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 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 they are continuously outgassing into the air. It can sometimes take quite a bit of time and work to eliminate this contamination. Unfortunately, these toxic chemicals from the laundry room have the potential to extend beyond the laundry room and permeate the entire house. In order to remove this contamination, there are several steps that should be repeated until there is no fragrance left in the laundry room.

  1. Source Removal – Stop using toxic laundry care products.
  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 and 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.
    1. Branch Basics – Solution of 50 parts distilled water to 1 part Branch Basics. 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 www.medina.theshoppe.com (1-888-249-1124)

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, 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. 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.
  2. 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.

Note: 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 take 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.