Category Archives: Cleaning

The Cost of Environmental Illness

Environmental Illness is costly not only emotionally to the person suffering through it and their family but it is monetarily costly as well.  In the beginning of my illness I was sent to an allergy and immunology specialist by my ENT, Dr. Spitzer.  Our insurance paid for the office visit but did not cover the EPD (enzyme potentiated) treatments.  These treatments consisted of two injections given every two months at a cost of $150.00.  My insurance did not cover the special B Vitamins I needed.  And it didn’t cover the special flours and other items I needed to bake my own breads, cookies, and crackers.  I had been told to avoid wheat, oats, barley, corn, and fermented products like soy sauce, catsup, vinegar, etc.  I began making trips to a health food store an hour from home to buy rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, garbanzo bean flour, carob products, guar gum (a stabilizer to replace gluten not found in these flours), and special rings to make my hamburger buns.

Fast forward a bit and I need to take a nebulized antifungal.  My insurance would pay for the nebulizer  ($150) but not the compounded antifungal for the nebulizer ($1200.).  Fortunately, I was put into a a trial that allowed me to buy the antifungal for $300.00 I believe.

Before long I was being sent to Dallas for the first of what would be several trips. I had filed for workers’ compensation but who knew what the outcome would be and if these new expenses would be covered.  My first trip included the cost of airfare for both my husband and I from California to Dallas.  It cost us over $400 to rent a car at the airport for the week my husband would be there (we learned that it would have been cheaper to rent a car outside of the airport).  There was the expense of my husband making a second round trip by air to visit me when my stay was to be extended longer than we had planned.  The cost of my room was $1100 per month for a two-bedroom environmentally safe apartment if I shared it with a roommate.  My stay was nearly four months.  None of these expenses were covered by insurance.  I had to buy organic food and unusual foods for testing when I was rapidly losing foods that I normally ate.  A loaf of yeast-free bread made of water chestnut flour was $7.00.  A water chestnut flour bagel was $3.00.  My bottled water was over $1.00 per bottle. I had to have special shampoos and soaps as well.  Again these were not covered by insurance.  My treatments had to be paid up front and then submitted for reimbursement by my insurance.  Each item I did skin testing on cost me $23.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many items I tested just to find safe foods and that was before I tested molds, pollens, and other inhalants.  I was doing two IV therapies a week at $125 per IV.  I was doing daily sauna therapy that was $35 per session.  I was doing oxygen therapy.  I was going through numerous labs and tests that were also very expensive.  Weekly I would pull out a credit card one that still had room to charge on it), pay the weekly bill, then spend the weekend putting it all together to mail to my insurance.  They paid a percentage of those bills.

I returned home from Dallas with antigens that I needed to take daily (I rotated them using a four-day rotation) and these items were expensive as well.  After having a urine Tricothecene test, I learned that I was continually being made more ill by the mycotoxins on my clothing that had been contaminated from work.  I had  to give away my clothes and start over because the cross contamination of mold and mycotoxins would continue to make me ill.  My mother came over and bagged up all my things.  You can see pictures of this in my blog post, Environmental Illness – Not for the Faint of Heart.  I also purchased a sauna for $3,500.00 that was not covered by insurance but was needed to continue my detox regimen at home.

I bought only a few clothing items because I could not afford to replace my entire wardrobe.

Dr. Rea from the Environmental Health Center – Dallas issued a letter that included a rough estimate of costs that I would incur as a result of my mold exposure to be used in court.  I will include more from that list and other expenses during Part 2.

Bleach Alternative

I am  always looking for safe alternatives for just about anything.  I love that Sonda from sondasmcschatter is always sharing some great ideas and tips with us.  This tip involves water, hydrogen peroxide, and lemon juice.  I am curious have any of you tried this?  I think it is something I might want to give a try.

bleach alternative

The tip she mentions comes from  I took a moment to subscribe to this blog to see what else I could find.



Can Perfume Make You Sick?

For most of you who follow my blog, you already know my answer to this.  You have heard me talk about it many times including a post I wrote, Layers of Fragrance.  From the time a person gets up in the morning (and probably more so with women), they are putting layer upon layer of fragrances on their skin and at the same time adding chemical after chemical which is absorbed through the skin.  From the shower products, to the lotions and perfumes, to the laundry soaps and fabric softeners or dry cleaned clothes, and lastly their perfumes or cologne, all those chemicals are slowly poisoning their bodies.

Their answer is that they smell nice and they like the way their shampoo leaves their hair smelling or the lotion leaves their skin smelling.  They haven’t become sick (Or Have They?) so why give up these wonderful delicious smelling products.  I say that they are having health issues that are not sending big signals that they are aware of.  They may be having big health issues that their doctor isn’t able to figure out the cause of so they are given medications.

Thanks to a recent Facebook by my dear friend Jennie Sherwin, I read this article from Prevention.  It just repeats what many of us who suffer from chemical sensitivity (MCS) have been saying for some time.  The chemicals in all these products are indeed making us sick.  Thank you Jennie for sharing this.


Why is Holiday Cleaning so difficult?

Hi Everyone

I have been sort of MIA lately.  I decided that I couldn’t stand my messy house any longer.  My parents and sister are coming for Thanksgiving dinner.  I don’t have any grandma duties until after Thanksgiving either.  I made the smart or not so smart decision that I would clean my house starting this past Thursday (my last day of babysitting was Wednesday).  My goal was to have everything done by the end of the day today so that I could start a sewing project listening to Christmas music on my iPod, spend some time just watching Christmas movies, or read to my heart’s content.  So I am sitting here at the computer with a hot bean bag on my back, my left shoulder is killing me and I am not quite done.

Kitchen floor baseboards washed and tile floor scrubbed.

Living room floor baseboards washed and tile floor scrubbed.

Living room furniture dusted and glass table tops cleaned.

Cushion covers on living room furniture washed, dried and put back on.

Living room blinds dusted and windows cleaned.

All photo frames off living room tables so Christmas decorations can go up.

Hall way baseboards scrubbed and tile scrubbed.

Main bathroom baseboards washed, tile floor scrubbed, counter cleaned, toilet scrubbed and shower doors cleaned.

Master bathroom baseboards washed, tile floor scrubbed, counter cleaned, toilet scrubbed and shower doors cleaned.

Master bedroom vacuumed, floor scrubbed, and furniture dusted.

Office floor vacuumed, floors scrubbed, baseboards cleaned, and desk tops cleaned.

Playroom picked up.

Sauna/sewing room cleaned so I can do some sewing.

Huge box of pomegranites seeded and put away for making jelly later.

I am determined to get the office done tonight as soon as my back calms down a little.

The playroom and sauna/sewing rooms will be done tomorrow because there isn’t much to do in those room.  It is a good thing I have acupuncture tomorrow and massage therapy the next day.

Sometime tonight I will work on my catch-up Monday post.  So what are you all doing to get ready for the holidays?


Moon River Products

Recently I had someone follow me on twitter from Moon River Soap Company.  The home page states:  Sufferers of dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, as well as those with weakened immune systems will find relief in our gentle soap. We never use petrochemicals, sulfates, synthetic fragrance or phthalates.  

I have just begun to delve into the various ingredients to determine if there is anything I will be able to use.  I am just curious if any of you have heard of these products or have used them. Please check them out and let me know what you think.

Chemical Sensitivity with Pluto and Minnie

My friend and fellow blogger Rachel from doilooksick sent me the link below in a reply to one of my posts.  I loved it and had no idea Disney worked so well with Chemical Sensitivities.  Maybe a trip sometime down the road might be possible.

Environmental Health Awareness

I subscribe to many blogs. It seems that I keep finding more and more than I am truly interested in  that offer a great deal of information relating to me and to my readers as well. Some of the blogs I am fortunate enough to get notified via email of new posts and topics. Some I get through RSS feeds and have to remember to check them. Often it will be days and my brain fogged mind will alert me to the fact that I haven’t checked recently.

Andrea Fabry writes a blog at mold recovery. She had posted a video on environmental health awareness. The link to her blog post and the video is:

Why is your body toxic?

I recently read an article titled “Why is Your Body Toxic?” I have always known that chemicals were bad for us but never really gave my cleaning products, shampoo and body care products or laundry products much thought as to what was in them and what harm they could be doing to me until my mold exposure happened and the domino effect it had on me and my new-found sensitivities to chemicals began. According to the article I read, about 1,000 new chemicals are registered with the U.S. government each year. It states that our bodies probably have hundreds of chemicals in them. In 2009  blood and urine samples from 2,400 people were taken and checked for chemicals. Researchers found 212 chemicals in the samples and the saddest and most frightening part was that 75 of the chemicals had never before been found in humans.

Some of these chemicals were Disinfection By-Products (Trihalomethanes) like Bromoform and Chloroform. Some of the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) included Benzene, Ethylbenzene, Hexachloroethane and Styrene (no wonder look at all the styrofoam products we have used over the years).

Another sad fact that this article mentions and something that I have read about in other articles is the high number of chemicals that newborn babies are found to have. An average of 200 industrial chemicals were found in umbilical cords.

The article further talks about ways to reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals. Many of you may already know this or be doing these things such as buying organic food, purifying your home’s air and using natural cleaning products.

To read the article in its entirety,–(2).aspx

Tile floors are great but……

From an Environmentally sensitive person’s standpoint my tile floors are great. I don’t have to worry about what may be lurking underneath the carpet and in the pad.  I don’t have to worry about all the formaldehyde and other chemicals in the carpets either.


1) The dirt is always on the surface for me to see and therefore always needs to be swept or vacuumed or mopped.

2) In the summertime tile floors are great because they keep the house cooler but in the winter I can’t keep warm because the floor tiles are so cold.

3) My grandchildren were born after my illness and therefore during my tile floor time.  The first two managed to learn to walk without too many falls or any major injuries on my hard floors.  Grandchild number three is learning to walk and I am more scared than I was with the other two.  I think it is because he gets so excited he practically tries to run.  The only way he can walk at my house is outdoors on the lawn or if I am holding his hand and he doesn’t want that.

4) “n my old life” I would just have to sweep and mop the kitchen and baths and run the vacuum across the carpet.  Now I sweep and mop my entire house.

5) Tile is extremely slippery when wet.  I have experienced this twice in the last month.  The first time I was in the kitchen and my husband had just filled my granddaughter’s water bottle and must have dripped water on the floor.  I had just gone into the kitchen and wham, my right foot turned in under me and I landed hard on my left knee (my right foot actually swelled and bruised and was much more painful than my knee).  The second experience was a week ago.  I was walking through the living room and this time my left foot turned in under me and I landed on my right knee.  Fortunately this time only my right knee was bruised.  I never see the water or the juice until I am on the floor at ground level with it.  What I do see, is the dirt on the floor where someone has walked over a wet spot on the floor.

Would I give up my hard, sometimes cold tiles for the warmth and softness of carpet?  Yes and know.  I miss sitting or lying on the floor and the softness of carpet pile under my feet.  Having been through all that I have been through I like knowing that there is no hidden dirt under my feet – only what I see on the surface that once again needs to be vacuumed and mopped as I look across the floor.  Maybe it will get done today but most likely tomorrow.  I have had one of my wonderful sleepless nights and my spoons are used up for today.

My question to you – What is on your floors?  Do you like it?  What would you change if you could?

Less Toxic Cleaning Products

Finding cleaning products that don’t cause me to have an allergic reaction took some time. A great resource that I purchased to help me live with less toxicity was, “Less Toxic Alternatives” by Carolyn Gorman  with Marie Hyde.

For me I have found that most free and clear products from Seventh Generation are ok.  I also have found that Super Clean by AFM works as a heavy-duty cleaner and diluted to make a pre-wash spray.  I can tolerate borax and plain baking soda (not the arm and hammer laundry soap).  I use Bon Ami for scrubbing and chlorine free bleach agents made from peroxide.  AFM makes a product called Safety Clean for toilets.

The downside is that my whites don’t get as clean as they used to with all the chemically loaded products and bleach that I used to tolerate.  It is something that I am willing to live with in exchange for less chemicals.

Recently I purchased a system by Lotus that ozonates the water for cleaning.  The water has very good cleaning and sanitizing properties.  I use it for several of my cleaning needs.  I use it for cleaning my floors, kitchen counters and showers.

Another very important purchase for me was a scrubber for my tile floors.  I had tried just using my steamer with pad but it didn’t get the dirt out of the grout or the pits in the tile.  I purchased a scrubber that did a little better on the surface but still did not clean the grout, edges of the tile or get  the dirt out of the pits and crevices in the tile itself.  Out of desperation I decided to purchase a commercial product by Koblenz.  This works great and it turned out to be less expensive that the noncommercial scrubber I had.

I would love to hear from those that read this post how they manage to safely clean their homes.  Please let me know what you have found to be safe.  I am sure others will also benefit from your ideas and suggestions.