What to do about your space and belongings after toxic mold exposure is a tough question, especially if you are on a tight budget.
It’s tough question for me to answer as I don’t know every situation, so the best I can do is to give some generalized advice based on imaginary scenarios.
Scenario A: A Renter with Mold
You are a renter and you have been feeling sick for a while. You know through testing, or suspect through your 5 senses or other methods, that there is mold.
What can you do?
Most rental agreements now contain a clause that says the renter is in charge of controlling the moisture in a unit, and the property owner is not at fault.
While there is some truth to it (you should run bathroom fans and dehumidifiers as needed, for example), there is also some onus on the property owner.
Unfortunately it can be difficult to get a property owner to properly acknowledge and remediate the issue. The issue may be behind a wall or coming from an upstairs neighbor.
The best you can do is document everything. Don’t just chat with your landlord, but inform in writing about what you are observing and how you are feeling. Document comments from neighbors.
According to my attorney friend Kristina Baehr, she cannot file a case (I don't know the lingo here) that a place is uninhabitable if you are still in the place.
You may want to look into a local attorney or renters' rights organization.
Got Mold offer a free renters' guidebook here.
In my opinion, as a renter the best thing you can do is to get out as soon as possible. Ask to break your lease for health reasons. I don't think I've ever seen a renter happy and healthy after a correct remediation. Doesn't happen.
If you are really sick, and you’ve been in the space a while, your belongings will be compromised. Get rid of everything you can. You may need to get rid of nearly everything. Items like books, mattresses and couches are very difficult to remedy. I could not get my clothes good enough, or my desktop computer. If you want to try to remedy belongings, you can look into foggers, sprays and detergents by CitriSafe. Get 10% off through February 29, 2024 with code wellness10. (Disclosure: we are a Citrisafe affiliate.)
Scenario B: A Homeowner with Mold
You are a homeowner and you have discovered at least one area of mold. (There are often more than 1 in an average-sized home.) You are sick and overwhelmed. You may have other family members sick or in mold denial.
What can you do?
If you want to stay in the home you will need to remediate properly. That involves identifying all areas of water damage, correcting leakage, removing/replacing building components that are affected, deep cleaning, fogging, and also addressing items like appliances, ducts, carpets, blankets, etc
Please note that you need to be meticulous! You can't get new rugs but not new mattresses. Learn about the process. The Mold Medic by Mike Rubino is one resource.
You can utilize a HELOC loan for the repairs.
Your other option is to sell without remediating but with disclosing everything you know (double-check me on this but I think it’s the case.)
OR you can remediate with before-and-after tests that everything is clear and place it for sale. (We did this in our home.)
Personally I am more of a fan of moving to a new home. It's hard to get your existing home perfect enough if you've been really sick. If you do stay, remember you usually need ALL new things.
Scenario C: Anyone on a Budget and Overwhelmed
You don’t know where to go- nothing seems safe and you don’t have much money. You can’t afford an expensive testing or remediation company.
What can you do?
Option 1: Homeowners
You can do the demolition and carpentry work yourself or enlist a family member. You will need to follow correct protocol with taping off the area and running an air scrubber, and not wearing the same outfit out the door.
Option 2: Anyone
You can move to another climate that is drier with more options. You can also move to a less expensive area.
Option 3: Homeowners
You can sell your home and move into a temporary rental. You can move in with a family member or friend. You can rent a furnished room in a house. You can do long-term camping on BLM land. There are other creative options in this category.
Option 4: Anyone
- You can create a safe room in your home with only new belongings and close then cover vents with tape/ plastic sheeting. Run an air filter inside.
- You can stay mostly outside in a tent in your own yard or porch. Just go in for kitchen and bathroom.
- You can deep clean your house as much as possible.
- Get rid of anything you don’t need.
- Carpet clean, spray, fog with Citrisafe products (get 10% off through February 29, 2024 with code wellness10)
- Keep windows open whenever possible.
- Use Citrisafe candles.
- Test your humidity and run a dehumidifier if over 50%.
These options can at least reduce the mycotoxin load into you can remediate properly or move.
Getting away from mold is usually an expensive and stressful venture. Do your best to center yourself and take it step by step. Be vulnerable in your sharing and accept help and synchronicities. The more you can get grounded, it will let you see options and make good decisions.
I take a deeper look at the home mold aspect in my full-length book here.
I also have a free mold health starter guide here.
Finally we offer private coaching, and some people mainly come to get some dedicated feedback on their home! But we are especially trained in the health aspect.
Toxic mold illness is an environmental illness and you will need to address the environmental side. You can do it!
She is the founder of FunctionalDetoxProducts.com and the author of The Ultimate Guide to Toxic Mold Recovery: Take Back Your Home Health & Life, available in audiobook, Kindle and paperback on Amazon.