This is one of those posts that I've been meaning to write for awhile but, I guess I kept putting it off because it has been such a difficult situation to walk through. Recently, I was looking through some old posts and came across this Post which showed my entire basement all clean and organized. Little did I know what we would deal with just 7 months later.
We had a very hot and humid summer; according to news reports it was one of the worst summers since the 80's. We do not have central air in our house so we survived with fans. And lots of doing nothing. It was near the end of July or beginning of August (I blocked it out of my mind) when I noticed that our basement floor was not just damp but actually wet. Our basement is an old style so the cement floor has "pocks" in it and there was actually water that had puddled in all of those little indentations. That weekend, my husband and I headed downstairs to organize it and find where the water was coming from . . .we were busy working when I picked up the bouncy seat and noticed it was completely black. It was at that point we discovered a bigger problem - the entire basement (or so it seemed) was "filled" with mold. It was everything from the outside of Rubbermaid totes, to clothes, baby items, and canning jars. We also had rust - tools, shelving, and more had turned rusty from the moisture. I think the best two words to describe what we faced that day are - devastating and overwhelming. We knew at that moment that we had to get stuff out so we started hauling everything to the garage. After finding the 3rd large baby item covered in mold, I gave up and came upstairs to let my husband finish. We spent the rest of the day doing research, making some calls and then, making a run to Walmart to get vinegar and sponges.
A few things we learned: 1) "Black" mold really means any type of mold but "deadly" mold is extremely rare. 2) All of those companies that say they will clean your mold use the scare tactic to make you think that the mold is all bad - most of it, if not all of it, can be cleaned up with a lot of hard work and strong muscles 3) Vinegar is one of the best things to use to clean mold; not bleach. Bleach will not kill the mold - only vinegar will. Now, anything that is porous (like particle board or cardboard) has to be thrown out because the mold will be absorbed. Fabric can normally be washed with vinegar and the mold will come out.
With that said, we emptied every single tote in the basement, took them outside and scrubbed them inside and out with vinegar. I washed every article of clothing that was in a tub in vinegar. We did end up having to throw out tons of things from a dining room chair that was in the basement and was just covered in mold (gross, I know), a bouncy seat, jump-a-roo, swing and play mat that where just unable to be cleaned. It broke my heart to see that stuff like that - it kinda make me sick. We ripped out boards from the walls, scrubbed 2 x 4's that were covered in mold, took down plaster and scrubbed walls (well, i should say my husband did!) It was awful. Masks and gloves were required when we worked down there it was so nasty. Just not fun! Once we emptied out everything, a friend of ours came and hauled it all away for us.
We are still, these several months later, working to put it all back together. Just this past week I finally got the laundry room cleaned up, all of the laundry finally done from those totes, the "extra" room cleaned and organized and the desk cleaned off. The last few bags of trash have been taken out and I've started boxes up things we are donated to Good will (the one good thing - we cleaned out TONS of stuff HA!). Next Saturday we plan on putting the final pieces back together - taking things to Good Will, organizing everything and doing a final look a few places for any hiding mold devils. (yep, devils!!) I'm hoping it will look like that picture I saw recently . . well without the shelves, they were all destroyed.
It took me a long time to tell this story, and it really isn't a fun story, but it almost defeated us. We considered packing up and walking away; of giving up on this house. I have a feeling that is a pretty normal feeling in our situation so I don't feel bad about that fact but it doesn't make it any easier!