Mold! What to do?
There is a common belief that Bali is a paradise on Earth. In some ways, this is true. However, it's not just a paradise for tourists, travelers, and island guests; it's also a paradise for mold. Especially during the rainy season.
If you find your unused passport covered in mold in your closet, it doesn't necessarily mean that the universe is sending you a sign to leave your homeland behind and give your heart to Bali forever. Perhaps, a banana is just a banana, and the mold on your passport is a sign that you simply need to remove the mold from it.
What are the dangers of mold in your home and on your belongings?
Living in an environment infested with mold is unsafe for your health. During its growth, mold produces toxic substances that can affect your lungs, intestines, skin, and reproductive system. Mold spores can also cause upper respiratory tract illnesses and allergies.
If you've been suffering from a persistent cough or runny nose that doesn't go away for over two weeks, despite taking packs of antibiotics, it doesn't mean it's time to draw conclusions. It's possible you have an allergy, not mold. Examine all surfaces in your home carefully, including the back walls of closets and areas under the bed. Get rid of mold on all surfaces and take an allergy tablet.
If you or your loved ones have experienced a prolonged cough or runny nose and you're not sure if it's caused by mold, try to spend a few days away from your home or be at home less frequently. Take an allergy tablet. If you feel better, then the cause of the illness may be mold or dust in your home.
Mold is also harmful to your belongings. When it grows in a damp and warm environment, it penetrates the structure of materials and damages them. It's one thing if mold destroys an old T-shirt, but you'd really regret letting mold eat your high-quality telephoto lens with stabilization.
Here's some serious news for the spiritually inclined members of human civilization. In Ubud, the fight against mold is going to be more intense. Reinforced inspections are going to take place. According to eyewitness accounts, mold is spreading rapidly there. You put sneakers in a closet. A week later, you can take them out and display them in the Hermitage as artifacts from the ancient Atlantis era.
For residents of lowland areas, life might be easier. Coastal spaces are better-ventilated, and there's less mold. But don't let your guard down.
1. The best way to combat mold is to regulate the microclimate in your home. First and foremost, make sure to ventilate your space well and use an air conditioner with a drying setting. Store your most valuable items in the room where you use the air conditioner most frequently.
2. If there's no air conditioner in the room and you don't plan to install one, purchase a dehumidifier from a store. They are usually available at stores like Nirmala, Ace Hardware, Pepito. A dehumidifier often consists of packets filled with moisture-absorbing granules. Place the packet inside a plastic container with a ventilated lid.
The granules absorb moisture from the air, and this moisture collects at the bottom of the container. Be sure to drain the water and replace the granules regularly to keep the pot boiling. You can purchase refills separately.
But air conditioning is better.
3. In poorly ventilated rooms, avoid closing the wardrobe with clothes inside. Allow the clothes to ventilate, and take them out more often for drying. It's better if the clothes are hanging on a rail rather than in a closed wardrobe. Ensure that the clothes are thoroughly dried before hanging them in the wardrobe; otherwise, in a week, your wardrobe might be used for the extras in the filming of "Pirates of the Caribbean."
4. If you don't plan to use certain items for more than 2 weeks, store them in airtight plastic boxes or airtight bags with a dehumidifier inside. Place the plastic container directly in the box and seal it. When buying storage boxes, opt for larger sizes to accommodate both the items and the dehumidifier.
Periodically check the dehumidifier every one to two weeks. If there's accumulated water at the bottom of the dehumidifier box, empty it. If the granules have clumped together and dissolved, purchase new ones and refill the dehumidifier. The plastic box itself can be rinsed with water and reused.
If you couldn't find Serap Air dehumidifiers in household goods stores, you can order them from an online retailer.
5. You can buy special dry cabinets for photographic equipment.
If your equipment is expensive, rest assured that this investment will pay off.
6. Don't place furniture too close to the walls; otherwise, mold can develop on it, and you'll understand how easy it is to create an antique piece in your home without extra cost.
If the train has already left, and mold has invaded your life, don't rush to despair. You can still fight back.
For ceramics and glass, you can use regular bleach. The active ingredient in bleach is sodium hypochlorite, which kills both mold and its spores. You can use bleach to clean tiles and glass.
Bleach emits strong and toxic fumes and can be harsh on your skin. Therefore, wear rubber gloves and try to ensure good ventilation while working with bleach. Surfaces are treated with a mixture of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.
After treating the surfaces, it's important to ventilate the space thoroughly.
In Indonesia, bleach is sold under the brand names Bayclin and Proclin.
You can find it in the "pemutih" (bleach) section of all major supermarkets in bottles of various sizes such as Nirmala, Carrefour, Hardy's, Pepito. Avoid using bleach on surfaces that might lose their color. I believe I don't need to explain why. They will indeed do that.
1. Beginners' task: Create a concentrated soapy solution, apply extra soap to the stains. Soak the entire garment in soapy water for about 30 minutes. Scrub the dirty spots again, rinse.
2. Didn't work? Let's raise the stakes! Add hydrogen peroxide (1 tablespoon) to water (0.5 liters). You can buy hydrogen peroxide at a pharmacy under the name "hidrogen peroksida."
To wipe things, use a 3% solution. If your solution is stronger, dilute it to 3%. Immerse the washed item in it, then rinse.
3. It didn't work? Let's move to the third level. Bleach works well for white clothes, but try not to overdo it. If you leave the bleach on the fabric for too long, it will eat away at the fabric, and it might tear. Not in a creative, trendy way but rather like Cinderella's dress falling apart at the most inconvenient moment. Do not use bleach on colored items! Thoroughly rinse the garment after using bleach.
4. Still couldn't get it clean? Don't give up. In complex cases, if the fibers haven't started to rot, you'll need to resort to boiling with bleach. Add a tablespoon of bleach to 0.5 liters of water. Place the garment in the boiling solution. Watch the reaction. As soon as the stains come off, remove the items from the water. This will take 10-15 minutes.
If even this trick doesn't work, you might have to admit defeat at this stage. But let's face this situation with your head held high!
Let's just acknowledge that material possessions are not what you came to Bali for, that everything in this world is ephemeral, except for truth and goodness. And tossing that airy, romantic, white maxi dress from Magali Pascal that cost you $500 will be easier.
Cabinets, nightstands, and beds won't go unnoticed.
1. Regular table vinegar is a mild acid capable of destroying many common types of mold. Unlike bleach, it doesn't release dangerous fumes and won't damage the color of your furniture.
Vinegar is applied to the moldy surfaces using a sprayer or by wiping with a damp cloth. After an hour, rinse with water and ventilate the room. For mold prevention, you can spray vinegar on problematic areas every week.
Vinegar is sold in grocery stores and is very affordable. Look for it under the name "cuka."
2. Baking soda can effectively combat fungi and is known as a natural and safe household cleaner. It is perfectly safe to use for cleaning surfaces, especially if you have a small child at home and want to avoid using any "chemicals."
A teaspoon of baking soda is dissolved in a glass of water and sprayed on the mold-affected surface. Alternatively, you can clean surfaces and items by wiping them with a sponge soaked in the baking soda solution. It's best not to completely rinse off the baking soda from the surface, as it effectively protects against the reoccurrence of harmful contaminants.
After cleaning with vinegar or baking soda, make sure to thoroughly dry the item. To remove any lingering odors, place air freshener sachets in the saved closet. This will help keep the unpleasant smell at bay for an extended period.
For colored garments made of natural fabrics like satin and linen, you can follow these steps:
1. Soak the vinegar- or lemon-juice-treated clothing for a few minutes, then sprinkle the affected area with table salt. Only wash the fabric in warm soapy water or detergent solution after it has completely dried.
2. To clean colored items, you can use baking soda, which will help eliminate mold as well as its odor. In this case, you can pre-soak the clothing in a baking soda solution (200 grams of baking soda in 4 liters of warm water).
3. Linen fabric can be cleaned of mold using a salt solution (2 tablespoons of salt per liter of water). Boil the solution for half an hour, moisten the stained area with it, and let it sit for some time. Then wash the item, rinse thoroughly, and dry it.
4. Old stains and mold odors can be removed using a color-safe stain remover like "Vanish" or an oxygen-based stain remover. You can also try "Oxi Magic."
Cotton shirts and bed linen
These things can be cleaned of mold using onion juice or curdled milk. Rub the onion over the problem areas several times in a row using a cut onion, then wash in warm water. Things are soaked in yogurt for 12 hours, after which they are washed as usual.
Expose the treated and dried items to direct sunlight as a final step.
Be ruthless and lay them out in the sun as a punishment for their misbehavior. However, avoid placing them on the ground since the ground can release moisture. It's better if the item rests on a smooth surface. After a full day of "discipline" under the sun, the item may mend its ways and remain free from mold for several weeks.
More tips for fighting mold
1. Clothing tends to mold faster if it has been worn but not laundered afterward. So, don't postpone doing your laundry. Only the purest garments survive!
2. Do not use naphthalene for drying. Dehumidifiers and naphthalene are often found on the same shelf in stores. But avoid naphthalene – it's harmful to your health.
3. If you're washing white clothing by hand at home, black spots may appear on them. Perhaps you live in an area with poor water quality. This could be mold living in the water. If you notice something like this, it's better to send your clothes to a laundry service. If the clothes come back with spots from the laundry, it's possible that the washing machine's filter is broken. Look for another laundry service.
4. If mold has affected the walls in the house where you live, most likely, you will need to do repairs. But sometimes in Indonesia, houses are constructed without following proper building standards.
Ventilation may work poorly when the building's walls are closely adjacent to each other, and this is a breeding ground for mold.
If you are just considering a long-term rental or lease on a villa or home, and you notice mold on the walls, don't trust the promises of the property owner and agent that "tomorrow" workers will come to paint the wall and everything will be okay.
Firstly, you might not know what Indonesian "tomorrow" means. Secondly, there is a good chance that not only will the wall have black mold on it on the black-black street in the black-black house on Friday the 13th, but also on the wall of the house you're considering. In severe cases, even stripping off the paint, treating the concrete with an anti-mold solution, and applying anti-mold paint won't save the wall.
So, when choosing accommodation, pay close attention to how well the rooms are ventilated and whether there is a mold smell.
After reading this article, I hope you now understand why true Balinese people prioritize the spiritual over the material, as nature plays a significant role here. Even for those who are not religious, after dealing with a moldy wardrobe, the quote, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal," begins to take on a new meaning. The author of these words is universally known.
For those who haven't arrived in Bali during the rainy season but are now having second thoughts after reading this article, know that during the Balinese winter, we are not just fighting mold day and night.
We sunbathe and swim, explore the island, visit waterfalls, and climb volcanoes. We make new friends, indulge in amazing dishes, and dance to lively music.
Even in the rain, we read books, watch movies, chat with friends, play board games, and capture photos and videos of the rain.
Join us! You won't get moldy with us!