I know from experience that packing things incorrectly can lead to mold and to the ruin of many treasures. Moving elevates mold awareness to a whole new level, because you are moving from an environment that you have safeguarded against mold into a new environment that is sometimes unknown or open to mold. Moving also introduces mold-conducive environments to your things in trucks, packing materials, storage units, the list can go on and on. Here are my dos and don’ts to packing, storing, and doing it correctly to avoid bringing mold into your new home:
Do—Get Rid of Unnecessary Items: Before you start packing, make yourself get rid of things! Go through rooms, closets, and current storage. If you don’t use it now, haven’t used it in the past year, or didn’t even know it was there, I suggest you give it away, sell it, donate it, or throw it out. Anytime items are lying around unused, they promote dust. Dust is organic material; thus, food for mold and mites. If you have rooms that are full to the brim with storage, many times, you do not notice mold until it has already become a problem. Getting rid of unnecessary things will reduce your workload, ensuring that you do not take mold into your new home. Also, when you go through your storage before moving, or when you are unpacking your things in your new home, check for anything that smells musty. If it smells, get rid of it. It already has mold, and you don’t want that in your new home. (Note: there are some items that can be safely cleaned. I have included advice for that later in this article.)
Do—Make sure all clothing and textiles are completely dry before packing or storing. This step is imperative to prevent mold and mildew from forming, especially in sealed containers. I would also advise washing your clothes with the EC3 Laundry Additive, or a homemade mold solution, like adding half a cup of Borax to hot water, fully dissolving the Borax, and then pouring the solution into your washing machine, to ensure mold is removed, prior to packing. If you have mold in your home and are moving away from it, washing clothes in a machine separate from the home with mold solution is advised.
Do—Use plastic tubs and containers to pack and store your things. Corrugated cardboard boxes can absorb and retain moisture; thus, they also deteriorate over time. If there is any type of moisture intrusion where they are stored, they can get wet. If this happens, everything inside the boxes will potentially be ruined, because the boxes absorb the water. Worse yet, if you have wet boxes, unless they are completely dried out, you will eventually have moldy boxes. Whenever possible, use bubble wrap to wrap your breakables over newsprint or paper. Both newsprint and paper have been shown to harbor mold. If you have to use cardboard boxes for the short-term to just get things from one place to another, try to unpack them as quickly as possible, and dispose of them outside of your new home, rather than storing them in a basement or an attic. Empty boxes lying around can create a serious mold issue.
Do—Make sure any self-storage units you are using are climate controlled. This feature will help to keep the air temperature constant, and your things better ventilated.
Do—Place a dehumidifier and an electric fan in your basement, attic or storage unit to help keep moisture out and the air moving. Also helpful are moisture-absorbing desiccants, like cat litter and charcoal grill bricks. These items can be placed in an open plastic bucket in your basement, or storage space, and will absorb excess moisture. You will need to empty the bucket and restore it with new litter or bricks every 30 days.
Do—Clean, dry thoroughly and treat any kitchen appliances for mold prior to packing or storing. These items should be cleaned and treated with a solution to kill mold, like, peroxide, baking soda, or EC3 Mold solution. Any of those solutions will also prevent mold growth while your items are not being used and stored.
Don’t—Stockpile newspapers, paper bags, or magazines. Try to keep only what is necessary and has sentimental value. Store these in labeled plastic containers. Any kind of organic material sitting around is potential food for moisture and mold. Just use discretion with what you keep, and scan the rest or store electronically.
Don’t place storage boxes directly on the floor. When placing your things in a storage unit or in your basement, place the boxes on raised pallets or on top of a moisture barrier over the flooring. This will prevent all of your things from being ruined if there is a leak or flooding. If your storage boxes are off of the floor, they are safer from water intrusion.
Don’t—Crowd closet walls with storage or packed boxes. Ventilation is critical, even in closets! After those boxes are packed, try to leave them spaced out in open rooms, rather than all stacked on top of one another in a closet. If the air cannot move, moisture can take hold and produce mold and mildew.
Those are my tips, and I will be using each and every one as we ready our family for our move. I will also follow up with checklists for finding a new home or rental to ensure that you are not entering a moldy environment. If I happen upon any new tips in the moving process for packing and storing, I’ll be sure to update the blog.