Here are some tips for cleaning mold safely

Editors note: The writer is telling her personal story with black mold poisoning and her healing process, sharing information that she has learned through the articles in this series. She does not have a medical degree, but consults her physician in the writing of these articles.

By Christina Rice

I want to share what my husband and I learned about cleaning mold in hopes that it will help someone else not make the same mistakes we did. We cleaned the mold in our home incorrectly and contaminated everything we owned. We were not able to keep anything.

The USDA compares the movement of mold spores to dandelion seeds. Think of how easily white dandelion seeds come loose and float in the air. Like those seeds, a gust of air or even waving your hand is enough to send mold spores airborne. Mold spores are microscopic. A small disturbance can send thousands of them into the air.

It is important not to disturb the mold as you attempt to remove it. The airborne spores will land on all of the items in your house like a fine invisible dust. Once that occurs, it is impossible to clean. You can not see the spores, and as you try to wipe them up, the movement continues to swipe them back into the air, resettling on your things.

Once in the air, the spores make their way into your body through your airways or absorption into your skin, setting up a permanent residence inside your body. Mold needs a dark and damp location to thrive, making the inside of your body the perfect host.

Some people will tell you to clean mold with bleach. Bleach does not kill mold; ammonia does. Make sure not to mix the two chemicals as they will give off a deadly gas.

A dead mold spore is just as allergy-inducing as a live mold spore. This means if you are reacting to the mold, it will not matter if you kill the spores or not. You will still be just as sick.

My husband and I were told by a “mold expert” that we could scrub the mold with bleach. So my husband did, sending the spores airborne, settling in our clothes, furniture, books, infecting every single item we owned. We could not keep anything.

The only way to clean mold safely is to remove the infected material completely without disturbing the mold. For example, if there is a spot of mold on your sheetrock, spray it with ammonia. Wetting the spores helps them to stay put instead of being released into the air. Cut out a large section of drywall around the moldy area and carefully remove the entire piece.

Treat the mold as a biohazard.

You should remove every item from the room you will be working in before beginning. Find the shortest route outside and tape off the rest of the house with plastic. Also, turn off your air conditioner or heater so as not to spread the spores. If you are reacting and are sick, you should not be the one that does the cleaning. An air mask will not filter enough of the spores to keep you from becoming sicker.

Wear a heavy-duty air respirator, air-tight eye protection and make sure every part of your skin is covered as mold can be absorbed into your skin and through your eyes.

If we were to do things over, I would have removed every single thing from our home before starting the cleaning process.

Throw away the clothing you wear to remove the mold, do not walk back into the house with those clothes on. If you missed killing a spore and it landed on your clothes, it can fall off of your clothes in your house, resulting in a new mold colony growing. Don’t try to wash them. Washers are dark and wet, the perfect location for a new colony.

Mold spores transferred from my husband’s clothing to his pickup as he drove from our house to my in-laws where we were staying and a new colony of black mold began growing in his pickup. We had to get a new vehicle.

The Bible addresses how to properly clean mold in a house in Leviticus 14:33-45.

The biblical solution is to empty the house before examining the mold and tearing out the infected stones, throwing them away. All the walls of the house should be scraped, new stones should be installed and the house should receive new plaster. If the mold spreads in the house, the house is to be torn down.

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