Home Cleaning Tips Packing and Leaving a Moldy Home: What to Remediate, What to Discard, and How to Cope

Packing and Leaving a Moldy Home: What to Remediate, What to Discard, and How to Cope

by Catherine

When faced with leaving a toxic home, the idea of having to sort through your things before you embark upon your “new” life can be overwhelming. If you are also very sick, the tasks, even simple ones, can pile up, leading to anxiety, depression, and sometimes more illness.

I can definitely empathize. I lived this scenario. I was faced with leaving our home, all of our things, memories and personal items, even though I KNEW it was for the best. At that time, my husband was unwilling to concede. The mold just made me much sicker than it made him, so my body didn’t give me a choice. I took one bin of photos, scrapbooks and toiletries and our children and moved in with my sister for a few months.

My husband stayed behind and attempted to come to terms with what we were facing. Those were very hard times. I believe we both had to experience a grieving process before moving forward. Some of the emotional trauma that incurred still remains. I have made the choice for my sanity to move forward and live in the present and in thankfulness for my reclaimed health, rather than in the past dwelling on what I could have done differently.

If you are experiencing  this, I am sure you have come up against  conflicting advice in “expert” opinions about remediation, and what you can safely save and clean for mold and what you must discard. It felt “almost impossible” to know where to begin. For example, we all have many possessions that we love and have sentimental value, but we also don’t want to further risk our health by trying to save things that could make us sick or that could contaminate a new, safe environment.

The questions remain:

Who should you listen to?

Should you cut your losses no matter what or try to “clean” things for mold?

Recently, I got a version of these exact questions from a reader. Here is that email:

Hi! Thank you for all the valuable info on your website and Facebook page!! I have been sick for a few years. After many doctor visits and lab tests, we have finally just recently discovered that all of my problems are most likely due to mold in our home. We have been living in a 100-year-old cabin for the past four years that has a had a roof leak off and on for the last 10 years or so. We noticed one 5-foot spot on the living room ceiling recently turning dark and looking suspiciously moldy. Long story short, we ordered air test kits and found mold present in several rooms. The test kits showed Candida, cladosporium, aspergillus, microsporum, and nocardia present. We assume that the mold has probably gotten into the HVAC system. I have also been to the doctor, and my lab tests show I am suffering from mold toxin. We are building a new house and hope to be moving within the next few months. My doctor has recommended that we throw away everything “soft.” After doing our own research, we feel comfortable washing clothes and some furniture with the EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate. I wanted to ask your opinion about books and photographs. We homeschool, so books will be such an expensive replacement especially when we will need to be replacing some furniture and mattresses. I’m overwhelmed with the thoughts of all this. We are planning to move in with a friend until we can move to our new home. How would you recommend we protect ourselves while packing and cleaning out the cabin?

Also, just to clarify, we have not visually found any mold to be on any furniture or books or clothing. Just on the ceiling. Still trying to wrap our minds around the mycotoxins and how it’s like dust in the air. We are currently planning to trash all clothes except a few items we feel like we can manage to clean. Baby blankets, quilts for granny
Thank you so much for the info!! I’m so sorry for the lengthy message!!

Before I share my answer, in an effort of full disclosure, I want you to know that we basically got rid of everything, or left it behind. I didn’t know then what I know now, or have the tools that I have now to clean some things for mold successfully. I didn’t even know if saving anything was an option. I was at the very beginning of my mold journey.

Today, I look at things very differently. I have done years of research. I have tried hundreds of remediation products and have tested their efficacy, and have spoken with many remediation professionals, doctors, naturopaths, Building Biologists, and researchers in the field about what actually works and what is safe for human health. All of this has changed my perspective and has given me the ability to answer this reader with an informed opinion—not a professional opinion in anyway.

It is also important to note that every person is different. Mold affects each of us to varying degrees, and while I may be able to clean something that was exposed to mold and live with it without issue afterwards, another person may continue to react to something even after multiple cleanings. Thus, I strongly advise you to listen to your body first. Your body wants to be healthy and to protect itself. It is a beautiful machine. Trust it, and let go of anything that seems to make you sick.

With that said, here is all of the information I included in my reply to this reader:

First, even though you cannot see “visible” mold on the clothing, books, or other contents of your home, this does NOT matter and does NOT mean that those items are safe. Here are 2 reasons why:

1.)  Mold spores, especially those of mycotoxin-producing molds like some that were found in your cabin are often invisible to the human eye. Mold spores are approximately 3-40 microns.  A human hair is approximately 100 microns thick. Mold spores are so small that as many as 250,000 can fit on a pin head. A person can breathe in as many as 750,000 spores in an hour. The mycotoxin gasses emitted by the molds penetrate materials, are very sticky, and can make you very sick. Mycotoxins are proven to cause oxidative stress, permanent and irreversible DNA damage and are even linked to cancer in human beings. Many mycotoxins are also very potent neurotoxins, causing cognition, memory, and other debilitating neurological problems.

2.)  Like all fungi, molds get their energy, not through photosynthesis but from the organic matter in which they live. They play a major role in decomposing organic material, enabling the recycling of nutrients throughout ecosystems. Many molds also secrete mycotoxins for protection, which, together with hydrolytic enzymes, inhibit the growth of competing microorganisms. Although molds grow on dead organic matter everywhere in nature, their presence is only visible to the unaided eye when mold colonies grow. These colonies can have Billions of spores. So, if you are actually seeing the mold on a wall, flooring, or on objects inside your home, you are dealing with a huge health issue.

During our ordeal, some of the items in our home with the highest mold counts looked perfectly clean and safe. Here is a link to a post that might explain this concept of how mold, even when not seen, can spread throughout your home: https://moldfreeliving.com/2017/12/23/diy-mold-remediation/

To this effect, anything that was inside of your cabin either needs to be cleaned properly, professionally sanitized, for mold and mycotoxins or be discarded. The price of miscalculation is very high, so you will need to test as you go and be diligent and careful. I cannot stress this enough. In other words, treat everything like it has lice, bedbugs, or a virus. If you frame it this way, the magnitude of the effort is harder to ignore.

As far as packing up the contents of your home, your health and safety are paramount. In order to safeguard your body from exposure, here is my advice:

1.)   Do not enter the cabin without proper gear–Tyvek suit, disposable gloves, hair coverings, shoe covers, and a N95 mask. You can order a supply of this stuff from Amazon or get it from Home Depot or Lowe’s.

2.)  Each time you enter, suit up outside first, and then enter. When you exit and are not re-entering anymore for that day or time, remove and discard all of the protective gear in a plastic garbage bag. Seal the bag and throw it away.

3.)   Remove and bag all of the clothes that you wore underneath the gear. Change into clean clothing. When you get to where you have a washing machine, wash all of the bagged clothing with detergent and EC3 Laundry Additive. Do not return any of that clothing to your drawers or closet until you have done this.

Here is a link to a post about using the EC3 Laundry Additive, it also contains other links for laundry and one about cleaning your washing machine for mold, because you will need to do this to help prevent it from getting contaminated too.

4.)  While you are cleaning or working with anything from your home, even outside, stay in your protective gear until you are finished. Lessons learned from the many good Samaritans that went to New Orleans to help Katrina victims demonstrate necessity of protective gear.  Many who did not use it fell very sick.

Now for my suggestions about removing, remediating, or discarding the contents of your cabin:

1.)  When in doubt, throw it out!

That should be the first pillar of your thinking throughout this process. No tangible item is worth losing your health nor all your new items and home. You have already come this far. You don’t want to have to start all over again, because of some contaminated item.

2.)  Something to consider: A quality, licensed, mold remediator who is worth their salt will have all of these “contents” procedures set up for when they do this work for clients. They may not do it my way and with the same tools, but they will go through your home with you and attempt to remediate the items that you want to try to save. They will also help you determine which items are most likely to be successfully remediated. All of this does come with a price tag, but for some people, this may be the only way to go, because you do not have to purchase equipment, products, and tools or to re-enter the contaminated home. If you are very sick, I would recommend that you hire someone.

If you decide to allow the professionals to do this, make sure they are testing any items they remediated for mold, so that you can make sure they are safe before bringing them into your new home. If a remediator does not offer this as part of their services, do NOT hire them. I would also rent a storage unit, where the remediator can deliver the items after treatment. You can then be around them there to see if you have any issues before returning them to your new home. Does that make sense? Sometimes, you will find that you react to things, even after they have been treated. Trust your body. Discard anything that you react to. Nothing is worth debilitating mold illness.

As far as getting items you would like to try to keep out of the home, here is what I suggest:

Prior to beginning:

1.)  Set up a “staging area” in your garage, carport, or other covered area outside of your home where you can physically get things out of the home, assess them, and attempt to remediate the things you feel are worth it.

2.)   Purchase large plastic bins with lids that seal to put contents you wish to try to save inside. The lids must completely seal to keep things air tight. This will allow you to transport things inside the bins without the risk of cross contamination.

3.)  You will also need a HEPA vacuum with a hose and upholstery attachments and a handheld steamer. (I like the Housmile Anti-Bacterial UV Vacuum Cleaner with HEPA Filtration, because it provides antimicrobial and mold protection, and the Smart Living Steam Jr., because it is very mobile and retains steam heat at 135 degrees F.) The vacuum and steamer are for cleaning upholstered items.

4.)  The last major item you need before you begin is a Sanitizer Fogger and EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate. You will need multiple bottles of the EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate. One bottle makes about 1 gallon of cleaning solution to be used in a spray bottle or in the fogger. The fogger is a must if you are going to attempt to do remediation yourself. (If you use the link, you can get a special package discount for MoldFreeLiving.com readers.) I use mine weekly, so realize that this is an investment that you will continue to need and to use. I use mine for mold maintenance in our home.

5.)  I would also suggest fogging your staging area prior to starting, if any part of it is enclosed.

Contents Removal and Remediation Process:

1.)  Remove all clothing and linens from the house. Take it out of the closets and drawers and put it into the plastic bins. Close the bins and get them all outside into your staging area. Most dry-clean only items should probably be discarded. If there are dry clean only items, that you would like to save, HERE is a link to a technique that does work for dry clean items that can be fogged and dried at a high temp. There are also some dry-cleaning companies that offer a “mold treatment” for these items. I personally have never had success with items treated by the cleaners. It may be worth checking out, though.


2.)  Once in the garage, fog the outside of the bins, and keep them sealed. Allow them to air dry. (All of the fogging is to make sure you aren’t putting the mold into your car when you are trying to transport this stuff.) Then, transport the clothing to a place where you can launder it. Wash all clothing in the hottest water it can handle with detergent and EC3 Laundry Additive. All clothing we have treated this way has been fine for us. I even treated some of my daughter’s stuffed animals this way with total success. HERE is a link to treating stuffed animals for mold, if you are interested.

3.)  Get rid of all pillows, comforters and duvets, and mattresses. Discard lampshades as well. These items are extremely difficult to save. Some professional remediators do have techniques, but anything with an inner stuffing has many layers to remediate, and it is almost impossible to reach all of those layers. I wouldn’t chance it.

4.)  For any other “contents,” suit up, go inside, place it in a bin, seal the bins, and bring it into the staging area. Once there, remove it from your bin, fog it, and allow it to air dry.

5.)  If you can utilize the sun, bring things out into the sunshine to dry. Sunshine on a hot day is often the best sanitizer.

6.)  For wood or non-porous furniture, remove it from the home and bring it to your staging area. Non-upholstered furniture can be wiped down with a spray made from the EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate and distilled water, or can be fogged. Just make certain to get every nook and cranny and underside.

7.)  Upholstered furniture is more difficult. You must HEPA vacuum it first. The dust that gets into the upholstery has lots of mold spores in it. Some items can be fogged. Remember, though, that upholstered items have “stuffing,” so not only is the mold in the fabric, but also in the insides of the item. The only way we were able to save any upholstered pieces was to fog them, and then thoroughly steam them with a handheld steamer. HERE is a link to a post on cleaning upholstered furniture for mold.

8.)  I would get rid of any loose cushions and area or throw rugs that are not washable. I have not had success with cleaning any after several tries.

9.)  For books, magazines and some photos, I’ve heard of using the microwave, or an oven at 180° F. I’ve also heard of freezing to make the mold dormant and then HEPA vacuuming.  I encourage you to research this, because I have not done much experimenting or cleaning these items myself. I would throw out any you do not absolutely love or need. If possible, you could try removing the books and photos from the home as you have done before with other things. You could lay them out and fog them. Then, allow them to air dry. I would remove the outer cover of the books first, and possibly even remove the binding, so that the moisture can escape easier. When they dry, you can have them rebound, or do it yourself. Regardless of what you decide to do, just make sure to TAP test the books and photos with EC3 Mold Screening Test Plates afterwards to make sure they don’t have mold before you bring them in your new home. I did deal with some textbooks and had success calling our local school and reaching out to the textbook publisher. I told both our situation, and was able to get some replacement books free of charge. They were incredibly understanding and generous. You just have to ask.

  • Additionally, for photos, I scanned all of the photos in our photo books, and then reprinted those I wanted in our new home. I actually discarded all but a handful of our photo prints. This is a time-consuming process, but one that is necessary to preserve memories. If you don’t have a scanner, you can take the photos or photo books to a Kinko’s and they will copy or scan and print the whole lot for you, if you like. Just make sure they discard the originals. If you are transporting any of these materials in your car, make sure they are safely contained in an airtight bin.

I know this process is tedious, and will take multiple sessions and days. I encourage you to stick with it. You should only be doing this with things that you really want to save. It is healthier and easier to discard things that you don’t absolutely need or want to preserve.

Have I helped?

A long post, but I hope it benefits some of you. If you have any questions or a situation that you would like help with and to share, please comment here on the blog or on Facebook, or email me at catherine@moldfreeliving.com.






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Irma Hernandez - 4:53 pm

Hi Catherine,
What about a refrigerator? Our mold air samples came back as present but the swabs did not detect anything. We are still going to go with remediation to be in the safe side.
We have heard that fridges can not be cleaned. Do you have a method that worked or should we get rid of it?

Catherine - 3:05 pm

If you can have someone replace or properly clean the fan and coils and wipe down the interior and exterior completely with EC3 or peroxide, you can clean it. You will also need to drain the water line and possibly replace it and replace the filter.

Tamra - 1:48 am

Hi! Any success with cleaning “faux plants”?? 🙂 I have EC3 and Decon30

Catherine - 3:12 pm

Hi, Tamra,

You can certainly try–with either of those products. You will need to HEPA vacuum thoroughly first, then wipe them down piece by piece and HEPA vacuum again. I would replace the containers that they are in and would replace any “potting” medium that the base of the plant is in. Much of the faux moss or grass in the pots of faux plants is impossible to clean. If you do that and react to the plant, I would then get rid of it. My two cents.

Rachel - 10:31 pm

I’m currently living in a house where I’ve found visible mold on a wall, and have reason to believe there is more hidden mold throughout the house from a roof leak decades ago that was sealed but nonetheless led to the ceilings taking in water, probably causing unseen mold.

My question: Are new purchases, still sealed in plastic and wrapped in cardboard, contaminated as soon as they enter my house? I recently purchased a mattress (compressed in box) that I have yet to open. It’s still sealed in the box it shipped in, but it has been sitting in my living room for a week. I can return it for a refund, just to be safe, but then I worry I’m sending back a contaminated item for someone else to live with. I also don’t want to take unnecessary chances if I move to a new place… Should I just assume it’s contaminated?

Catherine - 8:16 pm

Hi, Rachel,
With visible mold, I would definitely tell you to take as many precautions as possible with your belongings and with moving things that are currently in the home to a safe space if and when you move. But, I do think you will need to do testing, especially mycotoxin testing in the environment in order to properly know your exposure rish BEFORE you make big decisions on cleaning and getting rid of things. If possible, I would recommend doing an EMMA test. It will indicate the level of mycotoxins present in the home. If the levels are present to show that there is an exposure risk to you, the things contained in the home have also been exposed and a professional should be consulted on whether or not they can be safely and properly cleaned. For something like a mattress, I would return it and purchase a clean one after you move. The box could have taken on some mold sitting there, but the mattress inside may still be okay. The company you purchased it from is required to inspect all returns and likely will not resell it if it has any scent of mold or mustiness to it. As for your other things, I definitely would not move anything that you do not love or need to a safe space to give you the best chance of keeping it healthy. I also would test your current place before cleaning anything so that you KNOW the level of caution and cleaning that should take place. I hope that makes sense.

Ebony J - 8:18 am

I’m currently in a home with mold. I plan on getting rid of most things. However, I have a lot of expensive electronics that I’m concerned about salvaging. I.e MacBook, iPad, etc. What can I do? By the way, my mold appears orange on the walls but I’ve visibly seen the white spores on things like shoes and clothes. What’s the difference between the orange and black molds?

Catherine - 5:02 pm

Hi, Ebony,
First, I am sorry you are having to face leaving and getting rid of your contaminated belongings–it is not easy. I do have an article on cleaning electronics: https://moldfreeliving.com/2018/11/24/clean-laptop-for-mold/ That should give you some basic guidelines. I have found cleaning things that way has worked for me. To answer your other question, mold can appear in many colors and the color doesn’t always mean it is “black” or toxic mold only if it is actually black in color. Toxic mold can be many colors, and allergenic mold can still cause much sickness and histamine reactions can also be many colors. Thus, if you are not feeling well inside your home and have a visible mold of any color, you should not stay there, and leave to find a safe living space or leave until proper remediation is completed. From what you are saying about seeing the mold on shoes and clothing, it sounds to me that you have a very high indoor humidity issue, and condensation or humidity levels above 50% inside are actually fostering mold growth on your porous belongings. Additionally, orange-color mold is very common on ceilings in bathrooms or kitchens where condensation beads on wallpaper or paint and create mold and/or bacterial growth.

Celeste Reynolds - 5:34 pm

What if your home is infested with mold and mold mites? What is safe to keep?

Catherine - 5:25 pm

If you are moving to a safe place, I would truly discard anything porous or that cannot be machine-washed with a mild detergent, hot water, and EC3 Laundry Additive. It is not worth risking cross-contamination or further health consequences.

Erica - 12:18 am

Thank you for your blog. It’s very helpful. From what I’m reading I feel you mostly feel wood items can be saved?

What about a sauna that is sealed wood in the outside but seems to be unseal wood inside. There are a few thin mess pieces inside near the heating elements.

How do you feel about rubber items? Or things like gel pillows (like the purple pillow brand)?

I have around 60 house plants and I’m wondering if they all need to go?? Ugh. I am guessing the dirt holds mold?

Catherine - 12:43 am

Hi, Erica,
I was able to save most real wood items. Particle board or composite items did not clean well for us. The sauna–honestly, I do not know. Is it located in close proximity to the mold source? You can sand and then wipe unsealed wood and have good results, but that is a lot of work. You may need to assess the situation on that with a remediation professional. Rubber–that depends as well. I was able to clean some rubber items with hot water, dawn soap, and EC3. Cheaper items with no sentimental value, I just tossed. Gel pillows–I would replace. House plants–they have been living in the mold. Plants are where they live and I found–this is completely anecdotal, that my plants that were in the mold, even with new soil, seemed to breathe the mold back into the home–so I got rid of them. 🙁 The dirt does hold mold–it contains decaying material by design. If you are a plant lover–until you heal, I would highly suggest growing an outside garden, if possible. Indoor plants are still problematic for me. The soil inside just creates an extra element of a place that is conducive to mold growth. Also, most potting soils test high for mycotoxins and you don’t want that indoors in your breathing space. Just my personal experience.

Brenda - 6:24 am

My natural path dr said wash clothes twice with oxyclean detergent. What do u think?

Catherine - 2:42 pm

I haven’t tried oxyclean. If your naturopath has used it and finds it works, you should try it. I would definitely use the hottest water temp the materials can handle and do not use scented detergent or fabric softener.

Mary - 5:20 am

Thank you for all the detailed information. We are starting remediation and your blog as well as comments provide much needed direction.

Catherine - 10:19 pm

Thank for writing, Mary. I am so happy my blog helped you.

Haylee - 4:12 am

Hi! Thanks for all the helpful information. I have been living in black mold and two other toxic molds that have been making me sick for about a year. What do you recommend doing with laptops, iPhones, ipads, apple watches, in other words smaller electronics. Is there a way to clean or do they need to be discarded?

Catherine - 4:10 am

It will really depend on how contaminated they got and how much those items affect you now that you are no longer in the moldy environment. I would suggest trying to clean them prior to bringing them into where you are living now. Here is an article on cleaning those types of items, specifically laptops: https://moldfreeliving.com/2018/11/24/clean-laptop-for-mold/

Antoinette - 10:10 pm

I just found out that mold has been causing my medical conditions for the past 15 years. We had our home tested 2 and mold was found in my body. It mold levels on the second test say our home is uninhabitable. We are currently building a new home but it won’t be ready for another year. Although the mold on our tests were high, they were not toxic black mold. Do I still need to be as careful as you are talking on here or were you dealing with black mold. As of right now we can’t even find the mold to try and treat it. I’m about to pack everything up to give us an easier to keep clean home and wiping everything down. Just wondering if others molds are as toxic.

Catherine - 5:38 pm

It is my experience that “toxic” mold is a misnomer and leads many people in unsafe environments to stay. If the mold levels inside your home are significantly higher than the outdoor environment, there is a mold problem. Period. The types of mold DO matter, but mold levels also matter from an exposure standpoint. Not all molds produce mycotoxins, but your immune system is still going to suffer if you are continuously exposed to high levels of any mold inside your home.

Joven Ruthford - 9:14 am

I think A quality, licensed, mold remediator who is worth their salt will have all of these “contents” procedures set up for when they do this work for clients. They may not do it my way and with the same tools, but they will go through your home with you and attempt to remediate the items that you want to try to save. https://www.greenleafair.com/air-duct-cleaning-dallas

Gigi - 4:00 pm


As an individual that has suffered multiple mold exposures (and continues to battle a recalcitrant HVAC system), I appreciate the information that you have shared. Since I have not seen it addressed in your posts, I am wondering what your thoughts are regarding UV light exposure to kill mycotoxins and fungus?


Catherine - 8:57 pm

UV lights do not work well, unfortunately. The power required to effectively kill bacteria or fungi is not present in most UV bulbs. The light also does not fully reach all sides of the coil, so will not prevent growth from occurring. The main thing to do is to keep the coil dry–which can be accomplished with a dehumidifier attached to your ductwork that dehumidifies and filters the air before it enters the air handler or furnace and proper filtration on the air handler/furnace that keeps the coil clean. You will need MERV 12 or higher filters and will need to change them every 3 months.

Sandra - 2:25 pm

Hello, me and my family have been living in a home full of mold for almost 6 years now. We have health problems. My sister and I have allergies and our sense of smell has dulled so much. My sister has been sick often and my mom developed asthma. The mold is absolutely everywhere, and a lot of it is visible and black/grey. Over the years we would always just clean it with bleach from our walls, windows, windowsills but there is always be a trace left anyways. The mold is visible on the back of almost all of our furniture, and inside of some, and inside of the bottom of our wardrobes. The clothes in the back always stink of mold. So basically, the mold is around our whole house. Thankfully we dont own it, and we will soon be moving into a new house. Im super scared of getting mold again.

If we bring all of our furniture then, will it spread to the walls and will our house get contaminated? I am at peace with the possibility of throwing out my things, but Im worried for my mom because she has a lot of things and she is super attached to them. One of her pretty new chest of drawers has so much mold on the bottom. I cant imagine her getting rid of all of it or all her clothes. I also cant imagine proffessionally cleaning all of the items because we dont have the money.

Do you have any tips? Thanks for such an informative article.

Catherine - 9:03 pm

I would advise discarding anything upholstered or porous with visible mold on it. If furniture has visible mold colonies, I would not bring it with you. I will contaminate your safe home. I am sorry, but it is just not worth it. You can try cleaning non-porous things, but with wood, you almost need to take off the finish to effectively remove the mold. The EC3 Mold Spray works well to clean as does Benefect or hydrogen peroxide. If clothing is washable, you can wash it with the EC3 Laundry Additive and Borax using the deep clean method directions on the EC3 Laundry Additive bottle. I would recommend using a laundry mat so as not to contaminate a washing machine in your new place. Professional wet cleaning not dry cleaning is the only way other than that that I have seen be effective at all.

Kelle - 3:05 pm

I have now completed my list of categories of items I own and preparing to pack. I will need to know what to do with the items. Also, is the porous vs. non-porous a good guideline to follow? If it’s porous and can’t be laundered then it can’t come into the new space? If it’s non-porous it can be cleaned with mold disinfectant?

Here is my new list:
1. Jewely
2. Toiletries, including opened makeup
3. opened toilet paper, tissues, paper towels
4. Plastic bags such as ziplocks in their original cardboard boxes
5. Food – dry goods, fridge and freezer items
6. Electric radiators that collect dust- 4 years old
7. Fans-desk and floor-could the dust just be cleaned?
8. House plants- I’ve heard they harbor mold but I have 2
9. Gardening supplies which will stay in a shed or garage
10. Luggage-it’s hard shell ? plastic outside, ? nylon fabric inside
11. Should mail and files and notebooks be treated like books? Scanned and cannot come into the house?

I appreciate your feedback and expertise.

Catherine - 1:40 pm

1. Jewelry – You can soak in EC3 and distilled work for about 30 minutes. Rinse and dry.
2. Toiletries, including opened makeup – I would not take any opened makeup, if possible. Toiletries, shampoo, etc. in plastic bottles with lids should be okay. You can wipe down bottles.
3. opened toilet paper, tissues, paper towels – If opened would discard.
4. Plastic bags such as ziplocks in their original cardboard boxes – Don’t know, would probably discard.
5. Food – dry goods, fridge and freezer items – Anything open discard. Cans can be wiped and so can glass. Honestly any opened food even in fridge would toss.
6. Electric radiators that collect dust- 4 years old – If you want to clean thoroughly, have at it. If not discard.
7. Fans-desk and floor-could the dust just be cleaned? You can always try . . .
8. House plants- I’ve heard they harbor mold but I have 2 – Discard
9. Gardening supplies which will stay in a shed or garage – Take
10. Luggage-it’s hard shell ? plastic outside, ? nylon fabric inside – You can try wiping the exterior and HEPA vacuuming and treating the inside. It could work.
11. Should mail and files and notebooks be treated like books? Scanned and cannot come into the house? – That’s what I would do.

Kelle - 3:06 pm

14. and plug in electric radiators that have collected dust over a few years

Catherine - 1:57 pm

You can try to HEPA vacuum and thoroughly wipe down.

Kelle - 2:46 pm

This article is wonderful. I have learned so much from it and I appreciate your awareness of the grief and emotional challenges that come with getting rid of so much stuff at once and investing in expensive solutions to salvage items. I do have some questions…
1. what about files of documents? Can these be treated?
2. Woven baskets
3. Tote bags
4. Down jackets and blankets that are washable
5. Washable Cashmere and wool sweaters
6. Insulated washable ski mittens
7. Sherling coat (usually it is professionally cleaned in a vinegar solution and air dried inside)

I look forward to your feedback. Thank you so much!

Catherine - 5:12 pm

Hi! Thank you for reading!!! To answer your questions, I will go down the list:
1.) I would scan them and convert to electronic files and shred and discard the originals. For things that must be retained, mist with EC3 Spray and allow to dry in the sunshine. I would then put them in ziplocks individually and store in a plastic sealable bin. To access inside, leave in the ziplock and read through the plastic.
2.) I would discard.
3.) Wash in the washing machine with a mild surfectant, like Tide Free and Clear and EC3 Laundry Additive.
4.) Same as #3.
5.) Same as #3.
6.) Same as #3.
7.) Could you have them professionally clean it with the EC3 instead? Vinegar does not do anything for mycotoxins, unfortunately. A Borax solution could also work, but I do not know how it would do on sherling. You could also mist it thoroughly with the EC3 spray and steam it with a clothing steamer.
I hope that helps.

Kelle Vort - 6:09 pm

Great! Thank you so much Catherine. Your reply was so helpful.

Kelle - 2:56 pm

Do you know if every single item I am taking needs to be sanitized? I believe this is true.
I have a whole additional slew of categories that I am wondering if they can be cleaned and if so, how?
1. Jewlery
2. Toilteries
3. Opened makeup and makeup brushes
4. kitchenware-can it be put through the dishwasher?
5. opened and unopened rolls of toilet paper and paper towel and tissues
6. Food-dry, fridge, freezer
7. Fans-desk and floor
8. Styrofoam cooler
9. House plants (i have heard these harbor mold)
10. Gardening stuff that will stay outside in a shed or garage
11. Luggage- hard shell (plastic outside, thin nylon? fabric inside)
12. DVD’s
13. yoga mats (1 is a bit thick)

And any general guidelines for items in case I come across more items I haven’t listed? Also, I will be getting an IQAir air purifier soon (not sure if it’ll come before or after I move in 3-4 weeks) and I am considering getting the fogger. However, I would like to know what the advantages of the fogger are over using a spray bottle. My expenses are just mounting. I’m moving in to a low mold home. Thank you so much. I appreciate any feedback you have.

Catherine - 3:42 pm

I answered many of these in a previous reply, so I’m only tackling the ones that aren’t in that one:
DVD’s – wipe with EC3
Yoga Mat – Here is my post on that one: https://moldfreeliving.com/2017/01/14/how-to-clean-your-yoga-and-workout-mats-for-mold-and-bacteria/
Styrofoam cooler – toss
The fogger is great for mold maintenance in your new home and for treating larger items. I also fogged all clothing before washing it so as not to contaminate our new washing machine.

Sheri Mowery - 9:03 pm

Love your blog! We have been through a failed remediation and now are planning to move. Our remediation company was not conservative enough, even though it had a stellar reputation. We are planning to get rid of most things, but will keep clothing, dishes and a few non porous items. What about shoes. Are they ok if you can wash them in the washer or soak them in the cleaner?

Catherine - 11:01 pm

If the shoes are washable, you can wash them with detergent and the Ec3 Laundry Additive. If they are leather, you can try fogging them with EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate, or Spraying them with the EC3 Mold Spray. Make sure to fully saturate them and allow them to air-dry in the sun, if possible. Just exercise caution, as I am sure you know. Don’t bring them into your “safe” environment until they have been treated. Also, make sure you do not react to them at all. Good luck! Let me know if you have any other questions.


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