Mold is a type of fungal growth that grows and spreads wherever moisture and oxygen are present. While it is part of the environment and contributes to the ecosystem outside, mold growth indoors can cause a slew of issues, especially health-wise.
In Japan, the rainy season – tsuyu in Japanese – falls between June and mid-July and usually brings about a lot of humidity and moisture. This tends to build up in buildings, resulting in the presence of mold, which can grow on about anything, including:
Not only is mold a health hazard to occupants residing in buildings, but it can also leave permanent stains on walls, carpets, bathtubs etc. This may result in damage fees being deducted from your deposit upon moving out on top of the general cleaning fee, which is a common moving-out expense in Japan. At Village House, for example, there is a mandatory cleaning fee of ¥1,210 per m2 (tax included).
Mold growth in apartments and houses is an inevitability in Japan but there are ways to combat it and keep it to a minimum. This article will explore the different ways you can minimize, if not avoid altogether, mold growth in your Japanese abode.
Room And Closet Dehumidifiers
One of the most effective ways to keep mold growth at bay is by ensuring that the humidity in your accommodation is no higher than 55% (the lower the better, of course). Luckily, the majority of air conditioning units produced in Japan comes with a dehumidifier option; so simply click that button and let the machine work its magic. Be aware that furnished apartments aren’t common practice in Japan so if you want to avoid the hassle of furnishing an apartment from scratch and installing appliances like an air conditioning unit, look for real estate organizations like Village House, which do offer furnished apartments. Village House also offers options of installing certain appliances and fixtures in an otherwise unfurnished apartment. An air conditioning unit, for example, costs ¥1,000 yen per unit.
If you feel like the dehumidifying function of your air conditioner is not sufficient enough or if you like to specifically target your closet (those stored-away winter clothes that you won’t wear during the warm months can be at a high risk of growing mold!), investing in an additional dehumidifier might be worth it. These machines are available in various sizes and price points.
If you’re looking to keep costs down, one of the most cost-efficient ways to keep mold growth at bay is to buy dehumidifier packs at one of Japan’s numerous 100yen stores. These packs contain silica gel balls that suck in moisture and water vapor lingering in the air, thereby helping to reduce the growth of mold and mildew. They’re most effective if you place one in every room. For your closet, you can get small sachets that you can place in your drawers between your clothes.
On sunny days, simply opening the windows to let fresh air circulate in your apartment or house helps minimize the growth of mold. Many bathrooms in Japan come equipped with a ventilation fan since the entire bathroom is built for getting wet so getting into the habit of running a cycle or two of the ventilation fans after your shower or bath will go a long way into helping keep the mold at bay.
Clean Mold Correctly
A regular cleaning routine will not only keep unwanted critters away but will also prevent excessive mold growth during the rainy season and summer months. Be sure to vacuum your floors regularly and wipe down any condensation builds up on windows. If you have rooms with tatami mats, be sure to run the dehumidifier function on the air conditioning unit and/or place dehumidifier packs in the room.
If mold is already present in your abode, there are numerous mold removal and mold killer products you can buy on the cheap at any 100yen store. One of the most common mold removal products in Japan comes in a spray bottle and is called kabi kira or mold killer. It’s extremely easy to use simply spray the stuff wherever there’s mold, wait 10 minutes and then rinse it off
Clean Your Washing Machine
It may sound odd that a machine used for the purpose of cleaning clothes also needs cleaning itself, but this couldn’t be truer. Washing machines are prime real estate for mold growth because the inner workings of the machine are dark, damp, and humid. To avoid mold buildup, you can buy sentakuso kurina or washing tub cleaner pods or powder at supermarkets, 100yen stores or online.
Disinfect Your Toilet Bowl
Mold can and does grow on your toilet bowls, especially during the humid, summer months. One way to minimize its presence is to bleach your toilet bowl often and clean it regularly. You can also add these toilet cleaner pods into the toilet tank so that when you flush, it rinses out the toilet bowl automatically. Again, such cleaning products can be found not only at supermarkets but at 100-yen stores in Japan so it doesn’t have to eat into your monthly budget.