What are some things you should know about mold and mildew? Mold and mildew are gross, but they can also be dangerous. If you let them grow in your home, they can cause biotoxin illnesses that cause terrible symptoms. Today we’ll cover biotoxin illnesses and how to get rid of the mold and mildew that cause them.
Listen: Mold & Mildew – Things You Should Know
Watch: Mold & Mildew – Things You Should Know
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
Things You Need to Know About Mold and Mildew
Here are some things that you need to know about mold and mildew, especially if they’re making you sick. Now, we had a house cleaner that called in and asked this question.
“Hi, Angela. I have a client who has something called biotoxin illness, or CIRS. She got it from being exposed to mold over years, and now she’s very, very, very sensitive to most cleaners. We can’t use soap water because Dawn Ultra is too strong. I’ve tried to use Crud Kutter, and she told me that her lungs were burning. So we have to only clean the house using Lysol Wipe and Swiffer Dusters.
It’s very difficult and I want to try to make her life a little easier and her house a little cleaner. Have you ever heard of anything like this? Is there something I can do that would work to benefit her? Thank you again. Appreciate it.”
What is CIRS?
All right, what a great question. Yes, CIRS stands for Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, and the biotoxin illness that you’re talking about is real. It’s created from mold and mildew, and mold and mildew are found in our homes in damp, dark areas.
So if you live in an area where there’s a lot of humidity out in the air, or you are prone to live near the water, or if there are hurricanes and floods and that kind of stuff, you probably have some mold in your house. It’s not rare, but you need to be aware of it and you need to act on it immediately.
Symptoms of Biotoxin Illness
All right, before we talk about the cleaning part, I want to talk a little bit about some of the symptoms of biotoxin illness so that you can recognize them.
If you are experiencing some brain fog, you might have a biotoxin illness. It shows up like chronic fatigue or skin issues. It might be asthma or coughing, persistent coughing. It might look like watery eyes and a stuffy nose and things like that. So if you are having those kinds of symptoms, you might be suffering from a biotoxin illness created by mold. I know it’s scary.
Is Your House Susceptible to Leaks and Cracks?
All right, so the first thing that we want to look at is we want to look at the home that you live in. So is your home susceptible to leaks and cracks? The first thing we want to do is go around the house and we want to do a sweep for any open areas.
That’s going to be little cracks that are around the windows or underneath the door where humidity can come in. Or when it rains moisture can come into your home. We want to seal those up. We also want to check the water outlets in your house.
So every faucet that turns on, you want to check the rings around the faucet. We want to look underneath the sink. We want to make sure that nothing is leaking. If it starts leaking into your floorboards or underneath your cabinets, that can create mold and you never even know that it’s there, but it could be making you sick. I know, it’s scary.
Make Sure to Check Your Appliances as Well
Also, check all of your appliances. So if you have a refrigerator where you put the water in, there’s a water line, that’s hooked up to that for the water to come out. It comes out of a water line. If that water line is leaking, you could have mold growing behind your refrigerator or in the walls where the water line hooks up.
Check your washing machine and dryer too, because the washing machine is hooked up to a water line. If that’s leaking, you could also have mold that’s going down in the floorboards behind the water pipes that you didn’t even know about.
If you have a toilet leak around the toilet seat, you go, “Oh, it’s just a little bit of water. I’ll wipe it up.” If you don’t fix that, what happens is that it can also leak down through the seams where the toilet hooks up through the plumbing part, and it can leak underneath your house.
If You Do Have Mold it Can Be Expensive
So if you have to call a mold remediation specialist, which is expensive, they will come in and they will do a test of all the different floors of your house. They will test the outside air versus the indoor air, and they will do the basement, the crawl space, the attic. They will do all different parts of your house to find out where the mold is coming from.
If you do have mold, it’s really expensive. So before you hire these guys to come in, there are about five kits on the market to see if your house has mold.
And I will leave links to those in the show notes, just so that you can find out before you go to the great expense of having somebody come out, and then it’s thousands of dollars.
Insurance Won’t Always Cover Mold
Now, the thousands of dollars, I don’t want to scare you. If you have a flood, for example, and the flood comes in and it damages your home, your insurance is not going to cover it unless you have flood damage insurance.
Lots of homes that don’t live in flood-prone areas don’t have flood insurance, so the insurance company is going to try to get out of paying a mold claim.
So what you have to do is prove that it was because a water heater busted or a washing machine broke, and the water that leaked caused the mold.
Take Care of Mold Right Away
And so you want to make sure that none of that stuff happens because even if you have some damage, take care of it right now. Mold spreads like wildfire and it keeps growing and growing. It’s an organic substance that just keeps growing. And so it will damage your property value and it might cost you $25,000 to fix the flood damage.
But here’s the catch, if you don’t, it could ruin the entire property value of your home. Now, FEMA says one inch of floodwater in a home can cost up to $25,000 worth of damage. So if you see mold in your home, act immediately. Don’t put it off and say, “Well, yeah, I hate that we have this.”
It’s not going away on its own. It’s only going to grow and it’s going to devalue your property. All right.
House Cleaners Should Take These Measures as Well
So now that you’re aware of that, a couple of things we can do as homeowners, and I’m going to ask that the house cleaner here, that’s inside this woman’s home, that she also take these measures as well. Because I don’t know if she still has mold in her home, but it sounds like she still has all the sensitivities. There are a couple of things that you can do when you clean your home.
You can use ionized water and microfiber, and microfiber claws will wipe up the ionized water. The ionized water, you can buy it. There’s a mechanical process where it adds one extra ion to the water, and that pushes it towards the alkaline side of the pH scale. You can also buy ionized water for about $1.99 a gallon.
Anyway, you can use a microfiber cloth and you can clean most of the same surfaces. And I’m going to ask that you do not use the wipes that we were talking about earlier, simply for the fact that they do have chemicals in them, and they will trigger the allergies that are causing the fuss. So please don’t use those wipes.
You Can Also Use a Steamer for Mold
Another thing we can use is a steamer. This is a Bissell Power Steamer, and you just use it with water and it has 25 different attachments that come on it. So you can use it on glass, on grout. You can use it inside ovens. You can use it inside freezers and walls and doors and all kinds of stuff.
It’s fantastic for non-hard, non-porous substances and surfaces. Also, there’s a floor piece that comes with it as well. We like to use this as a regular mop, just a damp mop. It’s still hooked up to the steamer, but we don’t use the steam for hardwood floors.
When we get to ceramic floors, like in the bathroom, we do use the steam to make sure that the floors are completely sanitized. So this is another great option for using a cleaning solution or a cleaning system without any chemicals.
Most Mold in the Bathroom Comes From Showers
For the mold that’s in your shower, and I need to stop for a second and remind you that most of the mold that comes from our bathrooms starts in our showers. There’s lots of moisture in there. There’s lots of humidity. People will get out of the shower and they close the door. Please don’t close the door. Please leave it open.
But before you get out of the shower, squeegee down the walls and then grab your squeegee and drag the floor water towards the drain in your shower. That will remove any standing water.
As you’re getting out of the shower if you will take hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle, and spray the areas that have a tendency to collect mold.
Hydrogen Peroxide is Odorless
Because of what hydrogen peroxide does, it’s an odorless chemical, and I’m going to ask that you do not use bleach and you do not use vinegar. Both of those will mess up your sinuses because they are so strong. But the hydrogen peroxide is odorless. It will not affect your breathing.
The hydrogen peroxide oxidizes the mold and it decomposes it and it breaks it down. But you’ve got to leave it on for about 10 minutes. So as you’re getting out of the shower, the first time you do it, if there’s visible mold, spray it, leave it, and then go in and scrub it all down.
Hose it down, get rid of it, and then every time after you get out of the shower, spray the areas that collect the mold, and this will keep decomposing it and keep it at bay. So those are some homeowners or things you can do right out of the shoot.
Use a Steamer and Ionized Water To Not Disturb the Customer
For the professional house cleaning company. I’m going to recommend that when you do clean, that you use the ionized water and you use the steamer. That will help you clean the house and keep the house at a maintained level where the chemicals are not disturbing the customer. Because we want to make sure that we honor the customer’s illness and that they’re not getting sicker because of things that we’re bringing into their home.
If you have to come in with a series of chemicals, you can remove the plants, pets, and people. And you can use your strong chemicals while you’re wearing your personal protective equipment. You can use an ozone generator to eat up and decompose the chemical smells that are inside the house as you leave.
Mold Remediation is a Special Project
So it’s a huge process. It’s a special project. It’s like the mold remediation thing on a smaller scale, but it will remove the extra stuff that you brought in. From then on out, you can maintain it with your ionized water, your steamer, your hydrogen peroxide, things like that.
So we want to be very, very careful that we don’t re-introduce new chemicals into a home. All right, those are a few things that you should know about mold and mildew and how to interact with them if you find them inside a property.
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