Singapore is one heck of a humid country, in addition to it being really hot. And this humidity happens almost all year round, especially during the year-end period.
So, why is it so hard to find a comprehensive guide or tips to keep mold and mildew out of our humid Singapore homes? We aren’t sure why but we’ve decided to share with you guys our very own tips, after 4 years of dealing with mold & mildew in 2 apartments.
Firstly, what is mold or mildew?
Mold and mildew are a type of fungi. Mold is black or green, and mildew is white or gray (ewuu). Let’s keep the short-form to “M&M.”
Secondly, why do we have mold or mildew in Singapore?
M&M thrive in Singapore’s weather because we are near the equator, surrounded by water, in the path of the monsoon rain patterns, and we are formerly a large swamp.
Thirdly, why is it important for us to keep M&M away?
Let us share with you the factual consequence of having M&M in your home:
- Mildew can damage your furniture and home structure.
- Mold can cause health problems like allergies, nasal stuffiness, wheezing, skin irritation and respiratory problems.
- Mildew can cause coughing, headaches, scratchy throats and lung problems.
- People with low immunity or chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold.
- Scientists found a direct correlation between a high presence of mold in households and depression.
- For us, it is just gross and it attracts a bug (albeit harmless) called booklice into your homes. Most Singapore homes have it and you ought to know that they are all females and can breed like no tomorrow if you allow M&M to fester.
This is the gist of it. Enough of the ‘bad news’ and here is the GOOD NEWS! You can control M&M growth in your homes. 🙂
The benefits of having a home with ideal humidity levels:
Yes guys, there ARE benefits!
- Lowered risk of damage on your furniture and home structure.
- Lessened or no M&M in your home.
- This leads to less or no bugs entering and making your home, theirs.
- Reduced health problems and chances of aggravating any allergies.
- Less toxins in your home = healthier body = less money spent on curing oneself.
- A nicer smelling and more pleasant living space.
- Generally…a happier you! Because you took responsibility to deal with this issue that many Singaporeans acknowledge but do nothing about, or aren’t even aware of. But it’s okay – that’s why this blog post was written to educate you. 🙂
Tips to keep mold and mildew out of our humid Singapore homes.
Basically…keep all areas of your home as dry as you possibly can. Here’s a breakdown:
- Monitor the humidity level in your home using a hygrometer.
A healthy humidity level indoors is between 40-50%, and Singapore homes’ humidity levels are generally at 70-80% – which is insane! You can easily buy a hygrometer from Daiso (it may not be 100% accurate but instead serves as a gauge) or from Qoo10.
- Use drying agents in enclosed spaces like cupboards & drawers.
In Singapore, we commonly refer to it as “Thirsty Hippo” – which is actually a pretty expensive brand alternative. Instead, we purchase ours at Japan Home, Watson’s or Guardian (especially when there’re offers). Remember to check the water-levels in these drying agents frequently and replace it with a new one once it is 95-100% full. It’s also a good gauge to see how humid any particular cupboards/drawers might be in your home (the faster it collects water, the higher the humidity levels). You don’t want silverfish to make these spots their home yeah? Apparently they like humidity levels of 75-95%…ewuuu…
- Invest in a dehumidifier (or make that plural).
We own a total of 1 small and 3 large dehumidifiers in our home – yes, a total of 4. Our area is considered to be rather humid so we do not take any chance. I won’t go into a brand-review here but let’s just say that EuropAce’s dehumidifiers are value for money BUT, their service is practically horrible. However, sad to say, they do provide a relatively stable product. Novita is another brand to consider. Novita is more expensive and their product isn’t as well designed BUT, their service has been pretty good.
We stick to a standard schedule of dehumidifying our homes, which does contribute to slightly higher electricity bill. However, we’d choose this over the doctor’s bill or being unhappy/uncomfortable in our own home.
(Note: When we turn on the dehumidifiers, we close the windows)
- Keep your home airy and ventilated.
Humidity builds up in the air and settles into your stuff at home, if you do not ventilate it often. Turn on your fan as often as you can (use smart-plugs to schedule fan circulation, or low-electricity consumption fans) and keep your windows open as much as possible.
Please remember to keep your storeroom ventilated too!
(Note: When we air our rooms, we do not turn on the dehumidiers)
- In the kitchen, air-out your workspace, kitchenware before keeping them & replace kitchen sponges every 2-3 weeks.
Constantly ensure that your workspace and tables are kept dry. The kitchen is a huge wonderland for bugs and M&M if you allow ponding or spills to rest for too long.
Don’t help to introduce more moisture into your storage areas by keeping ‘almost-dry’ items back in. Give them time to dry out in the airiest/brightest area of your kitchen. Thereafter, give it a good wipe with a microfiber cloth before keeping them.
Also, if you cook often, do replace your kitchen sponges every 10-14 days. If not, every 2-3 weeks. If you own a microwave, you can choose to use it on high heat to kill bacteria/M&M built-up. Sponges are really cheap in Singapore (we get ours at Daiso), so don’t risk your health to keep using one as long as you possibly can.
- In the bathrooms, squeegee the wet areas after each shower, keep your toothbrushes out to air, keep countertops dry & clear out hair-gunk.
It may seem that we are super hardworking in squeegeeing daily, but this really helps to reduce soap scum and stains from building up on the walls/floors/shower screens. This means that we need not deep-clean the bathrooms so often. Simply buy a squeegee from IKEA, Japan Home or Daiso and do a quick squeegee after each use of the bathroom – it’ll become habitual for you in no time.
Mold can grow on your toothbrushes if it isn’t well aired out after each use, so do try to keep them in the open with an avenue to dry. Also, please do not place your toothbrushes near the toilet bowl, and worse…don’t flush with the toilet lid up! Imagine a bacteria party in the air and the after-party on your toothbrushes (and then in your mouth).
And yes, clear out the hair that has collected at your drain after your shower. Unless you love keeping flies and bacteria as pets (you know where we are going with this). We also currently use a drain-filter from Daiso and this does help keep our hair on the surface for ease of cleaning. The wife recently found a Hello-Kitty one too.
- During the renovation phase, we chose frosted glass doors & a glass closet.
- Last but not least, become minimalists.
This is all the make-up the wife owns (though she allows herself multiple MAC lipsticks). We also don’t own a lot of clothes – so we tend to cycle and go through our clothes faster, and our clothes remain fresh.
Generally, the lesser things you own means the lesser you have to maintain to keep M&M at bay.
We’d also like to caution you to beware of air-diffusers and candles. These items tend to lend humidity and even toxic soot (trim your wigs) to the air and it’ll negate some of the above tips.
After reading through this entire post, you may feel exhausted at the thought of these ‘additional’ housework but we assure you that:
- There’ll be less stress to ‘deep-clean’ your home.
- There’s less of a chance of you finding bugs in your home.
- You’ll be a healthier and happier you.
We hope this helps and let us know what you think at the comments section!
Also see: Why did we become minimalists?