Detoxifying Your Laundry Room

If you have been using conventional laundry care products that contain toxic chemicals, it is highly likely that the air quality in your home is being affected. Decontaminating these chemicals from your laundry room is a big step in improving your entire home’s air quality. The toxic volatiles from these products incorporate into the surfaces that they come in contact with. In some instances, the minute you walk into a laundry room, you immediately smell the lingering odor of the products used even though there is no wash going. That is because the porous sheetrock has picked up the chemicals and it is continuously outgassing into the air. Unfortunately, these toxic chemicals from the laundry room have the potential to extend beyond the laundry room and permeate the entire house. It can sometimes take quite a bit of time and work to eliminate this contamination. In order to remove it, there are several steps that should be repeated until there is no fragrance left in the laundry room. Typically some sort of heat treatment (see bottom of page) is necessary to complete the outgassing. Don’t get discouraged, just keep at it, even sporatically, if necessary.  Each treatment should improve the air quality to some degree.

  1. Source Removal – Stop using toxic laundry care products. Remove them from the home.
  2. HEPA Vacuum –Vacuum the ceiling, walls, and surfaces such as countertops, washer, and dryer, behind washer and dryer, floor and under washer and dryer in that order. Make 3 passes on each surface. See “HEPA Vacuum 101.”
  3. Wash Surfaces – Clean the ceiling, walls, and surfaces such as countertops, washer and dryer, behind washer and dryer, floor and under washer dryer in that order. Use one of the following options and test a section of the wall to see how it takes the solution to make sure that the paint is not damaged. Use a squeeze mop, large cloth covered sponges or microfiber covered sponges (available at Wal Mart) or soft cotton cleaning towels (available at Wal Mart, Home Depot, and Cosco) for wiping down the walls.
    1. Branch Basics – Solution of 1 teaspoon Branch Basics per 2 cups water. Spray in an inconspicuous area first to determine color fastness of paint.
    2. Hydrogen peroxide – Solution of 1 part distilled water to 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide.
  4. Use Biological Odor Control – B.O.C. looks and smells like water. It is made up of algae (biological base of all their products) and is used in hydrocarbon degradation, chemical decontamination, VOC decontamination, etc. BOC will not kill mold, but slows it down and takes the odors down by neutralizing the mycotoxins, which are the toxic metabolic byproducts of mold that many people react to. Available at   (1-830-426-3011).

Directions: Spray full strength B.O.C. up towards ceiling so that the mist falls on all surfaces. Spray mist towards the walls. Close room up for one hour. Open up and ventilate to the outdoors. Turn on the laundry room exhaust fan. If there is a window in the laundry room, open it and place a fan facing out so that the fan is drawing air from the laundry room to the outside. If there is no window, direct airflow to the nearest window with fans. Place a fan in the window facing out as described above. It also may be helpful to wash down the surfaces in the room with the B.O.C. as described above.

If the above treatments do not completely take away the odor which is likely, then heating the laundry room is recommended. As temperature increases, so does the volatilization of chemicals. This can be done in the following ways:

  1. Summer Time – The best time to bake out the house is the hot summertime.  It has been demonstrated that by opening up a house that is very contaminated with laundry care products in the hot summer and letting it “bake” (air conditioning off, house exhaust fans on, with plenty of air flow), these toxic chemicals will totally clear from the house. It may just take a few days, weeks, or months depending on the contamination. Of course this is not practical for most people, but it serves as an example that repeated heating (which can be done with the heater or the halogen light) is effective. In fact, in some cases this is the only step that can completely remove these chemicals incorporated into the drywall.
  2. Space Heater – Shut the laundry room, make sure that the exhaust fan is not on, bring in a space heater, and heat up the room for 4-6 hours or less. Have the washer and dryer doors open. The heat will increase the level of chemical contamination in the room as the heat causes increased volatilization of the chemicals. Turn on the laundry room exhaust fan and open up the room and direct the contaminated air to the outside with fans as described above. Repeat this procedure over and over until fragrance is gone.
  3. Halogen Lights – You can find construction halogen lights at Home Depot or Lowe’s. Several brands are Commercial Electric, Husky, and Utilitec. Direct the light at the wall to increase the outgassing. Let the contaminants build up for 4-6 hours or less, then turn on the laundry room exhaust fan and open up the room and direct the contaminated air to the outside with fans as described above. Repeat this procedure over and over until fragrance is gone. Be very careful to place the heat lamps so they will not be a burn hazard.


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