It’s Worth The Effort.
Do You Have Impact On Your Environment?
To a certain extent, nature is inherently capable of “self-cleaning.”
Nature has UV light and ozone to sterilize. Water washes away. There are few “trapped spaces” where air and moisture cannot escape. Microbes are forced to compete with the elements and other species to survive.
Inside, there’s no UV light or ozone, and buildings cannot get wet. Air is perpetually trapped in modern buildings.
The microbes and fungal spores that come inside daily — each time we open a door — accumulate over time, unopposed. Mold’s VOCs are released and build up over time. Chemical toxins from our products also accumulate in our trapped-air spaces.
Why Invite Risk?
The less we clean, the more these toxic elements increase indoors. Dust collects — which feeds mold and harbors chemical toxins. The cross-contamination of mold becomes more likely.
A more cluttered environment also means we are less able to visually see the health problems with our buildings.
A New, Clean Path
Beautiful, clean practices can benefit you throughout your health journey, making life easier and more enjoyable along the way.
You may be surprised how much cleaning can help your immediate health – even in a ‘sick building’ situation.
Just a 15% improvement in your daily exposure could noticeably improve how you feel each day.
The Indoor World Must Be Cared For
Don’t Be Like A Child
When we observe children, they demonstrate very little awareness of germs, dust, other dangers — or anything potentially harmful to them. If we watch long enough, we’ll certainly see children playing in the filthiest of places (trash cans, toilets, etc) — without a second thought.
In this way, don’t be like a child! Your indoor environment can become harmful quite easily. This is especially true if your immune system has been compromised due to illness.
Buildings Are “High Maintenance”
Perhaps you aren’t “high maintenance” but the building you live in certainly is. Because buildings cannot maintain themselves, it is up to us — their inhabitants — to maintain them.
Taking care of our buildings is no small task. Buildings have become more complex in modernity — with increasing mechanical automation. Current designs also tend to favor complexity, often to appear more ornate or impressive to the observer, even while creating a structure that is more difficult to “stay on top of.” More moving parts means more to keep track of, and more to understand.
The best ways to stay on top of your home are Steps 1-3 of this protocol. And the most basic step of the three? Step 2: Cleaning.
Dust Is Very Bad For Health
Keeping dust levels low is an important first step in improving the health of your home.
Mold Loves Dust
Humidity above 60% allow mold spores to begin growing on dust.
Chemicals Love Dust
VOCs are harmful chemicals, and they also collect in dust. Keeping surfaces wiped down is essential to reducing these carcinogenic and harmful additives to our products.
Dust Mite Excrement
Dust also contains dust mite feces, which is super toxic. If you’re considering the health ramifications of mold, you need to think about that, too.
Dust mites begin to die when humidity drops below 50-60%. Clean a lot — and control your humidity!
The quick tips to reduce dust mite allergens from this study:
- Weekly laundering of bedding
- Careful vacuuming of carpets and upholstery
- Steam cleaning
- Dusting (my addition)
Microfiber Towels Trap Everything
This includes mold spores — along with dust and dirt.
- Benefect Decon 30
- Vital Oxide
- Vinegar and essential oils
- Washing machine — warm water
- Dry on a gentle setting
To quickly and easily reduce dust, spores, and mycotoxins from your home, there may be nothing better than having 20 microfiber towels on a shelf (and a Swiffer) ready to go.
Microfiber: Uncomfortable On Your Hands?
If microfiber cloth is uncomfortable on your skin — consider wearing some gloves. Microfiber towels are that worth it.
For what it’s worth, microfiber used to bother my skin, too. My skin has improved so much over the last few years (thanks in large part to getting out of sick environments, as well as gut health and nutritional improvements) that things like microfiber don’t bother me at all.
Dust Really Fast!
You can quickly wipe down a whole room — or the entire house — if you know where to focus:
Tops Of Things
Make sure you get the tops of things, where dust collects. With microfiber, it can be so easy to clean the tops of everything in a whole room quickly.
I consider the floor to be a “top” when I’m dusting, simplydue to the way dust settles on it. 🙂
Bottoms Of Things
Focus also on the bottoms of things (that’s where they touch other surfaces). Bags, lunchboxes, and boxes that regularly touch the floor are as dirty as shoes.
Handles are where the hands are. Be sure to wipe them down (and disinfect them) frequently.
Embrace hard surfaces as much as possible. Carpets, rugs, and cloth furniture work against you, and increase exposure in your home.
Swiffer Pads = Microfiber
A dry Swiffer is merely microfiber on a stick.
It can trap a lot of nasty stuff.
With hard floors and a Swiffer, you can remove dust from your floors in minutes.
Hard surfaces + microfiber = WIN.
Safe & Effective Cleaning “Chemicals”
Benefect Decon 30
This is truly one of my favorite cleaning products I’ve ever used.
As its namesake suggests, Benefect Decon 30 completely disinfects (99.99%) in 30 seconds. The company claims it is safe to use on food-prep surfaces — without even needing to wipe off before preparing food.
The active ingredient is thymol, the main component of thyme essential oil. Botanically sourced, you get harsh-chemical performance from an all-natural product.
There is only a very faint, pleasant, scent of thyme oil when using this product, and it fades quickly.
Vital Oxide is really starting to grow on me lately. It essentially claims everything that Benefect claims: 99.99% disinfection, safe to leave on food-prep surfaces without rinsing, safe to use around people and children.
The label describes this as a hospital-grade disinfectant, and it’s also used on farms to prevent disease in livestock. I’m having really good results with this one, as well.
Vital Oxide has a very, very slight “clean” scent. I don’t think it smells like a fragrance, at all. Having formerly had MCS, myself, I don’t think the scent would bother people with chemical sensitivities.
The Four Big Mold Cleaning Products
Concrobium is best for crawl spaces, attics, HVAC fogging, & generally moldier homes — due to more aggressive anti-mold action and the fact that Concrobium is designed to remain on surfaces, long-term.
- Concrobium actually encapsulates and suffocates mold, killing it.
- Concrobium highly recommends reapplying another coat if you wipe up residue, to prevent more mold growth. The product is designed to invisibly remain on surfaces indefinitely, acting as a mold deterrent.
NOT an all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant.
Benefect Decon 30
100% natural, essential oil-based thymol is the active ingredient, and it is a potent disinfectant.
Apply via sprayer, cloth, or fogger and leave on surface for 30 seconds before wiping up.
- Benefect claims there is no need to wipe up — even on food-prep surfaces. The product will dissipate.
For all-purpose cleaning and disinfecting.
Vital Oxide has all the same application characteristics as Benefect, only it uses a less-natural active ingredient. The company makes all of the same safety claims as Benefect.
- Vital Oxide claims there is no need to wipe up — even on food-prep surfaces. The product will dissipate over a few weeks.
For all-purpose cleaning and disinfecting.
EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate is not an all-purpose disinfectant. It needs to be diluted with water, and makes 1 gallon of product — similar to the others on this list.
This product uses citrus seed extracts.
- EC3 makes similar safety claims as Benefect Decon 30, but is marketed specifically for mold — whereas Benefect and Vital Oxide are all-purpose cleaners and disinfectant.
Does not claim to be an all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant.
- EC3 recommends using HEPA vacuum after application to remove spores.
Cleaning Vinegar + Essential Oils
Vinegar alone is pretty good. It’s safe, and it won’t aggravate mold growth the way harsh chemicals can. However, I’m a huge fan of adding 4-7 drops of essential oils to my spray bottle of vinegar. Any essential oil is fine, but Thieves-style blends, Tea Tree, Peppermint, and Clove oils are my favorite.
Mix in a spray bottle. Vinegar doesn’t have to be diluted. 4-7 drops of essential oil usually does the trick.
Be careful with essential oils. Sometimes they aren’t good for the finish on furniture.
Borax Is A Solid Option, Usually
Borax is extremely safe, and decently effective against mold. I don’t enjoy using it because it will absorb through your skin, raising your boron levels. Most people need a little extra boron, so this is a good thing! However, your boron levels can rise too high this way over time.
Just add a 1/4 cup to a spray bottle of water. You might see some people suggest mixing vinegar and borax, but this will likely just neutralize the acidity and reduce its cleaning (and possibly mold-killing) power.
(A Word About Bleach)
Bleach is not great for killing mold — and should never be used on porous surfaces.
When we spray bleach on something porous (like wood), the bleach can stay on the surface and kill the surface mold, but the solution is mostly water — water that will wind up soaking into the material — and actually hydrating and feeding the mold deep inside the material.
Only use bleach on hard, non-porous surfaces (if you use bleach at all). Never combine bleach with vinegar or ammonia. Many folks with MCS are so sensitive to the fumes that bleach is simply not an option for them. Which is fine — it’s not the best option, anyway.
Vacuum well and often, in multiple directions. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to trap spores — otherwise spores will be spread each time you vacuum. Always empty Vacuum OUTSIDE the building/home.
Festool HEPA Shop Vac
- Flawless design
- Incredible power
- HEPA filter
Nilfisk Aero 21 HEPA Shop Vac
- I read this brand is produced by Festool, for a lower price-point.
Dibea Bed Vacuum Cleaner
- HEPA filter
- UV light — to sanitize as it cleans.
Always change or empty your vacuum’s bag and filter OUTSIDE.
Be careful not to bring the dirt, spores, and germs you just vacuumed back inside your house.
Ozone Is A Super Oxidizer
Ozone machines emit ozone in high quantities, which dries the air, oxidizes toxins and chemicals, and also kills bugs (including bed bugs, lice, and dust mites). An ozone particle is so reactive that it steals an electron from other particles and alters their identity. It is second only to fluoride as an oxidizer.
Great For Prevention
Mold does not like ozone, and therefore it can be a potent element in the prevention of mold growth. However, if you have mold growth already occurring, ozone will likely not ever eliminate it entirely. Instead, it will merely slow the spread and proliferation.
Only Decent Coverage
In addition, ozone cannot reach all areas equally; it must be blown around a room. Even then, it will not reach behind objects, behind books, or other hard to reach spaces very well. Ozone will not get inside walls very much at all.
There is some evidence ozone can destroy mold spores, although it apparently takes high concentration.
Do not be over-confidant that ozone will “kill all the mold.” It simply won’t. That doesn’t mean it isn’t useful to discourage mold growth — especially in prevention or making a bad situation temporarily somewhat more tolerable.
Ozone also doesn’t change the environment in which the mold developed, with regards to chronic moisture, humidity, condensation, and trapped air (although ozone does have a drying effect on the air when present).
ATTENTION: Be sure to leave the area during treatment and for 60 minutes after an ozone session ends. When the session is over, open a window to let in fresh air. Ozone can turn harmful chemicals into even more harmful versions of themselves, so be sure to air rooms out after a session.
Wall outlet ozone generators produce very small amounts of ozone. I recommend having a few of these and using them regularly — especially in bathrooms.
PRO TIP: Place your ozone machine near an HVAC intake vent.
This will expose your HVAC system to ozone. Again, this will not “kill all the mold,” but regular treatments can discourage and temporarily inhibit mold growth.
Your HVAC System
Choose Better Filtration (MERV 8)
Dust needs to stay out of your HVAC system. Therefore, better filters are highly important. The higher the MERV rating, the better.
MERV 8 Is Probably Best
MERV 8 seems to be the best solution for most HVAC systems. This filter will trap mold spores without severely restricting the flow of your HVAC system to a crawl. Higher levels than MERV 8 will cause average systems to run 24/7, never getting enough airflow to really heat/cool your house.
Also, your HVAC system removes humidity from the air (in humid climates). A super-high MERV-rated filter could impede this important function. Unless you know you’ve got a system designed for better filtration, don’t choke yours out with super-high MERV filters. A MERV 8 does the job as well as possible for most systems.
The Filter I Use
Nordic Pure claims all of its filters are electrostatically charged for even better performance.
Everybody knows HVAC filters need to be changed every three months. (Right?). That’s a bare minimum. Change every 1-2 months for even better protection.
Clean The Evaporator Coils
Evaporator coils need to be cleaned every 6 months.
If you’re due (or over-due), call a professional soon and schedule an appointment to have the coils/evaporators of your HVAC system deep cleaned.
The main methodology: Spraying an ammonia (or other type of) foam that eats through built-up gunk (mold). If lots of moldy gunk has built up on the coils, it may take several applications to do the job.
Be sure to inform the HVAC Pro that you want the job done “completely” — even if it takes multiple applications (and extra time on the job).
Best practices are to have all air conditioner coils cleaned every 6 months (including autos). Obviously, this rarely happens in most buildings and homes. Which should be alarming!
UVC lights for HVAC Systems are highly recommended.
Mold does not like UV light — it’s highly sterilizing. You can purchase a light and install it yourself by “Pure UV” (or others like it) at Amazon for about $99, although I suggest having a professional do the install.
A UVC light is lethal to any microbe that flows past it and into the HVAC System.
This will help keep the coils free and clear of mold and other buildups. UVC lights also release a small amount of ozone into the HVAC ductwork — which I consider a good thing. It’s not enough to really notice, even if you’re highly sensitive to ozone, but it’s enough to keep ductwork a little more sanitized (and ductwork air a little drier, which is good).
UVC Lights should be installed in all HVAC units.
UVC Light For Car and Home
You can also purchase UVC sterilizing lamps for your home and your car. Simply running the lamp a few times per week or month can reduce the load of bacteria, mold, fungus, and viruses in a building. Many UVC lamps treat an area in 5-15 minutes, and there are larger, whole-room lamps available. UVC Light will only sterilize objects on which it shines.
It will not seek out mold in all the dark corners and crannies of your building. Instead, only surfaces in direct sight of the lamp will be irradiated.
UVC wands are also a good idea for your home and belongings. Just remember, UVC mitigation methods are not more effective than avoidance and prevention.
I have not found any UV wands that I can recommend.
Wear Clothes Once (per wash)
Wear clothes once, and then wash them. There’s no need to allow clothes to collect more than one wear’s worth of dust, spores, or toxins.
Make The Bedroom A “Clean Room”
Ideally, your home will be as clean as possible, but certainly, think of your bedroom as a “Clean Room.”
Don’t bring shoes, jackets, dirty clothes, belongings (purses, etc) into the bedroom. Consider cleaning smartphones, laptops, and electronics before bringing them to the bedroom.
Extra Filthy Areas
Door Handles, Light Switches, SmartPhones, Shoes
These items are touched a lot and by dirty hands.
Every smartphone you see accompanies its owner to a bathroom many times per day. Most people rarely sterilize their phones.
Clean your home’s door handles and light switches every week and your smartphone many times per week. Rubbing alcohol, vinegar, Benefect Decon 30, and Vital Oxide all work well to clean electronics.
Keep shoes by the door and wash them frequently.
Bathing is essential to keeping yourself clean of the spores, toxins, and dust that you may react to.
Take 1-2 Showers per day. Monitor the humidity from your shower — always use the exhaust fan.
Not Designed To Stay Clean
Automobiles can become problematic because cars are a trapped space with:
- infinite nooks and crannies
- a built in HVAC system
- (built with) many toxic materials
Maintaining Your Car
- Wipe down surfaces with microfiber multiple times a week and every time you suspect your car has been exposed to questionable objects or even people who live in mold.
- Change the cabin air filter every 8-12 months
- Use all-weather liners on floorboards and trunk.
- Use this compact shop vac to vacuum your car weekly. It’s so fun to keep it clean.
The beauty of vacuuming your car with a shop vac is this: Exhaust air from the vacuum blows on the driveway or grass – not into your car. A hand-held vacuum recirculates exhaust air and dust back into the car.
A dashboard automobile ozone unit may help make your auto air more hostile to mold growth, especially in the car’s HVAC system.
Parking a car outside allows fresh air to seep in, UV light to sterilize the exterior, water to rinse, and lets your car avoid possible contamination from moldy garage air. Garages are notoriously moldy.
Crack or open windows as much as possible while driving.
Minimize your use of the car A/C.
Never store containers with liquid in your vehicle, as they are prone to leak.
Is Your Car Already Exposed?
If you suspect your car is contaminated, heavy ozoning may help a little, and weekly deep-cleaning will help to a fairly large extent, but finding a different car may be the only long-term solution — especially as you begin thinking about remediation or moving.
Ozone, vacuum (with shop vac), and disinfect (with Benefect or Vital oxide) the car weekly. This is also what you should do for prevention!
Purchasing A Car
Look for well-kept cars with leather seats and no discernible smell. Spend at least 30 minutes inside the car, and be sure to test the A/C (both heat and cooling).
Always demand to see the CarFax from dealerships and private sellers (even though they aren’t perfectly reliable).
Showers can easily become mold central — all it takes is a little neglect.
Be sure to minimize your storage of items inside the shower.
Spray shower with disinfectant cleaner after every shower.
Pull the shower doors or curtain to a position allowing for all surfaces can air out and dry.
Always run bathroom exhaust fan during and after a shower.
Clean shower regularly and inspect weekly for mold growth.
Don’t allow areas to remain perpetually moist.
Avoid allowing the drain to become lined with sludge and treat your drains with enzyme-based drain cleaner regularly.
Wall-outlet ozone generators are highly encouraged in bathrooms.
Shower heads can become contaminated — take them apart and clean them with disinfectant.
Dark, Wet Tubes
Drains are perpetually wet, dark tubes that easily incubate mold spores. They are often a secondary source of mold in a building; Once a building is already inhabited by mold, the drains become the next logical home.
GUIDELINES FOR DRAINS
Clean sink with Benefect or Vital Oxide weekly. Spray product down the drain.
Pour lots of water down the drain rapidly.
Use Drano, Vinegar, or Hydrogen Peroxide.
Protect Drains From Organic Matter
Fungus in your drains just needs a food source to go with all the constant moisture. Therefore, don’t let food and other organic matter into your drains.
Garbage disposals are inherently problematic — drains simply should not have organic matter in them.
Drain flies are a clear warning sign that drains are unhealthy.
The Molekule Air Purifier oxidizes pollutants via shining UV light on conductive metal. The Molekule is receiving perhaps the best reviews of all high-end air filters due to superior design, technology, & construction.
Great Idea — With A Catch
Air purifiers are a great idea — for prevention and to improve moldy air. However, because air purifiers can store and harbor spores and mycotoxins, do not bring them to a clean space after they’ve been in a moldy space.
They’ll definitely improve air quality in a moldy space for some time. If you’re okay throwing the unit away when you move or remediate, I suggest using them.
Air purifiers are certainly recommended for moldy buildings, but they need to be discarded after remediation or moving — and they need to be cleaned regularly.
IQAir Medical-Grade HyperHEPA
Super high-quality air filter. I’d only use this one in a clean space due to its price.
I love this air purifier. Very powerful and quite sensitive, but probably not in the same class as the Molekule or IQAir. I still love it.
The Winix PlasmaWave 5500 relies on 2 carbon filters + a HEPA filter. The air blows out the top of the unit, through an ionizer that emits electrons into the living space which causes particles in the air to drop to the floor.
Can An Air Filter Be Cleaned?
I really don’t recommend even trying. (I did try!).
Toilets Need Constant Attention
Mold is especially likely to grow in the toilet bowl, but it can also grow inside the tank! Toilets need to be sprayed weekly, and deep-cleaned every month (at the minimum!).
Steps For Toilet Mold Prevention
1-2x/week — Spray all toilet surfaces with Vital Oxide/Benefect Decon. This includes inside the bowl.
1x/month — Wipe down & scrub all surfaces. Spray Benefect/Vital Oxide inside the tank.
VINEGAR — Flush, then pour 1-gallon white vinegar inside the tank. (1x/month).
EPSOM SALT — Pour 1 cup epsom salt + tea tree essential oil into tank. (1x/month).
(Thanks for the suggestions, Lisa!)
Mold Already Growing?
- Spray disinfectant liberally on all toilet (& surrounding) surfaces.
- Physically remove all mold via careful scrubbing with paper towels, sponges, brushes, or towels. Throw away all utensils used to remove mold.
- Flush toilet many times to remove as much water as possible from the tank.
- Disinfect all surfaces again.
- Follow “Steps For Toilet Mold Prevention” (previous section).
Spores can generally be removed with several washes with:
- Hot water
- Vinegar/borax/EC3 (pick one!)
VOC’s & Mycotoxins
The offensive odors produced by mold can cause neurological symptoms in those who are sensitive. The compounds are often toxic, as well — making their presence more significant than a mere allergen.
Clothes can simply absorb the odors and mycotoxins from the air in your moldy house. They can also be exposed via sweat.
Oftentimes, when “moldy” folks sweat, their sweat includes these toxins — which then become infused in the fabric of their clothes. These nauseous compounds can be irritating to those wearing the garments and people nearby. It can seem nearly impossible to remove the VOCs and mycotoxins from clothes once they’ve been exposed.
Your Best Bet
Two products represent your best bet for thoroughly cleaning clothes after they’ve been exposed. Unfortunately, I have not had success cleaning moldy smells from clothing and other fabrics.
Produced by the makers of Benefect Decon 30. I’m currently testing it and it performs quite well. I’ll have more thoughts soon.
- For topical application and soaking.
- Unfortunately, it’s not for machine use.
EC3 Laundry Additive
This differs from Benefect in that it can be used in washing machines.
- For use with washing machines.
Your Washing Machine
Washing machines can become clogged and risk leaking. Leaving clothes in a washer is a recipe for permanent mold in the machine.
GUIDELINES FOR WASHING MACHINE
- Remove laundry promptly when cycle is done. (Less than 30 minutes).
- Clean machine weekly on “Clean” cycle, using OxiClean, bleach, vinegar, or washing soda.
- Keep door open when not in use.
Front Loading Washing Machines
Front-loading machines are notorious for becoming moldy. If you have front-loader, wash every load with OxyClean, run a wash cycle weekly, and exchange it for a top-loader.
You’ll also need to remove the front lining and fully disinfect, monthly.
If You Have The Money…
O3 Laundry Ozone Washer System
Saturate your washing machine’s water with enough ozone that some people choose to wash their laundry without detergent.
Now, I recommend using laundry detergent. But why not increase the cleaning and disinfectant action of each wash?
I suspect this will provide the entire washing machine with an extra layer of protection from fungus growth in the entire wash basin and drain line, as well.
Mold Can Grow In The Drain Line
Dirty water has to leave your washing machine through the drain line, and this line usually has a filter to catch lent and fabric threads before they leave the machine.
It’s a very good idea to get behind your washer and clean/disinfect this filter several times per year.