Saturday, December 1, 2012

Attack of the Mold Madness Monster

All right, all right, all right, I give! I call uncle!! One of the worst things to discover when moving to the tropics from the desert has struck our house in a big way: MOLD. A four letter word in these parts for sure. Before our trip we had found some here and there without really knowing what it was - for example Michael had put some slacks in the wash that looked like he spilled something all over them, I didn't know what it was so I rubbed stain remover on it and threw it in the wash and then put it back in the closet like an idiot. Yeah, ahem, mistake numero uno.
However, by the time we got back from our trip to Ho Chi Minh it had grown into a MONSTER! Bags, belts, clothes, papers, walls, floors, doors, wood everything, leather anything, etc. was ALL moldy. I went into primo panic when I realized I had no idea how to manage such a large beast and was COMPLETELY out of my element - literally, ha! So, first thing was to mope about it for a few days. Then, I took everything out of all of the closets and the drawer that had our, now molded, documents and extra bags, and washed it all - it took about 3-4 days. Now - it was raining by this time, any idea on how hard it is to dry things when it is cold and moist? Yeah, it was nuts. I tried using the dryer once and it broke - the plug has something wrong with it apparently as it melts any outlet you plug it into - not the nicest thing to have happen when everything in the house needs to be washed. So we used the 1 fan we have and stuck it on the clothes, and it helped.
After freaking out more for a while, I got my head together enough to spray down all the moldy things that didn't go in the wash (like suitcases, blenders, headlamps, belts) with a concentrated solution of GSE (grapefruit seed extract - man I love that stuff!). My neighbor suggested baking soda for washing so I added some baking soda with the GSE and scrubbed the entire inside of the wardrobes/closets, leaving the doors open for about a week as well as leaving the fan on them for a few days to make sure it all dried.
I also took all of our extra clothes - after hand-washing the delicate ones - and put them all in ziplock bags with silica packets (thank you Miranda!) and some tissue with tea tree oil on it for the important documents. I also replaced all the wood hangers the landlord gave us with plastic ones.
I had heard they had small dehumidifier box thingies (disposable ones) at the store, and when I went there I found the last one! I was excited - and then today (a few weeks later) they finally got in a new shipment and I bought 10 and stuck them EVERYWHERE. We will see if they work, the label says they can last anywhere from 1 to 6 weeks... we will cross our fingers for 6.
The weirdest thing has got to be that anything will mold here if exposed to some moisture - even metal. Like the metal poles in the closet even. The worst day was when I realized that a lot of things in the kitchen had molded also - the water spots on the silverware were fuzzy, the doors to the pantry were fuzzy where the oils from our hands had been, same for the door, the refrigerator door, and the microwave. And the stove was covered where any oil had splashed that I hadn't noticed to wipe up. CRAZY.
At least one benefit has been that this fiasco forced us to fix the mosquito netting we hung up on the windows so that we could have the windows open as much as possible to facilitate air movement and thus keep moisture buildup down.
It's funny though, I've noticed more and more how incredibly lazy I could be about cleaning in Utah and never worry about things like mold, bugs, ants, or other strange critters as nasty comeuppance. It's certainly the brain-shift. Hopefully the mold won't return, but seeing as the window sills and everything are all molded from the rainwater, there are plenty of spores to keep me on my toes for the duration of our stay here.
 Here's our camelback bag that was by far the worst thing I was greeted with when I opened up the doors of our spare wardrobe - it seriously had like an inch of fuzzy while mold all over it.
My Indian/Nepalese style skirt was ok except for the cotton squares on it - they were covered. It was really interesting seeing what fabrics would mold and which ones wouldn't. I hate wearing synthetics, but hey, if they don't mold I might just have to include a few more in the wardrobe to be sure I have something to wear if everything needs to be washed again.

Here's a photo that helps keep me sane (at least a little bit) - it was the sunset on my drive to tutoring. The view can really be stunning sometimes :)


Sherri said...

YUCK!!!! I can see why you are totally creeped out about it; I'd be for sure. I would never survive there breathing in all the mold. I'll be praying for your dehumidifiers--may they live long and prosper!

Sabrina Benson said...

Yes, humid places like the tropics are very much prone to molds. It's not just a nuisance to household items and furniture; it can also pose a risk to your health. After cleaning the area completely, you can also get a dehumidifier to eliminate the chance of mold growth.

DocAir, LLC

Eric Powell said...

It’s one small thing, but it really blows up quite quickly when left unchecked. Which is why at the first sign of mold, I get my disinfectant out and take care of it. Hopefully the type of mold in your house isn’t the one that can cause severe allergies or respiratory problems, but it would still be best to avoid any type of growth around the house. Clearing up an air passage would certainly help, but the dehumidifier would probably work wonders in the first few weeks.