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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Humidity and Mould: How to Survive the Korean Rainy Season

Rainy season is forecast to start this week. In the past, this prediction meant the change from a long, dry winter and spring into a hot, humid, rainy summer. Of course, in recent years, the climate patterns have changed so much that we now have rain frequently throughout the year, so the idea of calling one two-week period “rainy season” is almost laughable.

None-the-less, if you haven’t lived in a humid or rainy country before, there are some things you should take note of, so that you aren’t overcome by mould and mildew before rainy season is gone and typhoon season begins. These fungi can have serious health effects, from respiratory problems to depression and rashes, so it’s important to keep them out of the air in your living space.

1. Get a fan. Even if you have air conditioning in your apartment, you’ll want a fan to help keep the air moving. This circulation will help dampness from gathering in dark corners. For those without dryers (probably 99% of the teachers here, at the very least), turn the fan on your drying rack to help keep your clothes from turning green after washing. This is not uncommon, as the humidity will keep the clothes damp, making them a perfect mould garden.

2. Move your furniture out from the walls. It doesn’t have to be far – just a few centimeters will help get air flow back there, and help you keep an eye on the situation. Mildew and mould like places like behind the fridge or the bookcase, so again, get the air flowing.

3. Bleach is effective at killing mould and mildew, as are baking soda and vinegar (not together, unless you want a grade school science project mess all over your floors). Bleach kills everything, whereas the other two only kill certain strains. On the other hand, bleach is a potent, stinky chemical, which bleaches the colour out of things, while the other two are safe enough to eat (not together. See above). Tea tree oil is also effective, but it can be costly. When cleaning, breath through a mask – you do not want mould or mildew spores getting into your lungs.

4. If you find a major mould problem, inform your landlord (through your employer if you don’t know your landlord personally). As it’s a health hazard, it’s their responsibility to take care of the problem. You should not have to pay for any mould removal procedures.

5. Vent your bathroom after showers and your kitchen while cooking. If you have a window, open it. If you have an extractor fan, use it. Removing that extra moisture from the environment will help reduce the likelihood of nasty stuff growing throughout your apartment.

6. If you have a serious air-flow issue, or very few windows, consider getting a dehumidifier. You can find them in most of the big Marts and appliance shops. Save yourself some money and buy one that is both a dehumidifier for the humid summer and a humidifier for the dry winter, and kill unhealthy birds with one little machine.

7. To clean fabric that has gotten mouldy, wash it with bleach, borax or vinegar in hot water. Unfortunately, even with bleach, you may be left with a nasty stain after the mould is dead, which may make clothes unwearable. It also eats the fabric, so if you leave the mould too long, your shirt will disintegrate entirely. To prevent mould from growing in the first place, don’t let damp clothes or towels sit around – hang them up in an area with plenty of air flow to allow them to dry thoroughly. This goes even for sweaty gym clothes, as they’re plenty moist enough for mildew to sink its feet into. Remember that pillows and bedding are susceptible to mould growth, too, so try to keep them dry and aired out.

8. Check your closets, cupboards and under the bed. More than one favourite pair of shoes has been lost to the invasive black growth. If you have winter clothes stashed away, make sure the stashing spot is airy, not damp or clammy.

9. Finally, if you find mould or mildew growing in your apartment, and have similar symptoms to a cold or allergies that just won’t quit, get ye to a doctor. While most molds only cause annoying irritations, the symptoms tend to get worse over time. And a few types of mould are toxic and can cause serious damage to your health.

So here’s to a dry summer, with no black shadows creeping up your walls!