3 Places (That You Probably Haven’t Checked) Where Mold Could be Hiding in Your Home

Hey, Hey!

Today, I have a shorter post for you with a link to a video segment from “The Doctors.”

This segment is about unexpected places in your home where mold can be hiding. The video is not quite 5 minutes in length, but provides a wealth of information. As a quick overview, so that you know what you will be watching, I’ll tell you a little bit about it. The doctors consult a home improvement expert, Eric Stromer, about this “hidden mold in the home” topic. According to Stromer, the top 3 places where mold can grow, but that people do not always know to check are as follows:

  1. The flange under your toilet that connects and seals it to the pipe in the floor that takes the flushed waste outside of your home. If your toilet wobbles, or seems unstable, the flange could be broken or has become unsealed. If this happens, water can leak underneath the toilet and create mold growth. Also, the water pipe behind your toilet that connects it to your water line can leak. This pipe goes directly into the drywall. Any leaks that have to do with this pipe occur in or on the drywall. Drywall is a favorite medium for mold to grow on, because it has little to no moisture in it, so it absorbs EVERYTHING. You want to periodically check this area for leaks to prevent any major mold problems. Wet drywall is visible, and will be darker or discolored. If you find moisture, shut off the water to toilet ASAP, and use a different bathroom, if possible. Then, you probably need to call a professional to remove any wet drywall immediately, and to find and fix the leak. The sooner a leak like this is identified, the better the prognosis, in terms of mold prevention.
  2. The rubber seal on your refrigerator door. This seal that works to keep the cold air inside, but can also trap moisture. Because it is right in line with where you place your hand when holding the refrigerator door open, dirt and grime and food particles can also become trapped in the rubber. This only gives the mold more organic material to feed on. The dirt and grime can also cause bacteria to flourish. I advise you to go ahead and wipe this area down once a week with warm water and a mild detergent soap. After cleaning it, spray it down with an antifungal, like the EC3 Mold Solution Spray to kill and prevent any mold growth. Allow the spray to sit on the area with the door still open for 3-5 minutes, wipe it with a paper towel and close the refrigerator. It is important to dry the whole area thoroughly prior to closing the refrigerator. If there is any residual moisture, mold can grow.
  3. Your chimney. This is an often overlooked source of moisture intrusion in homes. A spark arrester is used to keep sparks from your fireplace from come up the chimney and catching things on fire around your home. They are also useful for preventing moisture and rodents from entering through your chimney. Check to make sure that you have one over your chimney opening. It is also wise to look inside your fireplace after a good rain to make sure you do not see any water. If you do find moisture inside the fireplace, call a professional to come out to your home to go up on the roof, examine your chimney and the flashing around it, and to determine the source of the moisture. Depending on where your fireplace is located, even if it is gas, moisture can get into the seams and can leak into the attic or be visible in ceiling drywall. This would also require some professional help to fix properly.

 

That’s all for now! I hope you will watch the video segment, because it is really helpful. The main idea here, as always, is to control and eliminate the moisture source. Once that is determined and taken care of, mold cannot grow and potentially harm your health.

 

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The Benefits of Cleaning With Steam–The Antifungal, Antimicrobial Powerhouse

As many of you know, my family deals with allergies, chemical sensitivities, and other types of scent- and product-related reactions in my house. All of those things increased exponentially after we lived in a mold-infested house for as long as we did. Now that we are all healthy again, and not living day to day with mold-related ailments,  my son and I especially still have problems with cleaning products. The chemicals and smells in most household cleaners send my sinuses into overdrive, and give me headaches, while they make my son’s throat and skin start itching. Since I cannot just decide to give up on cleaning our home, my solution, other than mostly switching to natural, unscented products, like baking soda, white vinegar, and the EC3 products, that do not emit VOC’s, has been to use steam for many cleaning endeavors. I have both a handheld steamer and a steam mop (I use the Smart Living Steam Mop and the Smart Living Steam Jr.), so I am able to conquer most tasks with one of the two.

Steam has myriad benefits as a cleaner. It loosens dust, dirt, removes allergens, and kills dust mites and 99.5% of all bacteria. Most handheld steamers and steam mops heat to temperatures exceeding 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which destroys microbes and mold. (My Smart Living Steam Mop actually heats to 230 degrees Fahrenheit, and stays at that temperature continuously while running.) The powerful combination of high heat and steam instantly sanitizes the areas where it is used. Let’s remember now, steam is inherently a sanitizing agent more than it is a cleaning agent. When talking general dirt and grime, in an area that gets a lot of traffic and is pretty dirty, you do well to first thoroughly steam the area to loosen the grime, and to then, wipe it up or go behind the steam mop with a moist towel to make sure all is clean in the end. You may even still need to clean some areas where steam is being used, with a mild detergent to really get after a stain or some dirt, but after the steam hits it, it is thoroughly sanitized, which for a family like ours is of paramount importance.

How Does a Handheld Steamer or Steam Mop Work as a Cleaning Device?

Usually, distilled or purified water is added to the tank of the steamer. Most steamers require what is termed “scaled” water, because if the water contains calcium and magnesium mineral deposits of any kind, those deposits can leave residue behind inside the tank and will damage the internal workings of the machine. You also don’t want deposits left behind on your carpets, floors, or upholstery, as they can stain and/or discolor your things, and can become future organic material for mold to feed on.

The steamer then heats the water past the boiling point and forces it out as pressurized steam through a nozzle, brush, or other attachment. The hot, steam vapor can be directed by the user onto floors, grout, tile, upholstery, etc., to loosen dirt and kill dust mites, mold, staph, allergens and other harmful bacteria. Unlike a vacuum, no suction removes the allergen, bacteria, mold or dirt—that is why most steam mops and steamers come with a removable and washable towel-like cover for the nozzle.  The cloth works to pick up and wipe away the dust or dirt that was loosened by the steam. The high-heat moisture dries or evaporates very quickly, as well, which makes it even more ideal for mold, because the moisture left behind is very minimal.

Where Does Steam Cleaning Work Well?

Steam works well on hard, nonporous surfaces, like countertops and bathroom fixtures. Some porous surfaces cannot withstand the extreme heat or can absorb the moisture and become stained. Steam also works well on floors made of vinyl, laminate, sealed wood, or tile. (Note: I would make sure to check with the manufacturer if you have engineered wood floors to make sure that the steam will not destroy their protective covering before using it to clean them.) Handheld steamers are great cleaning tools for upholstery, mattresses, and curtains, too. The steam penetrates textiles to remove stains and odors without leaving too much moisture or residue.

Is There Anywhere That Steam Shouldn’t be Used for Cleaning?

Painted walls and unsealed floors, including hardwood, cork, and unglazed tile, may be damaged by the steamer’s high heat and may also absorb moisture. When trying to remove allergens, bacteria and mold, trapping moisture is not the goal, so materials that want to hold onto it, and are hard to dry out shouldn’t be steam cleaned. When in doubt, test a very small area to see how it does before proceeding. The heat from steam can also cause cold window glass to crack. I would warn you not to ever use steam to clean glass.

The Battle of Steam vs. Mold

Now, let’s talk about the benefits of steam to kill mold. I always like to look to science when figuring out whether or not to use a cleaning method to combat mold. The last thing I want to do is make the mold worse, or work hard to get rid of it with zero result. With that in mind, there was a very compelling study published in 2008 that was sponsored by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), funded in part by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and conducted by researchers at the University of St. Louis School of Public Health in St. Louis, MO. The study compared the effectiveness of three cleaning methods in removing mold from carpet: high-flow hot water extraction (the method most people are familiar with and the one that most commercial carpet cleaning companies—like Stanly Steamer and Stainmaster—utilize that pushes a chemical cleaner mixed with hot water into the carpet with a pressurized device and extracts the dirty water from the carpet with a vacuum simultaneously), hot water with detergent (the way that most people clean their carpets on their own, using a detergent spray and hot water), and steam vapor technology (or a high-heat steaming device).

For the study, researchers simulated an average home’s carpet that might be found in a flooded basement, and embedded house dust into 60 carpet samples, grinding the dirt in using a special tumbler to simulate one year of carpet wear from real-life traffic conditions. Next, the researchers wetted and inoculated the carpet with Cladosporium sphaerospermum (a common mold spore) and placed the carpet on top of a water-logged foam pad. To avoid cross contamination, the samples were housed in separate compartments with at least 75% relative humidity. Then the researchers waited, leaving the carpet to incubate for 24 hours, for seven days, and for 30 days. At the end of each time period, the samples were cleaned using the three selected cleaning methods.

The study concluded that steam vapor was the clear winner. According to the study, “Significant differences were found among all three methods for removal of fungi over time. Steam was significantly better than the other two methods with 99% efficiency in removal of Cladosporium sphaerospermum from wetted carpet after 24 hours and 30 days incubation time, with 92% efficiency after seven days. The other two methods had declining efficiencies of fungal removal over time, from a maximum of 82% and 81% at 24 hours, down to 60% and 43% at 30 days for detergent and high-flow, hot water extraction, respectively. The net effect of the mold management study demonstrates that while steam has a nearly constant fungal removal rate, the detergent and high-flow, hot water methods decline in efficiency with increasing fungal growth.” Plainly put, the only method that actually decimated the mold and had a lasting effect on fungal growth over time was the steam cleaning method.

Then, move on and think about using steam to clean for mold in everyday life, not just when there is a significant mold outcropping like the study—steam is a great a technique for mold prevention AND for everyday clean-up.

How Should I Use Steam in my Home?

I actually like to use steam to clean for and prevent mold growth in just about every room of our home. Once a week, I use my steam mop on all of our floors. Our kitchen is tile, and so are the bathrooms and the rest of our floors are finished or sealed wood. (HERE is a link to my article on steaming floors after a toilet overflow and HERE is a link to steaming floors prior to moving in.) I also use my handheld steamer once a month to give our bathroom grout and tile a deeper clean. (HERE is a link to my article on steaming grout and tile.) Doing this has prevented mold growth around the tubs and showers significantly. I find if I just do this as maintenance, I am really dealing with visible mold or mildew stains. Less often, and usually just when needed, I use my handheld steamer with my upholstery attachment to clean upholstered furniture and/or draperies. (HERE is a link to my article on steam-cleaning upholstery.) Finally, I would highly recommend purchasing some EC3 Mold Solution Spray for ALL of your steam-cleaning tasks, especially if mold is what you are battling. The EC3 Mold Solution Spray can be misted over to sanitize, and remove any stains, odors, or other microbes.

Happy Steaming!!!

 

Disclaimer: I may be compensated through my affiliate links in this post. All opinions expressed, and/or experiences with the products mentioned are my own. This compensation helps to keep this blog up and running.

 

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Mold in the News: Deadly Fungal Infections Now Reported in the U.S.

This is breaking news, so I wanted to be sure to bring it to your attention.

Today, THIS STORY about resistant strains of an invasive fungal infection is being circulated throughout news media in the U.S. What is interesting to me is that this story is not so new. Since my family and I have accepted that we are vulnerable in the “mold world” now for about 3 years, I have seen and heard hauntingly similar scenarios multiple times.

A patient is sick after moving into a new home. Their immune system becomes totally shot from trying to fend off the mold onslaught, and they all of a sudden become sick with every aliment under the sun. They have Candida patches growing on their skin and severe respiratory problems. Because they were in good health prior to moving into the home, it then takes time to finally figure out that they have mold.  They are then given the choice to either get out or remediate the home, and then seek proper medical treatment from a doctor or doctors skilled in treating mold-exposure patients. Only then, are they able to regain health and vitality over time. Some people, like myself, take years to recover and must employ more than one detox method to cleanse their bodies of not only the fungus, but the toxins left behind by the fungus. It is a scary and serious issue that, for some reason, is controversial to speak of, because traditional medicine still has doubts about the seriousness or existence of “toxic mold.”

Today’s news story is a long time coming, and will thankfully reach many of the mold doubters in a place that speaks more to them. It takes the angle of separating the reader from the scariness of the issue by saying that most of the patients who are getting these fatal fungal infections are, in fact, extremely immune-compromised before the fungal exposure.  Many are transplant patients, or are on respirators and in the hospital for serious diseases and/or conditions prior to acquiring the fungal infections. Because these fungal infections appear to be resistant to most antifungal drugs, they are particularly frightening to the medical community.

Tom Chiller, the CDC’s top fungal expert said, “This is a paradigm shift, because Candida is not generally thought of as highly resistant or passed person to person.”

What’s scary to me is that I now definitely think of mold as highly resistant, and able to pass from person to person. For example, once mold has fully infested your home and become airborne, you MUST get professional help to remove, remediate, smother and kill all mold spores AND mycotoxins. If anything is left, you will get sick again. If someone or an animal tracks mold into your home or you bring a piece of furniture into your home that is contaminated with mold, it will permeate your home, unless you consistently employ counter-resistant methods, like cleaning with the EC3 products, using the EC3 Air Purification Candles, and rinsing your nose with saline mixed with CitriDrops to remove the mold and keep you well.

Long story short, read the article. If nothing else, it is informative, and rather alarming. I would also caution you to keep up the proactive work of keeping your environments and body clean of mold and fungus. The whole idea is to build immunity and to strengthen the body against microbial and fungal invaders. When you live in a moldy environment or breathe contaminated air, your immune system cannot do the job it is designed to do to keep you well.

I the next week or so, I will be posting an article/interview with Dr. Dennis about a homeopathic oral spray that he developed, called Sinus Defense. Please look out for it, because Sinus Defense is revolutionary and was designed to help his patients to build their fungal resistance. With this story out there in the news, a solution like Sinus Defense might just be your ticket to maintaining your health.

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Get Relief from Mold Illness: A “Know The Cause” Television Program Featuring Dr. Dennis

I hinted that this was coming in a previous post, so today, here it is: Dr. Donald Dennis talking about his experience with and treatment of mold- and fungal-related sickness on the Know the Cause television show with Doug Kaufmann. So that I am not boring you with repetitive details, should you want to know more about any background info not included in this post, HERE IS THE LINK to my previous post, where I tell you all about Know the Cause and Doug Kaufmann’s work to bring awareness to the masses about the root cause of many diseases and systemic illnesses. Kaufmann is a pioneer and a truly great person, so I highly recommend that you check out his site, his podcast, and his television program. He is also the author of many fantastic books, one of which, Eating Your Way to Good Health, changed the way I look at food, eat and cook for my family. It’s a game changer, in terms of eating to combat fungus. Hopefully, I can write about it in another post. But, I digress…

 

This is one of my favorite books by Kaufmann that offers a great and accessible anti-fungal approach to diet, eating and cooking.

This particular episode (Click HERE to view the entire episode on the Know the Cause website) features Dr. Dennis discussing the basics of what he does in his office for patients who are suffering with mold illness and fungal-related disease.

Dr. Dennis is unique, in that he takes the time to really get to know and understand his patients, their symptoms and the consequences of their illness. In this program, he takes the viewer through a typical office visit with him and explains some of the EC3 products that he created to help his patients.

Most engaging and compelling are the testimonial from Mary at the beginning of the show, and the slides that Dr. Dennis uses to illustrate what mold and fungus do to the body. Mary ‘s story is poignant and real to me, because I get it. I am sure, if you are reading this post especially, that you too probably get it. The scenario with mold is often the same:

You have been “fine” health-wise all of your life. Then, you move into a new home or condo, and your life seems to go downhill—you are sick all of the time, have low energy, your allergies continue to increase to things and foods that you never had trouble with in the past, and then, the depression sets in. Yes, depression. Maybe doctors have started to tell you that they just can’t figure out what is wrong, and you start to fear that being “sick” is your new normal. Maybe your husband or partner is fine, and thinks the fact that you suspect your new home of making you sick is all in your head. Maybe you have missed so much work due to sickness that you have lost your job, or cannot physically engage in the things in your life anymore that make you happy. All of these things are mold-related and cause depression. Then, there is the bigger issue that Dr. Dennis discusses after Mary’s testimonial: depression or neurological issues can actually be caused by mold being physically present inside of your body.

There are molds that emit toxins—or mycotoxins. If you are exposed to those molds, they can enter through your nose, lodge inside your sinus and be absorbed into your tissues and bloodstream. Once in your blood and your tissues, they can emit neurotoxins that can and do affect your brain. So as Dr. Dennis illustrates with slides in the show, the obvious presence of these neurotoxins could actually be the CAUSE of depression, neurological or psychological changes. WHOA! I realize the science is not quite there yet, but to me, all of this makes a lot of sense. The good news is, according to Dr. Dennis, that once the mold is physically removed from their tissue, the patient gets better, and the neurological symptoms disappear. But what if you don’t know mold is the problem? What if your doctor doesn’t know to remove the mold from your body or to treat the mold at all? What if you cannot find the help you need, or never clean up your environment? All of these things keep me up at night, and are the reason why this blog exists.

I realize all of this is pretty heavy, but I really hope you will take a moment to watch the show and learn more about mold illness. If you suspect that mold or fungus are causing your health issues, give Dr. Dennis or MicroBalance Health Products (the company that manufactures and distributes the products created by Dr. Dennis) a call, or write into Know the Cause. These are all people who will listen to you and people who can help. You can always reach out to me as well. I love to help.

Take care and be well!

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Steamy Showers AND a Mold-Free Home? Now You Can Have Both!

One of my pet peeves is when I walk into the bathroom to find my husband taking a hot, steamy shower with the closet door open and the bathroom vent fan off. I literally blow my top! We are both extremely mold sensitive, and I know too well the dangers of the aftermath: The condensation from the steam on the ceilings and walls promotes mold growth in our bathroom, and then, our closet and clothes fill with the moisture and possibly start to mildew—a double whammy. In other words, prevention is key here, and mold can only grow where there is excess moisture; thus, where moisture is controlled, so is mold.

Since my husband is an ex-builder, I have access to his experience and understanding of the whys and wherefores of proper bathroom ventilation from a tangible, here’s where the fan should go, this size room needs this sort of fan, perspective. I pair that with my knowledge of mold and protecting my family from it, in order to offer some helpful tips for cleaning and using your bathroom fan to help win the battle over mold.

First, the basics: When you are purchasing or renting a home, or updating a bathroom, make sure an exhaust fan exists in the same room as the shower. In some older homes, ceiling ventilation is only in the toilet closet, especially if it is separate. A fan is needed in the same space as the shower to keep the air circulating and dry. Without air movement, condensation can form on walls and windows. Where water sits and cools, mold can and will grow. Also, make sure that the exhaust fan vents to the outside through the ceiling or roof. My husband has told me his stories of nightmare renovations, where the bathroom fans are ventilated straight into the attic, and sometimes even directly into the attic insulation. Moisture in the attic sits and creates a HUGE and possibly dangerous mold issue. (Note: Most attics are unconditioned spaces, meaning no direct heat or cooling applies. If your attic is a finished and conditioned space, it is highly unlikely that your bathroom fans would be vented into it. It is ALWAYS worth an inspection, though. This relatively inexpensive fix can save you LOTS in mold remediation down the line.)

Quick personal story side note to help you if you do not have a bathroom ventilation fan and are in a rental housing situation, or cannot afford to vent through the roof to the outside to create one:

I once lived in a tiny apartment with no bathroom fan. I purchased a large floor fan (many folks call these box fans) that I would sit by the bathroom door and turn to high to keep the air moving. A dehumidifier is also a good idea in this sort of situation. Bottom line: If you do not have ceiling ventilation, I highly recommended that you move a fan into the bathroom, pronto. You can even turn the back part or “sucking” side of the fan into the bathroom and place the blowing side towards an open window in nice weather the really ensure the condensation is being expelled.

Here are some of my quick tips about using your bathroom fan to its full potential, in terms of mold prevention:

  • Enough fresh air needs to enter the room to bring the humidity down, so always leave your bathroom fan running for at least 30 minutes after a shower.
  • Some fans can even be set on a timer to turn off after a specific amount of time. Installing a timer switch or humidity-sensing fan is a good way to make sure you run the fan long enough to clear the air after a shower.

Here is a simple timer switch that you can install to help make sure the fan stays on long enough to dry out the bathroom, but does not remain on ALL day.

  • Make sure to keep your bathroom fan free of dust and lint. Because the fan sucks the air up and out of the room, it can really become a trap for any kind of particles or material floating in the air. The exhaust fans are designed to help eliminate odors, chemicals and condensation for the bathroom–so, if they are doing their job, they can get dirty. Mold can use dust and lint as food and can grow on it too, because it is organic matter. Dust the outside of your fan once a week to prevent a build-up. I just use the hose attachment and nozzle of my vacuum to suck out any dust or dirt on ours.
  • Clean your bathroom fan thoroughly every 6 months. This will keep it working well and will also prevent mold growth. Also, doing this more frequently will help your fan to work better. This is definitely a task of large returns too, because the more thoroughly you clean it initially, the less you will have to do the next time.

Now, let’s talk about how to really clean that fan. If it’s constantly sucking up moisture from my luxuriously long showers, it could get pretty gross, right? Yes. It can get gross, but we are the mold brigade, so we are going to make sure that any air circulating through our homes is clean! Also, to scare you a little into cleaning your fan, if it’s clogged with grime and unable to do its job, moist air will accumulate, and seep into the walls and cabinetry. Neglected bathroom vents are unable to expel odors from the bathroom too. Ewww, right?! Let’s keep our fans free from dust and grime to allow them to properly do their jobs.

Here is how I clean my fans:

How to Clean Your Bathroom Ventilation Fans to Prevent Mold Growth:

  • Make a tub or bucket of cleaning solution. For the solution, I use warm to hot distilled water, mixed with a generous squirt of Dawn and 2-4 ounces of EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate. I find that the heat factor really matters for getting the fan clean, so don’t forget to heat up your water a bit. You will use this cleaning solution to soak the vent cover later in the process. Bring this with you into the bathroom, so you are ready to go. I also bring a bottle of the EC3 Mold Solution Spray and some paper towels with me to squirt and wipe away on parts that are difficult to soak, or that cannot be submerged.

All you need to thoroughly clean the bathroom vent fan is concentrated dish soap, like Dawn, and non-toxic mold cleaner, like one of these EC3 products.

  • First, once you are in the bathroom and ready to clean, turn the power to the fan off. This part is EXTREMELY important, because you do not want to get electrocuted!
  • Use a portable HEPA vacuum or a vacuum with a hose attachment to suck off any dust or debris that has collected on the outside of the vent cover. This will also get up into the fan a bit, and get out any loose particles that have come to rest on the inside of the fan cover. You will definitely not want to skip this, or all sorts of dust will drop on your head and floor during the next step.

When you get up close, you can see just how much dust and debris can get lodged right inside the cover. This is precisely why you should vacuum it with your HEPA vacuum as part of your bathroom cleaning routine.

  • Follow whatever directions that are needed to pull the fan cover away—this is usually plastic and dome-shaped or flat, depending on the style. Sometimes fan styles are even different from bathroom to bathroom. There is usually a release that you press before pulling, or two sides that you press in to release it from the ceiling.

With my fan–it’s an older model–you just pull the cover down, away from the ceiling, and pinch the wire hooks on either side to release it.

You can also see the the underside of the cover now. It is still pretty dirty, considering that I clean my ventilation fans regularly. All of the dirt and dust can be a mold breeding ground, if you are not careful.

  • Once you have released the cover, unplug the fan. I also like to flip the fan switch to “ON” on the wall, once the fan is unplugged, just to make sure that there isn’t any power still running to it, before I start to touch anywhere near the motor. Make sure to flip the switch back to “OFF” before proceeding, though.
  • Use your vacuum to clean the inner fan and all around it, while it is still attached in the ceiling. The better job you do here, the less cleaning once you get it down, and the less dust and debris that could fall out when you remove it.

  • Disengage the fan from the ceiling. This part may require unscrewing, and unplugging the wires that are connected to the motor unit. Each fan is different, so make certain you carefully observe the way it is assembled. You want to be able to put it back together. (Tip: Take a picture of the assembled fan with your camera on your phone, so that you have an actual picture to refer to when it is time to put it back together.) Here is a helpful video about replacing a bathroom fan, that shows how to remove it, if you have never done this before:

  • Once disengaged, place the plastic fan cover into your bucket of cleaning solution to soak. It will need a little time to sit in the water, so that the dirt and grime is easy to rinse or wipe off.

I like to use a nice, deep bucket, so that the fan cover can be fully submerged in the cleaning solution.

  • While the fan cover soaks, take a good look at the fan housing. If there is grime in the housing, use a vacuum attachment to suck most of it out and wipe the inside thoroughly with a cloth soaked in your cleaning solution, or squirt the cloth down with the EC3 Mold Solution Spray, and wipe the housing down, until your cloth comes back clean. I also spray my housing with the EC3 Mold Solution Spray, once clean and allow it to air dry. It’s awesome, because you can just let it do the work of killing all of the mold and spores. If you are using the cleaning solution to clean the housing, wipe it with a dry cloth to remove excess moisture.

The EC3 Mold Solution Spray is great use in the fan housing, once the fan is removed, to help clean out any dust and mold spores.

  • Do the same step with the actual fan and motor. These pieces should not be submerged, so you need to clean them thoroughly by hand. You need to clean-off the sticky grime and mildew that can form on the blades and fan openings. Make certain, if you are not using the EC3 products, that you include some anti-mold/anti-fungal component—like, citrus-seed extract, etc. You have to kill the mold, and prevent it from coming back to really make this worthwhile.
  • Remove the fan cover from the solution, wipe off any remaining grime and dry it thoroughly with a towel.
  • Once all parts are thoroughly dry, reassemble your fan and fan cover back into the ceiling.
  • Turn the power on to make sure everything is running properly.

Congratulations! Now, your bathroom fan is clean, mold free, probably much quieter, because the motor isn’t clogged, and can better prevent mold growth in your bathroom. Now you can enjoy that hot shower for as long as you want!

Anyone have any of their own tips on cleaning bathroom ventilation fans? If so, I would love to hear from you.

 

 

With my fan–it’s an older model–you just pull the cover down, away from the ceiling, and pinch the wire hooks on either side to release it.

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“Know the Cause” Podcast, Featuring Dr. Donald Dennis and MicroBalance Health Products

Hi!

I’ve got another podcast treat for you today! Dr. Donald Dennis, world-renowned Ear, Nose and Throat, and head and neck surgeon and creator of all of the MicroBalance Health Products that I use and write about on this blog, was recently featured (again, as a matter of fact) on a “Know the Cause” podcast. If you don’t know about “Know the Cause,” I encourage you to check it out. Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you either have or have had issues with mold and fungal-related illness. Well, “Know the Cause” was created with you in mind.

“Know the Cause,”both the nationally-syndicated television program and podcast version, is the brainchild of Doug Kaufmann. (I actually just featured an article from Oncology News that was co-written by Kaufmann in my post, Mold and Oncology: An Article Explores the Claim that Mold Mycotoxins Can Trigger Cancer.)Kaufmann was a U.S. Navy Medical Corpsman and was deployed to Vietnam in 1970. Upon his return to the States in 1971, he battled intestinal issues with an array of strange symptoms that he thought were all food-allergy related. While reading all he could to help his own health, he was exposed to a medical paper that would later change his life. The paper was written in 1980 and entitled, “Antigenically Intact Food Macromolecules Exiting the Gut Lumen.” That paper led him to question the reasons behind gut leakage, which, in turn, led him to identify fungus as the root cause of creating the holes in the intestinal lining that allow food to “leak” through. He went on to hone his focus on fungus as the prevailing cause of systemic inflammation, illness or disease. From there, Kaufmann threw himself into studying and dissecting all the many ways in which fungal elements in our diets and lives contributed to or caused most illness and disease.

Since that time in the 1980’s, Kaufmann has written 9 books on the subject of fungus, ill health and anti-fungal diets. He also began his media career, first in radio, with a local Dallas, TX, talk show that later became syndicated and helped to launch his television career. In 1998, he hosted his first health-related, fungus-focused television show, called “Your Health”—which today is called “Know the Cause.” “Know the Cause” is now the most widely watched television show of its kind.

(Note: Since writing this post, Dr. Dennis has also been featured on the “Know the Cause” television show. I will be posting links to those feature programs in a later blog post. Stay tuned!!!)

Pretty cool, right? The “Know the Cause” website alone provides myriad articles, resources and product suggestions for diagnosing, treating and healing yourself from fungal-related illness. The related podcasts and namesake television show allow Kaufmann to dig a little deeper with individual guests and subjects, giving more focused and specific information on all topics analogous to fungus and health.

Back to the podcast with Dr. Dennis….

This particular podcast is not a long one, but is so so informative. In it, Kaufmann introduces and interviews Dr. Dennis about the points in his medical career that led him to look more closely at fungus as the root cause of first chronic sinusitis, but later on, as the wider cause of many seemingly unrelated conditions, like Fibromyalgia, joint pain, leaky gut, etc.

What Dr. Dennis has to say is fascinating. He starts with a story about a patient with chronic sinusitis, who just never seemed to get better, no matter what treatments they did. Dr. Dennis had already identified mold in many of his patients with sinusitis, but hadn’t yet honed in on the mold as the actual cause of the sinusitis. Then, after being at the beach on vacation for 2 weeks, the same chronic sinusitis patient arrived at his office totally clear of all sinus symptoms. At that point, Dr. Dennis started to really see what he had been hypothesizing for a long time: this patient’s sinus symptoms and the mold that was causing them were environmentally triggered. From there, Dr. Dennis went on to be able to realize that even with maximum therapy that addressed the mold in the sinuses directly, these “mold” patients didn’t get better if they were returning to the environments where they were inhaling the mold.  In other words, there could be no long term results without treating and cleaning the environmental air. This doesn’t seem so profound now, but at the time, not even the Mayo Clinic had published its research study concluding that mold caused 93% of chronic sinusitis—this was 10 years prior to that!

With Kaufmann’s deep knowledge of fungal illness, he leads Dr. Dennis through his subsequent development of methods in which to TAP test his patient’s clothing, and later to help them air test their homes, cars and work environments to find the source of their mold “trigger.” Once they had the test results, they could march forth with the information they needed to clean that distinct environment for mold, so that they could finally get well. Dr. Dennis later developed the EC3 line of environmental products (the candles, the laundry additive and the mold cleaning solutions), the CitriDrops Dietary Supplement, the CitriDrops Nasal Spray, Sinus Defense and CellTropin to further help those patients get well.

The part of the podcast that really captivated me the most occurs towards the end when Dr. Dennis is describing some of his more recent work. He describes culturing some of the sinus tissue from these mold patients, to see if they could find out more about the types of mold affecting the sinuses, and what it did to the tissue. While the patients had no visible mold present in their sinus tissue anymore, because his treatment protocols had worked to effectively kill off the mold, what was still present, were mycotoxins that the mold had left behind. The mycotoxins created a brownish sort of halo all around the cultured sinus tissue. This halo, when sent to the lab, was actually find to be a neurotoxin. Pretty scary stuff. The good news, though, is that once the mold is removed from the environment, and removed from the nasal passages, targeted detox protocols can be employed to get rid of the leftover mycotoxins, affecting the body’s tissues, systems and organs. This is precisely why prolonged mold exposure can take so long to fully heal and recover from, and also why some folks are never quite the same and will continue to have chemical sensitivities, neurological symptoms, and extreme fatigue.

Whew. It is a lot, for a less than 20 minute podcast, but that is exactly why you should listen. So, I’ll leave you to it!

Enjoy!

 

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Homemade Mold/Mildew Stain Removal Gel

Because I am often in mad scientist mode now that I have started this blog, writing and experimenting with products and techniques to find which things clean for mold best, I sometimes end up making products that once I have them, I don’t know how in the world I didn’t think of “inventing” them sooner. This cleaning gel is one of those inventions.

Before I begin telling you how to make it and what I use it for, I want to make sure that you know something about me. I take reader comments, input and suggestions very seriously. If a reader finds something I post helpful or informative, disagrees with something, or wants me to post more about a certain topic or cleaning technique, I want to hear about it. So, this post is the result of a recurring reader question concerning the EC3 Mold Solution Spray and hard to remove mold/mildew stains on grout or tile. People love how the EC3 Mold Solution Spray wipes out the existent mold and eliminates the mycotoxins created by some of the more dangerous molds on contact, but they don’t love the way that the product leaves visible mold and mildew stains behind. In other words, you have to physically scrub the stains out, because the product does not bleach or lift the actual mold stains without a little added elbow grease. I addressed that once before in my post, How to Remove Stubborn Mold and Mildew Stains from Grout, but many people wanted to know if there was more of a “one stop shop,” or one product that could do it all without so many steps, and hard work that they could use. I am one for simplicity myself, so I went about trying to concoct a product that would “do it all,” so to speak.

This was harder than I thought it would be. Bleach, even though it is highly toxic and has been shown to only be successful in killing surface mold, seemed to be everyone’s go-to for the stains, even though they knew it wasn’t the smartest choice. To find out more about why not to use bleach to clean mold, read my post, My Case Against Bleach for Cleaning Mold. No one wants mold stains—even when you know the mold has been rendered lifeless by the EC3 Mold Solution Spray.  I agree completely and do not want to see the stains of the mold as a lovely reminder of its former existence.

After testing almost every combination I could think of, I finally found the winner. Not only does it successfully stamp out the mold and remove any traces of its stain, it also won’t emit harmful fumes when you are stuck in that bathroom using it. And, while I designed it to use on tile and grout, it works just as well on non-porous surfaces. It has now become my go-to for my bathtubs, sinks and for cleaning my stove top. I have been using it religiously now for a week, and I cannot believe that I didn’t think of making a product like this sooner.

Mold Stain Removal Cleaning Gel

(I am calling it a gel, because it has what I call “cling” action. It is viscous and will stick to the area where it is applied for greater penetration and more targeted application. As a result, you do need to sponge or rinse this product off, unlike when you just use the EC3 Mold Solution Spray, and can just allow it to air dry without rinsing it off.)

Ingredients & Tools:

Here is everything you need to make a great mold-killing, stain-lifting “gel” to use for many cleaning tasks in your home.

  • 1/2 cup distilled water
  • 1 Tablespoon guar gum or 2 Tablespoons cornstarch (The guar gum will make it into more of a gel, and the cornstarch into more of a paste, so use whichever you prefer.)
  • 3 Tablespoons EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Borax—I use the 20 Mule Team Borax that you find with the laundry detergents in the grocery store. (Note: Borax is only toxic if ingested, so make sure to keep the Borax and Mold Stain Removal Gel you are creating in a place where children CANNOT reach it.)

Borax is a great tool to keep around the house. It works great as a laundry booster, a deodorizer and an abrasive scrub.

  • Small pan
  • Bulb suction syringe (I just used our turkey baster. It worked like a charm.)
  • Empty and clean glue squirt bottle or other type of squirt bottle with a top that seals closed. (I purchased mine at Target in the section where they sell empty travel-size toiletry bottles.)

Directions:

  • Mix the distilled water and cornstarch or guar gum together in the small pan. Turn the burner on under the pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Continue to stir until the mixture reaches a pudding-like consistency. I use a wire whisk the whole time, because the mixture tends to form lumps, and whisking it will help dissipate the ingredients. You will know when the the mixture is ready, because it will coat your wooden spoon nicely.

Whisk the water and the cornstarch or guar gum constantly as it begins to boil to keep the mixture from clumping too much. You can see it thickening and forming its gel-like texture on the side of the pot.

  • Remove pan from the heat and allow mixture to cool completely. This is VERY important. I had to throw out a few pots of this, because I would try to add the Borax and EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate too soon. It would clump and separate, not giving me the consistency that I wanted.
  • Once cool, start adding the EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate, and Borax alternately, one tablespoon at a time—one tablespoon of EC3/one tablespoon of Borax. Stir each addition until incorporated.

The Borax and EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate should be added 1 tablespoon at a time. You also should continuing the whisking action to keep the gel smooth.

  • For more “bleaching” action, add a few tablespoons more of Borax than EC3. Once gel is the desired strength and consistency, use your bulb syringe (aka turkey baster) to suck up mixture and squirt it into your empty bottle, until bottle is full.

Once the mixture is nice and smooth, and is at the stain-lifting concentration that you desire, use your bulb syringe to suck it up and squirt it into your bottle for later use. There may be a little liquid that separates once it is in your squirt bottle, so just give it a good shake each time before you use it.

  • Label outside of bottle with a marker, so that you know it contains your Mold Stain Removal Gel.
  • Use as desired.

Now that you have made your super-duper Mold Stain Removal Cleaning Gel, you can start tackling your grout or anywhere else you need to lift a mold/mildew stain.

Here is a close look at an ugly mildew stain on the white grout in my guest bathroom. It needs to go!

I just squirt the gel directly onto the grout. I allow it to penetrate for 2-5 minutes.

I am very generous when I squirt the gel on the grout. It is okay if it runs down into the tub. You can just swish it around with some water and clean the tub too, while you are at it.

Once the stain has lifted and the area is no longer discolored, I use a clean sponge soaked in warm water or I use the nozzle of the shower to rinse off the area. Of course, if you want to use elbow grease, go right ahead, and scrub the stain off. There is really no need to, though, because the stain will lift without the scrubbing. Depending on how old the stain is, you might need to adjust the concentration of your gel accordingly. The beauty of it is that you can make it to serve your needs without worrying about increasing the toxicity or it hurting your tile or grout.

Just to see if this worked on other types of stains, like paint and nail polish, I used it like you would use a Clorox Bleach pen on a nail polish stain on a Corian countertop. I had unsuccessfully scrubbed and scrubbed at this stain with everything in my arsenal many times. With my new gel, the stain completely lifted on the area where I applied it. This just goes to show that it does effectively wipe out stubborn, penetrated stains.

Give it a try! Let me know how it goes, and if you have any questions or concerns.

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Mold and Oncology: An Article Explores the Claim that Mold Mycotoxins Can Trigger Cancer

Today, more than writing anything new to impart, I want to share a very compelling article in ONCOLOGY NEWS Nov 2014. The article is entitled “Fungi and Their Mycotoxins: An Underappreciated Role in Cancers.” It is an older article, but was recently brought to my attention by a doctor who helped me and my family through our mold ordeal. While the article is a bit dense, with lots of biomedical and scientific terminology, it is still an interesting and worthwhile read, even for some of us that are not experts.  Asked why a mold cleaning blog is posting an article like this, I am also focused on the long term health of me and my family. Cancer is a terrible disease and articles like this one help me to recognize the importance of taking good care of my body and the environment I live in. Articles like this one also re-energize my passion for writing and sharing this blog with others, which is important to keeping what I write pertinent to you.

This particular article addresses the links between cancer and fungal infections that are caused by mold mycotoxins (the toxic chemical by-products produced by some molds). In other words, the article conjectures that the way in which cancer cells and fungal infections alter healthy cells in the body, have similarities that should not be overlooked. The article also points to the many likely, but not yet proven links in humans between cancers and the mycotoxins produced by some types of mold.

Pictures of food-borne molds up close.

In the beginning, the article explains that most of the fungal/cancer links have been established with food borne molds—for example Aflatoxins, mycotoxins produced be a common fungi, aspergillus, are some of the most carcinogenic substances known to man.  In lab testing, Aflatoxins have produced cancer in every animal or human tested. While a common fungi found near dampness, we are most vulnerable when aspergillus contaminates foods, including stored grains and peanuts. And, while food storage has greatly improved over the years to lessen the risk of this type of exposure, the article argues that by only looking at the primary, food borne molds as dangerous, we are missing a potentially larger and more dangerous picture. That picture is the ability of mycotoxic molds, airborne and otherwise, to also contribute to cancer cell growth. Some mycotoxins are known mutagens, meaning that they cause chromosomal damage or DNA to mutate, much like cancer cells. There have even been cases initially diagnosed  as cancer , when the patient actually was found to have a fungal infection that was subsequently successfully treated with antifungals.  For the two (cancer and a fungal infection) to look so much alike in organ scans, is a fact that the article asks doctors not to ignore. The authors go on to encourage further medical and pharmaceutical exploration of combined antifungal and chemotherapies, due to some early indication of some cancers seeming to respond positively to antifungal medications. This idea obviously needs additional depth and research to pursue, but it is one to get us all thinking and paying better attention to keeping yeast and Candida outbreaks in our own bodies in check.

Rather than dissect and note the whole article, I will let you read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. The biggest takeaway for me, is the section on probiotics and the importance of healthy bacteria in the gut. Not only does taking a high-quality probiotic seems to restore gut health, but it seems to also halt and prevent recurrence of both fungal infections and some types of cancer. That is enough info for me to keep taking mine every day, and to also make sure my kids take theirs.

Anyway, I hope you read the article, look more comprehensively into some of its claims and evidence, and use the information to advance your health for the long run. I feel that, many times, the more I read this type of medical literature, the more I am empowered to dig a little deeper and to find out more about my body and why it is performing wonderfully or falling short. Sometimes, something I read will cause me to make some small change that amends my health in a very beneficial way and makes all of the difference.

Happy reading!

 

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Are You Tox-Sick? Suzanne Somers Wants to Help

Okay, folks, how are ya? Are you tired of the cold yet? I am. Well, I’m tired of being cold, but not tired of holing up with a good book under tons of blankets. All of this reading I’ve been doing has its benefits for you too, because I came across a book that I want to share with you. It is not a new book, but the information in it is extremely current and helpful, especially if you are dealing with the toxic burden of a mold exposure, like me. The book I’m speaking of is Tox-Sick: From Toxic to Not Sick by Suzanne Somers.

Please don’t stop reading this post. I realize that there are many people who only associate Suzanne Somers with infomercials and the Thigh Master, but her knowledge and depth of research on holistic health practices may surprise you. She began chronicling her health battles beginning in 2001, when she revealed that she had breast cancer and decided to chart to her own path with holistic treatments and recovery protocols. From that rather extreme health scare of her own, and adherence to natural medicine to cure her cancer, she has grown into an extremely knowledgeable, informed, and well-respected natural health guru. I am admittedly a big fan of Suzanne Somers. Her philosophy of achieving optimal health and vitality by unloading the chemical burden on your body both inside and out, is one that I try to live by and to impart to others as well. She has devoted her time, money and life to learning as much as possible about how to get ideal energy, vitality and health out of her body.

Now Suzanne is the picture of health and vitality. She uses her knowledge to produce and market products that she uses and believes in, because they are all designed without the additives and chemicals that will increase the toxic burden on the body.

In Tox-Sick, Suzanne explores her point of view of toxicity from every angle—environmental (mold, radiation, electromagnetic fields, pesticides, pollution), genetic (DNA predisposition for disease, reaction and absorption of toxins), nutritional (genetically modified foods, food allergies, hormones in foods, chemicals in foods), pharmaceutical (the body’s reaction to medicines, the repercussion of drugs to remove disease symptoms, rather than eliminating or curing the disease, and the long-term side effects of pharmaceuticals), and much, much more.

Suzanne divides the book into 3 parts. Part I, Totally Tox-Sick, explains the toxic threats to our bodies, where they come from, what they do to our bodies, and how to tell if you are being affected. Part II, Bulletproofing Your Body and Home, offers in-depth interviews with the doctors and holistic health practitioners that she trusts to bring the reader as much “inside” information as possible on how to ultimately protect and heal yourself. Then, she closes with Part III, Coming Clean, a section that outlines in detail recommended detoxes, supplements, and advanced techniques that she has used and still uses to get and to stay healthy. The book literally hinges on self-empowerment and the idea that given the proper conditions and tools, our bodies have the power and capability to heal themselves. Medicine can only help or hinder that natural process. It’s so very simple and yet so very profound.

Now, how does all of this information apply to mold/fungal-related illness? Well, there is a large chunk (6 pages in the first Chapter, the entire Chapter 7 and parts of Chapter 8) of the book devoted to mold, and environmental medicine. The reason being, because Suzanne and her husband, Alan, were exposed to toxic mold over a period of four years spent in a rental home.

Their story is unique to them, but familiar in the “mold story” sense, when you have been there too. It goes like this:

Unbeknownst to them, the rental home had standing, stagnant water in an unfinished area below the house that started growing toxic mold. The mold got into the HVAC system and crept up through the walls in the drywall, until it was literally “felt” in every room of the house. It was invisible to the eye, but Suzanne and Alan’s bodies knew it was there. Suzanne’s health wasn’t affected as directly by the mold as her husband’s—she was actually misdiagnosed with cancer again at the time and put in the hospital on IV antibiotics that destroyed all of the healthy bacteria in her gut, making living in the mold an additional attack on her body—Alan had tell-tale symptoms, like red, watering eyes, chronic sinus congestion, and a swollen tongue each time he would go into certain areas of the home. Then, he began “grimacing.” The behavior was totally out of his control and would cause him to close his eyes in a squinted scowl for moments at a time—something that was particularly alarming and dangerous, especially when he was driving.

Thankfully they identified the mold, and left the home and most of their possessions.  They had to then embark upon an intensive treatment and detox plan to cure their bodies of the aliments and toxic load brought on by the mold exposure. In doing so, Suzanne sought out some of the most well-known and respected “mold” doctors in the United States to help her and Alan understand what happened and how to heal their bodies. Because of Suzanne’s previous cancer diagnosis, it was extremely important to her to get it right and to remove and continue to remove all of the residual mold toxicity from her body.

Now, do I think this book is worth reading? Absolutely. It is so chock full of useful information on everything from supplements to detox basics to recipes, that I find myself picking it up as a reference numerous times a week for other information, totally unrelated to mold. But, most importantly, this book does (in a very in-depth fashion), something that I am learning to do with my own health as I move forward and since my mold-related sickness began: It looks at the WHOLE picture.

To try to isolate mold and to say that mold is what causes ALL of the sicknesses, and maladies associated with it is not seeing it for what it is. That is a microscopic look at a larger picture of toxic accumulation in our bodies and genetic predisposition. Suzanne’s book proposes that we are born into this world with a toxic burden, some big, some small. Then, we go on with our lives and are continually exposed to more and more toxins. All of those toxins pool in our bodies over time, especially if we are unaware and are not avoiding them, and/or are genetically predisposed to sickness caused by them, or are not detoxing regularly. While only a percentage of people are pre-disposed to mold sickness, and some folks can live comfortably in its presence, eventually, most of our bodies hit their limits. Eventually our bodies succumb. This might happen when one person moves into a moldy home and become incredibly sick, when someone else eats a can of tuna and is unable to form a coherent sentence from the mercury overload, when someone else develops a chemically bloated belly, because she is unable to breakdown and digest what she is eating. The list can go on and on.

Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely the fear factor in play in this book. You cannot read it without wanting to throw out any non-organic food in your home, or to go out and by all of Suzanne’s approved or self-developed products and supplements. But, when you calm down and are able to digest all of the valuable information in the book, I think, you truly come out more knowledgeable and in a better place than when you started.

For example, the interview with Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, one of the foremost authorities on mold in the country, is so so valuable to anyone dealing with mold-related illness that I would buy it for that reason alone. Also, this book is what led me to seek out Dr. Eric Wood, ND, (link to post) and to pursue information on starting a liver-specific detox for myself. You see, I am so much better than I was, but for me, 90% isn’t good enough. I want to see if I can remove that final toxic burden from my body and achieve 100%. That fact that 100% could even be possible after what I went through is a pretty amazing notion. This book gave me the kick in the pants that I needed to seek that out.

So, in closing, I highly recommend the book. Here is a link to more information on the book and to purchase information on her website: http://www.suzannesomers.com/pages/tox-sick-from-toxic-to-not-sick

Check it out! You have nothing to lose but your health.

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OM…MG, That Smells! How and Why to Clean Your Yoga and Workout Mats for Mold and Bacteria

This post has been a long time coming. In other words, I’ve been neglecting doing this, finally got to it, and then wanted to share my experience and methods with you guys as soon as I could. And, since the New Year is upon us, causing many of us to reassess and to try to adopt new healthier habits, I thought this post would be very appropriate.

The activity in question–cleaning my yoga and workout mats for mold, of course. Not a chore that is very fun, but one that is extremely necessary, especially when you are highly allergic to any type of fungus, like I am. Or, when the telltale “mat stink,” coming from the combination of sweat (moisture and bacteria/fungus on your skin) and mold (the musty smell), becomes downright disruptive to your yoga practice.

Before I begin with my method, I want to share a few tidbits with you about lovely yoga and workout mats and why it is not only a good idea, but extremely necessary to do, both frequently and properly. According to a medical and microbiology professor at Rutgers School of Medicine, when tested for cleanliness, yoga mats have proven to be filthier, in terms of harboring bacteria and fungi than either airline seats or cell phones—two of the highest items on the contamination list. The reason being, yoga mats get more skin-to-skin contact than either of the other two items. Also, during exercise, more skin on your body is usually exposed; therefore, more skin is in contact with the mat. Human skin can foster many different organisms, among those are up to 14 different types of fungi. Combine that with sweat, an absorbent and porous surface, (aka the mat) and you have a recipe for bacterial and fungal disaster!

If that’s not enough info to make you cringe, here is a brief and by no means all inclusive list of the common junk found on yoga/workout mats when they were tested and cultured by EMSL Analytical, an independent lab, where ELLE magazine sent test samples from mats in yoga studios all over NYC: mold, Strep, Staph, MRSA virus, impetigo, flu virus, coryne bacteria that causes acne, toenail fungus, common cold viruses, e-coli bacteria, herpes infections, warts, and much, much more. Viruses cannot live as long in the mat, but bacteria and fungi can live for days, and fungi can go on to grow and flourish there, if the mat stays moist. Sorry for the wake-up call, but it is gross, isn’t it?

After all of my outside workouts while the kids swam this summer, my favorite yoga mat is in desperate need of a deep clean.

Now, if you are reading this and saying to yourself, “Well, that doesn’t apply to me, because I always bring my own mat to yoga or the gym.” Or, if are you saying, “I only workout at home and just use my mat there?”Sorry. This does apply to you too.

Just because you are not sharing a mat, doesn’t mean that it is bacteria and fungus free. Quite the contrary. If you are bringing your mat to the gym and putting it down on the floor where other people have been, or other mats have been, you are picking up all of that bacteria, fungus, etc. on your mat too. Also, your skin has your bacteria, viruses and fungus on it. So, say for example, you have some type of sickness, or infection, like impetigo, and it gets on your mat, you may recover and get well, but the next time you use your mat, if you have not cleaned it properly, you can pick up that same sickness or bacteria all over again. It can be a vicious cycle. But, the good news is, I’m here to help.

Here is how.

The first technique, and mind you, not all mats are made to withstand this, is simply washing your mat in the washing machine. You will need to check with the manufacturer of your mat before you proceed. Sometimes this information is even printed on the mat itself. For example, my lululemon yoga mat is okay to wash in the washing machine, but my other Gaiam mat is not. Regardless, if your mat is machine washable, here is how to go about laundering it:

How to Wash Your Yoga/Workout Mat in the Washing Machine:

  • Unroll your mat and place it in the washing machine by itself—never try to wash anything with it.
  • Arrange it in the machine as evenly as possible, so that it doesn’t throw your machine off balance during the agitation or spinning phases.
  • Turn the machine dials to the gentle or delicate cycle, and choose the warm water temperature wash on your dials.
  • Turn the machine on, so that the drum starts to fill. Add a little bit of mild detergent and a capful of EC3 Laundry Additive or EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate directly to the water. (I like Simple Truth Fragrance-Free Liquid Laundry Detergent, Liquid Castile Soap or All Free and Clear. I have also used baby laundry detergent on my mats with good results. Apparently laundry detergent for washing baby textiles is more geared towards cleansing body oils and bacteria from things, so is mild, but very effective for this type of application. It is just more enzymatic in composition, usually.)

  • If during the cycle the drum becomes unbalanced, turn off the washer and rearrange the mat so that its weight is more evenly distributed in the machine.
  • As soon as the cycle is complete, remove the mat from the machine. Lay a clean, dry towel over it and roll the towel up in the mat. Step on the rolled mat to squeeze out any extra water into the towel.
  • Unroll it, then, hang it or drape it over something, so that it can air dry. Never place the mat in the dryer—the heat could ruin it and cause it to fall apart. Air drying is always, always best.
  • If you want to pack an extra punch for cleaning for mold, you can also mist the damp mat with EC3 Mold Spray and continue to allow it to air dry.
  • Make sure your mat is completely dry prior to using it again. This can take up to 48 hours, so plan accordingly with your workout and yoga schedule.

Other Yoga Mat/Workout Mat Washing Techniques:

  • On a nice day, you can use a hose and a mild detergent to hose your mat down with water and to clean it outside. (I use Liquid Castile Soap for this, like Dr. Bronner’s.) Unroll the mat onto a clean, preferably concrete or stone surface. Doing this in the leaves or grass with defeat the purpose, because you will pick up additional allergens doing so. You will need to use a sponge with the detergent to fully clean your mat on both sides. Then, as in the previous directions, roll the mat with a clean, dry towel to absorb the excess water, step on it to squeeze it out, and hang it outside in the sun, preferably during spring, summer, and fall, or in a well-circulated place inside to dry. Spray it with EC3 Mold Spray all over, front and back, as it is drying to kill any mold that didn’t get washed away with the detergent.
  • Clean your mat in your bathtub. Fill a clean bathtub with warm water, and use a sponge and a mild detergent to clean the mat. (I would use the Liquid Castile Soap, like Dr. Bronner’s for this.) Drain the tub and shake out the mat first before rolling it with a clean, dry towel, stepping on it to remove the excess water, and then hanging it to dry. With this technique, you would also want to spray it with the EC3 Mold Spray as it is air drying to make sure all fungal spores are eliminated.

If washing your mat isn’t preferable, or you cannot spare a day without using it, so that it can fully dry, I have a recipe for a great anti-fungal/antibacterial spray that you can use to disinfect your mat after each use. You can also use this spray with a sponge soaked in warm water to give your mat a more thorough cleaning on days when you have a little more time, or think it needs it. This spray is safe for use on your gym and yoga mats. It cleans, disinfects and prevents bacteria and fungi from proliferating. But, unlike antibacterial sprays or Clorox wipes, it does not contain any perfumes, won’t irritate your skin, isn’t toxic, and won’t put any off-putting smells or chemicals up close to your face when you are lying on your mat or have your face pressed into it for yoga.

Here is how to make it:

Antifungal/Antibacterial Workout and Yoga Mat Cleaning Spray:

Tools and Ingredients:

  • 16 Oz. Spray Bottle
  • Distilled Water
  • ¼ teaspoon Liquid Castile Soap
  • 3 ounces “Real” Distilled Witch Hazel – Make sure it is alcohol free. The best place to source this is online or at an all-natural apothecary or store, like Whole Foods.
  • 2 capfuls EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate
  • 3 ounces Aloe Vera Concentrate – Must be a shelf-stable liquid, not the gel or a perishable aloe vera liquid that needs to be refrigerated.
  • Optional: 3-4 drops of essential oil – This element will add fragrance, so if you want it fragrance-free, just leave this out. I am going to use Tea Tree oil.

Directions:

Take the top off of your spray bottle and put it to the side. Fill the bottle halfway with distilled water. Add the castile soap, witch hazel, EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate, Aloe Vera concentrate, and the essential oils, if using. Screw the top back on and shake vigorously until mixed well.

To Use:

Unroll your yoga mat out flat. Mist entire topside of the mat until fully saturated.

Use a clean, damp towel to wipe the mat off, moving from one end to the other to ensure that you have wiped every inch.

Use a clean, dry towel to wipe it dry.

Flip the mat over and mist and wipe as before. Once you are finished, if possible, leave your mat hanging or draped over furniture where it can dry.

I like to drape my mats across the chairs on our screened-in porch to dry after I’ve cleaned them. They get all of the fresh air, but won’t get rained on or dirty.

If you are at the gym, mist the mat, wipe it down with a clean towel, making sure to do both sides, and roll it up to take home. The spray will work to keep bacteria and fungus from forming between uses. You can also take this spray to clean the public gym or yoga mats before you use them, although, I highly recommend getting your own if you frequent the gym. It is just more sanitary. I would make the fragrance-free version if you are going to use it for public mats. I also suggest throwing out your mats once a year and getting new ones. It seems like an expensive suggestion, but think of all of the medicine and doctors you won’t need to pay for, if you stay well. Finally, MicroBalance makes a travel-sized EC3 Mold Spray that is easy to keep in your gym bag. Combine that with the above spray, and you will eliminate many of the bacteria and fungal hitchhikers that make you very sick. You get to be fit and healthy. Yay! Win-win.

Take care, and let me know if you try any of these.

 

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