Last month when we had the air conditioner serviced, the technician noticed that a canvas connector between the furnace and the ductwork was covered with a layer of mold. He said it would be a simple job to have it replaced and told me to call the office if I wanted it done.
Several days later I called to schedule the work. After playing phone tag with the correct person for a few days, I finally talked to him and told him we wanted the work completed. He indicated that this was their busy time of year, but they'd plan to do our job at the end of a day when they happened to be in the area. That sounded good to me, so I put the project in their court and moved it down to the bottom of my mental To Do list.
Today the termite company was here for the annual house examination. As the inspector worked his way around the perimeter of the basement, I walked in front of him turning on lights. When I got to the furnace area, I noticed that not only was the connector still moldy, but now two backpacks (one for schoolbooks, the other a large, pricey, backpacking model with detachable daysack) that were hanging on a hook nearby also sported white spots. Something needed to be done!
This afternoon I called the heating company and told them I wanted the job done ASAP, then started searching the Internet for mold cleanup solutions. There were quite a few. I wanted a treatment that would be effective, but also cheap and ecologically safe. I found the answer at Every Fact About Mold Removal. According to the site, the natural acidity of vinegar kills about 80% of mold species.
It was worth a try. Grabbing the gallon jug of white vinegar from the pantry, I took everything out to the front porch. Using a rag, I saturated the packs with straight vinegar, then left them there while I fed the cats. The next step was to wash the items. The Website suggested the washing machine. However, my things were too big, so I filled the bathtub with hot water, added more vinegar and a scoop of laundry detergent, and let them soak.
After the water cooled off a bit, I did my best to agitate the backpacks, then drained the tub and rinsed the backpacks several times to remove all the soap. I carried the sopping packs to the deck in a cooler, where I hung them from the deck railing to dry. The directions said to dry the items in the sun to destroy any possible trace of mold on the fabric. Sadly, our forecast for the next few days is for cloudy skies. However, I know it will eventually get sunny, and I plan to take advantage of the heat to kill any remaining spores. Then I'll have to find a place to store the clean backpacks other than the basement.