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Our current cleaning battles go a bit beyond dust and window smudges. We often feel like we’ve stepped into the realm of biowarfare – specifically when dealing with mycotoxins. When cleaning our belongings, we usually have two main goals:
As much as we try to avoid them, mold spores that float through the air are not our worst enemy, and with some elbow grease are fairly easy to wash away. The mycotoxins, however, are a different story.
“Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of molds that have adverse effects on humans, animals, and crops that result in illnesses and economic losses.
“Some molds are capable of producing more than one mycotoxin and some mycotoxins are produced by more than one fungal species. Often more than one mycotoxin is found on a contaminated substrate.
“Exposure to mycotoxins is mostly by ingestion, but also occurs by the dermal and inhalation routes.”
There’s a lot of info out there on how to clean mold toxins, and bleach is commonly one of the first recommendations. However, we’ve learned that bleach can cause major problems.Rebekah’s blog post goes into more details about why bleaching mold can be even worse than leaving it alone! Since we are so sensitive to smells and strong chemicals, bleach ranks very high on the “avoid list” anyway, so we don’t even own a bottle.
One of the biggest lessons we have learned is that it’s a lot less headache to purchase new items and maintain them in a “mold-free” environment than to attempt to clean things that have been in a contaminated environment. The baby’s metal O2 tanks go in and out of warehouses and other people’s homes, so we are very thorough when we clean them after a delivery. The metal has cleaned up well for us, but plastic and fabric has not been as simple.
Certain fabrics – synthetics especially – seem to hang onto musty smells and toxins no matter what we put them through. As we purchase clothing and bedding, we choose 100% cotton as much as possible. Cotton releases contamination more easily after a good wash process, especially if we’re only fighting mild cross-contamination.
There are many ways our clothing acquires toxins, like rubbing shoulders with other people in stores, walking past displays that smell like a moldy warehouse, or using a restroom with an air freshener. Our newer clothing has cleaned up well so far, but the process has been simplified by some natural mold cleaning formulas, as well as the purifying strength of the sun.
We have had success in ridding items of mild cross-contamination with these three things:
This cleaning product has been a game changer. If I have a cross-contamination issue that needs to be dealt with immediately (such as an anaphylactic reaction coming on due to contaminated possessions), then spraying items, clothing, and even my skin has proven to be very effective at stopping reactions and getting rid of the toxins. We have also been known to mist our own clothes and hair when in severe hyperreactivity phases (though a shower and clothing change is preferred, it’s not always an available option).
I also use EC3 as a multi-purpose cleaner. It has a very light citrus-type smell before it’s diluted, and has been very effective in everyday cleaning. I water it down a bit more than the back of the bottle recommends (so it lasts longer), and it is still very effective.
This has saved us from constantly buying new clothes and bedding. We use it in every load of laundry we do, whether it’s hand-washed or in a machine. Only a few minutes of agitating with a capful of additive in the load causes the spores and toxins to be undetectable. I have been able to use a smaller amount than recommended on the bottle and still get the level of decontamination needed, though it’s admittedly been with very light cross-contamination issues. I have not experimented on many heavily contaminated items.
3. The Sun
The power of the sun cannot be underestimated. If the day is sunny, my favorite way to decontaminate car seats, backpacks, dolls/toys, papers, the stroller, etc. is by setting them out in the sun. It only takes a few minutes of being in direct, midday sunshine for the surface of each item to be decontaminated, and after flipping items over to get each side evenly “baked,” it is usually safe again. This has not worked for items that have spent a lot of time in a contaminated environment, and I usually combine the sun with the EC3 Mold Concentrate if it’s an item of value that we need to keep.
It is a constant battle to decontaminate our living spaces, but consistency has resulted in health improvements. When we are very vigilant about cleaning or containing questionable items, anaphylactic reactions are less frequent. When we slack off, we react more and the reactions are more severe.