About three months ago (in August 2012, specifically), a destructive combination of the southwest monsoon, a low pressure area and a tropical storm named Gener wreaked havoc on much of Luzon (the northern archipelago of the Philippines). To translate the rather scary-sounding meteorological jargon
Thankfully, though, our house was spared the unwelcome intrusion of flood water (it appears our street is somewhat high set) and Typhoon Gener for the most part just came and went with nothing more than a 6-hour blackout to disrupt my family's rather laidback daily routine. Actually, considering the magnitude of the damage that many suffered, I ought to strike out the 'for the most part' from that last statement and say with absolutely no qualifications that Typhoon Gener came and went with no disruptions whatsoever to our household life. But for the purposes of this narration, however, do bear with my allowing that inaccurate little bit to remain as a transition to the next part of my anecdote, which begins a couple of days after the rain stopped in the form of white, powdery, utterly benign-looking flecks ever-so-lightly sprinkled on the sides of my shelves.
'Light' and 'benign' are the worst words I could have chosen to use for a first impression. In a matter of days, the benign-looking powdery mildew spread over the entire surface of every wood and particle board surface inside my room, which translates to roughly every piece of furniture I own. And the best thing about mildew? You can't just wipe it the same way you would a dusty shelf, because the mildew will release its spores into the air at the slightest pressure. It took me about a month to get the infestation under control, as I had to empty out each shelf (I have three in my room), drag it outside where I could clean it without reintroducing new spores, wait for it to dry completely, drag it back inside and finally, clean and place every item back inside. The hardest part was getting to the underside of my bed, which seemed to be the mother ship given the thick layer that covered every inch of brown wood. Since the bed wouldn't fit through the door and had actually had to be assembled inside my room, I couldn't clean it outside as I did the shelves and had to settle for the more arduous task of covering the wooden portions of the bed with cling wrap in order to seal in the mildew and hopefully, cut off its oxygen supply. (It doesn't seem to be working out that way, though-- I took a peek just now and the mildew appears to be alive and kicking inside the cling wrap barrier).
Now, on to what I learned from this whole nightmare:
A. On Killing Mildew
- Do not attempt to wipe off the mildew with a rag right away: the mildew will just release its spores into the air as soon as you do. Instead, fill a spray bottle with some kind of cleaning solution and spray it onto the infested surface before wiping with a rag.
- On effective cleaning solutions. Baking soda mixed with liquid dishwashing detergent did not work well for me, as spots of mildew would reappear after only a couple of days. Bleach seems to work better at killing mildew--of course, bleach is pretty harsh stuff so I'm sure you can't use it in every case.
- Wear a mask.
- Clean off mildew as soon as you spot it to keep it from spreading.
- Keep things as clean and dust-free as possible. Apparently, mildew can subsist on dust particles, and given the, errr, not-too-clean state that my room was in when the rains happened, I'm not surprised it spread as much as it did.
- Use plastic storage containers when you can. I find them pretty pricey, to be honest, but they do such a great job of keeping growth and critters out so I guess they're well worth the investment.
- Open up your windows and let the sunshine in! Since fresh air is drier than stale air, this helps reduce the moisture in the atmosphere of your room.
- For crafters: keep yarn in plastic bags. If you're like me and you like to buy
hoardclothes from thrift shops with the intention of repurposing them, make sure to wash articles right away. I have an awful suspicion that the mildew that infested my room was a foreign species that lived on, yes, one of the items I thrifted and left lying around my room.
And that's it for now.
Some Articles on Typhoon Gener: