I don't know about you, but I hate mold. No, hate. Normally, I try not to use such strong, definitive words, but sometimes it seems that mold's mission in life is to torment me. It grows everywhere without abandon, laughing, when I take a shower in the morning. It takes over my newly bought produce, causing me to mourn in anguish as I fill our garbage bag with whole fruit and veggies. It even goes so far as to mount attacks against my body, causing my sinuses to produce much more liquid than what seems humanly possible, sometimes rendering me incapable of walking in a straight line.
I counteract it with what I can - antihistamines, nasal sprays, dehumidifiers, fans, vinegar, lemons, hydrogen peroxide, husband labor, machetes, grenades...
Mold and I are at full-out war.
Mold and Japan get along well. The rising humidity of summer encourages mold to spread its little molecules everywhere it can. Even with a fan on 24/7 in the shower/bath area, windows open and another fan blowing in to dry it out, the creases, cracks and crevices turn dark all too quickly. And my toothbrush. If you have a Sonicare toothbrush, or something like it, you may also experience the brush head constantly growing mold inside and on the threaded part. Cleaning my teeth is now synonymous with deep-cleaning my toothbrush.
What about bleach? Bleach is mold's enemy - kills it instantly. Well, yes, that is true, but considering how harmful bleach can be, I try to stay away from it. There are of course, certain cases where bleach is necessary, especially if mold gets the better of you and takes over your entire home. For regular house-cleaning though, I stick to using things like vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, or other natural products.
My first months in Japan were mold-filled as usual. That darn toothbrush wouldn't stay clean, and my shower was growing increasingly disgusting. I used the cleaner leftover by my predecessor, but it just wouldn't kill all that mold. I wanted hydrogen peroxide, or even white distilled vinegar, but couldn't find either. I tried translating hydrogen peroxide, but the results never led me to anything at the drug stores, no matter how much I looked. I asked my co-workers, "where can I find hydrogen peroxide?"
"What is it?"
"Uh, it's good for cleaning things. You know, that stuff that gets really bubbly when you pour it on something dirty or moldy?"
"No, I have never heard of it..."
My search continued, as I contemplated having a friend send it to me from the U.S. (though we didn't know if that is even possible, considering restrictions). And then, enlightenment.
Although, I should note that oxydol is quite expensive here, versus the dark brown bottles you can get in the U.S. for less than a $1. The price is about 300-500 yen for a 500 ml bottle.
Summary: Hydrogen peroxide is oxydol (オキシドール) in Japan.
Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for me to do battle in my own bathroom.