Is Mold Making You Sick? Get Answers with a FREE Sinus and Mold Sensitivity Online Evaluation

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Do you suspect mold in your home, office, car, etc. as the underlying source of your health issues? Are certain smells irritating you?  Does your body seem to react to everything—“musty” smells, perfumes, chemicals, dyes, foods, heat, fabrics—negatively, even though those things never seemed to bother you before? Is your energy sapped easily, or do you wake up after 8 hours or more of sleep feeling exhausted and unable to face the day? Do you have chronic sinus infections, headaches, confusion, or brain fog? Are you constantly missing work, school, or social gatherings due to sickness?

If you have gone down this long, but by no means exhaustive list of questions, nodding your head and saying, “Yep. That sounds like me,” you may be experiencing a mold exposure somewhere that you spend a lot of your time.

As a matter of fact, all of these questions are ones that I was asking myself when we were in the thick of our mold ordeal. I kept wondering why I was ALWAYS sick. Why were my children getting frequent ear infections and congestion? Why was my husband sleeping ALL THE TIME? Why couldn’t I have a conversation without forgetting simple concepts or words? Why was everything I was eating not agreeing with me? Things just weren’t adding up.

After at least 20 doctor visits, consulting countless specialists, being diagnosed with everything under the sun including “mysterious” illnesses, and trying numerous medications and supplements with zero relief, I started looking for my own answers. Our home was the one thing we were all sharing on a daily basis. It was the one place we kept getting sick, and when we left for extended amounts of time, we all seemed to get better. Was our home making us sick? Were our symptoms in line with mold-related sickness? Was the musty smell coming from our HVAC vents to blame?

If you have started to ask these questions, but don’t know how or where to begin evaluating your symptoms without yet another expensive doctor’s visit or testing, I have a simple starting point for you: The Free Sinus and Mold Sensitivity Evaluation available on the MicroBalance website.

The survey takes only about 5 minutes to complete and will provide you with results to indicate where your symptoms fall on the severity scale (Slight, Moderate, Severe). The evaluation will also help determine if those symptoms are mold related. It is also FREE. The only thing required of you is to enter your first name and email address, and to honestly answer each question. Your results are private and confidential. Your email address is required, so that your results and a monthly e-newsletter may be sent to you. After receiving your results, you may opt out of the newsletter at anytime—although, if you are having health issues caused by mold, the newsletter will continue to provide you with useful and medically sound information.

The first section of the survey asks questions about your sinus history, everything from how many sinus infections you’ve had in the past year, to whether or not you have lost your sense of smell, to if you have non-food-related allergies. The second section deals exclusively with your actual environment. It asks very specific questions about your home and work environments. The final section asks additional medical history questions that involves rating your level of fatigue, and an area to check any other diagnosed health conditions, illnesses, or symptoms. When you are finished, you click “Submit,” and your results will appear. The results will also be emailed to you for later reference—which I found very helpful.

The survey offers a pretty thorough starting point. It can also be completed by a parent for a child, if needed. The coolest feature, and worth the whole exercise, in my opinion, are the simple suggested solutions and products providing solutions with your results.

Since we have fully remediated our home and have detoxed and treated our bodies for the mold exposure for about 2 years now, when I took the survey to write this post, my sinus severity score was on the very low end of “Mild.” I was obviously very happy with that after all that we have been through. All of the products and solutions suggested to me are things I already do—nasal washes and CitriDrops Nasal Spray—and an immune-boosting supplement—Logos Thymic Formula—that I currently take and love. So I guess I’m all set.

BUT, if your results fall in the “Moderate” to “Severe” categories, the results will include products for treating your symptoms as well as information on testing for mold, what to do if and when you find it (aka remediation), and environmental products that can help you manage the situation until you can get out of the moldy environment or get the proper professional help to remove it. You are immediately given a wealth of helpful and pertinent information, especially for those who just feel lost, sick, and don’t know where to start or where to turn for help and relief. At least at the end of the survey, you have some answers and advice, which, for me, was much more than I started with. Finally, the test results will aid you in your discussions with your physicians, providing clear, medically understood phrasing.

Honestly, I don’t see a good reason why you shouldn’t take the survey. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

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Tips and Tools for Staying Well on Vacation

I am in Florida right now vacationing with my family, and because of the way that I travel now—with all of my mold prevention products and remedies—everyone suggested that I should write a post about it. I actually cannot believe that I haven’t done this sooner, since it has become my “new normal,” but better late than never, I suppose.

First of all, when you or your family members are mold sensitive, entering a new “home away from home,” or hotel room can be quite scary. You just don’t know if you can trust what you are walking into. The fear of getting sick again may even cause such great anxiety that you opt out of vacation altogether. I used to dread vacation. That is sad, I know, but after losing my health for so long, I wasn’t willing to chance anything, even for a vacation. These days, after much experimentation, and lots of preparation, I feel like my family and I can go just about anywhere, and am ok. There are definitely some environments that would be toxic to just about anyone, but a typical hotel room, condo or vacation rental home doesn’t worry me much anymore.

Why?

I bring an arsenal of mold-cleaning, prevention, and immune-boosting products with me. These products seem to do the job of keeping me and my family well outside of our mold-free bubble. So, instead of yammering on any longer, I am going to give you my tried and true lists of tips and tools to take with you when getting away for travel or on vacation.

Tools:

(This list consists of the products I pack to bring with us on our trips. Obviously, if plane travel is involved, you may have to curate and filter your own list according to how much you can pack.)

(Note: All of these products offer temporary solutions or “barriers” to less-than-ideal indoor environments or air quality. They will not solve an extreme or toxic mold problem. Please use all products and supplements in this list as directed, and with the understanding that they are for keeping you well in your temporary environments.)

  • CitriDrops Nasal Spray – I pack this in my purse, and label each bottle for the members of my family. I want to have it handy to spray our noses to keep our sinuses free of mold spores. It comes in handy if you are flying as well. I find that whenever we go to a rest stop, restaurant, or anywhere else where I feel like the air quality is subpar, if I go ahead and spray my nose with the CitriDrops Nasal Spray as soon as I leave, I don’t end up congested and sick.
  • Sinus Defense – I use this product everyday to foster my fungal resistance to mold and to build up my immune system. (Here is the LINK to my post all about Sinus Defense, what it is, how it works, and why I love it.) This product can be used more often if you know you have taken a mold hit. It will help your body fight the fungal invaders more efficiently.

A trifecta of great products to use on a daily basis at home or during travel to stay well.

I always pack a few candles in my suitcase to set out to burn as soon as I get to my destination.

  • EC3 Air Purification Candles – These are amazing. Within an hour of continuous burning time, the candles can bring the mold count down to zero in a closed room. (Here is a LINK to my post on the candles and how to properly use them.) For a house rental, I bring one candle per bedroom and 2 for the common areas. For a hotel room, I bring 2-3, depending on how long we are staying. Don’t forget to bring a lighter as well. The candles are designed to sit inside the tin top-lid to minimize fire hazards. As always, though, I caution you to never leave a candle burning unattended and to never leave a burning candle within reach of a child or pet.

  • If I will have laundry access—EC3 Laundry Additive – This product will come in handy for clothes washing while you are away. Use it in every load per package instructions to ensure that you aren’t picking up and bringing home any unwanted mold spores from your trip. (Here is a LINK to my post on EC3 Laundry Additive, should you want to know more about it and how I typically use it.)

You can literally spray anything and everything down with the EC3 Mold Solution Spray to bring mold counts down temporarily. The travel-size is available for easy transport and is TSA compliant.

  • EC3 Mold Solution Spray – This product can be used for just about anything. You can spray surfaces, textiles, carpets, rugs, luggage, anything you feel might contain mold. MicroBalance even offers a small TSA compliant size that is easy to pack or to throw into your purse for travel.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide – A bottle of 3% drugstore peroxide can make a world of difference in a space that needs a little extra mold clean-up. You can use it to run through a washing machine in a rental prior to putting your clothes in it, or to wipe down a countertop. It is just great to have on hand. We actually used peroxide on our trip to clean the mold from the rubber gasket on a front-loading washing machine in our rental house.
  • CitriDrops Dietary Supplement – This product works for so many different applications. You can put a few drops in a glass of water to help cleanse your system of bacteria, microbials and fungus, you can use it on produce to wash off chemicals, pesticides, bacteria and molds, and you can use it in a nasal wash, if you feel like you need a more thorough cleansing than what the CitriDrop Nasal Spray provides. (Here is a LINK to my post on nasal washes. Here is a LINK to my post on using the CitriDrops to wash produce.)

The Wein Mini Mate is such an easy tool to pack and use for air travel and otherwise when air quality is subpar.

  • Wein Mini-Mate Personal Ionic Air Purifier – This personal purifier comes in handy on planes, in hotel rooms and for restaurants, etc. to purify your immediate air supply. It destroys odors, chemical contaminants and dust before they can enter your nose. It can be clipped onto your clothing or worn around your neck.
  • High-Quality Vitamin C Supplement – When traveling, I take 1000mg of Vitamin C everyday to help boost my antioxidant production and to help my immune system. I advise you to check with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.

  • Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin D Supplement – This supplement is a potent combination that will help your body fight bacterial and fungal contaminants. Calcium, magnesium and zinc are 3 of the most important minerals to help the body maintain health. Zinc is essential to immune function. Definitely consult your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.

 

Tips:

  • Preview where you will be staying – I highly recommend this. We go to the same beach in Florida every summer, but we always rent different houses, depending on when in the summer we have to go. Each year, we have started booking next summer’s trip while we are there. We take an hour or so out of our current trip to preview a few potential rentals for next year. You can walk in and know whether or not the air quality is good sometimes. I react pretty instantly to mold, so if I feel crummy in a home, we DO NOT rent it. You can also look for moisture intrusion, visible leaks and mold. If any of these are present, do not stay there.
  • Read online reviews about where you are going to stay – Many times, if there is mold, leaking, moisture, or air-quality issues, people will mention it in their reviews. I would avoid any rental or hotel where people have reported leaks or that the hotel is unkempt or dirty—disrepair can indicate poor maintenance as well. With online access to just about anything these days, use it to your advantage, and do your research.
  • Opt to stay in newer properties – Whenever possible, we choose newer hotels and homes to stay in. Newness doesn’t designate mold-free, but it does offer the probability of less time for the home or hotel to acquire leaks, deep moisture intrusion and toxic mold growth.
  • Call hotels or property managers/owners ahead of time and inform them of your mold sensitivity – You need to make sure that the room/home you are staying in has good air quality. Just taking this extra step will many times alert them to your needs and give the hotel/rental owners/managers the opportunity to put you in a good room, or to fess up to previous or current mold issues. Believe me, it is better to know and to cancel a reservation before a trip, than to show up and have to deal with it there. For hotels, you can also ask if they have PURE Rooms or you can go to the PURE Rooms website to find hotels with their approved process. (Here is a LINK to my post on PURE Rooms, if you want to find out more.)
  • If you are doing a long-term rental—for 2 weeks or more—I would ask the property manager or homeowner if you can pay extra to have the ducts cleaned before your arrival – We actually did this with the house we are currently renting in FL. The management company was extremely amenable to having that done for us. We were charged the cost of the cleaning, and they emailed us a copy of the invoice to show it had been done prior to our arrival. It was an extra $300 to our rental bill, but we travel with 2 other families, so split between all of us, it was well worth the price for the peace of mind.

Having your pillow from home on vacation is not only more comfortable, but helps to limit your mold and bacteria exposure.

  • Bring your own pillows and pillow cases from home – I don’t recommend this for plane travel, because the contamination that a pillow will encounter during travel would negate the benefits. But, when you are driving and then going straight to your room or rental, bring your pillow and pillowcase along. Since your face touches this item each night, it is extremely important that it is mold-free. Every morning, I mist my pillow with the EC3 Mold Solution Spray. This helps keep it mold-free while I am there. I also wash my pillowcases with EC3 Laundry Additive as soon as I get home to prevent any mold from coming back into my house.

Lighting an EC3 Candle in the rooms where you will be spending most of your time will help to significantly lower mold counts and make the environment much safer for you to be in.

  • Upon arrival, light your EC3 Air Purification Candles – In a hotel room, light one or two and place them in top of their lids in safe places where they cannot cat anything on fire and cannot be knocked over. In a house rental, place one in each bedroom, and one or two in each common area, depending on its size. I would leave the candles burning as long as possible this first day. They need to burn for at least an hour, but longer is better to knock out the mold counts in the air. Also, light the candles whenever you are in the rental or room for a prolonged amount of time.
  • Mist bedding, carpets, drapes, pillows, and even furniture, especially in the bedrooms, with EC3 Mold Solution Spray – Just walk around misting upon arrival. Allow it to air dry. You will notice the air quality improving as the spore counts go down. I cannot reiterate enough how much this simple task will temporarily improve your new environment.
  • If there is a washing machine, run a cycle without any clothes, but on a hot water setting, and with 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide added to the tub while filling – Do this prior to washing any of your clothes. It will clean the machine of mold, bacteria, and residue before you put your clothes inside. You can also use the peroxide to clean the rubber seal on a front loader if you find that it is harboring mold from previous use.
  • Use the EC3 Laundry Additive with each load to keep your clothing mold free – This will help prevent you from bringing mold spores back into your home as well.
  • Mist luggage, bags and suitcases with EC3 Mold Solution Spray outside before bringing them back into your home – Luggage can harbor all sorts of bacteria and molds. It gets thrown around and is often on the floor. Help keep your home mold and bacteria free by misting it all over and allowing the spray to dry before bringing it back into your home after a trip.

    Make sure that last load of laundry, or those bathing suits are good an dry before you pack them to head home.

  • Dry all swim suits, beachwear, and towels thoroughly before packing them in your suitcase – This may seem like a no-brainer, but packing wet or damp swimsuits and towels promotes mold growth in your luggage. If you must leave with wet or damp clothing, pack it separately in a plastic bag, and empty and wash the items in the bag immediately with the EC3 Laundry Additive as soon as you get home.
  • Beware of vinyl wallpaper – The use of vinyl wallpaper promotes trapped moisture and mold growth under the wallpaper. If a hotel or rental has copious amounts of vinyl wallpaper, it most likely has hidden mold. You don’t want to jeopardize your health by staying there.
  • Choose hotels/rentals with central HVAC and thermostats, rather than manual/window units- Manual/window heating and air conditioning units are notorious for harboring mold, because they don’t run continuously to circulate the air. Water from condensation can easily pool in the units too, because the fan doesn’t run as often to dry them out. If you have the option, choose rooms with thermostats instead. The air quality is generally better, and you can keep your room at a more constant temperature and promote better ventilation.

I know this seems like a long list, but I promise you, doing all or even some of these things will make travel so much more comfortable for you and your family. Mold and environmental illness are so debilitating. Now that I am in recovery, for the most part, a little extra planning and work to take a vacation or to hang out with friends and family is worth it to me.

Please let me know in the comments if you have any other tips or tricks that I left out. I would love your input.

 

 

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How To DEEP CLEAN Your Washing Machine for Mold

Hi, Guys!

I realize I hadn’t written a DIY post in a while, so today is where I do just that. Today, I am going to teach you how to properly DEEP CLEAN your washing machine for mold.

Wait! I have already talked about this, right? Well, sort of. I wrote a post about laundry and about cleaning your washing machine for mold periodically as a preventative measure and to remove an surface mold or grime. (Click HERE to read that post.) BUT, this post is different. This post gets into the nitty-gritty of taking apart and cleaning your washing machine. This post details a technique that you only should have to do every other year or so, if you are using my other cleaning technique. I have actually found that since I have been using the “maintenance cleaning,” we were able to wait almost 3 years before having to do this deep cleaning again. This is a rather large job and time-consuming, but is incredibly necessary for maintaining a healthy home, especially if you are mold sensitive.

Ok. So have you ever entered your laundry room and been confronted with a musty smell? If after careful investigation, you do not find water intrusion or another source of mold, chances are, your washing machine itself is the culprit. Think about it. If you are anything like me, you use your washing machine multiple times a day. Therefore, it stays pretty wet, never fully drying out between loads. Also, debris and lint can get imbedded in the little holes in the drum of the machine. This organic material is perfect food for mold to grow on. Then, if you wash large loads, as I do, you can have a slight overflow effect, where water and sometimes detergent can spill over the drum and get trapped between the tub and inner basin of the machine. Water can sit in this cavity of sorts and cause mold growth. Any mold growing in hard-to-clean spots will get into your clothes and linens, and make everything smell musty–not to mention these mold spores can be disturbed and made airborne to get into other areas of your home by running a moldy machine. Convinced you should keep reading? If not, wait for my pictures. That will sell you.

Let’s just say, we had noticed this musty smell in the laundry room in our home. We knew that the normal washing machine cleaning wasn’t solving the problem. It had to be deeper in the machine, more internal, if you will. Luckily for me, my husband is extremely handy, and was able to disassemble our washing machine in no time. You can also call a local handyman/repair person to dismantle and clean your machine for you, if taking it apart yourself is daunting. Just make sure you have the person cleaning it follow my cleaning instructions, and make sure they use the proper products to ensure that the mold is gone. Just so you have the information, I called a couple of local handymen to price this out. I had quotes from $50-$100 to do this for me.

At this time in my post, I will caution you to wear disposable gloves and use a a breathing  mask (you can buy both at Home Depot), especially if you are susceptible to sickness caused by mold exposure. You will be having direct contact with a possibly moldy area and disturbing it will release mold spores into he air.  So, in my opinion, you cannot be too cautious.

We have a top-loading machine, so if you aren’t inherently handy and need specific instructions on how to dismantle it to clean it, here is a YouTube video that takes you through all of the steps:

You are not replacing the drum, like he is in the video, but you need to separate the drum from the basin to do this cleaning. Once he lifts the drum out, you are where you need to be with disassembly to properly clean the machine.

If you have a front-loading machine, here is a YouTube video that will show you how to remove your washing machine drum for deep cleaning: https://youtu.be/zjULf1lLW5U.

The most important thing to remember with these machines is to also thoroughly clean inside and around the detergent dispenser once you remove it—this is a place where detergent overflow gets trapped and creates mold. Also remember to thoroughly clean and dry out the rubber liner at the front of the machine. This is often a huge source of hidden mold for front loaders. Use the same process and products that I outline below to do this properly.

Ok. Now that you have performed surgery and have everything opened up, you will more than likely have revealed the obvious source of your musty smell. Ours was mostly from water that was trapped between the basin and the drum that had started to grow some mold. There was also some mold in the center cavity of the machine where the fabric softener reservoir is (fabric softener is food for mold) We had to get down into that and remedy the problem.

Here are the somewhat gross pictures of what we found inside our washing machine after it was dismantled:

Now, if there is standing water inside the drum, it is likely that your washing machine is not draining properly. This is an entirely different fix and will require repairing, unclogging or replacing the drain, which is NOT what this post is about. If that is your issue, get the drain fixed first. You can clean the machine later. Also, many new machines have a drain at the bottom to empty the water that accumulates in the lowest portion of the machine.  This can be easily done regularly to prevent standing water from growing mold and bacteria.

Back to cleaning: You will need your cleaning products at this time. What I recommend using is a combination of tried and true mold eliminating products. The first is a hydrogen peroxide solution. Just pour 3% hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. (You can purchase this type of hydrogen peroxide online or at a building supply store, like Lowe’s or Home Depot. Drugstore hydrogen peroxide is usually at a much lower percentage and will not be as effective.) Spray the inside of the basin and drum with this solution and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. I know it seems long, but studies have shown that for peroxide to effectively kill pathogens, bacteria and mold, it needs at least that amount of time to fully oxidize and have its wonderful “preventative” effect, in which it inhibits future mold growth. After 10 minutes, take dry paper towels and wipe everything down completely. Repeat this process until any visible mold is gone. Now spray both the drum, inner basin, and any other place where you found and cleaned mold all over with EC3 Mold Solution Spray—or, you can mix your own spray using the EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate. Allow the spray to air dry completely. Once clean and bone dry, reassemble your washing machine, so that it is ready for use.

Here are our AFTER pictures. As you can see, the cleaning made a world of difference. Our clothes and laundry smelled so much fresher and cleaner afterward.

As you see, the hard part here is really in the disassembly and reassembly of the machine. The cleaning part is quite easy.

Please let me know if you get around to doing this. It is amazing how much better your laundry will smell and how much cleaner your clothes will be with this simple fix.

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Dr. Jack Thrasher: A Toxicology Pioneer and Mold Warrior

This post is definitely late for me, but after I read the excellent article published on SinusitisWellness.com as a tribute to Dr. Jack Thrasher and his most recent paper with Dr. Dennis, I just had to go ahead and write this. (The paper is entitled, “Surgical and Medical Management of Sinus Mucosal and Systemic Mycotoxicosis.” The synopsis and explanation is excellent on SinusitisWellness.com, so I won’t go into that here. (Click through with the link to read more.) I want to always provide you guys with the whole story when it comes to mold, so that is where this post comes in. Sadly, Dr. Jack Thrasher passed away at the beginning of the year, so this will have to serve as my small acknowledgement of his work and his insights into the worlds of toxicology, immunotoxicology and teratology (the study of abnormalities of physiological development and what causes those abnormalities). We all benefit from his accomplishments and the safety implications and policies that resulted.

First, if you are not familiar with Dr. Thrasher, I want to give you a brief rundown of who he was, what he believed, in terms of environmental illness and toxicology, and some of the formidable work he accomplished in his lifetime. I had the privilege to have his insights and professional opinion during our mold ordeal, so I really hope I can convey what a true pioneer he was in my writing.

Dr. Thrasher started his career in California in the 1960s. When asked, he would tell the story that his first foray into toxicology came when he was using a popular nasal spray to relieve his nasal congestion. Always one to examine the details, he turned the spray bottle over to the ingredients list and found, to his dismay, that the spray contained mercury. He knew mercury was toxic to humans, so he started questioning why we were being exposed to that sort of poison in medications and otherwise. In short, why would something created to heal, contain an ingredient that could also poison? This was a dichotomy that he would never be able to ignore again. Hence, he heeded his calling and began his career.

In 1988, he became interested in a group of people living in mobile homes that were all chronically ill. Many of them were elderly or immunocompromised in some way, so their being sick wasn’t really taken very seriously by most doctors. Dr. Thrasher wanted to look closer to figure out what was causing their sickness. He began investigating their homes. What he found was that the materials used to build the mobile homes contained formaldehyde. Their homes were making them sick. Once they got out of the poisonous environments, they could get well. A novel concept at the time, but one that would lead Dr. Thrasher into the bulk of his work that centered around indoor environments and the contaminants present that could cause sickness. Today, formaldehyde is recognized as a known carcinogen with regulations on the amounts allowed to be utilized in building; however, there is more work to do here.

This led Dr. Thrasher to his extensive work investigating, “Water-Damaged Building Syndrome.” He and his partner, Sandra Crawley, actually published a well-known and highly-regarded paper, entitled, The biocontaminants and complexity of damp indoor spaces: more than what meets the eyes. Very basically, the paper presents their findings of  indicator molds; Gram negative and positive bacteria; microbial particulates; mycotoxins; volatile organic compounds, both microbial (MVOCs) and non-microbial (VOCs); proteins; galactomannans; 1-3-β-D-glucans (glucans); and ipopolysaccharides (LPS — endotoxins) in high concentrations throughout water-damaged indoor environments. The paper discusses the dire health implications of all of these particulates in a building or indoor environment, where humans are working or reside. He shows how the bacteria and molds are equally infectious and work together to cause significant and sometimes deadly (cancer) health problems. Thrasher would go on to point out the existence of protozoa also present in these wet indoor spaces, capable of causing infestation and infection—which was never indicated or tested before this paper.

Dr. Thrasher wholeheartedly believed that excessive mold was more dangerous to the human body than heavy metals or pesticides, simply because his work and testing had shown him that mold could adapt and mutate. Mycotoxic molds would affect human biology from a person’s head to their toes, interfering with protein synthesis, and suppressing the immune system, so that humans can never become resistant to them. His paper with Dr. Dennis highlighted the impact that mycotoxins can have in the sinuses and the complex diagnosis and treatment required for patients to get well.

I am merely scratching the surface here with my synopsis and description, but I want to bring you more and different information than what is everywhere on the internet about him. When I was working from afar with Dr. Thrasher and having him advocate for me and my family during our mold ordeal, I was able to send him the results of some of our air testing. He pointed out mold species and particulate counts that were of particular concern to him. When we dug deeper and investigated, we found the HVAC infestation and contamination that was causing us horrible sickness and distress. As a matter of fact, Dr. Thrasher and his passion for helping people in similar situations was unparalleled. He testified for people in countless court cases, and was able to provide the scientific proof and expertise needed for people to see and understand why homes, buildings, offices, etc., that were water-damaged and contaminated were health hazards and were, indeed, the reason why the patients were sick.

Because I had the unique honor of having Dr. Thrasher’s input in our situation, I also would like to share a little bit about what I learned from him. I think this information will help anyone looking to test or determine what about their work or living space is making them sick.

First, Dr. Thrasher always, always recommended multiple testing mechanisms for the same space. He liked dust sample testing from at least 4-5 places and ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) testing to find out the species of mold present—he was BIG on knowing what you are dealing with, so that you could fight the battle properly. Dr. Thrasher was also a proponent of culturing surfaces, even hidden surfaces, like refrigerator coils for bacteria. For example, if everyone is getting sick in the kitchen, but the mold counts in the undisturbed air read ok, and there doesn’t seem to be moisture intrusion, start looking behind things. In this case, when he pulled out the refrigerator and tested the damp coils, he found rare and dangerous bacterial cultures. So, when the fridge was opened or closed or disturbed in anyway, a poof of bacteria and particulates was flying around, making folks sick. There’s your answer. Always dig deeper was his motto. He wasn’t a huge fan of just air testing, because it really has no bearing on your actual indoor space when you are comparing indoor counts to outdoor counts. (Here is a LINK to my post air testing, if you want to go deeper. Here is another LINK for using EC3 Mold Test Plates for surface testing and TAP testing.) If you must do air testing, Dr. Thrasher would recommend you do one test where the “still” air is tested, and then one test where the air is disturbed with a fan or burst of air. The disturbance causes the smallest particulates that no one is looking at to come to light. He taught me that mycotoxins are associated with the tiniest of particulates. These are the particulates that enter the body easiest by inhalation or ingestion and can get into the bloodstream, or breach the blood-brain barrier through the sinus. This is of great concern and is often totally overlooked with indoor air quality testing.

Second, Dr. Thrasher cautioned the “mold folks” to never downplay or discount the existence of Aspergillus, or Penicillium, even in small amounts, when they pop up on mold testing cultures. (We actually had elevated levels of Penicillium in our bedroom when we tested during our ordeal.) In Thrasher’s studies, Aspergillus had proved to cause illness in humans, even those not susceptible to mold illness or those who were immunocompromised. Aspergillus also is one of the only molds to produce a Gleotoxin that is proven to cause cancer. Penicillium indicates indoor moisture, produces mycotoxins and is even thought to be carcinogenic. So, just because you don’t have Stachybotrys, or what is called “black mold,” you are not in the clear, if you do have some of these other molds.

Third, VOCs, both man-made, like perfumes and solvents, and microbial, are extremely irritating to the respiratory system and should be avoided, especially in indoor environments. Also, if you are living or working in a water-damaged space, you are in a literal soup of contaminates already. VOCs can magnify their deleterious effects and make everything all the more toxic.

Fourth, remediation techniques that Dr. Thrasher liked always, always involved investigating and examining the WHOLE home or building to find and stop moisture intrusion first. If moisture cannot be stopped, then the house or building must be demoed or vacated. It cannot be fixed or remediated. If the moisture issues can be fixed, remediation that does NOT involve any toxic chemicals can be performed. According to Dr. Thrasher, if the environment is already toxic, why in the world would you treat it with toxic chemicals? He did not like heat curing or pasteurization methods of remediating mold. He liked physical removal, like cutting out drywall and damaged wood, and then using boric acid to kill and clean the mold. He also liked the EC3 products by MicroBalance to maintain a healthy environment.

Finally, to close, I really want to give Dr. Thrasher the last word of sorts. He would say that our knowledge of indoor environments and our understanding of them changes daily. He would tell you to read everything that you can get your hands on—read all of the papers, studies and scientific literature. You need to know what you are dealing with. We cannot deny that “sick homes and buildings” exist anymore. Get involved and make your own decisions, so that you can safeguard yourself and your health.

That’s all for today! I hope you will read more and explore Dr. Thrasher’s site on your own as well.

 

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Humidifiers and Mold: Are They Helping or Hurting Your Health?

Hi, friends!

Today I want to conquer a controversial topic: humidifiers, and more specifically, cool mist humidifiers. Ok, ok. I know that humidifiers are not exactly what you would call controversial, but in the world of mold-related illness, they actually are.

The whole reason this topic is coming up today is because a girlfriend of mine recently posted a request on social media looking desperately for help with her son’s allergies, chronic congestion and ear infections. She had seen her

The designs of many cool mist humidifiers are even geared toward children’s rooms, so that they become part of the decor. I highly caution you against falling into this trap. You don’t want to increase the moisture in a child’s room. Microbial and mold counts can climb quickly, causing health issues, like asthma.

pediatrician already and did not want to accept that putting her child on another antibiotic or on allergy medication for the rest of his life were her only options. She was seeking more holistic advice and answers from other Moms about things that had worked for them.

I looked through all of the comments. It was startling to me how many Moms posted the advice of putting a cool mist humidifier in his room. In my mind, cool, aerosolized water in a closed, possibly carpeted, indoor space seemed like a no-brainer “no-no,” but to others, it was a solution to a health problem? What kind of information is out there that is touting humidifiers? Why, with what we are starting to know now about the link between mold/indoor humidity and chronic sinusitis (96% of chronic sinusitis is caused by an allergy to mold—Mayo Clinic), do people still use them? Aren’t there better alternatives? I wanted to investigate, and make my case about why you should think twice before bringing one into your home to treat allergies or sinus symptoms.

First, the ideal level of relative humidity for sinus health is between 35-45%. (This is even lower than the previously advised 50% humidity—National Asthma Council Australia.) This level is also generally recommended to avoid mold damage in your home. I’m not sure if you realize this, but that is very low. We have a dehumidifier on our HVAC system to help control the humidity inside our house, and even when set at its highest drying setting, it is difficult to get indoor air in Memphis, TN, below 40% humidity, especially in the summertime. I do realize that exceedingly dry air, combined with indoor gas or electric heat in the winter can be a recipe for excessive dryness, and irritated nasal passages, but there are other, more holistic solutions, that do not involve pumping moisture (possibly already contaminated moisture, as you will see later) into your home. I will go into some alternatives at the end of this post.

Second, according to the EPA, the moist environment of the humidifier itself is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. The EPA states: “Microorganisms often grow in humidifiers which are equipped with tanks containing standing water.” Moreover, when that contaminated water is sprayed out via the humidifier, it creates a “toxic mist,” that is later breathed in by everyone in the room. “Research has shown that breathing in dirty mist from humidifiers can lead to lung problems, including infection, and humidifier use is actually associated with an increased risk of developing asthma in children. Keep in mind, also, that too much moisture in your air increases the development of mold, which is a toxin you don’t want to be breathing in on a daily basis.” (Mercola)

The last thing you want, especially when your child is sick or battling allergies is to introduce MORE contaminants into their nasal passages and lungs or into their sleeping space. Ok, so what if you just clean the heck out of the humidifier? Then no contaminates can get in it, right? Well, unfortunately, not exactly. Consumer Reports states that even in the top, best rated-models, when they were thoroughly cleaned after each use, there were still small amounts of microorganisms detected. A small amount is still too much for me to be okay with. Excessive indoor moisture also encourages and increases the dust mite population in your home. Dust mites are a very common cause of allergies as well, so aside from the humidifier itself, this is a big reason to be wary of increasing humidity.

Third, the very water being used inside the humidifier can cause problems of its own. The Berkley Wellness website reveals that cool mist humidifiers may also emit minerals and other substances from the water into the air. “If your water contains contaminants, the humidifier will spray them into the air. Using tap water in a humidifier is not a good idea, because the minerals in it may be dispersed in the air as white dust. Minerals may also appear as a crusty deposit inside the humidifier, which is a surface on which bacteria and mold can grow.”

Finally, I decided to give our ENT a call to get his thoughts on the use of humidifiers in the home. Dr. Dennis, whom I have featured in a number of posts, is ahead of the curve, in my opinion, with this type of information, because his approach to all sinus issues and sickness is very holistic and focuses on the cause of the sinus issue, rather than the symptoms and the quick fix. Here is his response:

“Humidifiers should be avoided and are actually banned in hospitals, due to the possible spread of infections. Since the water inside the humidifier is room temperature or warm, especially if it is sitting in the tank, bacteria will grow inside. Those bacteria are then aerosolized into the lungs of the room occupant. The humidifier will also quickly bring the humidity in a room above 50%, so that mold growth occurs. This is acutely true in the summer, because humidity levels in your whole house are already up, and adding the humidifier causes a moisture increase above safe levels fast. If nasal dryness is severe and causing irritation or an inability for the sinus to work properly and filter the air, use only a vaporizer, which heats water (purified or distilled only) to steam, thus killing any organisms. BUT, ONLY do this in the winter months, when humidity is low and indoor heat is drying the air.”

So, the takeaway here is to avoid using humidifiers whenever possible. If you choose to do so, I would really do it sparingly, only using a vaporizer during cold months, and making sure humidity levels don’t get too high. To do this, you would need to use a hygrometer. A hygrometer can be purchased online or at a hardware store and measures the amount of moisture in your home’s air. Then, you can keep an eye on the humidity level and adjust your use of the vaporizer accordingly, never allowing the humidity to exceed 45%. I would also take extra precautions of only using distilled or purified water in the vaporizer, adding 4-5 drops of CitriDrops Dietary Supplement to that water to kill and prevent microbial growth, emptying and cleaning the tank with EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate or hydrogen peroxide and soap after each use. Be careful to rinse the vaporizer reservoir out thoroughly to remove all cleaner before the next use, and most importantly, never ever leaving a hot-mist vaporizer going in a child’s room unattended or anywhere where they could reach it and scald themselves.

If you really need moisture, opt for a vaporizer, which heats the water and emits steam.

To close my post today, I want to end on a can-do, positive note and offer some non-humidifier solutions to the issue of dry or irritated sinuses and the need for added moisture and relief.

  • Stay hydrated. Chronic dehydration is a problem for children and adults alike. Make sure you are actively drinking filtered or spring water throughout the day. Do not wait until you are thirsty. Thirst is the first sign of dehydration. Just carry water with you and sip on it all day. I like to pack water bottles in my kids’ school bags in the morning. I always praise them when they are empty when I unpack their bags in the afternoon. You will find that this simple change will improve your energy levels, your colon-transit time, and your overall sense of well-being.
  • Use a drug-free, moisturizing nasal mists, like NeilMed NasoGel, Ocean or Simply Saline. This can be used to provide moisture directly to the nose.
  • Use a facial steamer. Vicks makes a good one. You can fill it per package instructions with distilled or purified water, and add 2-3 drops of CitriDrops Dietary Supplement to the water. Then, gently inhale the steam through the nose and mouth. This will provide direct relief without increasing the humidity in your home.

    Personal steamers are a great option when you need to loosen mucus and to open your nasal passages to gain some relief.

  • If congested and struggling to clear their nose, bring your child in a steamy shower with you. Allow the steam to open them up in a controlled setting. Then, you can use a child-approve saline spray to further moisturize and clear their nasal passages.
  • Add a high-quality DHA or Omega-3 supplement to your daily regimen. I would suggest brands like Nordic Naturals for kids and Jarrow Formulas Krill Oil for adults. This supplement will increase overall lubrication and moisture in the body, and prevent dryness.
  • Limit ambient heat use indoors in the winter. I know this may sound a little crazy, but we try to keep our heater use to a minimum. At night, we just dress warmly and add extra snuggly blankets to our beds. There is honestly nothing worse, in my opinion, than having hot air blowing on me all night, and waking up feeling dried out and inflamed. You can even choose to just turn your heat off at night and back on during the day to give your skin and mucus membranes a break from the constant dryness. The cooler temperature will also help to create moisture in your body naturally, which, if you are having sinus irritation, is an added benefit.

That’s all for today. Let me know if you have any other tips of suggestions. I love to hear from you guys!

 

 

 

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Candida Diet-Friendly, Caffeine-Free, Antifungal Rosemary Coffee

As I have said in previous posts, I love podcasts. I listen to them while cleaning my home, folding laundry, and while walking, running or working out. I love being able to absorb personal stories, health and society information, or to get lost in a true crime series while on the go. One of my favorite podcasts as of late is the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast. Ben is a celebrity trainer turned bio-hacker, who delves into nutrition, supplementation and “behavioral hacks” in order to achieve optimal human performance. His podcast speaks to elite athletes and mere mortals alike. His goal is to optimize health for the long run. On his podcast, he often interviews first-class athletes, doctors, and scientists on the cutting edge of their professions, who are really passionate about health, performance, and longevity. Just listening makes me want to try new, out-of-the-box things to get my body and mind functioning at a higher level. It is a really motivating and empowering podcast. So, while you may not necessarily be training for optimal performance, I think it is important to pay attention to the benefits of the these “hacks,” because they can help us get or remain healthy for our own performance challenges and longevity.

This week, I listened to Ben Greenfield’s interview with Dean Karnazes.

Dean Karnazes is arguably superhuman. He has run and raced hundreds of thousands of miles across the U.S. and abroad.  His accomplishments include running multiple ultramarathons, 350 miles in a little over 80 hours without sleep, 50 consecutive marathons in all 50 states and much, much more. The most interesting thing about Dean, in my opinion, is his lack of burnout, even after all of those miles and all of those races. He just keeps going with unequaled passion and drive. It is remarkable.

Most recently, Dean completed The Road to Sparta race (which he has also written a book about), where he ran the epic 153-mile run that inspired the world’s greatest footrace, known today as the marathon. During this long and difficult race, Dean retraced the storied steps of Pheidippides, (530 BC–490 BC). Pheidippides is said to have run from Marathon to Athens to deliver news of a military victory against the Persians at the Battle of Marathon.  Not only did Dean run the storied path of Pheidippides, but her also went a step further by eating only nutrients that were available to people during the time of the original race. He turned to all natural and available items like figs, dates, nuts, and cured meats. He abstained completely from any sports nutrition or supplements, including electrolyte replacing fluids, like Gatorade. In doing so, he learned quite a bit about his body. Not being able to rely on sports nutrition forced him to really choose foods based on their potential energy output for his body and to rely on some ancient herbs and remedies to get through the miles without breaking down.

Anyway, the whole reason I am even writing about this today on my “mold Blog,” is because on the podcast, Dean was sharing some of his daily performance “hacks,” and one really spoke to me: Dean brews his coffee every morning with rosemary. He literally brews the rosemary sprigs right into his coffee. He swears by this elixir, because, not only does it take the acidity away from the coffee, but it also cleanses and energizes his body. Coffee contains very large amounts of antioxidants, including polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids. These antioxidants may improve health and help reduce the risk of several diseases.

With Dean consistently training at 150 miles per week and sleeping an average of 5 hours per night, he also believes that his rosemary coffee keeps him free from sickness and optimally charged without the aftereffects of blood sugar spikes and adrenal fatigue that coffee is sometimes criticized for. Now, I know a thing or two about rosemary and its natural antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic and antiparasitic properties, so I was intrigued.

(On a side note, the coffee space has become particularly interesting for the health and mold sensitive, due to the success of Dave Asprey’s famous Bulletproof Coffee.  This coffee has become a favorite for the casual coffee drinker to the consciously healthy, ketogenic and paleo diet-seekers alike.  Asprey’s recipe of blending grass-fed, unsalted butter, and/or MCT oil into his special mold-free coffee gives the coffee its “bulletproof” status, because the added fats energize the mind and body for hours . More relevant for the mold-sensitive is the fact that the proprietary Bulletproof Process optimizes every step of coffee production by minimizing the opportunity for performance-robbing mold toxins to taint the beans. The coffee beans are grown at high altitudes where mold does not survive.  If you are a coffee drinker, mold-free Bulletproof Coffee and my recipe that follows both limit the unhealthy aspects of coffee drinking and provide important health benefits.)

As a matter of fact, one of the things I struggled with the most when I had to modify my diet to eliminate all of the fungus/yeast in my gut, post-mold exposure was giving up my morning coffee. I love coffee, but until the yeast was gone, regular coffee just was not doing my digestive system any favors. Also, no caffeine is allowed on the Candida Diet, because it can undermine your adrenals and weaken your immune system, making your Candida worse. So, even though Dean’s tip to add the rosemary to the ground coffee during brewing was genius, and just what I needed to get this morning ritual to be beneficial to my body on the antifungal front, without real coffee, how was I to add rosemary coffee to my life?  I mean, if this physically amazing man uses this simple recipe to up his game for a 135 mile run, then it is worth a shot, right? I thought so, and I’m so happy I did. With a few little antifungal tweaks, I’m drinking my morning brew this way every morning.

Before I go into my special, Candida-friendly, adapted recipe, we need to talk rosemary and its health properties:

Rosemary is a hearty, fragrant herb, originally from the Mediterranean that is commonly used in cooking. Its medicinal properties have been lauded since ancient times. Tinctures, oils and teas containing rosemary were used to disinfect and treat wounds, help with circulation, treat asthma, prevent hair loss, stabilize and extend the shelf life of homemade creams and cosmetics, and even to treat and manage diabetes. Rosemary is also a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. Potential health benefits of Rosemary include improved concentration, digestion, and slowed brain aging. Most recently coming to light about rosemary, though, is proof of its amazing ability to help with fungal conditions. There was even a recent study done by the International Center for Science, High Technology and Environmental Sciences that looked specifically at the antifungal power of the oils extracted from the rosemary plant on a strain of Aspergillus flavus. The study concluded that rosemary is a potent antifungal, and should be further explored for its potential ability to protect food and crops as a natural fungicide during farming and storing. Medicinally, rosemary can be used to calm digestive distress and indigestion, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Also, rosemary is approved by the German Commission as a safe and effective herbal treatment for dyspepsia (indigestion or impaired digestion). I really have only scratched the surface here on the health benefits of rosemary, but you get the gist.

Now that you are sold on using rosemary in your coffee, let’s address the coffee issue for those folks, like me, who should not be drinking it.

To make my own version of rosemary coffee, I needed to come up with a way to first make myself “coffee” without violating any of the antifungal diet best practices. High-quality organic decaf coffee is permitted on an antifungal diet, but only in VERY small amounts. Since decaf coffee and most teas do contain trace amounts of caffeine, I really didn’t want to use either for fear that I might regress and bring some of the yeast back. So, what was left?

Allow me to introduce you to chicory root coffee. It is a tasty, nutrition-packed, coffee substitute that is caffeine and gluten free with a smooth, creamy mouth feel that reminds me of Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Butter Coffee. (HERE is a link to my post on Dave Asprey, if you want to learn more.)

Chicory root contains prebiotic fiber (inulin). Prebiotic fiber cannot be fully digested by the body, but can be used as food by the good bacteria in your gut. Feeding the good gut bacteria helps it flourish and eliminate the Candida or yeast. Thus, chicory root is an advantageous choice for those of us on an antifungal diet. Other benefits of chicory include decreased inflammation from its abundance of plant polyphenols, improved liver condition from its ability to scavenge free radicals from the body, less constipation from its high-fiber content (which is why it should be used in moderation), better-regulated blood glucose levels (some naturopaths prescribe it to help with diabetes), less joint pain, and better gut health (because it is wonderful food for that good gut bacteria). Convinced to try it yet?

So now you are wondering, how in the world do I brew “coffee” from chicory root? Well, fear not! Ground, roasted chicory root is actually available in stores (online or at Whole Foods) and can be used in your drip coffee maker, or French press exactly as you would use coffee. The ratio of ground chicory to water to brew the coffee is even the exact same as regular coffee. Thus, making the switch is quite easy.

Now that I have dangled the bait, I’m going to go ahead and reel you in with my delicious recipe for Rosemary “Coffee.”

Candida Diet-Friendly, Caffeine-Free, Antifungal Rosemary Coffee

Ingredients:

  • Ground, Roasted Chicory Root (I used Teeccino Chicory Herbal Coffee in the Hazelnut variety, available online or at Whole Foods. They also offer unflavored and Dark Roast, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of Rosemary-Hazelnut “coffee.” Community Coffee also makes a ground chicory that works well for this recipe.)
  • French Press, or a regular drip Coffeemaker

  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary per 2 tablespoons of ground chicory (This ingredient amount is wholly dependent upon how many cups of coffee you are making. For example, if you are brewing 4 cups, you will need 2 sprigs.)

  • Coffee accompaniments (Pick your poison here. I use unsweetened coconut or almond creamer and organic Stevia in my coffee, but fix yours however you usually take it. If you are on a strict antifungal diet, do not use real sugar or dairy, though. This makes a great smoky, robust black “coffee,” so you might want to try it that way first.)

Directions:

Place 2 tablespoons of ground chicory per cup of coffee in your French press or coffeemaker. Take one sprig of rosemary at a time, and run your fingers along the stalk to make the needles come loose. Add all of the needles however many rosemary sprigs you are using to the ground chicory in either your coffeemaker or your French press.

If you are using a French press, boil filtered water in a kettle. If you are using a coffeemaker, fill your machine with filtered water for however many cups you are making, and brew your “coffee” per machine specifications. For the French press, once your water boils, remove it from the stove and pour it into your French press. Allow the ground chicory and rosemary to steep for at least 3 minutes. If you desire stronger “coffee,” you can let it steep longer.

After 3 minutes, press your “coffee.” 

For a regular coffeemaker, you can just pour yourself a cup when the brewing is complete.

After I pour myself a cup, I like to pour any leftovers into a glass container with a lid. Then, I can store my rosemary “coffee” in the fridge for later use or for an iced coffee in the afternoon.

Prepare your “coffee” however you normally take it. Kick your feet up and enjoy the taste and aroma. You can even add a sprig of rosemary to your cup as a stirrer/garnish, if you are feeling fancy.

Please let me know if you try this. I want to hear what you think. Does it taste like coffee to you? Did it make you feel better? Are you able to run around the globe now just like Dean Karnazes?

 

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Could Chlorine Be Prolonging Your Mold/Fungal Issues? Simple Tips on How to Limit Chlorine Exposure

Summer is coming. We have started to hit warmer temperatures for days at a time, and the evenings aren’t getting as cold as they used to. It’s all very exciting, especially when your body craves the sunshine, warmth and boost of Vitamin D, like mine does. Another thing that summer brings for my family is lots of swimming. I love swimming and my kiddos especially love swimming, but since we had our mold exposure, pool swimming brings a new set of worries with it that I never even knew to think about before.

The culprit for those worries: chlorine. Let’s face it; most pools contain chlorine these days. Just as chlorine is excellent at killing bacteria, viruses and microorganisms, it is terrible for those of us susceptible to fungal issues, because it  poses a chemical threat to recovering from our mold exposure, and it promotes Candida or fungal growth inside the body. To better explain, l will first talk about chlorine and what kind of chemical threat it can pose to your body:

Chlorine is a naturally-occurring chemical element and is one of the most abundant on Earth. It is the ninth largest chemical produced in the U.S. by volume and is known as the “workhorse chemical.” In the U.S., it is used as a chemical disinfectant in municipal water supplies, to manufacture everything from computer chips to crop-protection chemicals, and as a household cleaning aid in countless products. Chlorine’s highly reactive nature makes it extremely useful, but also, potentially dangerous. In other words, it quite literally reacts with anything it touches, be that bacteria to kill it, or your skin and lungs to irritate and burn them.

Chlorine is classified as a hazardous chemical and a “choking agent” when in gas form. Thus, exposure to chlorine gas can be fatal, which is why it was first used as a chemical weapon during WW I. In addition, there are many health issues related to chlorine exposure in ALL forms. Research has even shown that long-term chlorine exposure produces free-radicals in the body. Free radicals are carcinogenic and cause extensive damage to our cells—even altering the mitochondria of DNA.  According to the U.S. Council of Environmental Quality, the cancer instance for those who regularly drink chlorinated water is 93% higher, than for those who do not.

These days, chlorine exposure is probably greater than what you would expect. Just think, from chemical disinfecting products, to municipal water supplies, to fruits and veggies that were sprayed with it as a pesticide, to our public and private pools to keep bacteria and virus levels safe for swimming. It is a hidden chemical onslaught that most of us don’t always consider. But, when your health has been severely compromised for any reason, like mine has, you start to think about the risk that accumulates with every chemical exposure, and how to minimize further damage to your body.

Now,  I’m going to switch gears and give my Cliff’s Notes version of Candida overgrowth and why that is a bad thing, and then why the addition of chlorine (whether in your drinking water or in the water you are showering or swimming in) can make it worse:

In our digestive tracts, we have thousands of different microbial residents. Most of those microbes are the “good” kind of bacteria. They help to breakdown the food we eat, defend our bodies against “bad” bacterial invaders, aid in immune function, help to regulate detoxification, and even control our moods—really that is just scratching the surface, but this is the Cliff’s Notes version. When those microbes are killed off by antibiotics (in pharmaceutical medications or in the foods we eat), an overly acid stomach or diet, or by chlorine absorbed through the skin or ingested, they can be taken over by Candida/yeast. You see, we all have Candida in our mouths and intestines, to aid our bodies in digestion and nutrient absorption. But, when their levels become too large for the body to keep in check, the Candida can penetrate the intestinal wall and create “leaky gut” symptoms by releasing the yeast’s toxic byproducts into the bloodstream. Yikes.

Candida can easily flourish when the immune system is weak from the body battling sickness, infection, or outside invaders, like mold or chemical toxins. Since inhaling mold also brings fungus into the body through the nose and mouth, exposure to it can make Candida even worse. Julia Koehler, a Harvard University fellow in infectious disease, actually found that Candida overgrowth is the predominant infection behind ALL human disease. According to Koehler, Candida is particularly dangerous because of its ability to change forms and to adapt. So, where does chlorine come into all of this?

When we ingest things like chlorine in our drinking water, or swim in a chlorinated pool, we are further disrupting our healthy body ecology that fends off the Candida. If all of our protective barriers, both internally and externally are killed off, Candida/yeast becomes the pervading organism. This is not good or healthy.

So, with summer practically here, you are probably wondering how in the world you are going to replace or avoid all chlorine, right? Good news! I have some easy tips and tools to help guide the way for you. I also want those who require or have family members who require a “mold free lifestyle” to know that I understand the unbelievable expense it can bring with it. Because of that, I have tried to offer solutions that are not overly daunting or financially draining. Don’t stop reading! I promise solutions are easier than you think.

Tips and Tools for Limiting Chlorine Exposure:

(Remember, I am NOT a doctor. All of the tips and opinions expressed below come from my research, experience and interaction with professionals in the medical and holistic medicine fields. These opinions and comments are not meant to diagnose or treat a disease, but are offered as insights and helpful information for my readers.)

  • Install a whole-house water filtration system in your home. This type of system filters both the water you will cook with and consume and the water you bathe and wash your hands with. Not all filtration systems are created equal, so making sure the system you choose filters chlorine out is very important. Charcoal filters are particularly good at chlorine removal. Whole-house filtration can cost anywhere from $400-$4,000.If this is not financially feasible, install individual filters on your tub/showerhead, in your refrigerator and on your kitchen sink. If there is another sink where you frequently wash your hands, consider installing one there as well. Also, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because you are filtering your drinking water that you are safe. Showering with non-filtered water is actually one of the worst culprits for chlorine exposure. Why? The shower aerates the water in a closed space, so not only are you getting the chlorine exposure through your skin, but you are also inhaling the chlorine gases. There are so many filters out there, in every price point, so there are no excuses.
  • Ask for bottled water at restaurants, or carry filtered water with you.

    Water coolers are another great choice for your home or office. They give you easy access to spring or purified drinking water. It is also sometimes a more cost-effective option than purchasing bottled water all of the time.

    Also, make sure that you are not pouring your filtered water over ice, because this defeats the purpose, as the ice at most restaurants is usually not from a filtered source. Also, remember that if a restaurant is offering iced tea, or sodas from a machine, those drinks contain unfiltered water and should be avoided. Your best option is always something in a bottle over anything from the tap.

  • While it does not neutralize chlorine in water, I think it is worth noting that grapefruit seed extract has been tested and proven effective at treating and killing microbes in municipal water supplies better than chlorine.

    CitriDrops are all-natural, and safe.

    When I don’t have access to filtered water and cannot control my water supply, I carry CitriDrops Dietary Supplement in my purse. I add about 10 drops to a glass of water and swirl it around before drinking it. Not only will the CitriDrops work to eliminate bacteria and microbes, but it will also help to combat any Candida forming in your gut as a result of the chlorine exposure. This is especially pertinent to mold-allergic or sensitive people.

  • Eat a diet rich in healthy fats. Of course, I’m not talking potato chips and ice cream here, but avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, wild-caught fish and organic meats. Fat that penetrates your cells protects the body from oxidative damage, and heightens antioxidant levels. These healthy fats also aid in weight management. So, even though it is swimsuit season, maintaining a balanced diet that includes fat is better for your cellular protection.
  • Do not buy or use chlorinated bleach on your laundry. Also, read the labels of your laundry and cleaning supplies to make sure that they do not contain chlorine or other harmful chemicals. Anything that touches your skin can get into your bloodstream, so don’t think that just because you are not drinking or eating it that it cannot affect you.
  • Avoid public pools and hot tubs as these contain particularly high amounts of chlorine. If you are at the beach or on vacation, consider swimming in freshwater or salt water instead. You can usually call hotels to find out what types of systems they have installed to clean the pools. Some hotels these days use Ozone or salt water systems instead of chlorine. Call ahead and find out. If you are mold sensitive, you REALLY need to think about this, because the toxicity of chlorine absorbed in lungs or skin can negatively affect you worse than the average person.
  • If purchasing a home or installing an indoor or outdoor pool, choose outdoor, if possible. The off-gassing of chlorine in an indoor, enclosed setting has been proven to be 100%-200% worse, in terms of toxicology tests on its impact on the human body than outdoor pools.
  • Install an alternative-to-chlorine system on your home pool, instead of using chlorine, whenever possible.

    This pool is on a salt water system. It is not perfect, but uses much, much less chlorine than an all-chlorine system. Salt water has its own therapeutic, disinfecting and healing properties, which make it a nice choice for a home pool.

    The systems I have researched and recommend are Grander Water Revitalization systems (with a Grander system, you keep the chlorine, but the water is revitalized through the unit and all of the negative effects of the chlorine disappear–hard to find in the U.S., though), Ozone (although, sometimes, small amounts of chlorine are still needed with ozone systems, but the amount is significantly reduced, and not as irritating to your skin or eyes), and copper/silver ionization. Our doctor who treated us for the mold exposure cautioned us with copper-silver ionization systems. His take is this:

    “I would not use copper-silver, as they are heavy metals,  and though you must have Cu to do biochemical reactions, it is toxic in larger amounts and prevents healing. If you get Cu in a wound it will not heal and silver is also toxic in larger amounts. The chlorine in salt pools is not detectable and is in different forms. The healing properties of salt and salt as a disinfectant are great. I love our salt water pool. You can open your eyes in our pool without burning, but not in a copper-silver pool. Just my 2 cents worth, having experienced both. Copper-silver systems are more difficult to regulate, sometime chlorine is still needed.”

    Salt water pools seem to be his preference. We are in the process of converting our pool to salt water as I write this. (If you would like specific information, just send me a comment in the comments section.)

  • Take Vitamin C and/or use a lotion with Vitamin C to create a protective antioxidant barrier between your skin and the chlorine. Vitamin C has been proven to effectively neutralize chlorine, both inside the body and out. As a matter of fact, in 2005, the U.S.D.A. Forest Service studied the effects of the two forms of vitamin C (ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate) on chlorine. Both worked well. Just a single gram of vitamin C neutralizes the chlorine from 100 gallons of water that has been chlorinated at a concentration of 1 P.P.M, which is the standard concentration for drinking water in the United States. For reference, the average bathtub has a capacity of 60 gallons at the point of overflowing. Since 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid is about 5 grams, less than a quarter of a teaspoon would be needed to neutralize the chlorine within the hypothetical bathtub. Thus, mixing a 1/3 teaspoon of powdered Vitamin C to your sunscreen, or adding a teaspoon of liquid or powdered Vitamin C to my oil-based lotion recipe that I just posted (include link), and then applying it to your body prior to swimming, would reduce the ill effects of the chlorine on your body tremendously. Taking a daily Vitamin C supplement will also aid your body in combating the harm done by any chlorine in your diet or absorbed through the skin. Since Vitamin C does not stay in the body all day, it is recommended to take it multiple times per day, especially on days when you swim. This is not to say that avoidance isn’t the best policy, but just gives you a healthier alternative. I may even come up with a specific DeChlorinating, Vitamin C Lotion, if there is enough interest. Let me know.
  • Rinse off immediately after swimming in a chlorinated pool, using soap. The sooner you get the chlorine off of your skin, the better. Soap must be used to ensure that the chlorine is completely removed. Even better than normal soap, would be to use a Vitamin C-rich soap, like Trader Joe’s Vitamin C Cleansing Gel. I do caution you, though, as I mentioned before that chlorine is extremely active. It gets on something and immediately starts doing damage. Any washing or rinsing post-exposure, only removes the top, superficial layer from your skin. Monitoring your antioxidant levels and aiding the body with vitamin C should be done in conjunction with this.
  • Be careful about sitting or sun bathing by chlorinated pools as well. Inhaling chlorine can be just as damaging and detrimental as ingesting or getting it on your skin, as I outlined above.

I hope this post helped to inform you about and to warn you of the dangers of chlorine exposure, especially when it comes to mold-exposure and fungal-illness recovery. This is an important topic. I’m still learning a lot about it myself and would love to hear from you. Please write with any questions, stories, or insights.

Be well!

 

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Homemade Coconut Oil Cream for Fungal Relief

One of the things my husband really struggled with when his body was depleted and compromised from our mold exposure was Candida. If you are not familiar with the intricacies of Candida, I’ll give you a brief, not entirely medical rundown that is based upon both what the doctors told us and my experience with it:

Candida is a systemic yeast or fungal overgrowth inside the body. It starts in the gut when yeast begins to grow and overtakes the “good” gut bacteria that fights illness and disease and aids in nutrient absorption and digestion. The only way to really conquer or get rid of Candida is to starve it out of existence and to take antifungal supplements or medications. Since yeast thrives on any and all sugar, a diet that eliminates sugars, starches and many fungi-rich foods is usually prescribed. A potent probiotic is also part of the usual regimen. If all steps are followed to the letter, the Candida will eventually die off and the healthy gut bacteria will resume their role as the major players. The “die-off” effect can be quite intense and debilitating, though. Many times, people experiencing Candida “die-off” feel like they are coming down with something or have the flu. It is not pleasant, because the yeast has taken hold of your body and doesn’t want to leave.

Other indicators of Candida overgrowth occur on the outside of the body. Some people develop skin rashes, white patches on their skin, vaginal yeast infections, a white film on the back of their tongues, and even ongoing cases of athlete’s foot or fingernail and toenail fungus. In other words, it’s not a pretty thing to have happen to you. When you’ve been exposed to mold spores in a toxic environment, like we were for a prolonged amount of time, your body becomes extremely susceptible to Candida. It’s like the mold just wants to take over your body, both inside and out. It is insidious.

My poor husband had both the gut issues of Candida and the skin issues—white patches all over his chest and back. Well, we got out of the home, eradicated the mold, cleaned up his diet and got him on a circuit of rotating antifungal supplements, but he couldn’t seem to get rid of the white patches on his skin. We went to countless dermatologists, tried 100s of natural and over-the-counter antifungal creams, but nothing seemed to work long term, or irritated his skin to the point that it wasn’t worth using. That was when I decided to start doing some experiments of my own to try to invent an all-natural antifungal cream that would work for him and give him some relief.

The first thing I did to find my ingredients was to start looking at his food journal (he had to keep a journal of everything he was eating on the Anti-Candida Diet) to see which foods he responded most positively to, when trying to get rid of the yeast internally. Bells and whistles went off for me when I saw that his skin itching improved on the days he was taking 1 tablespoon of Coconut Oil on an empty stomach, 1 hour prior to eating anything else. In his journal, he also cited a noticeable change in his energy, less GI symptoms and better overall food absorption. He even noted that on the days when he took more Coconut Oil, his skin seemed clearer. BAM! This was it. Coconut Oil. I needed to try to create a cream that contained coconut oil combined with other natural antifungals for his skin. Well, that is just what I did.

Now, a little bit of information about coconut oil to help you understand why it can be such an all-around powerhouse when it comes to treating fungus:

Unrefined, virgin coconut oil that has not been bleached or treated contains linoelic, caprylic and lauric acid. While lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid that is nutritionally superior in helping reduce cholesterol, caprylic and linoelic acid are the factors that really help with Candida issues both internally and topically. Linoelic acid reduces inflammation. Caprylic acid contains antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used for centuries to treat yeast infections, skin conditions, digestive disorders, and has been proven to lower the risk of antibiotic resistance and to breakdown the membranes of Candida cells.

So, after months of experimenting with different ways and combinations of essential oils and additives to the coconut oil to make my husband a cream, I finally found the best combination. Here it is!

Homemade Coconut Oil Cream for Fungal Relief

Tools and Ingredients:

  • Glass or plastic container with a screw top (You want a container that you would normally prefer for body lotion or cream. If you can’t use it easily, you won’t use it, so don’t make the mistake of choosing a container that is cumbersome to open. This recipe also doesn’t work well in a pump container. It is too thick.)

This is the nutrition information on the back of the MCT oil I used. It shows the breakdown of all of the fungus-fighting components in the coconut oil.

  •  ½ cup Virgin, Unrefined Liquid Coconut or MCT Oil (I used the one made by Whole Foods that my husband had used as part of his Anti-Candida regimen.)
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon beeswax pastilles (These are available online or through a natural food store. Beeswax helps to thicken homemade lotions because it is solid at room temperature. It also helps to seal in moisture to the skin as it creates a protective, yet breathable barrier. It also helps protect the skin form environmental pollutants and toxins.)

  • 1/2 cup Aloe Vera Gel (The aloe is extremely healing, cooling and soothing to the skin. It also makes the cream much fluffier and lighter in consistency, which my husband liked. In addition, aloe has antifungal properties of its own that penetrate and make this cream even more effective.)
  • Blender or glass bowl with an immersion blender

 

 

Directions:

  • Melt the beeswax and coconut oil in a double broiler, or a glass bowl fitted over a saucepan filled with water. Stir the mixture frequently while it is melting to prevent any clumping.
  • Once melted, remove from the heat and pour into a blender, or leave in the glass bowl, if using an immersion blender. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. It should just be beginning to harden around the edges. This will ensure that it will emulsify correctly.
  • Add the CitriDrops and the tea tree oil, if using. You could also substitute another essential oil, if you are going for a particular fragrance.
  • Start blending on low. While blending, add the aloe vera gel, a little at a time. You can scrape down the sides of the bowl or blender periodically, while blending the aloe in to make sure that it is all fully incorporated into the mixture.
  • Once all of the aloe has been blended in, scoop or pour the mixture into your chosen container. Since this cream contains food-grade ingredients, it should be stored in the fridge and used within six weeks.

To Use:

Warm a quarter-size amount of the cream in your hands. Apply your cream to any itchy, dry or white patches on your hands and body–or anywhere you want to use it, really. It is a great moisturizer! Avoid your face, though. You can use the cream up to 3 times a day. If any irritation occurs, you should stop using it immediately and consult a doctor.

My husband used this cream for only a week when he started noticing the white patches going away. He has not had a recurrence since, but I still make the cream periodically for other uses. I just like the cooling effect it gives my skin and it offers tired legs a nice boost as well. I also use a version of this recipe to make homemade Candida soap. I will share that recipe soon on the blog.

Take care and let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

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Everything You Ever Wanted and Needed to Know About Bathroom Ventilation

I recently wrote a blog post detailing how to clean your bathroom ventilation fans properly for mold. (HERE is a link to that post on the blog.) Because ventilation, and especially bathroom ventilation (think an area with large amounts of moisture, warmth, and residue), are crucial to preventing mold growth in your home, I thought I would bring you a supplemental post to add to that one.

Today, I will share some helpful insights with you on how to pick the best fan for your bathroom and ventilation needs. To help me do that, I’ve enlisted some professional help. Let’s face it, I may know a thing or two about mold, cleaning for mold, and mold prevention, but when it comes to the intricacies of bath fans, I only really know what I have read. With that said, I would like to introduce you to Paul St. Pierre, founder of Bathfanreview.com.

A little background on Paul:

Paul is a practicing electrician who owns his own electrical business. Most recently, he founded bathfanreview.com.

Paul has been a licensed electrician for over 25 years and owns his own electrical service company.

After installing 100’s of bath fans—every make, size and model you can imagine—in 100’s of people’s homes, he felt the need to educate his customers a little more on this little-considered, but very important appliance. To deliver his experience, expertise and professional opinions to a broader audience, he started his website. On his site, he reviews various makes and models of bath fans, tells homeowner’s how to properly install them, and offers information on how to calculate type and what power of fan a bathroom requires, based on the size of the space.  Additionally, his site is easy to navigate and offers honest, easy-to-understand opinions about the latest and greatest ventilation fans on the market.

In order to bring as much of Paul’s helpful knowledge to my readers as possible, I thought I’d present this post to you in interview fashion.  I did my best to ask Paul any and all questions I could think of, in terms of bathroom ventilation and keeping moisture out of your home. If I left anything out, or if you have questions that I failed to ask, Paul’s contact email will be included at the end of this post.

Now, without further ado, here is my interview with Paul:

Me: Hi, Paul, thank you so much for agreeing to be my “in-house” bathroom fan expert. I definitely have a new respect for bath fans and their necessity in a home. Many of the interior humidity problems we were having in our “new” (new to us) home hinged on broken or poorly functioning bathroom fans. We also had to fix ventilation pathways, because both upstairs bath fans were vented directly into our attic insulation. It was a mess. So, starting with that, what do you tell or advise folks to do when looking into a home they are thinking to purchase, in terms of bathroom ventilation? Should they be going up into the attic to see where the fans vent? Will a home inspector be looking for this? If the fans don’t vent to the outside of the home, how important is having that fixed?

Paul: Hi, Catherine, and thanks for reaching out. Yes, when looking to purchase a home it is very important to make sure the bathroom fans are vented properly. This can be done by looking into the attic, or from the outside, by looking for vents or grills located on the exterior walls of the house, where the bathrooms are located. Reputable home inspectors should also be looking for this. If the fans do not vent to the outdoors, this should be fixed ASAP to prevent further moisture and mold problems.

Me: What about if you purchase a home that doesn’t have a bathroom fan? Can a fan always be installed?

Paul: Yes, a fan can always be installed. If the bathroom is located in an area where there is access to the ceiling above it, we can usually install a fan without any damage to the drywall. In cases such as a 1st floor bathroom with a 2nd floor above it, drywall repairs to the ceiling may be necessary.

Me: I learned in our debacle that the distance that the air has to travel to the outside from the fan is also an important consideration. As I understand it, if the air has to travel too great a distance, it almost renders the fan ineffective. The moisture can sit in the ductwork and cause a host of additional problems with mold and other things. How important is this to think about? How should homeowner’s calculate the ideal distance from fan to fresh air, and what things can be done when choosing a fan to help cover the distance issue?

Paul: That’s a tough one because it’s not just the distance of the duct but also how many elbows or bends there are. Ideally you would like the shortest possible distance without any elbows. When this is not possible, further calculations must be made to compensate for the duct length:

Equivalent Duct Length

To calculate the equivalent duct length, you’ll have to consider not only the length of the duct, but you’ll also have to know the duct construction, and number of elbows. The basic rules that apply to both 3″ and 4″ ducts are as follows.

  1. Measure the length of the straight duct.
  2. If the duct is flexible aluminum, multiply that length by 1.25.
  3. OR, if the duct is flexible insulated material, multiply that length by 1.5.
  4. For each elbow, add another 15 feet.
  5. For each terminal (wall or roof louvre), add 30 feet.

Example:

Given this duct:

There is 10′ of straight smooth walled duct, plus 2 elbows, and one terminal at the end.

EDL = 10′ + (2 * 15′) + (1 * 30′)
EDL = 10′ + 30′ + 30′
EDL = 10′ + 60′
EDL = 70′

To determine the proper-sized fan:

Once you’ve got all the information, it’s time to select an appropriately-sized fan. To do this, you can use a chart like this:

So, a 10’ by 10’ bathroom with 8’ ceilings (800 cu ft) and an EDL of 70’ would need a 190 cfm fan.

Me: I love how on your site, you go into an in-depth description on how to choose the right CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) fan for your space. Could you tell my readers a little more about this and about why choosing a fan based on these specs is important? How often do you see bathroom fans installed in homes that are not adequate for the space? What happens when a bath fan that is not powerful enough is installed in a large space—does the air just not dry out? Couldn’t you just run the fan longer?

Paul: Sure, The Home Ventilating Institute recommends a minimum of 50 CFM and at least 1 CFM per square foot. If your bathroom has a ceiling higher than 8′, then you would multiply the width x length x height of the room, divide by 60 (minutes in an hour), then multiply by 8 (number of air exchanges per hour). So a 10×10 room with 10′ ceilings would need a 150 CFM fan:

10x10x10 = 1000

1000 ÷ 60 = 16.66

16.66×8 = 133 CFM rated vent fan and I would round up to 150 CFM

Having the right size fan is important because you need to expel the moisture and humidity as fast as possible. Long-term exposure to excess moisture and humidity can crack and peel paint and wallpaper, ruin wallboard, warp doors and rust cabinets and fixtures.  It also creates a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and bacteria.

In over half of the homes I go to, the fans are undersized, usually because the builder or homeowner was uneducated and just bought the cheapest one. (Most people think a fan is a fan, what’s the difference?).  Running an undersized fan longer doesn’t help much, because the humidity and moisture is there too long.

Me: As you know, this blog is primarily about mold and about educating people and helping them prevent mold growth in their homes and indoor environments. I want to help people understand how important ventilation is to this picture. What can you tell my readers about bathroom ventilation as it relates to mold prevention?

Paul: Mold grows best in warm, damp, and humid areas. This is basically every bathroom environment. Venting is extremely important to prevent this growth. Without it, you will get mold.

Me: I know you read my post on cleaning your bath fans regularly for mold. How important is this? Did I leave anything out that you want to add?

Paul: I think your post on steaming all the tile and grout was great and a really good solution for treating mold. I would also suggest using your steamer with the bathroom fan on and steam right into the fan to kill any mold that may have formed in the duct work.

Me: Now, let’s get to some of the fun stuff. I’ve read on your site about some of the really cool bath fans available nowadays. Can you tell us about some of the coolest styles, features and options out there on the market? Which features are best for mold prevention? Is there a style that you gravitate towards? What brands are the most dependable?

Paul: Another tough question! I like the Panasonic Fans because they are built very well, ultra quiet, and have many options such as automatic humidity controls and timers.  They are the very best fan you can buy. On the other hand, the Broan SPK110 Sensonic™ Speaker Fan is very cool because it has a Bluetooth speaker built in and you can listen to music while you shower, and it also works very well as its 110 cfm.

This is the WhisperLite 110 CFM 0.6 Sone Ceiling Mounted, Energy Star Rated, Bath Fan with a Light and Fully Enclosed DC Motor by Panasonic. It is powerful, but quiet and even has its own light.

Me: Thank you, thank you, for your time and knowledge. I hope my readers will check out your site.

Paul: Thank you so much!

To contact Paul directly, you can email him at  paul@bathfanreviews.com, or visit his website bathfanreview.com.

 

 

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DIY Techniques for Eliminating Odors, Bacteria, and Fungus From Your Feet and Shoes: Part II and A Giveaway!!!!

(Note: This post is Part II of a 2-part series on cleaning your feet and shoes for mold and bacteria. Today’s post features a Homemade Athletic Shoe-Cleaning Wash. To read Part I about making your own antibacterial and antifungal foot wash, click HERE. Read to the bottom of the post to find out how to enter the GIVEAWAY for 2 travel-size bottles of EC3 Laundry Additive.)

Today, I’m back with Part II of cleaning your stinky feet and shoes for mold and bacteria. This time, my post is all about shoes. Your shoes are constantly moist–either from sweat or from getting wet outside–and are constantly getting dirty and being exposed to bacteria, fungus and other microbes as well, just from normal wear and tear. And, as you probably know by now, moisture and dirt are a terrible combination when it comes to mold. The two create the perfect storm. Thus, knowing how to properly clean your shoes to address mold, especially your athletic shoes that your feet frequently sweat in, is imperative. Not only will using the right cleaning and antifungal ingredients on your shoes remove the current dirt, mold and bacteria, but it will also prevent additional contamination from being tracked into your home. (The minute dirty shoes touch your carpets, rugs or floors, everything that is currently on them, microbes, mold and all, is now right at home inside your house.)

Just as in my previous post where I gave you my special recipe for cleaning your feet, today, I will share my recipe and techniques for cleaning your athletic shoes. Many people I have already shared this recipe with claim that using this shoe wash got their athletic shoes sparkling clean, eradicated any unpleasant odors from them, and helped to prevent the spread and recurrence of athlete’s foot. I guess because this wash contends with the mold directly, it kills any fungus that would otherwise continue to fester inside the shoes and spread back to your feet again. Great! Another plus! Who wants athlete’s foot?!!!

Now that I have kept you waiting long enough, here is my much-refined and very potent recipe for cleaning your athletic shoes:

Antifungal and Antibacterial Athletic Shoe Cleaning Wash

(Note: This wash is for athletic shoes ONLY. Do not use this on leather shoes of any kind or any other shoes that are not made of a washable material. Here is a LINK to my post on cleaning non-washable types of shoes. )

Tools:

  • Large, clean empty bucket or bowl (It is best if the bucket is large enough to fit a pair of shoes inside. You will want to pick a bucket that when filled with water, your shoes could be completely submerged.)
  • Liquid Castile Soap or Fragrance-free liquid laundry detergent (I like to use my Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin liquid laundry detergent for this.)
  • EC3 Laundry Additive (This will be your antibacterial and antifungal powerhouse. It is proven to remove mold and bacterial odors from any washable items.)
  • Optional Finisher: EC3 Mold Solution Spray

Instructions:

  • Add a splash…maybe 3Tbsps of liquid castile soap, or liquid laundry detergent to your empty bucket/bowl.

  • Fill your bucket/bowl about 3/4 way full with water.

  • Submerge shoes in solution and leave for a few hours—1 hour at a minimum.

  • Set a timer for at least 30 minutes. You need to leave the shoes in the solution long enough to kill any mold or bacteria.
  • After your timer goes off, if there is any remaining dirt or discoloration on the shoes, use a brush to scrub it off and then dunk the shoe back into the solution in the bucket. Continue scrubbing and dunking until you achieve your desired level of spotlessness.
  • Remove shoes from solution and rinse them thoroughly with cold water. Make sure you repeatedly rinse enough to get any remaining soap or detergent off of the shoes.

 

 

  • If possible, put your shoes in sun to dry, because the sun will give the shoes some additional UV cleaning power. Also, make sure to remove the insoles for the drying process. You want everything to be bone dry before you wear the shoes again. If the weather is not cooperating, find a well-ventilated room, and place the shoes on a towel to thoroughly dry. You may want to point a fan at them to help them dry faster. Another drying option is to throw them directly into your dryer. Just make sure you set the heat to the lowest setting, and check on them often.

There you have it—Parts I and II. These are great techniques for cleaning your feet and shoes for bacteria and mold! I hope you will try both recipes and let me know how it goes.

GIVEAWAY: To enter, comment on this post about trying this wash or about how you currently clean your shoes for mold. I will randomly choose a few comments. If yours is chosen, you can win 2 travel-size bottles of EC3 Laundry Additive. I will notify winners via email. Good luck!

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