Saturday is cleaning day at our house. Out come the spray bottles filled with white vinegar. It's amazing how clean a home can feel with white vinegar and a little baking soda. This past weekend I did some extra cleaning. I filled our master bathtub with water and some food grade hydrogen peroxide and turned on the jets. Not that I use the jets. Any added potential plumbing problem is outside my comfort zone.
11-year-old Colin said something interesting as he walked by the spewing jets. "Remember when Brandon and I took a bath in our Colorado house and we turned on the jets and all this black stuff came out?"
I sighed. Just as I do anytime one of the kids has a memory like this. He's 11 years old and he understands there were clues to the mold we discovered.
Just recently we used a vaporizer for one of my daughters. Immediately my mind turned to the chunks of black stuff I'd find in the bottom of the vaporizer anytime I'd use one. For years I would empty it and shake my head in wonder. I just assumed our water was “dirty.” I kept buying new vaporizers. We needed them constantly for breathing and congestion issues.
It's so obvious in hindsight.
Recently I heard this from a friend:
The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week. Even now I still always smell the sponge before using it.
She also made this connection:
In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash. I was constantly re-washing loads of clothes. Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening. That is very fast and we were always scratching our heads about that one.
Funny, Chris and I would argue over the laundry. He was convinced that I was combining clothing with towels. It wasn't an argument, really. He was simply trying to figure out why our clothes smelled musty most of the time.
During our second remediation I tried to salvage a pair of jeans. I was willing to toss all of my clothes. Just not my favorite jeans. Oblivious to the reality of our exposure, I took them to a local dry cleaner. I'll never forget the sight of the owner's face as I handed her the jeans. She crinkled her nose and said, "I can't accept these. They smell way too musty. Don't you smell this?"
"No," I said.
Honestly, I smelled nothing!
It's been three years since that conversation. Much has changed. Including my sense of smell.
I'm also no longer oblivious. Just eager to help others avoid the same pitfalls and connect the dots when it comes to environment and health.