The first part of our mold story, Moldy Brains, is here!
On September 1st, after realizing the mold in our home was killing us, I looked online for websites to guide me in what we could safely take with us into a new/different home.
In the months since finding we had mold behind the baseboard (I swear it’s called something else, since it was so high up the wall, but it’s not coming to me), a few friends had mentioned a book to me, knowing I avoid synthetic things and toxic chemicals as much as possible. One of those friends happens to own a copy of this book, Nature’s Mold Rx, and lent it to me. I planned to mix up my own recipe of “robber’s” blend (plus thyme, read this cool little study) and see how it would work, after I ran out of the bottle that friend gave me.
I definitely noticed a slight improvement when diffusing, before we escaped. But eventually, I opened the windows, not thinking about moving the mold around, and it was just too much at the time for our bodies to handle.
I won’t share the first site I began following, as I later learned several pieces of information were inaccurate. But, I will tell you that it was very much a “save almost nothing if you HAVE to save anything at all” kind of approach, which I later learned is not useful for most people.
In those first two weeks, Daryl and I spent all our free time together at our home, masked up and with gloves, throwing things away and sanitizing what we thought we could salvage.
Mold Killer Spray
- 1/2 teaspoon Sal Suds
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 25 drops robber’s blend (link to recipe, above)
Mix all in glass quart spray bottle, filling the rest of the way with water.
We began sloppily removing things and pretty quickly got MUCH wiser about disposal protocol.
Unfortunately, not only was the panic of health issues motivating me, I was also still cloudy-minded from Moldy Brain, time was rapidly running out before the remediation, and the initial website I’d trusted was not very… Accurate. Most of that two weeks was a gentle frenzy. I had no idea how gentle it was compared to what would come!
Here’s an example. With my vocational work, I have very slowly (over 5 years) collected tools to use indoors for more dynamic movement that are natural, for my own family and my clients. Cotton, rubber, cork. One of the things this website accurately stated is that if something is fabric and cannot be washed, it needs to be safely disposed of; if it can be washed, it is likely to be salvageable. So I kept and washed my cotton yoga straps with homemade laundry detergent (not soap) and “robber’s blend” essential oils. Rubber was iffy – so I threw away all 5 sets of my fascia balls. Cork was on this woman’s list for ‘absolutely don’t keep,’ so this is where my huge loss came in.
I’d purchased a large cork roller, cork domes, cork balls, and cork blocks. It was one of two items I resisted throwing away, not because of sentimentalism, but because of practicality. It took me 5 years to collect these items, when we were much better off financially than we were after Daryl lost his job.
About a week into this process, I was trying to find a natural flooring option for our kitchen that was affordable, easy to install, and didn’t encourage mold growth. My jaw DROPPED. This was mingled in the search results – Cork Flooring – The Mold Resistant Choice For My Family.
I stuttered it out to Daryl and then frantically looked up cork flooring and mold… And other websites were confirming this. Mold has a VERY difficult time permeating cork. I ran to our trash can, and dug out any bags I could that I knew were from the remediation (SO many bags) and began carefully searching for any of my cork tools to begin sanitizing them. That morning had been trash morning, so most of my stuff was gone for good… That never had to be gone… But I did find my big cork body roller, two cork fascia balls, and my tatami mat. Suddenly, I clicked into a different state and decided I was going to sanitize pretty much everything I had time for that could be sanitized.
So many things aside from my Restorative Exercise tools had already been thrown away in led-up construction trash bags.
Honestly many of the things we had already thrown would have been so time consuming to sanitize. With time running out, as we quickly approached the 14th to remove the actual mold in the walls, floor and insulation and having no financial resources to purchase sealable plastic tubs to store things in for later sanitizing… What had been frenzy in throwing things out, became very focused and deliberate in keep versus sanitize.
Scrapbooks and photos and many other things were disposed of. I took pictures of some things and sanitized even fewer, in terms of pictures. I saved sewing materials that could be washed, but had to throw out all the notions like thread and elastic for the cloth diapers I make for others. I couldn’t keep yarn… Because I couldn’t wash it in skeins. Any solid wood items were kept and sanitized with “robber’s blend,” but I felt sketchy about pressed wood composites. I may have been able to salvage them, too, but time was of the essence and I still wasn’t thinking 100%. I was closer to 70% at that point.
With baskets, (it’s how I store pretty much everything outside of the kitchen) if it was solid/wooden, we sprayed it down outside in the sunshine and then sanitized them. If they had anything more fabricy-like, I disposed of them.
I used our HEPA vacuum on all our books and sprayed them with our sanitizing blend. Then I let them air dry outdoors. This was the other “item” I waited on and hem-hawed over for the longest. We are a family that learns at home (and everywhere other than a “school” building). I have cultivated a decent collection of antique books from our Ambleside Online lists, that were at the time a phenomenal deal… so books were financially driving my hesitancy.
I had read from the first website that mattresses and books carry the most mold/mycotoxins in them. But I found a good site eventually that took a still very cautious, but also different approach about items. I was excited, because it was the first article I’d seen mention of a home learning family and their hesitancy to dispose of all their books, too.
In the end, I disposed of all of our cotton mattresses and pillows. I could not comprehend being able to sanitize in far enough through the layers to really kill mold and mycotoxins. So, we are currently looking for healthy mattresses for a family of 7! Ha. It’s good that I am a Restorative Exercise Specialist and we were already adept at sleeping on floor, cushion, or mattress.
The days of sanitizing were tedious, but it helped us to prioritize and even purge a lot of things we didn’t really need, too.
At the end of sanitization period, we were calm and focused.
The friend Daryl had made that used to work in mold remediation had said it could take three of us about a day to put plastic up in our home and cut all the moldy wall and floor out. The 13th was filled with a bit of weird excitement that this was about a weekend away from being done!
How wrong we were! 😂 I’ll take you on that journey in the next DIY mold remediation post!