My house is, once again, in total upheaval. As we “speak,” the kitchen and downstairs powder room are hermetically sealed off from the rest of our home. We have set up a makeshift kitchen in the dining room, and we have HEPA air scrubbers and fans sucking the air out and “cleaning” the air from both rooms. Our IQ Air Purifier and whole-house Aprilaire® systems are running around the clock to keep all particulate counts down. In other words, things are a bit crazy in our house right now. The difference this time, though, is the fact that all of this containment is being done by choice, rather than by necessity, as it was with all of the mold demo and remediation a few years ago.
I am in Florida right now vacationing with my family, and because of the way that I travel now—with all of my mold prevention products and remedies—everyone suggested that I should write a post about it. I actually cannot believe that I haven’t done this sooner, since it has become my “new normal,” but better late than never, I suppose.
First of all, when you or your family members are mold sensitive, entering a new “home away from home,” or hotel room can be quite scary. You just don’t know if you can trust what you are walking into. The fear of getting sick again may even cause such great anxiety that you opt out of vacation altogether. I used to dread vacation. That is sad, I know, but after losing my health for so long, I wasn’t willing to chance anything, even for a vacation. These days, after much experimentation, and lots of preparation, I feel like my family and I can go just about anywhere, and am ok. There are definitely some environments that would be toxic to just about anyone, but a typical hotel room, condo or vacation rental home doesn’t worry me much anymore.
I bring an arsenal of mold-cleaning, prevention, and immune-boosting products with me. These products seem to do the job of keeping me and my family well outside of our mold-free bubble. So, instead of yammering on any longer, I am going to give you my tried and true lists of tips and tools to take with you when getting away for travel or on vacation.
I realize I hadn’t written a DIY post in a while, so today is where I do just that. Today, I am going to teach you how to properly DEEP CLEAN your washing machine for mold.
Wait! I have already talked about this, right? Well, sort of. I wrote a post about laundry and about cleaning your washing machine for mold periodically as a preventative measure and to remove an surface mold or grime. (Click HERE to read that post.) BUT, this post is different. This post gets into the nitty-gritty of taking apart and cleaning your washing machine. This post details a technique that you only should have to do every other year or so, if you are using my other cleaning technique. I have actually found that since I have been using the “maintenance cleaning,” we were able to wait almost 3 years before having to do this deep cleaning again. This is a rather large job and time-consuming, but is incredibly necessary for maintaining a healthy home, especially if you are mold sensitive.
I recently wrote a blog post detailing how to clean your bathroom ventilation fans properly for mold. (HERE is a link to that post on the blog.) Because ventilation, and especially bathroom ventilation (think an area with large amounts of moisture, warmth, and residue), are crucial to preventing mold growth in your home, I thought I would bring you a supplemental post to add to that one.
Today, I will share some helpful insights with you on how to pick the best fan for your bathroom and ventilation needs. To help me do that, I’ve enlisted some professional help. Let’s face it, I may know a thing or two about mold, cleaning for mold, and mold prevention, but when it comes to the intricacies of bath fans, I only really know what I have read. With that said, I would like to introduce you to Paul St. Pierre, founder of Bathfanreview.com.
(Note: This post is Part II of a 2-part series on cleaning your feet and shoes for mold and bacteria. Today’s post features a Homemade Athletic Shoe-Cleaning Wash. To read Part I about making your own antibacterial and antifungal foot wash, click HERE. Read to the bottom of the post to find out how to enter the GIVEAWAY for 2 travel-size bottles of EC3 Laundry Additive.)
Today, I’m back with Part II of cleaning your stinky feet and shoes for mold and bacteria. This time, my post is all about shoes. Your shoes are constantly moist–either from sweat or from getting wet outside–and are constantly getting dirty and being exposed to bacteria, fungus and other microbes as well, just from normal wear and tear. And, as you probably know by now, moisture and dirt are a terrible combination when it comes to mold. The two create the perfect storm. Thus, knowing how to properly clean your shoes to address mold, especially your athletic shoes that your feet frequently sweat in, is imperative. Not only will using the right cleaning and antifungal ingredients on your shoes remove the current dirt, mold and bacteria, but it will also prevent additional contamination from being tracked into your home. (The minute dirty shoes touch your carpets, rugs or floors, everything that is currently on them, microbes, mold and all, is now right at home inside your house.)
Just as in my previous post where I gave you my special recipe for cleaning your feet, today, I will share my recipe and techniques for cleaning your athletic shoes. Many people I have already shared this recipe with claim that using this shoe wash got their athletic shoes sparkling clean, eradicated any unpleasant odors from them, and helped to prevent the spread and recurrence of athlete’s foot. I guess because this wash contends with the mold directly, it kills any fungus that would otherwise continue to fester inside the shoes and spread back to your feet again. Great! Another plus! Who wants athlete’s foot?!!!
As many of you know, my family deals with allergies, chemical sensitivities, and other types of scent- and product-related reactions in my house. All of those things increased exponentially after we lived in a mold-infested house for as long as we did. Now that we are all healthy again, and not living day to day with mold-related ailments, my son and I especially still have problems with cleaning products. The chemicals and smells in most household cleaners send my sinuses into overdrive, and give me headaches, while they make my son’s throat and skin start itching. Since I cannot just decide to give up on cleaning our home, my solution, other than mostly switching to natural, unscented products, like baking soda, white vinegar, and the EC3 products, that do not emit VOC’s, has been to use steam for many cleaning endeavors. I have both a handheld steamer and a steam mop (I use the Smart Living Steam Mop and the Smart Living Steam Jr.), so I am able to conquer most tasks with one of the two.
One of my pet peeves is when I walk into the bathroom to find my husband taking a hot, steamy shower with the closet door open and the bathroom vent fan off. I literally blow my top! We are both extremely mold sensitive, and I know too well the dangers of the aftermath: The condensation from the steam on the ceilings and walls promotes mold growth in our bathroom, and then, our closet and clothes fill with the moisture and possibly start to mildew—a double whammy. In other words, prevention is key here, and mold can only grow where there is excess moisture; thus, where moisture is controlled, so is mold.
Since my husband is an ex-builder, I have access to his experience and understanding of the whys and wherefores of proper bathroom ventilation from a tangible, here’s where the fan should go, this size room needs this sort of fan, perspective. I pair that with my knowledge of mold and protecting my family from it, in order to offer some helpful tips for cleaning and using your bathroom fan to help win the battle over mold.
First, the basics: When you are purchasing or renting a home, or updating a bathroom, make sure an exhaust fan exists in the same room as the shower. In some older homes, ceiling ventilation is only in the toilet closet, especially if it is separate. A fan is needed in the same space as the shower to keep the air circulating and dry. Without air movement, condensation can form on walls and windows. Where water sits and cools, mold can and will grow. Also, make sure that the exhaust fan vents to the outside through the ceiling or roof. My husband has told me his stories of nightmare renovations, where the bathroom fans are ventilated straight into the attic, and sometimes even directly into the attic insulation. Moisture in the attic sits and creates a HUGE and possibly dangerous mold issue. (Note: Most attics are unconditioned spaces, meaning no direct heat or cooling applies. If your attic is a finished and conditioned space, it is highly unlikely that your bathroom fans would be vented into it. It is ALWAYS worth an inspection, though. This relatively inexpensive fix can save you LOTS in mold remediation down the line.)
Because I am often in mad scientist mode now that I have started this blog, writing and experimenting with products and techniques to find which things clean for mold best, I sometimes end up making products that once I have them, I don’t know how in the world I didn’t think of “inventing” them sooner. This cleaning gel is one of those inventions.
Before I begin telling you how to make it and what I use it for, I want to make sure that you know something about me. I take reader comments, input and suggestions very seriously. If a reader finds something I post helpful or informative, disagrees with something, or wants me to post more about a certain topic or cleaning technique, I want to hear about it. So, this post is the result of a recurring reader question concerning the EC3 Mold Solution Spray and hard to remove mold/mildew stains on grout or tile. People love how the EC3 Mold Solution Spray wipes out the existent mold and eliminates the mycotoxins created by some of the more dangerous molds on contact, but they don’t love the way that the product leaves visible mold and mildew stains behind. In other words, you have to physically scrub the stains out, because the product does not bleach or lift the actual mold stains without a little added elbow grease. I addressed that once before in my post, How to Remove Stubborn Mold and Mildew Stains from Grout, but many people wanted to know if there was more of a “one stop shop,” or one product that could do it all without so many steps, and hard work that they could use. I am one for simplicity myself, so I went about trying to concoct a product that would “do it all,” so to speak.
This post has been a long time coming. In other words, I’ve been neglecting doing this, finally got to it, and then wanted to share my experience and methods with you guys as soon as I could. And, since the New Year is upon us, causing many of us to reassess and to try to adopt new healthier habits, I thought this post would be very appropriate.
The activity in question–cleaning my yoga and workout mats for mold, of course. Not a chore that is very fun, but one that is extremely necessary, especially when you are highly allergic to any type of fungus, like I am. Or, when the telltale “mat stink,” coming from the combination of sweat (moisture and bacteria/fungus on your skin) and mold (the musty smell), becomes downright disruptive to your yoga practice.
Before I begin with my method, I want to share a few tidbits with you about lovely yoga and workout mats and why it is not only a good idea, but extremely necessary to do, both frequently and properly. According to a medical and microbiology professor at Rutgers School of Medicine, when tested for cleanliness, yoga mats have proven to be filthier, in terms of harboring bacteria and fungi than either airline seats or cell phones—two of the highest items on the contamination list. The reason being, yoga mats get more skin-to-skin contact than either of the other two items. Also, during exercise, more skin on your body is usually exposed; therefore, more skin is in contact with the mat. Human skin can foster many different organisms, among those are up to 14 different types of fungi. Combine that with sweat, an absorbent and porous surface, (aka the mat) and you have a recipe for bacterial and fungal disaster!
This week I had a little cleaning for mold encounter that I wanted to share. It definitely complements the post I wrote a while back–Easy DIY Projects to Prevent Mold Growth in Your Home. Here is the LINK to that post if you would like to refer to it.
Anyway, this week, as I was using the sink in our downstairs powder room, I noticed sort of a mildewy/musty smell in the bathroom. I had not noticed the smell before, so I immediately started poking around the bathroom to find the source. Since mold and mildew can only occur when there is a water source to feed it, I focused my search on the toilet and the sink–in other words, on the most obvious potential culprits for leaks.
(Note: Anytime you encounter a new mold or mildew smell in your own home, start in the obvious water source/water-holding places, like sinks and toilets. If you eliminate those as the offenders, then you can move on to the inconspicuous places, like pipes, under the sink, behind the washing machine, etc. You definitely don’t want to open up any walls, or pull up any flooring unless you have to.)