My inbox is overflowing! Seems like so many of you are very concerned about possible mold in your home. I don’t blame you. Had I been on the other side of the fence and read my own story, I would have immediately wanted to test for mold as well. And if I knew I had an issue, I would want to know what products I should look into when it came to trying to keep mold spores at bay.
Today I am sharing all kinds of information and links to the tests we ran and the products we have purchased to ensure a future that is as mold free as possible. If you are interested in the medical angle – supplements and herbs and whatnot – then check out how I detoxed from mold exposure. Today I am focusing more on the things you should consider for your environment.
What exactly should you do if you have mold in your home, or even suspect that you do?
Mold Tests We Ran In Our Home
If you suspect that you have mold, running the right tests the first time around will save you a lot of money as well as precious time. While testing seems pricy, you want to get to the root of the issue as quickly as possible. We wasted several thousand dollars after our initial test and my hope is to save you from doing the same. If you have mold in your home you still want to test the strains so you can formulate a game plan and possibly better understand any health issues that you may have as a result.
Knowing what I know now, I will outline what I believe is a solid game plan for testing for mold in your home. Do with this what you would like.
Step 1 – Moisture Testing
Go out and get yourself a moisture meter like this one or this one. Test EVERYTHING! Test your floors. Test every wall in your home. Test base boards. Test under windows. Test around doors. Literally test every wall in your home.
Each meter will come with a guide. If any of your walls or floor spaces show elevated levels of moisture, you can bet you have the right conditions for toxic mold to grow in. And if you have mold in your home, this is step 1 to finding the source.
Step 2 – Thermo Imaging
If your moisture levels come back high, you probably want to get a sense of just how extensive the affected area is. Thermo Imaging is a great way to see inside walls and floors without tearing into them and releasing millions of mold spores. You don’t absolutely need to take this step just yet. But eventually, you will need to see just how much of your home is affected.
If you want to take a look yourself, there is a really cool thermos imaging phone app. You can learn more about it here. The other option is a handheld thermos imaging device like this one. You can also hire people to come do this for you.
Step 3 – The ERMI Test + Mycotoxin Test
I cannot stress this enough. You MUST run an ERMI test. The ERMI test will tell you exactly what species of mold are present and at what level. You will receive a breakdown of the individual spores and spore counts as well an overall ERMI score. The higher the score, the more quickly you need to get out of your home.
I used Mycometrics for our initial ERMI tests. They have long been the gold-standard when it comes to the ERMI test. I opted to test our living room (where I knew there was an issue) as well as our master bedroom. I highly suggest that you run these test separately so you know which room produced which result. You can combine the tests but personally, it makes more sense to know what is going on in individual rooms, especially if you do not have visible mold and simply suspect a mold problem.
The areas I suggest testing are:
- 1-2 rooms WITH visible mold. If not visible mold, test your two most used rooms. If you have a two story home, test both floors.
- Air Intake Ducts (not the filter – remove the filter and reach into the duct and get as much dust on the cloth as possible)
- Air Return from Living Room (or most used living space) – use same technique as the intake duct sample
- Air Return from master bedroom – use same technique as the intake duct sample
You do not need to run ERMI tests in every room if you have visible mold, just the rooms with an issue. This applies so long as you know for sure that the room(s) you are testing have an issue (be it visible mold, a moldy smell, dampness, or elevated levels of moisture as seen in moisture meter readings) and there are not hidden issues in other rooms.
The reason you sample your air ducts is to see if mold spores have spread throughout your home. If you have spores in your air ducts, you have them throughout your house. Period.
If you are really on a budget, these test plates are a viable option and one that I have used with success.
The Mycotoxin Test
While mold can wreak havoc on your health, the mycotoxins they produce are the real killers. Truly. They can kill you. It is imperative that you send in dust samples to test for mycotoxins in your home. This will give you a peek into what you are facing health-wise and treatment wise. Mycotoxins are not something to ignore.
To save money, you can run BOTH a mold and mycotoxin test through Real Time Labs. Their innovative EMMA test is simple to do.
These tests are NOT cheap. But they are critical to determining what mycotoxins you were exposed to specifically as this determines the medical treatment needed. Not all mycotoxins do the same things in your body.
Step 4 – Air Sampling
Air sampling is waste of money in my opinion. We did it and I wish that we hadn’t. You hire a hygienist to come in and take a 5 minute air sample. While this can be useful in concert with the ERMI and Mycotoxin tests, it alone won’t give you a clear picture of what is going on. It is merely showing you what mold spores and how many are in the air during that 5 minute window. It doesn’t look at mycotoxins. Unless you are going to bring a lawsuit into play, I would skip the air sampling.
The only time that it can be truly beneficial is if you have a lot of visible mold OR if you disturbed the mold and are still living in your home.
Medical Tests We Took
Once we knew that our home was teaming with mycotoxins, we enlisted Real Time Labs to run urine samples and test us individually for mycotoxins in our body. These tests are also expensive and for us, not covered by insurance. I decided to run the full panel and me and my daughter. Once we got the results back (and they matched in terms of which mycotoxins were in our system), I only tested my husband for those specific mycotoxins. This saved a wee bit of money.
After we had confirmation that we had high levels of mycotoxins in our body, we ordered additional labs. And by additional, I mean A TON. You can find the full set of labs we ordered here. Learn why you want to run these in this informative post.
I also took a Visual Contrast Sensitivity test online. I failed. This is very telling and shows that I do have neurological issues. The test is pretty cheap and a great tool to get a picture of how the mold exposure has impacted your brain.
Products We Used When Entering Our Home To Clean It Out
Once you know you have mold in your home (and their offspring mycotoxins), you DO NOT want to go into the home without protection. Protection is simple enough. Here is what we adorned ourselves with every time we entered the home:
- Biohazard Suit (this is a second option)
- Face Mask
We also kept ALL the windows open while we were in there.
Products We Purchased To Keep Our Temporary Environment Safe
When we relocated to my parents’ home, I was very concerned about mold cross contamination. After all, toys, books, and our own selves had been back and forth between our home and my parents’ home. I knew that there were mold spores floating around, especially in the bedroom where we were living.
I wasn’t worried about my parents getting a mold infestation. They don’t have a water source to support that. But I was VERY concerned about continuing to be exposed to mold spores and mycotoxins. Neither my daughter nor I could handle that.
I spoke with many trusted sources and did GOBS of research. Seriously. It felt like that was all I was doing. But in the end, I choose several products that I felt confident would eliminate close to 100% of any lingering mold spores.
These are products that I will continue to use once we get settled in a more permanent situation.
Product #1 – A High Quality Air Purifier
I have used several air purifiers and my top picks are the ones from Austin and Blue Air. Levoit has put out a great product as well.
Jump over to my post all about choosing the best air purifier to remove mold spores so you can get the one that will work best for you. The bottom line is that you MUST use an air purifier to help keep your new environment airborne mold spore free.
Product #2 – Miele S7280 Jazz Upright Vacuum Cleaner
Another big ticket item but again, totally worth every penny. Regular vacuums (both bagless and those with bags) spew contaminants right back out as you vacuum. This includes mold spores. In fact, aside from your HVAC unit, your vacuum is the other way to spread mold spores throughout your entire house. (It’s why you ALWAYS want a professional housecleaner to use YOUR vacuum and not theirs which has been used in countless homes). In an ideal world, we would all have built-in central vacuums that exhausted directly to the outside. Since this isn’t always possible, it is important to use a HEPA vacuum.
Although many vacuums may claim to have HEPA-like filtration, very few vacuums actually meet the rigid criteria to be called a HEPA vacuum. True HEPA vacuums not only have a HEPA filter but are also specially sealed so that no air is able to escape before passing through the filter. This means that the particles you vacuum up actually remain in the vacuum rather than being dispersed into the air that you breathe.
The Miele Jazz Vacuum uses this advanced HEPA filter. I choose it both for functionality and for the price. There are other Miele vacuums that employ this technology but this one met my needs.
Purchase the Miele Jazz here.
Product #3 – Essential Oil Diffuser
Even though I had thrown away my childhood by discarding anything at my parents’ house that had been in our moldy home, I still worried that there were lingering spores in the closet where these items lived. I didn’t want to spray the closet and bedroom with toxic chemicals and we didn’t have our Airocide filter yet. I decided to order an uber-powerful diffuser and diffuse Rocky Mountain Oils special blend called Purify. It kills airborne anaerobic bacteria, viruses, mold, fungus, neutralizes mildew, cigarette smoke, and eliminates other noxious odors.
I diffused the Purify blend four times a day for 15 minute increments. I did this for 14 days and felt pretty confident that we got a lot of the mold spores out of the closet. I don’t think I would rely on this method alone but if it is all you can afford at the time, it is better than nothing.
Get my favorite diffuser here.
Product #4 – Naturepedic Organic Cotton/Kapok Pillow
We left our home with nothing but ourselves. We didn’t even keep the clothes we were wearing. While it is hard to decide what to replace and in what order, I knew we needed pillows ASAP. My mom had some super old ones that I was sure were filled with mildew and mold.
I have always loved the Naturepedic Organic Cotton/Kapok Pillow. But as our bodies deal with the effects of being exposed to toxic mold and mycotoxins for such a long time, I have to be diligent about our chemical exposure.
Bedding choices are of the utmost importance. Your head is in direct constant with your pillow for a large chunk of time and a very important time. Sleep is a time for the body to heal. If your body is being slammed by chemcials, it will have a real tough time detoxing. That is why I choose this organic cotton/kapok pillow.
Organic cotton is the purest form of cotton, grown without toxins, synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). Kapok wicks away moisture making it the second best mold resistant fiber. (Wool is the first).
Grab a couple of these pillows here.
Product # 5 – Himalayan Rock Salt Lamp
I have used Himalayan Rock Salt Lamps for years to help purify the air. They have always worked for us and I keep one in each room of our home. They are so beautiful in addition to being functional.
When heated, the Himalayan crystal rocks emit negative ions into surrounding atmosphere making the air clean, fresh and healthy to live in. These negative ions are known to reduce the effects of dust, bacteria, pet dander, odor, allergies, asthma, sinus, fatigue and even colds. They may also relieve symptoms of anxiety and insomnia. In addition to this, these salt lamps will eliminate the positive ions which are present in our environment, produced by everyday electronics such as computers, refrigerators and televisions (EMFS) plus it will neutralize harmful energies.
When recovering from life in a moldy environment, little things like this can really impact your health. Get this gorgeous salt lamp here.
If you would like to see all my Product Recommendations when it comes to keeping your living environment safe, please visit my Toxic Mold Resources page. I keep it updated as I find and use new products.
Sources for mold related information include but are not limited to:
Paige Smith says
I did not know that using an essential oil diffuser can help get rid of mold in your home. Mold removal is definitely something that needs to be kept on top of. Studying more about this fascinates me.
Delores Lyon says
Thanks for sharing this advice for taking care of mold in your home! I have no idea whether or not our home has mold, but now I really want to check. It sounds like it might be good to have a professional take a look so I can know for sure if there is anything I should be worried about. This home had some water damage a few years ago, so mold could’ve had a chance to grow.
I didn’t know how many different types of mold testing there was. I also didn’t know how many different types of treatments there are. I will definitely have to continue to read more about this. Thanks for sharing.
Alex Jennings says
I followed your alternative link to thermo-imaging. It looks like a promising way to find where mold might be. I’m interested in knowing how it works. Can you explain thermo-imaging to me and how it might help in mold removal?
Alex Jennings |
Hi Alex! Thermo-imaging will not aid in the physical process of removing mold. In a nutshell, it is a device that allows you to look for heat and moisture in your home. In our home, we could clearly see areas that had a lot of moisture versus those that were “normal.” You can get a better idea of where the source of the water intrusion is.
Wally West says
This is very helpful, and extremely thorough . Thank you for sharing. I am glad that there is such a great procedure for eliminating toxic mold. My wife and I discovered some in our home, and we had to get it taken care of immediately. We couldn’t believe that we had mold in the house, but all you can do is take care of it as quickly as possible.
Victor Stanley says
How thorough! Thank you for all these information. Half of these I didn’t have any idea about!
Cohen Jacobson says
Ok, wow. I think I better get some tests done in our home! We’ve got kids and I don’t want them exposed to anything potentially harmful. Stuff like this you can’t take any chances. My wife and I will be sure to check out new vacuums to start out with certified HEPA filters. Thanks for this post we’ve been trying to find really useful info on this lately
Stephen Adams says
Thanks for the post. The product list is really helpful. After getting all the tests done, we’ll have to go shopping. This article has really helped my family know what to do with our mold problem.
Sam Fisher says
One of the scary things about mold is that you could have mold in your home and not even know it. It could be growing behind the wallpaper in your bathroom as we speak. To fins out if you do have mold, you have to perform some tests. The tests that you listed above would work in any situation. I would suggest that if you do find mold, that you call a professional to come and get rid of it for you.
Emma Pinellas says
Wow, this is such a great article. A ton of great tips. Mold is such a pain to deal with!
Brandy Miller says
How did u get the urine test done? We can not find a local doctor to order it. No one uses real time labs here and the Dr in Dallas won’t take insurance and all. Not even for the office visit. Which has lead me to feel like they are scams. We are so confused.
I had to get my mold specialist to order it although my understanding is that you can call Real Time Labs and request it yourself. Here is the website: http://www.realtimelab.com/
Nash Rich says
This was really helpful information, especially the ERMI tests. I had never heard of that before. And with the Mycotoxin testing, I would have never thought to test the refrigerator coils, that’s pretty interesting. I guess you definitely wouldn’t want mold in your fridge. Thanks for helping me out!
Glad that this post helped!
Zequek Estrada says
Jennifer, I appreciated the advice of what to do when recovering life in a moldy environment. I’ll have to look into getting a Himalayan rock salt lamp. It sounds like it’s a good investment. I think that just taking with mold removal services would probably be the most effective thing to do.
Jay Jorgenson says
I remember a couple of years ago having the mold tested in my apartment just because I suspected it was really old and damp. I really like the idea of moisture testing because this would have been much easier for me to just do this. I think hiring a professional is the best thing to do in this situation though.
Awesome article, I believe the only thing missing is the marcons test, did you check for it?
Yes, my both daughter and I got tested. I should probably add that although I was trying not to overwhelm people too too much. 😉