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  • Writer's pictureBritany Libutty

Taming the Mold and Mycotoxins

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

I wanted to share some quick strategies that we use in order to regularly clean and attend to our home post-remediation. Some people out there will agree with what we are doing while others may find that these strategies don't work for them.

It is all a matter of sensitivity and personal preference- that and actually having had a remediation that worked. (I read somewhere once that 2/3 of remediation jobs don't work because they are improperly done.)

(You also need to be mindful to do an extremely thorough cleaning of your entire home post-remediation because mold spores and mycotoxins can get everywhere, and decide whether or not you find it important to toss out porous items or attempt to deep clean them. It is super hard to do well, so we just chucked most of our stuff.)

Here are some of the things we do to reduce mold and mycotoxins in our home:

-Austin Air Healthmate Plus air purifier in our open downstairs living room/dining room/ kitchen area running on low or medium during the day and on high at night while we sleep.

-Individual bedroom-sized air purifiers in each bedroom, running on low during the day and high at night when we sleep.

-Regularly cleaning the purifiers (wiping down with vinegar solution or benefect decon 30) and changing the filters as recommended by the company or sooner if really dirty,

-Changing our furnace filter monthly, and opting for the best filter available when we buy.

-Daily "Air Exchange" in the Warmer Seasons:

Keep all windows open all day long as long as outdoor humidity is under 50%

-Daily "Air Exchange" in Colder Seasons (and it gets cold here in Buffalo, NY... 2 degrees out today!):

Open the windows in our house for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening and allow fresh air inside- sweeping out the "dirty air".

-Vacuuming a level of our home every 2 days with a Shark vacuum with a true HEPA filter. We empty the vacuum container outside in our dumpster, never indoors.

-Mopping weekly with a microfiber cloth mop head (re-washable),

and using a mixture of 30% distilled white vinegar 70% water. We also add 10 drops of lemon, clove, or rosemary essential oil to the mixture (whichever we feel like at the time). We mop with windows open to aerate as essential oils and vinegar can irritate the lungs. (Caution using essential oils around pets also).

-Washing all laundry with a combination of 1/2 cup borax, and our regular sensitive detergent in every load. We add 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar if an additional "boost" is needed.

-Using moisture meters in our home to regularly check the status of building materials' dampness.

-Leaving a humidity monitor in the basement, attic, and the bathroom, and checking that humidity stays between 35% and 50%.

-Leaving 2 windows on each floor cracked open at all times unless it is raining/high humidity, or absolutely freezing out. Open windows dilute what is in the air.

Clean air is a cornerstone of health.

-Opening windows fully whenever outdoor humidity and temperature allows for it.

-Washing curtains, small rugs, bedding, couch pillows, anything porous at least every two weeks. When we wash clothing or any of the aforementioned items, we use our regular sensitive laundry detergent and add 1/2 cup borax. We add 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar if we need an extra boost.

-Building inspection panels and flaps near the areas we had leaks in our walls in the first place. Having easy access -even if not aesthetically pleasing- gives us the ability to check them monthly to check for new leaks, or mold, or musty smells.

-Monthly de-cluttering. All of those things and papers that just end up collecting will hold more dust, and mold spores love dust. Keep your home simple, clean, and uncluttered- it gives mold less places to hide and wait for a leak.

-Try ruggables, or if you can't afford them (like us) try using moving rugs if you need something on your bare floors.

Moving rugs are surprisingly cheap and durable and make great little rugs or play spaces for kids. Our budget is shot to hell after all of this, so my dad bought us a few moving rugs for our bedrooms as the winter gets cold. We wash them in our laundry machine every 2/3 weeks and don't have to worry about what kind of things are building up on our floors. Carpeting is notorious for harboring mold, bacteria, and other nasties. Just say no to carpet.

-Ozone. We bought an ozone machine for our home on recommendation from my doctor before anything else when I was first diagnosed. We left our home for the day and ran it on high for 8 hours and when we got home the entire atmosphere of our house was lighter and fresher. The air was better. (Ozone kills living things, (ie mold). After remediation, we try to run the ozone machine monthly on a different level of the house. No people or animals can be in a house while ozone is running, and also for several hours afterward while the home airs out. Ozone has made a huge difference in our home. While ozone works for most people, some sensitive people react to their environment after ozoning, and some people don't find it helpful. Do some reading before you decide to try it, and try renting a machine from a business nearby before deciding to buy one of your own.

-Use an ultraviolet light near questionable spaces. There were a few areas in our basement that still made me paranoid following remediation and I had done a lot of reading about wavelengths and UV light killing living organisms, (ie mold), so we got a stand up UV light and turn it on weekly near different areas of our basement just for regular biocidal-type upkeep.

-Seasonal HEPA vacuuming followed by Benefect Decon 30 biociding with a spray pump in both the basement and attic areas.

-2x yearly: ceiling and wall cleaning. I do a two step process.

First, I use my spray pump filled with high grade hydrogen peroxide to spray a light amount around the bases of all the walls. I look for any signs of the peroxide hissing or foaming up. The reason I do this is so that I can become alerted to potential areas of the house that have either mold growth or bacterial growth. These areas I can note and go back to later on if I decide I want to investigate for mold or other yucks that can potentially affect our health.

Second, I wipe the ceiling and walls down with a mixture of 30% distilled white vinegar 70% water. We also add 10 drops of lemon, clove, or rosemary essential oil to the mixture (whichever we feel like at the time). We wipe with windows open to aerate as essential oils and vinegar can irritate the lungs. (Caution using essential oils around pets also).

We buy a huge pack of microfiber cloth rags, and dip them into the solution, wring out, and then wipe the ceiling first and the walls after. When a wipe is being used, I fold it over again and again during use to get more "mileage" out of it, then when it has been used up, I discard the cloth and grab a new one to start again.

(To reach the ceiling, we use microfiber clothes on poles- ie like a swiffer kind of thing, but microfiber.)

If you don't have money or access to buying bulk microfiber clothes, just use some old freshly laundered shirts. Cut them up and use them instead. You don't have to do everything perfectly, microfiber has been shown to catch dirt, dust, and spores better but anything will work to clean your environment better.

It sounds like a lot, but doesn't have to be such a chore, invite a helpful friend over and chat while you do it, it ends up taking around 2 hours to do the whole house (not the basement or the attic).

* Have not tried yet:

I am looking into reading more about Homebiotic for the future- to try using "good" bacteria to keep our home's ecosystem in balance.

Homebiotic claims to form a living bacterial barrier to keep surfaces clean and protect against grime and mold by introducing good bacteria that eat or compete with bad bacteria and mold for stake in the home. The theory is that natural competition and diversity help maintain a balanced environment and lessen the likelihood that bad bacteria and/or mold can exist unchecked and take over.

There is a lot included here, and reading it may be like "OMG, how much f*** work do I have to do?!" But really, most of the work is monthly, or seasonally- so it is spread out a bunch.

I hope some of these tips are helpful! I will add more if they come up.

(I am not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned above).

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