Regarding Mold: A/C, Dehumidifiers, and Fans in Home
To a large degree we encounter a huge financial strain when we are sensitive to mold. When we encounter mold or mildew (which is mold), we are encouraged to follow best practice and get rid of anything that is contaminated. It makes sense, scientifically, but really is it practical?
Mold ill people and families may have already given up every penny they have, their savings, their equity, and their 401Ks while grappling with their illnesses, remediation, and starting over once. Some people and families have to repeat this process again... and again. We aren't made out of money. At some point we may need to try and find a different solution instead of constantly chucking things away and buying entirely new every time we see the slightest bit of mold. We may need to roll up our sleeves and do the work to effectively and correctly clean items.
I've done posts on cleaning items before, but thought I'd do a quick one on A/Cs, dehumidifiers, and fans- considering I am entering the time of year that these will be deployed in our home to combat seasonal and geographic heat and humidity.
My husband has begun to complain about the excess sweating already. And while I am reveling in the fact that I CAN actually sweat on my own without having to use a sauna bag or work out, he doesn't feel the same and is just grossed out by all the sweat that everyone in our house is emitting. I'm working on my happy compromise because I know sweating is KEY FOR DETOX for everyone in our house, but I don't want everyone miserable- I have brought out the A/C units and begun the beginning of the season clean out.
PSA: Every year, before you use your machines and also at the end of the season for using your machines, YOU NEED TO OPEN THOSE PUPPIES UP AND CLEAN THE EVER LOVING HELL OUT OF THEM!
The first year I brought out our A/C unit out back and disassembled it, I was physically sick from seeing (and being exposed to) what the heck was in the A/C unit.
Had I actually breathed all of that shit in every day and every night for like 100 days this year?!?!
Is that what I was giving my children to breathe all of those days?!!?!?
What the fuck why don't people know about this or talk about cleaning their machines annually?!?!
I put my fear away that first year and got to work. I took every disassemble-able piece of that unit apart and scrubbed for hours. (It took me a long time to get the hang of disassembling and reassembling one machine.) (This year I did two machines in 3,5 hours.)
I felt so much more at ease as I watched all of the dead leaves, bugs, mold, dust, animal hair, and caked on gunk disappear for the fresh white base of the unit, and the crisp metallic pieces shine again in the daylight. My morale was back when I saw that I had done something hard and my efforts paid off. I stuck my head all up in that machine when it was clean, sniffing and huffing and trying my best to "expose myself" to anything that was left. There was nothing. My kids would be able to breathe clean cool air all night long. I and my partner would also. It was so comforting to know there was another variable in my illness that I COULD control, and that money didn't have anything to do with it, it was down it just my effort and diligence.
Clean water. Clean food. CLEAN AIR.
The cornerstones of health.
And here I was, giving myself and family family one of the trifecta back, with chill to boot in the nasty humid summertime. What a healing boost.
So I do this disassembling, and cleaning routine now once at the beginning of the season and once before I put our machines away from the season. Doing this work has paid off big time.
Previously, I was a person that has always reacted to air conditioning I now know why- the mold inside sets me off. I would always end up with a raging headache, sinus infection, horrible sleep- almost every single time in my life when I'd experienced air conditioning.
I grew up very poor, so I didn't encounter A/C unless I was sleeping over places, or on trips with friends' families. I always came home messed up and often needed antibiotics for sinus infections. Welp, there you go, that damn mold.
I suggest that you find yourself a handy friend and offer to trade skills or favors with one another if they can help you disassemble and reassemble your units or fans.
Or, there are handy videos available amply on the web and YouTube, you can look up your make and model and watch someone do it and pause and work along with them.
Or if you are like me, (and this is my least favorite suggestion for others but) you can go slowly and concentrate on the job, use your organizational skills, visual/spatial skills, and tool skills and just go screw by screw slowly. You can write down or visually lay out the parts and pieces as you disassemble, and work backward when you are ready to reassemble.
(This method could end up a huge mess for you, so I really don't recommend it. Try the other ones instead. I wouldn't want to risk you doing all the work and missing one step incorrectly and winding up with a broken or faulty/unsafe machine. I only include this option for the most desperate just to share that it is possible to do even with no other guidance or resource materials available.)
Without further ado, I'll share some tips I used while cleaning our 2 A/C units.
(This may not work for every human in the world, but it's miles away from having a disgusting unit you never clean)
1) Properly dress for the project. Some very sensitive people will need full head to toe coverage, and at least an N-95 for this project. I am less sensitive now after a long time with LDA/LDI treatments and continuous detoxing over a long period of time. I only needed rubber gloves.
2) Take the unit outside away from your home. This way any gunk you are cleaning off will not reenter your home. Bonus: the wind does you a huge favor in sweeping away anything that comes dislodged as you clean.
3) Disassemble the unit.
Keep screws and sections together as you remove them so that you know they go together. Lay items out in order of dis assembly so you can easily go backward when you reassemble.
4) HEPA vac as much as you can, every nook and cranny.
5) Fill a gallon sized bowl with a mixture of 70% white vinegar and 30% water. Add 15 drops of Tree Tea essential oil and 10 drops of Lemon essential oil. Gently mix.
6) Use disposable microfiber cloth rags, antimicrobial cloth wipes, or paper rags (it's like a cloth rag but made of paper) if that's all you have. Dip one rag into the solution you made and wring it out well. Use this to methodically scrub down the components of your machine. As you wipe, fold over the rag as needed to create a new "clean" side to wipe with. Do NOT re-dip this rag into the solution. Wipe until it is full of crud and throw away.
7) Get a new rag, and repeat #6 until your machine is squeaky clean.
8) Never put water or liquids near the part of the machine that functions with electricity.
This is a hazard, and can ruin your machine also.
As you have disassembled your unit, this section should be away from what you are washing.
9) Use a bright light shine into the machine bits to make sure you got everything.
10) Use compressed air to blow out anything you can't reach.
11) Grab more rags and do a repeat all over process of using your solution and rags for swiping and cleaning now that you have blown out all sorts of new stuff from the hardest to reach places. (Optional, use hydrogen peroxide directly onto the rag this round. I did this after I did another swiping session with the vinegar/water mixture. Is it overboard, sure maybe, but hey I'm only cleaning these beasts a couple times a year and I can not risk ever getting as ill as I once was from mold again.)
12) Allow all parts to air dry outside in the sun and heat for at least 2 hours.
13) (Optional- Stick your face and sniffer all up in that unit's parts and see if you react to anything before you put it together. Then you can try to re-clean or re wash that part again.)
14) Test A/C unit outside before you bring it back into your home. This way if anything were to get blasted out when you power it on, it will be swept away by the wind, AND also this way you can make sure the units works (and you reassembled successfully.) You don't wanna lug that thing up and down flights of stairs and find out you missed a step and it isn't working right and you need to remove it outside and try to reassemble it again correctly.
15) Enjoy cleaner and cooler air than before!
Please do not attempt to disassemble/clean/reassemble a unit if you honestly don't think you can. I'm sharing all of this though in the hopes that I can encourage others that it CAN be done, and you can also save money by caring for and maintaining expensive items you own- instead of throwing them all out and buying new.
If you have the ability and the will and patience... you CAN do this.
Here is me from a couple days ago tackling our units.
(This is the exciting shit I do when I am not blogging, working on our home, trying to heal, or raising kids with my partner. I'm really rad, I swear.)
(Our two units)
(This is god awful gross, and this year wasn't even that bad)
(I can smell the cleaner air already!)
(Lots of hair, dust, dirt on this side)
(So much better)
(Machine 1 is squeaky clean for my kiddos!)
(Disassembling machine two, looking unimpressed while forgetting how annoying this unit was to take apart last year)
(Dried it out in the 80 degree weather, and mostly reassembled- nice!)