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27 August 2012 @ 10:38 am
Adventures in the Money Pit and trying to parent the parents. :(  
Soo... I fell off the face of the internet again. I'm sorry. :/ Getting our house unpacked, arranged and trying to thrift/garage sale/craigslist/buy furniture is sort of eating time. On the bright side I discovered chalk paint and at last there's something I can paint furniture with that doesn't kill me with paint fumes. I finished painting a nightstand that Spike gave me and it looks a million times better now that its ugly dark exterior (which was further destroyed by someone having a water bottle incident I think) is hidden under distressed white. So I'm doing the same thing to Brynden's unfortunate chest of drawers and I'm working on a cute wicker piece I picked up at a garage sale. The wicker piece was $5 and all it needs is some glue and new drawer pulls! Easy fix.

Meanwhile I spent last week in Hometown at mom and stepdad's place while Brynden was at training in Georgia. And that is where we hit problems. Many problems. Let me list them.

1.) Mom is working hella overtime because her high stress state job is now higher stress with the state being in dire financial woe and consolidating 3 county offices into one with half the workers they actually need. So by the time she gets home, she's exhausted and just can't cope with cleaning or housework. Stepdad meanwhile has had a couple eye surgeries and his sight is just... not all that great. Plus he's a product of the 1950s and while he tries to clean he's just not thorough or careful (seriously the number of figurines, pieces of furniture etc that he's broken are just too numerous to count). When I lived at home I would clean the main areas every couple months at the least so while it might get messy it didn't get dirty... and the last few times I was up I was in bad asthma situations so I couldn't clean. So last week I walked into the giant family room and choked because oh my god the dust and spiderwebs. And that's not even talking about the guest room or the front parlor or my old room. And no one told them how to use the new HE washer so oh god the mold in it. o____O 

I spent four days just on the family room, I'm not even kidding. The bar fridge had a giant block of ice instead of a freezer (SOLID. ICE. BLOCK.) and it took 3 days to defrost- with a lamp shining right on it. I swept up enough dirt to build a dam, I think. And I didn't even get around to wiping down the rough-hewn cross beams on the ceiling (btw I know cross beams and rough hewn stuff look cool but TRUST ME you learn to hate them if you try to dust them) or to scrubbing down the mantle. Most of the time I was sweeping, dusting, and cleaning out the tables (they are the kind that have doors and storage in them), washing the curtains, trying to fix some of the scratches on the hardwood with finish feeder, etc.

Mom and Stepdad had to put on a new roof in May- and I don't mean new shingles I mean new ROOF. Their house was built in the 60s sometime and oh my god the stress from the roof stuff has left huge stress cracks all over the walls in almost every room, and a couple in the ceilings. The popcorn ceilings. The textured walls. o____o So Brynden and I are going to do some patching and in the process we'll probably just de-texturize that shit because replicating the wall texture is just... not going to happen. And I'm not interested in popcorn ceiling sprays either, I'll be honest.

3) The half-finished basement flooded three years ago and they had to put in a fully new line for the sump and storm drains and whatnot- including digging up the yard and the street. Afterward stepdad was supposed to get the basement de-molded but he decided there was too much stuff in the way and instead of moving it and doing one wall at a time (the floor is still cement so just required a mop and some soap) he just didn't bother at all. I refuse to go down there without a gas mask, tbh.

4) Stepdad decided to redo the bathrooms about... four years ago? Five? Mom's new shower insert sat in the front parlor for almost two years anyway, and then he finally put it in and hooked up the knobs backward (the cold is to hot, etc) and he didn't even finish off the edge of the little toilet nook where it meets the shower, or repair the other wall where he put a hammer through it. It looked like that for a couple years until he finally put a half-hearted piece of sheet rock on the edge bit but the grout everywhere is still like a giant mess of blobby ick, and there is still the hole in the back wall and.. yeah. The shower he picked for his bathroom is still somewhere in the basement. So that went well.

Oh and god help me, Stepdad hung up a shelf in mom's bathroom- by cleverly nailing a giant plank on the wall and hanging the shelf on that. I wouldn't quibble with that but it's a tiny shelf and I think he used a 2foot 2x4...? And didn't even put the nails in all the way. I don't know. I just... I don't understand.

While cleaning the family room, I worked my way through to the front wall that is nearest the rest of the house- on the other side of the wall are the main bath and part of the dining room. I started cleaning under the surround speakers and the entertainment center and realized it was leaning funny. Having experienced my stepfather's style of furniture arrangement (shove it wherever and if some part breaks whatever)... I figured he had broke the entertainment center and didn't tell mom. I was then distracted by the fact my hands and forearms suddenly looked like I had poison ivy or some kind of horrid welts (allergic reaction to dusting probably, or to cleaning the mold out of the washer without gloves becuase I'm dumb sometimes). That evening mom came in and she was going to help me finish with the entertainment center... and all of a sudden I hear from her side of it: "Oh, shit."

The wood floor has dropped away from the wall. No, really. About half the width of the room, the floor has just started curving downward, away from the wall. O____O Like I have no idea what is keeping the tv from falling into the basement. NO IDEA. Because I'm certain that eventually the middle is going to be pulled further down by the already fallen part and woe to anyone in there. The GIANT and VERY HEAVY television is sitting at about a 15 degree angle an the left part of the entertainment center is worse. So mom and I freaked the fuck out and got out some beer because... yeah.

We told stepdad the next morning and he just stared off into space all depressed and shit. And then moved his mental landscape into Denial. "It looks like it's been that way for a while. It's nothing." O________________________O 

I started begging mom to promise she'd call contractors on monday, or she'd let me call them. Or she'd start nagging Stepdad. Or anything. Some kind of action. PLEASE. The giant heavy television is going to crash into the basement and the house will collapse, etc. I wanted her to AT LEAST call an inspector to check the foundation.

6) We moved into the house like 14 years ago and the first thing mom wanted to do was put new carpet and/or flooring in. It's still not done, and the white carpets in the parlor and dining room and hall is so bad now that it looks like dingy cream but trust me it used to be eggshell white. Seriously. Plus the carpet in my room was ruined when we moved in (previously it was a teenage boy's room and there was ground-in poster putty and a couple burn marks, plus a spot that I think he tried to shave the carpet...? I don't even know). Mom had me pick out flooring and color when she picked out flooring for the rest of the house and then... none of it ever got bought.

7) The laundry/mud room has turned into a truly hideous version of a walk-in closet, with stepdad hanging up two questionably stable rails to hang clothes along two sides of the room. Again with nails/screws not in all the way, and clothes piling up on top of the washer/dryer and I just... I can't handle even looking at it. I don't even know where to start- aside from scrubbing the entire washer with vinegar, soap, baking soda, peroxide and then running straight vinegar, baking soda and bleach through it about six times- which I did last week. Plus I bought them HE detergent (Free and Clear because hell no with those ucky fragrances ones) .

.... yeah. (And before suggesting they had budget concerns for not doing stuff... no they didn't. That's part of why I'm so rage-y about this whole thing.) 

Brynden brought me back north yesterday. I talked to mom last night and apparently Stepdad is just like... in no hurry to do shit about the family room floor. And mom was like "We'll see what happens." At which point I freaked out at her "What happens is your end up having to rebuild the basement an family room from fucking scratch. And I will have zero god damn sympathy." 

On the better news, Mom volunteered to take a week off work in September to help me with cleaning the house (I suspect she knows I'll start rearranging things and tossing junk in the garage sale bins- starting with all the fake flowers) and setting up a garage sale for them. And she wanted to take another week off to help me deal with our house but tbh theirs is in far more dire straits. Ours just needs some routine things like painting some scratched paint, etc. Nowhere do we have mold, floors falling in, or cracked walls.

Brynden's volunteered to deal with the mold in the basement if we can get stepdad packed off to visit his kids or taking mom on vacation. It's just figuring out how to ship him off that will be troublesome, and Brynden will do the patching with some minor assistance from me while I go around cleaning stuff so he can get to the walls.

So basically most of my time right now is researching home diy stuff while I try to figure out how to fix some of mom's storage and furniture issues. Half their mess is because the house has almost no storage except to just shove everything into the basement so if I can figure out places/things/ideas for storing stuff neatly and maybe building some stuff maybe part of the problem can be mitigated. Plus, gods bless my mom, but she has a math brain. Equations and investigations and things she is amazing at- but organization and decorating she has a horrible time with, because she just can't see it in her head. She hates decorating with a passion because she can't visualize things without just doing them so she redoes/reorganizes a room then doesn't like it and gets frustrated so she'll just leave it. Which is why the guest room has had the same furniture arrangement for 14 years. The only room she periodically reorganizes is the family room because it is HUGE and she spends lots of time in it, and the furniture in there has slider things on it so she can rearrange it pretty easily. But she hasn't lately which is why she didn't realize how filthy the corners and back area were.

Here's how much my mom hates decorating: She let the 13-year-old pick out the furniture. Seriously. I was the one to out the family room furniture, the dining room table, entertainment center and kitchen table. I was 13. Which, actually I don't think I did too horribly- the only piece that makes me cringe now is the dining room table (it's that honey oak color with carved flowers around the edge and a kind of pedastal feet thing in the center- oh tweenage me, what were you thinking?). The main issue with the kitchen table is the kind of ugly swivel rolling chairs but they are comfy at least. I also picked out the front door, and did most of the furniture arranging until I graduated high school.

AND, stepdad is swearing that if he could just "get this fucking house cleaned up, I'll hire a housekeeper. I'm tired of dealing with it." Of course he follows this declaration up with no doing a damn thing toward cleaning the house. So, I figure if I can get it cleaned, Brynden gets it patched then maybe mom can convince him to get off his ass and buy flooring and deal with the family room, and a housekeeper will finally take pressure off her as well so maybe she'll decide to just order the flooring and get it installed whether he does anything or not.

I just am mostly concerned with the mold, dust and the specter of structural issues that might be hinted at by that damn family room. To me this is like a health hazard in so many ways that I just... I want to fix it. Whether my parents like it or not, dammit I'm getting this fixed. I am not interested in someone ending up with lung cancer or god knows what. *sigh* Seriously as blasee as they both were about everything, I was beginning to think I was being a housing hypochondriac seeing issues that weren't major as major... until Brynden came in was like "Uh no, this is really bad." I was relieved anyway. Until I realized that means all this stuff HAS to get fixed.


If you guys have any awesome places for storage/organization stuff, let me know.

Current Mood: anxiousanxious
fragrantwoods: helping handsfragrantwoods on August 27th, 2012 06:03 pm (UTC)
Wow...I know the type house you're talking about--lived in one just like it for years. Getting them to the point where they can and will use a housekeeper will be so worth it. And if it's nice and clean a couple times a month, it's probably not going to be as depressing, and easier to keep up, etc.

I'm much like your mom and I would have totally let a 13 year old pick out furniture. Point of fact, the only reason we have a nice bedroom suite is because, 20+ years ago, my BFF moved to France rather suddenly and since I was marrying and moving, I...bought all the contents of her apartments. Every picture, every stick of furniture. I had a nicely furnished, well-decorated place for the first time, really.

She just as unexpectedly came back to the US and what could I do but sell her stuff to her. But in the meantime, I had at least figured out what I liked (ie: "her stuff") and bought new versions of the same stuff.

I'm sure that's the only reason we have stuff that matches at all.

So, some people just really don't have that kind of brain.

But even I would, um...finish driving nails in. That's pretty different.

Good luck with the cleaning and getting the floor to not fall in, etc. You're a good daughter!
the dream girl: a little mistrustsummersdream on August 28th, 2012 06:39 am (UTC)
Yeah, there's just a point of messiness when it just overwhelms everyone and they pretend it's not there- but I'm pretty sure me helping will get mom back in control. She's really super picky and I know the cracks in the walls are just giving her a headache by existing.

That is awesome about your BFF- and I'm glad you got an idea for your own furniture. I know it can be horribly difficult to decorate a place unless there's a magical genie and an unlimited budget. And a trained interior designer wouldn't hurt either. I admit I actually thought about doing interior design for a bit but after trying to put our house together and dealing with mom's I may be done with that career path.

OMGTHENAILS. I don't know what that is about... I don't even want to ask, honestly. The best explanation I can come up with is he can't see and he just gets pissed off and stomps away after the second time he misses the nail? Or he's using the longest nails/screws in the world and doesn't want them going all the way through the wall? Stepdad worries me sometimes.

Haha thank you, btw. I feel like a pretty bad one for not noticing all these serious issues sooner, and I feel worse because instead of going in and getting it done right this second, mom and I are going to have to cajole stepdad into accepting the help. Because he is much more likely to bull up and get pissed off that Brynden and I are fixing stuff. He was harrumphing the whole time I cleaned the family room and saying there wasn't any point in it, nice of me to do it but it's totally useless to do it because it only stirs up the dust. See, dust is only a problem when you disturb it, apparently. D: WHUT?

And of course, if we do get the whole house cleaned and patched and fixed up properly, I have a serious set of doubts that Stepdad will ever get around to hiring the maid, or finding one he'll accept. You are right though- having a lady in twice a month or even once a week or however often would help them both so much and Mom would be able to come home and not get more stressed from looking at the mess.

I'm actually considering posting pics of before and afters and maybe even 'during' in some of the rooms. I'll mostly be working with the furniture they have and trying to spruce it up, so I don't know if it will be any big dramatic shift but who knows.
Marie: jessica rabbitpandaemonaeum on September 10th, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
What I struggle with is before I moved away, I had a bunch of reliable contractors in Glasgow. I had a plumber, a joiner, an electrician, a plasterer, a painter and decorator, and a bricklayer who would gladly pop round and do any little things that needed doing to my flat in exchange for tea, cake, dinner, and some light banter (or, in the case of one of them, extensively telling me that if I went out with him I would never have to worry about any odd jobs needing doing in my house ever again and that my partner was a worthless PoS if he didn't know what kind of stuff you needed to do said jobs).

Down here? I had to break down in tears in the local shop before someone gave me the number for an electrician. It's like the contractors are rationed. I seriously considered going home and phoning some of those guys up and asking how they felt about coming down to Durham to sort my house out. Because there is a hole in the kitchen floor that's two years old and my downstairs lighting circuit needs fixed as there is a 'dead short' in it and my ceiling need plastered (textured finishes and ceiling tiles are from the Devil and you can't remove the traces of that shit without serious work)

I am kind of awesome at interior design, so long as you want your place to look like a bordello room in the Addams family mansion...
the dream girlsummersdream on September 10th, 2012 07:44 pm (UTC)
Aw, I'm sorry you can't ship your old ones down south. That sounds like an ideal arrangement, tbh. ... is a joiner a wood person? Carpenter-thing?

Oh god contractors are THE WORST. At least here. Finding one that is reliable and speaks English or some language you can understand is pretty much impossible. Actually just finding a reliable one is like the quest for the holy grail, don't even ask for them to understand your language. And if you do find one, you can't afford them. Sure, we can put in built-in shelves! For a couple thousand, maybe. *headdesk*

We really will have to get the wiring in our house looked at- we have a couple light switches we still don't know wtf they go to, and the laundry room needs a couple new plugs, and the house was built in 1941 so I'd just rather check the wires anyway. BUT WIRING IS SCARY. Dead shorts, shorts, burnt fuses... *shudder* I just want someone else to fix it. I don't mind hubs doing dry wall or any other part of it but I'd rather leave wiring and plumbing to professionals.

Brynden's showing me how to do plaster for holes and things in the walls- it's not too bad and up until the repainting part of it I don't even have asthma issues. But I lol because he's like a perfectionist about it so he'll stand there smoothing the plaster out a squillion times before he's sure it's even, paint over it and everyone else is like "... where was the hole again...?" And he's like "Right there. I can see the line! Nuuuuu!"

I'm bookmarking, looking up places and tutorials about scraping off textured walls and ceilings. D: EW. Again I wish I could just afford to pay someone to do the de-texturing of the ceilings. Hanging around in the dead cockroach position to scrape crap off is just... DO NOT WANT. WHY DID PEOPLE TEXTURIZE THIS CRAP???!
Marie: jessica rabbitpandaemonaeum on September 10th, 2012 09:05 pm (UTC)
Yes, a joiner is a 'basic' woodworker and a carpenter is someone who can do the fancy carving work. :) I used to know both. I do want to ship them down, but none of my female friends would be safe, my liver would take a battering, and no-one would understand a word they said because of their strong Scottish accents!

I need a whole new kitchen but it's so hellishly expensive :/ I'm good at painting and plastering but I do not do electrical work. I've even tried some plumbing work. Ghost has the patience of a not-very-patient-thing and is thus useless at DIY. I have so much that needs doing and I think I am just going to have to send him to a wargames show and just do it myself.

My MiL lived here before we did. She put polystyrene tiles on every ceiling and woodchip wallpaper in the bathroom. I can't even describe the mess under the tiles. I need either a full ceiling replaster or a ginormous industrial sander. Every time she bitches at me about the house I remind her that SHE did the most horrific job of decorating I have ever seen and I went round looking at fixer-uppers to help said contractor friends set up their business of buying trashed houses, 'doing them up' then selling them on. Even 60s tastic would be an improvement on her goddamn ceiling tiles.

I have wish-fulfillment dreams in which I call up one of my friends, and go out for the day, and when I come back I have new floors and plastered ceilings and a gleaming beautiful kitchen. Then I wake up. Urgh.
the dream girl: mice fallsummersdream on September 10th, 2012 11:12 pm (UTC)
HAHAHA I'm still amazed at people not expecting their contractors to speak Spanish/Spanglish, tbh. Scottish accents would be a field day. But the battered liver would probably be a whole new kind of cost. Otoh: looking at fixer-uppers for contractors sounds kind of awesome. Um, for someone not with asthma, probably, but still. I can imagine the adventures that would lead to.

I suck at DIY, but then I look at how much it costs to hire someone and it's like: Oh fuck it, I'll learn. Cue my mad studying of DIYnetwork,com and stuff. Mom desperately wants a new kitchen too- and hers would almost require us to knock down walls, pull up flooring... ugh. I kind of am starting a price list for our bathroom... and for the kitchen too even if we can't afford any of it yet, at least in my head learning the costs is a start.

Luckily, there is some flooring now that's not too bad to install. Brynden's got his eye on floating laminate for whenever we get around to redoing some of the floors at our place- you rip up the existing floor, put down this mat kind of thing, then start with the hardwood-style laminate that slots/snaps together. Supposedly in an ideal square room installation should only take an afternoon. But... who the hell has perfectly square rooms...?

Polystyrene... on the... EW. Ew ew ew. I can't even imagine the thought process leading to woodchip wallpaper!! WHYYYY, mother in law, whyyyy?? I can imagine the mess under the tiles tho. o___o Ugh, yeah, that would probably seriously require renting an industrial sander for a weekend and living in a war zone for weeks to get it finished. I'm cringing about tile cause our master bathroom is going to need new tile in a couple years (some genius put porcelain wall tiles on bits where people stand, because THAT was a great plan) and ew, pulling up tile sounds GRUESOME. Not to mention re-tiling, or grouting, or any of it. D:

There's this show called Holmes Inspection that airs over here on HGTV and the guy goes into people's houses and does a thorough inspection (obv) and then fixes all the crazy issues. I like it cause he stops and explains what's going wrong, or how to fix things, or what to look for. Like, I'm so clueless I didn't realize that squeaky floors==floor joists coming a bit loose over years of use, probably because people used nails and screws will stay better over the decades. It's via that show that I have learned they now make mold-resistant insulation and dry wall. I think I've paid more attention to that show than I ever did to my college courses. >.> But if you guys have HGTV or an equivalent on the cable there, it's worth watching I think.

Marie: jessica rabbitpandaemonaeum on September 11th, 2012 06:49 am (UTC)
Yeah, the accents veer between "OMG sexy Scottish accent!" and "What the hell did he just say? Was that Gaelic?" to non-Scots. lol. They even type in the accent - sometimes the comments I get on FB result in hilarious conversations with my IRL friends over the slang. And the fact that it's a straight guy calling women 'darling' without a trace of irony or any pronounciation of a 'g'.

My bathroom totally needs tiled :/ It has like two rows of tiles round the bath and I have a shower I desperately want to put in. But I need to tile the bathroom walls and floor and I could do with a new sink as the old one is worn. I actually have a friend down here who fits bathrooms and has said "Just tell me when you need it sorting" but he has 5 kids and I feel kind of bad dragging him over to sort out my bathroom. At least it's a small bathroom.

Laminate is slippy, but you can get proper tongue in groove real wood floorboards for about the same price. I keep eyeing them up.

We have depressing home shows, where they go into a house and completely renovate it in, like, an hour (and I'm not joking) or some complete DIY disaster gets a makeover, but nothing informative. I remember my mother learning plumbing from books in the 70s and there were TV shows but now it's all "Look this is how you make a pillow!" as if people are too incompetent to sew two seams and stick some stuffing in. I know a lot about joinery (dated a joiner) and actually about electrics too (lived with an electrician) and I can go round and make a killer snagging list that the contractors will actually understand, but yeah. If I had the money, I'd just throw everything out and start from scratch.

This is the problem with buying your own house. Eventually you own your own house, YAY, but in the meantime you have this total money pit that needs STUFF doing to it all the time when you could be reading a book or watching a film or getting hilariously drunk whilst playing D & D. :/
the dream girlsummersdream on September 11th, 2012 03:34 pm (UTC)
rofl, wow they'd swoon if they were down south; everybody gets called "darlin" or "sweetie." I can't even blink at strangers using random endearments at me. Also: who uses 'g's. Silly things. Then again, I'm from a region that drops endings off words and shoves r's into weird places. AND YET even I can get confused with Scottish accents. Especially the really thick Highland sort of ones? I think its Highland. I don't know there's this one version of Scottish accent where everything sounds like it's Gaelic. Or gargled. I can understand it, but only if the speaker isn't excited, in a hurry or drunk. I didn't hear it in Edinburgh which is why I think I filed it as 'must be rural.'

Argh I wish real hardwood was the same price here. *sobs* It is if you catch it at the right time/sale but eeeeeeesh. But no matter what flooring the installation fees can be what kill you.

AHAHAHHA I'm sorry, I think we must have exported that damn EXTREME HOME MAKEOVERRRRR! thing. Bonus fun of the US version is catching the news story a year or two later where the people end up losing the home cause they can't afford the gift tax/new taxes from the size of it/etc.

Hey now, there ARE people too incompetent to sew two seams and stick stuffing in. I went to college with some of them. I'm practically one. I sew but I have no illusions that I'm any good at it (more like I'm good at hiding some of my fuck ups). I wish I'd dated a joiner- my grandfather was an amazing woodworker before his stroke(s) but mostly all I learned from him is drafting and how to evaluate whether something is crappily made. I'm regretting not dating more construction worker types, tbh.

Oh! I don't know if it's available in the UK but I found this thing: http://countertops.rustoleumtransformations.com/ - the countertop transformation is something I'm bookmarking to try later. Cause our poor countertop has some major dings and chips.

OMGYOUPSEAKTRUTH. I love having our own house! But omg why didn't it come with a house elf???! No drunken D&D, gotta fix the house. NUUUUUU! *cries*
Marie: jessica rabbitpandaemonaeum on September 10th, 2012 07:15 pm (UTC)
I have advice on mould.

Basically, I have asthma as a result of damp, mouldy housing. Mould is my worst trigger - I have hospitalisation worthy attacks of asthma, when usually my asthma is immaculately controlled - so I know exactly how to deal with mould.

NOTHING works like cheap detergent. Seriously. Mould and mould spores have their cellular structure utterly destroyed by it. Apparently there used to be a brand in the US called 'Joy' which was incredibly efficacious in destroying mould. You can also get mould retardant paint. Bleach/ disinfectant are okay, but to kill the mould and destroy the spores, good old-fashioned soap and water will do the trick for a long time.

And jeez. I feel better about the hole in my kitchen floor and the broken lighting circuit now. :/
the dream girl: mice fallsummersdream on September 10th, 2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
Heey, there's still Joy! It's my favoritest dish soap because it doesn't phase my skin, it's cheap, and I basically use it to clean everything. Baking soda, vinegar and lemon-scented Joy are almost all I use- except for oil soap and stuff for the woodwork.

lol, seriously, broken lighting and a hole in the floor do seem problematic... But!! Your floor isn't actually falling off the wall! And the basement isn't one giant mold spore.

I... actually think the basement's dried out a lot because it doesn't smell like mold down there now, it just smells like a thousand billion years of dust. But still, that panelling has got to go, and soap and water won't hurt anything, as far as I'm concerned. TBH a healthy amount of soap and some pressure washing would help the floor out a lot too. We really have to go down next weekend so we can at least start patching the walls. *deep breath* I think I'm going to start snapping pictures when mom's not paying attention so we can do a before/after.

Thanks for the tip about Joy! I hadn't even considered using it on mold. ... In fact I may wipe down the stupid HE washer with it too, because BLARGH. The new washers are a great idea- but I really wish they'd tell people how to take care of the damn things when they sell them. :/