Mold, mold, mold (and preventative measures)

I’ll exchange the humid climate of coastal Guangdong for the dry climate of Central Europe tomorrow, but don’t worry – I’ve prepared lots of China-related posts to keep you entertained until I’m back in a few months’ time small talking with locals in China.

It’s May 2013. Leaving Shenzhen during its moldiest season is probably not a very good idea. Y and I make sure all things are stored safely in boxes before we leave Shenzhen for our wedding in Austria. But there are some things that don’t fit into our boxes. So when we come back to our little apartment after having been away for 7 weeks, the first thing we do is to start cleaning the apartment and wash clothes, beddings and everything else that can be washed. Every once in a while Y hears me screaming: “Oh my god, there’s another one!” Meaning another thing that is completely covered in mold.

The first thing we see that is completely covered in mold is a leather belt. Really? A leather belt? The next things are spices and rice. Some bugs are crawling out of one of the small glasses with spices when I open it. “This is so disgusting!” Y hears me scream.

I then decide to go to the supermarket and buy every anti-mold thing I can find. I’m not very lucky with my search though. I come home with some things to put into the closets, but other than that, I really can’t find much to get rid of mold. So I just buy the most sour vinegar I can find. 9°, it says on the package. I still smell mold whenever I come back home to our apartment, so I guess the fight is not over yet.

Before the start of this year’s rainy season, I ask a friend from Guangdong what they do to avoid mold growing everywhere you can imagine. Here’s what she recommends:

Turn on the air-conditioner and use the dehumidifying option (抽湿 chōushī). If you plan to stay in Shenzhen (or any other humid place) long-term, it might be a good idea to invest in a dehumidifier, since these usually work much better than the air-conditioners. If the weather is nice, hang your beddings up to dry in the sun. If you have an electric blanket, you can also turn it on for a while before going to bed. It will dry your sheets.

These options aren’t environmentally friendly, but mold is bad for your health and really hard to get rid of, so prevention is probably the easiest way to deal with it.

Oh, and here’s a tip from my husband for storing winter clothes during the rainy season: Putting them into vacuum bags will not only safe a lot of space, but also stops the clothes from turning into little mold monsters.

Have you ever had problems with mold? How did you deal with it?

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25 thoughts on “Mold, mold, mold (and preventative measures)

  1. I had problems with mold in the bathroom, I used an anti-mold spray from home-depot, if you want I can tell you the name, maybe you can buy the same brand somewhere. Since February when I sprayed it I had no mold there

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    • It’s not advised to use chemical stuff during pregnancy, but I’m going to Austria tomorrow and we’re giving up the flat here, so for the time being we won’t need any mold spray. But thanks anyways!

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      • I forgot, I’m sorry >.< but for future if you have that problems sadly chemicals work the best, if possible just go out for a whole day or something. I also have the box that gets the water from the air but it's not as effective

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  2. The Philippines is hot and humid all year long, so we didn’t have any winter clothes to store when we lived there. We had to be careful about shoes and belts, though. We kept our windows open most of the time. I don’t know if that helped, but our house was big and the air conditioning was expensive. I also noticed that the elastic in bathing suits wore out fast. Maybe that was the heat.

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  3. Yuck. I’ll be gone for only 3 weeks, but I know exactly what you mean with the humidity and now I’m worried! A lotta work to deal with. Wish I could afford to just leave the air conditioner for weeks straight.

    Investing in a dehumidifier is a very good idea..

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  4. Another victim of mold here… I also didn’t know that leather things can grow mold, until I saw our guitar’s case and a chair, which I don’t think it’s even real leather, just artificial one! But it doesn’t matter, it gets moldy. Even the walls get moldy!

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  5. This entry hit home with me b/c I had a couple of stuffed animals nearly ruined by mold here (embarrassing personal fact…yes, I still own stuffed animals). We have a dehumidifying option on our A/C unit and ended up using that a couple of times, which seemed to help. Sunning things also helps a lot…but I still fear those monsoon rains that come to Hangzhou in June (which are just around the corner…yikes!)

    Have a wonderful trip to Austria!

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    • I remember viewing an apartment here once, and it was full of stuffed animals. It was kinda weird…when they’re not your own. Our place is full of them, and it seems my girlfriend always gets them as gift. One from a hotel, one from a dog show, one as gift from a friend, and so on. Now they all sit on the book shelves. Nothing wrong with that 🙂

      (and then there’s also a big cozy shark pillow she can hold when Game of Thrones gets a bit too violent – but she does enjoy the show 😉 )

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  6. I spent 4 wet and humid summers in Dongguan. None of the apartments I lived in was too bad – luckily I battled the heat and humidity that also affected things from small electronics to paper more than I did mildew – but I did have mold growing on wooden chopsticks in the kitchen, and once one (strangely only one) side of a wooden bedframe (rubbing over the area with bleach kept it at bay during the summer). I kept a dehumidifying machine in the bathroom which however only did a mediocre job. Whatever possible, food and non-food, I stored in Lock&Lock containers along with dehumidifying bags…of both, I bought many, at least thousands! ;-)) Whenever I was out traveling, I left closet and cabinet doors open. Otherwise, whenever I was at home, of course the aircon was busy.

    It may sound strange but after several years in dry north and northeast China now, I still miss those muggy Guangdong summers. Seriously, they are better for your hair and skin! 🙂

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  7. Some random tips/ideas:
    1. Clean mould with vinegar essence and alcohol. If on walls, try to get some decent anti-mould paint. Use a mask, change your clothes after that and air the room extensively.
    2. Use the dehumifyer esp. when causing humidity with showering, drying clothes, etc.
    3. Try to avoid extra sources of humidity such as pot plants in sensitive places.
    4. Get someone to air the rooms while you are away.
    5. Store sensitive goods such as food and leather in an extra place, sealed from humidity. Or maybe a friend’s place.

    Have a nice trip 🙂

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  8. For some reason, I didn’t expect the mold to be such a huge problem when I moved to China. I just didn’t think about it. But I have mold allergies and have fought with mold in almost every place we have lived. We don’t currently have mold, but it’s a very nice apartment. But I have noticed the clothes not drying and the sheets feeling damp. Lately, we have the air conditioner on, not because it is too hot, but because it is too wet. We will definitely be buying a dehumidifier next paycheck.

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  10. I’ve never lived anywhere that’s humid before, so I was completely shocked when I found that a pair of my shoes, in my student flat in Hong Kong, was growing mould. They had gotten soaked in the rain and I left them in to dry in our communal lounge area before forgetting about them. Three days later and an entire ecosystem had sprung to life on them! My black party shoes were now covered in green and white fluff! Sad to have chucked them but it appears I have learnt my lesson. Now we keep the aircon on unnecessarily high because with only ten days left here its not worth doing much else about the problem. The apartment is getting mouldier and mouldier and when we complained about it, they just sent someone to paint over the mould on the walls (I wonder how many times this has been done) So I’m not too sad about moving on.

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    • I always thought that that’s how they handle mold in many apartments. There’s paint that should help keeping the mold away, but if it’s in the walls, I don’t think this is of much use in the long run.

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  11. I have the feeling people here in Shanghai accept mold as a fact of life. Most good hotels, even when older, usually have no mold – but serviced apartments are out of my league, even though they also have much better kitchens, which aren’t just shaped like a corridor. But most private apartments for rent seem all to have mold in varying stages, especially in the bathroom, unless it’s a place the landlord eventually wants to claim for himself or their family, later on, then you’re on the safe side….until you get thrown out 😉

    Then again, “renovation” is a favorite past time too (you can tell it’s spring when the jackhammers are hammerin’ and drills are whirrin’), so if the mold grows too much you can just take the sledgehammer to it… I guess.

    I think the outlook is pretty bleak if you live in any humid place and don’t have thousands of RMB to spend 😦

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      • really? I must have had a sheltered life 😉

        I lived in many places in the world – Florida (capital of humidity!), UK, Norway, Austria – but the bathroom mold is something I’ve only just discovered here in China – and in some dodgy UK bed & breakfasts but somehow back then it didn’t register on my radar as an upcoming nightmare in my life.

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