Mold & Mycotoxins on Our Clothing & Bedding
By Cesar Collado
I have spoken to several very impactful and caring mold physicians who have had to stop treating mold patients due to their own mold sensitivity. Seeing mold patients exposes them to mold and mycotoxins in quantities that can make them and their staff members sick. When being exposed to mold patients makes them physically ill, they have to take their own personal health into consideration. You read about this and precautions taken by doctors here in “The Dangers of Mold are Taken Seriously by Physicians.” Mold physicians describe patients “reeking” of mold and can often identify the mold species by smell after practicing for a while. Over time, some physicians, when the smell of mold is identified, insist on cold fogging the patients clothing with EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate prior to letting them into the exam room. It is all natural and safe to inhale. Fogging the office after seeing mold patients becomes a daily necessity for sanitation reasons as well.
Patients who live in moldy homes can have alarming amounts of mold on their clothing. Clothing materials are made of woven soft organic materials that are easily contaminated by spores from surfaces or air. Exposure to high humidity (indoor and out) and moisture from perspiration creates the optimal conditions needed to allow mold to settle and reproduce quite easily on clothing. When patients live in a moldy home, mold spores stow away on clothing. Then, mold stowaways provide continuous exposure, and each time clothing is touched or disturbed, mold spores can be released into the immediate air.
Taking Mold Off of the Table
Some physicians employ using a mold test plate on a patient’s clothing prior to examining them. A positive mold test from clothing can provide valuable circumstantial evidence that the patient has a moldy home.
This is often followed by asking the patients to test their home with EC3 Mold Screening Test Kits. It also makes the physician aware of possible mold issues that aid in the diagnosis and prevent unnecessary testing and medicines. Read more about physicians “Taking Mold of the Table” Here.
Musty and Putrid Smells (“Stinky Laundry”)
Mold sometimes has a musty smell. When damp clothes or towels are left in a hamper, the dampness and musty scent spreads to other clothes. This smell often stays with materials through the washing process. Further exacerbating the odors is the combination of bacteria that exists on your skin. Perspiration also creates the putrid smell otherwise known as “body odor”. The combination of mold and bacteria can be synergistic resulting in very hard to remove odors in materials.
Bedding, Linens, and Towels
When we sleep, we all perspire. That dampness remains on our sheets and can be trapped after making the bed. Sometimes, simply leaving it unmade does not allow the moisture to completely dry either. While you sleep, your skin cells go into regeneration mode, replacing damaged or dead cells with new ones. Sun and environmental damage are repaired as the skin undergoes a natural exfoliation process where dead skin cells are shed, and new ones take their place. Your skin makes up about 16 percent of your body weight, which means you have numerous billions of skin cells. Each hour, your body will shed 30-40,000 skin cells. That is over ¼ million dead skin cells are shed while you sleep in your bed. Dead skin cells remain in your bed linens and mattresses. These dead cells provide food for both mold and dust mites. It is recommended to change sheets weekly; however, mold sufferers can benefit from changing the sheets more often.
In addition, it would be irresponsible to not remind ourselves that our heads also sweat and the same potential for mold growth on our pillows can become much more of a health hazard. We bury our faces in pillows and inhalation becomes a much bigger issue. Read about how ‘mold can cause sleep problems’ from Catherine at Moldfreeliving.com HERE.)
Washing machines, especially front-loading, high-efficiency washing machines can harbor mold. The rubber seals provide a place for mold to accumulate. The machines have a drain to expel remaining water in the machine and do not always empty after each wash; closing a washing machine door after washing clothes also seals in moisture. You can read more about “How to Deep Clean your Washing Machine” from mold from Catherine at Moldfreeliving.com.
Looking at this photo, the visible mold does not seem to be much or dangerous. But remember, 10,000 mold spores can fit on a pinhead. This amount is definitely potentially dangerous and can contaminate and reproduce on clothing. Making sure the washing machine is clean of mold not only eliminates odors but is especially important for the mold sensitive.
If You are Mold Sick, The Core Issue Must be Addressed
If you are living in a moldy home, it may be pointless to address your clothing when the environment will contaminate the clothing almost immediately. If you are suffering from physical symptoms from mold, you should get out of the home and not take anything with you except launderable clothes. Getting to a safe place is THE essential first step until the home can be tested and remediated properly by professionals. There is no combination of doctors, treatment modalities, or medicines that will get a patient well if they remain in a moldy home. The body cannot heal when the immune system is constantly assaulted by mold.
What Can Be Done with Laundry?
Regular washing detergents and fabric softeners make mold problems worse. Most fragrances that accompany detergents are chemical-based and designed to mask the smells and not necessarily remove them. Fabric softeners essentially apply a thin, waxy coating to your laundry, which has to be water-resistant in order to survive the washing process. This waterproof coating makes your clothes feel softer but lessens their ability to properly absorb water and laundry detergent. This means your clothes won’t respond as well to washing and will be more likely to lock in bad odors.
Due to the fat content of the ingredients, the washing machine can become a breeding ground when fabric softener, mold, and bacteria are combined. It is relatively common to observe a dark residue in the fabric softener dispenser. This represents significant mold growth that will be distributed to clothing. They must be cleaned regularly in a washing machine or the mold and bacteria build up becomes obvious.
DIY Home Solutions
There are a variety of home solutions that will help eliminate odors from washable materials. There are recipes that utilize commodity ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, borax, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, rubbing alcohol, lemon juice, washing soda, and salt. These treatments and wash methods do work with varied efficacy but may require continuous monitoring of the wash cycle to add these household products appropriately, according to the “recipe”. It is also important to follow a single recipe as combining these products at the same time can become problematic and even dangerous. For example, any combination of ammonia and bleach can create toxic odors that are dangerous. You can read more about these DIY methods from Catherine at Moldfreeliving.com HERE.
Another solution is to hang dry clothing in the sun. The sun is a powerful mold cleaner. Mold usually reproduces in dark places because it cannot photosynthesize sunlight like plants. Hanging clothes in sunlight will kill the bacteria responsible for mold growth with natural ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
EC3 Laundry Additive
EC3 Laundry Additive provides a user-friendly and effective means to wash all of your clothing, towels, and linens to effectively remove mold. Simply add 1-2 oz of EC3 to the fabric softener reservoir prior to washing, and you are done. The product contains tea tree oil, an effective natural antifungal, a proprietary citrus blend, and tangerine oil. While some people do not like the strong odor of tea tree oil, the wash cycle is effective in removing the strong smell and leaves a mild, fresh, grassy, antiseptic odor that dissipates over time. I personally like the fresh smell and use it on all of my laundry. It is especially effective in removing the musty smells from my sweaty gym clothes and towels. Read “EC3 Laundry Additive: A Product that Works with a Fragrance I Love” by Catherine at Moldfreeliving.com.
The product is potent when used in the rinse cycle. For clothing that may have heavy exposure to mold that may occur when cleaning or doing yard or other messy work, you can add EC3 to detergent in the wash cycle to soak for 10-15 minutes for an extra boost to remove excessive mold from materials.
Another benefit of using EC3 Laundry Additive in your rinse cycle is the continuous treatment your washing machine gets that eliminates mold accumulation in the machine itself, especially front load, high-efficiency machines.
We all have coats and shoes that cannot be laundered. EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate can effectively treat coats, shoes and address entire closets by fogging or individually spraying these items regularly. The EC3 SANI+TIZER fogger is an extremely efficient and fast way to treat these items in addition to fogging your entire home for mold. In some cases, like leather shoes, treating accompanied by wiping will ensure removal.
Our clothing stays with us during our entire day and our bedding throughout every evening. If you are sensitive to mold, removing “stowaway” mold from clothing and linen is an effective way to remove a significant amount of mold from your life equation. While it is not the only source, there is comfort and peace in knowing that we are wearing and sleeping in clean materials. It is also helpful to purchase textile-based items, such as coats, pillows, blankets, drapes, pillow covers, and shower curtains that are washable.
This allows you to more easily remove mold “stowaway” spores from following you throughout your day and night. Dry clean items can pose a challenge if worn regularly without laundering. In addition, the chemicals used in the dry-cleaning process can cause some chemical sensitivity issues experienced by mold sensitive people. When mold sensitive, the ability to wash things can yield significant improvements in your symptoms and overall health.