Rid your home of mold and mildew using nontoxic and affordable ingredients that eliminate any need for a scrub brush. 

A proliferation of mold and mildew can be the hallmark of hot and humid summers. Though dehumidifiers help, luckily there are many natural materials that can be used as a spray to kill mold and mildew. They are all an excellent substitute for less environmentally safe bleach.

Tea tree oil, an essential oil found in most health food stores, is expensive, but nothing natural works quite as well for mold and mildew. This broad spectrum fungicide does have a strong smell, which usually dissipates within days, so use the following recipe on moldy ceilings, musty bureaus and rugs or moldy showers.

Combine 2 teaspoons tea tree oil and 2 cups water in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse. Makes about 2 cups and lasts indefinitely.

Grapefruit seed extract is also expensive, yet effective, but unlike tea tree oil, it is odorless. Create a spray by combining 20 drops grapefruit seed extract with 2 cups water in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas and do not rinse. It makes about 2 cups, and lasts indefinitely.

Vinegar is another natural mold and mildew remedy and by far the cheapest. Straight vinegar reportedly kills 82 percent of mold so pour some white distilled vinegar straight into a spray bottle, spray on the moldy area, and let set without rinsing if you can put up with the smell. It will dissipate in a few hours.

For light stains, dilute the vinegar with an equal amount of water. You can also prevent mildew from forming on the bottoms of rugs and carpeting by misting the backs with full-strength white vinegar from a spray bottle.

Just because your plastic shower curtain or liner gets dirty or mildewed doesn't mean you have to throw it away. Try cleaning it in your washing machine with two bath towels on the gentle setting, adding 1/2 cup baking soda to your detergent during the wash cycle and 1/2 cup vinegar during the rinse cycle. Then let it drip dry.

A bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide can also work wonders on mold and mildew. Used on its own, pour the peroxide directly on the offending area and wipe it clean.

When garments are stained with mildew, make a paste of lemon juice and salt and rub it on the affected area, then dry the clothes in sunlight. Repeat the process until the stain is gone. This works well for rust stains on clothes too.

Anne Burkley originally wrote this story for Networx.com. It is reprinted with permission here.

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