Rebecca's Cure: Mission Accomplished... Sort Of

Liveblogging the January Cure 2014

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Remember my musty-smelling bedroom? Well, now it smells of freshly laundered sheets and spring flowers. Hurray! The culprit was a hundred-year-old oak chest of drawers in the corner, which was stinking up the whole room. My plan was to clean it up and restore it to its former un-smelly glory. Well, that was the plan…

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I got off to a good start. I emptied all the drawers and wiped them down with a 50/50 water-vinegar mix. They came up beautifully clean, and I even started wondering whether I had imagined the musty smell. Then I moved onto the inside of the chest, which was filthy. In my defense, it's not often you dismantle a piece of furniture to clean the inside. Here is a before picture, though it doesn't really convey the level of dust and dirt.

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I vacuumed the interior, then washed it down several times with warm water and vinegar. Hiding under all those layers of dirt, I found the source of the smell – black mold. It's nasty stuff. Not only does it smell bad, it is linked to a whole raft of health conditions including coughing, wheezing, and worsening asthma symptoms. Well, my son has asthma and there is no way I wanted him or any of us put at risk, so my husband and I hauled the chest down to the garage.

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But, I wasn’t going to let a few spots of mold beat me. My next line of attack was a homemade spray of warm water and clove oil, which is a natural and effective mold killer. I used half a liter water to two drops of clove oil and got spraying. A word of warning: if you are working with mold, wear a face mask. I didn’t, and I had a hacking cough the next day. Once the vinegar and clove oil smell had dissipated (it took a couple of days), we were back to square one with the funky furniture smell and the mold as black and speckly as ever.

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By this time, I had taken a strong dislike to the chest and I was getting pretty fed up with having nowhere to store my clothes. My husband was all for trying white spirits applied with soft wire wool as advised by a furniture restorer friend, but I just wanted the thing out of the house.

I scoped out the January sales and found a simple white chest of drawers from Marks and Spencer. It was delivered and assembled this morning and I love it! And my husband finally got around to building the ‘new’ bed that has been stored under our old pine one for a year or more. Yay! Two more things ticked off my project list.

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Here it is, our lovely, clean, fresh bedroom. I’m not sure yet what to do about the old chest. Clearly I can’t pass it on to someone knowing it’s a health hazard. For the moment it is living in the garage, which has become a no go area. Furniture disposal issues aside, I am glad I chose this project. The Cure is about creating a happy, healthy home, and this feels like a big step in the right direction.

Rebecca's January Cure:

(Image credits: Rebecca Bond)

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