or space.

  1. The product is safe and non-toxic for humans and pets
  2. The product can break the cell wall of mold spores in order to neutralize them
  3. A surfactant is necessary to allow for product penetration into porous materials. Porous materials include, wood, textiles, drywall,  anything made of cellulose. 
  4. Any cleaning is followed by a proper wiping and/or HEPA vacuuming to remove the microscopic mold debris.

I have researched many household and mold cleaners to determine effectiveness.  

Cleaning Mold Information

There are other products available that contain similar active ingredients to CitriSafe products.  I understand that these products are safe and effective; however, they do not contain a surfactant in their formulation.  This suggests limitations in their ability to penetrate porous surfaces and loosen soil and mold debris for removal by either wiping or HEPA vacuuming.

CitriSafe Mold Treatment Products

CitriSafe Mold Solution Concentrate contains a proprietary botanical blend of several citrus seed extracts, known for their anti-fungal properties.  This product is natural and safe to remove live and dead mold spores and debris. CitriSafe Mold Solution Concentrate contains a carefully selected, food and pharmaceutical grade surfactant in the formulation to lift and extract mold spores.  This is essential since mold spores grow hyphae that are root like strains that can penetrate surfaces as well as tissues.  

CitriSafe Mold Treatment Products
Mold Hyphae under microscopy. they can grow up to a few feet long and penetrate building materials, textiles, and human tissues

It is effective in penetrating surfaces that other household cleaners and mold products will not.  The active ingredients are also known for other antimicrobial activity, meaning it has an impact on bacteria and viruses. It is regularly used in medical facilities, kennels, and other places where microorganism growth can cause health problems.  

Here are some of the uses:

  • To clean surfaces for mold
  • Cleaning items that might be contaminated from mold.  These can include shoes, coats, carpets, floors, dog beds, floor mats, toys, etc.
  • Mist homes, doctor’s offices, home gyms, closets, etc. to reduce fungal counts in the air
  • Clean mold from cars and flush the car ventilation systems
  • Use as a diagnostic.  By spraying or fogging a home space, determining whether you feel better provides evidence that it is in fact mold that is making you sick.  This is much less expensive than medical diagnostics and multiple physician visits.

This product does not replace proper remediation.  If mold is visible or has a strong smell, it is best to speak to a mold professional.

CitriSafe Laundry Liquid Detergent is a very effective way to remove mold from your clothes and linens.  Carrying mold around with you during the day makes healing from exposure almost impossible due to continuous inhalation.  Your bed is a sanctuary and sleep is the time when your body best heals itself.  Moldy linens can also result in continuous irritation your immune system. People’s face and bodies are adjacent and mold spores can be inhaled.  It also prevents the glymphatic system from removing  toxins from the brain while you sleep.

CitriSafe Laundry Liquid is also detergent; so, you only need to add CitriSafe Laundry Liquid detergent in the wash cycle. There is no need for another laundry detergent. By adding to the wash cycle from the start, the agitation in combination with a surfactant is especially effective and removes mold from textiles better than laundry additives.  The extremely potent formulation only requires 1 oz. per laundry load, giving 32 loads per bottle.

CitriSafe Mold Solution Concentrate and CitriSafe Laundry Liquid Detergent are also valuable tools to keep putrid and musty odors from bacteria and mold under control when there is a chronically ill person or home hospice in your home.  They are effective in preventing you home from developing a “Nursing Home Stench.”.  Read more about this HERE.

CitriSafe Bio-Balancing Shampoo and Body Wash has gentle surfactants to clean mold from the hair and body.  The formulation is fortified with several natural ingredients to provide moisture and antioxidants to keep hair healthy and beautiful.  Read more about CitriSafe Shampoo HERE.

  1. EPA Mold course, Chapter 1. www.epa.gov

If you would like to share your experience, please comment on this story.

About the Author:  Cesar Collado is a former pharmaceutical R&D senior executive, venture capitalist, and seasoned strategy consultant in biotechnology and technology industries in general. He currently works as an advisor to multiple technology start-ups and advises several companies with technology solutions, including companies  that provide healthcare and other services for environmental illness.  Cesar worked with MicroBalance Health Products from 2014-2019, where he had responsibility for strategy, revenues, marketing, and finance, as well as, writing all original content for the company’s newsletters during his tenure.

Cesar is passionate about awareness and treatment of environmental illness as a significant, unmet and misdiagnosed, medical need. He has partnered with Integrative Physicians, Bau-Biologists, Environmental Inspectors, Mold Remediators, HVAC IAQ Specialists, and other professionals to generate educational materials for the environmentally ill.  Cesar currently writes original content for ImmunLytics, Bio-Balance, and CitriSafe: Protocols and Products for a Healthy Life.

16 Comments

  1. Deborah L Carter MD

    Does Citrisafe actually destroy the body of the mold spore so that it no longer secretes mycotoxins?
    A dead mold spore with an intact body can continue to secrete mycotoxins is what I have been told and have read. This is why Concrobium and other highly concentrated products can lyse the mold spore body and stop its abililty to secrete.
    Do you agree with this?

    Reply
    • cesarcollado

      The active ingredients break the ccel wall which neutralizes the spore its continued ability to produce mycotoxins; however, mycotoxins are organic chemical compounds that remain toxic in their gases, oily, and “sticky” forms. Mycotoxins can remain toxic when in a dead mold spore debris.The surfactant(s) in CitriSafe products is what attracts the soil, mycotoxins, and debris for removal when cleaning surfaces or laundry & linens. We recommend cleaning and HEPA vacuuming after treatment to remove the remaining debris, all of which remain allergens and toxins. There are an estimated 400-1000 mycotoxins and only a fraction can be tested today so such claims cannot be made.

      Some products effectively encapsulate and crush the mold spores. Many of these are recommended for use in crawlspaces, attics, and other places where a residue is acceptable.

      Reply
      • Lynn

        Since citrisafe and EC3 contain similar citrus components, and EC3 has research that shows it destroys myotoxins, would you be able to say that citrisafe also destroys some mycotoxins? Are the citrus seed extracts the same?

        Reply
        • Lynn

          I am asking because I am having a mycotoxin reaction right now and I have citrisafe at home but I don’t know if I should also order EC 3 and fog again later this week when it arrives, or if that is not necessary?

          Reply
          • Cesar Collado

            Citrisafe Mold Solution Concentrate is the original botanical mold treatment product that is competitively priced. To my knowledge, EC3 is similar but is a different formulation.

        • Cesar Collado

          With regard to “destroying some mycotoxins”, I do not understand the comment. Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites created by some molds. These toxins are chemicals. Chemicals cannot be killed, destroyed, or “eliminated” as stated. More specifically, I have no knowledge of citrus seed exctracts having any mechanism to eliminate “aflatoxins, ochratoxins, trycothecenes.”

          Mycotoxins can be broken into fragments; however, the fragments remain toxic to humans. I personally have contacted the lab to replicate the experimen. Unfortunately, the lab declined to replicate.

          CitriSafe candles come in 5 oz. and are made with a proprietary blend of citrus seed extracts. The primary extracts are sourced from the highest quality citrus trees in US, used to create juice for human consumption. They are quality tested to ensure they have no toxic chemical chemical components. I cannot speak to the source of other candles; but I can assure you that the CitriSafe products are made with the highest quality, food grade ingredients that can be found and purchased!

          Reply
  2. jayne welch

    will it clean the mold from the washing machine door gasket As of yet I have found nothing that will clean its

    Reply
    • cesarcollado

      It depends on the mold issue and whether the mold has been there for a while or “caked on”. However, using CitriSafe Laundry Detergent will keep your machine and door gaskets clean including the dispenser tray. This is if you avoid using fabric softener (which is mold food) that accumulates. It does not hurt to bend back top make sure the gasket is clean. Use a towel with Citrisafe mold solution to wipe of it mold exists.

      Reply
  3. Mold Testing

    There is certainly a lot to find out about this topic. I like the way you explain very easy to understand. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  4. Dori Childress

    When using Remedy do you have to wipe it pff after you spray on a surface or leave it on so it derys and kills the mold?

    Reply
    • John W.

      Spraying Remedy Multi-Purpose Mold Treatment Spray or Remedy Mold Treatment Concentrate will treat the mold. However, physical removal of mold spores and fragments is always best. So, when possible, it is best to let the Remedy Treatment sit for a couple of minutes, then wipe up. This is not always possible, such as on fabric materials and carpeting. In these cases, a good vacuuming when dry does well.

      Reply
  5. Michele

    Can citrisafe be used in both thermal and cold fogger?

    Reply
    • John W.

      This solution can be used in a cold fogger (i.e. – misting machine), or in a spray bottle, or in a ULV paint sprayer (like a Wagner Power Sprayer). It cannot be used in a hot fogger.

      Reply
    • Cesar Collado

      BioBalance Haven can be used in thermal fogger. CitriSafe or BioBalance Haven Mist mold solutions can be used in cold foggers.

      Reply
  6. Rachael Stephens

    Hello, I’m trying to figure out if the citrisafe remedy pet shampoo/treatment wipes are actually safe for my cats given their allergies. I need to know the specific ingredients, though. I understand they are proprietary. So if you are not able to share the specific ingredients, do you have lab testing showing it is indeed safe for cats (who are usually allergic to most essential oils including tea tree oil)? I realllyyy hope so, because you are the only company that makes a pet shampoo or wipes that are supposed to be safe for cats!

    Reply
    • John W.

      Thanks for the question. The ingredients are listed on each product label, which can be found on each product page. Regarding the “CitriSafe Blend”, it is a propriatery mixture of the seed extracts of grapefruit, lemon, lime, and tangerine. If you would like to discuss further, please give us a call and we will set you up with our pharmacist to discuss. (303) 919-4676

      Reply

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