HOW TO: End Your Battle With Mold in the Bathroom

If you've lived in Japan for any length of time, you know how frustrating it can be to keep the mold away. (And if you haven't lived here yet, well, you'll soon find out...) It grows like a wild beast here. I thought we had pretty bad mold in the pacific northwest in the States, but it's terrible here. I mean, if it isn't rusting, it's probably molding at some point.

OK, maybe not everything, but it does feel like it sometimes!

Not to mention, I'm allergic to it.

It's been four years in Japan and every year I realize more and more just how hard it can be to WIN the mold war, short of bleaching everything in sight (which, I don't do, for various reasons).

So how can you keep it from taking over? And when it's spreading it's nastiness around your bathroom, how do you get rid of it? Here are some ideas:

Ways to Prevent Mold in the Bathroom

  • Run the fan (obvious, I know)
  • Open the window (if you have one in or near the bathroom) during the day, if you can, to dry out
  • After a hot shower/bath, quickly rinse the area with cold water to lower the temperature in the room
  • If you've really got time, wipe down all the surfaces
  • Use a preventative "after shower" spray, such as Kabi Killer bath cleaner or Method Daily Shower, Natural No-Scrub Spray Cleaner from iHerb, or the cleaning products listed below
  • Use bamboo charcoal (takesumi) or other activated charcoal to help control humidity and moisture in the air. Can purchase in small, breathable bags to place around the home, in drawers, closets, etc., or they can be bought loosely in a box, which you can then can arrange in baskets to put around your home, or loosely wrap separate pieces in a small towel, newspaper or paper towel to put in different places. See the linked posts for more.

How to Clean and Get Rid of Mold


Vinegar in general is 酢 (す), and there are a variety of types, but I use white distilled vinegar. Not just for the bathroom, but for a variety of other cleaning and laundry tasks as well. Tengu Natural Foods sells a 5 liter bottle of distilled white vinegar for 1100 yen.

vinegar, Japan, white, cleaning, mold
White vinegar

Bio Cleaners

Someone told me about these (see picture below) last year, and we finally went and bought one to stick in our bathroom. Basically, these have little good bacteria that prevent the mold from growing. You need to start out with a clean bathroom and then stick one of these up on the ceiling. This doesn't mean you won't have to clean your bathroom at all after putting one up (you still should), but it should help keep a lot of the mold away. I forgot to take before/after pictures, but it seriously has helped keep most of the mold away since we put it up.

bio cleaner, Japan, mold, cleaning, bathroom
A bio cleaner you stick on the ceiling in the bath/shower area

You can also get these for your closets, garbage can, under the sink, shoe box, and other places in the home. You can also find sprays like this that you can use to spray directly on moldy spots, such as this one.

Hydrogen peroxide    

Hydrogen peroxide works like bleach, but is better for the environment and less harmful. I use it regularly, although the bottles are somewhat expensive so I usually save it for heavy-duty spots (or soak my sonicare brush head in it). 

Hydrogen peroxide is called "Oxydol" in Japan. Check out how to find hydrogen peroxide for more info on that.

oxydol, hydrogen peroxide, Japan, cleaning, mold
Hydrogen peroxide = Oxydol in Japan


I don't use or personally recommend bleach unless you have a serious mold problem, as it's bad for the environment and harmful/irritating to us as well, but there are some products with bleach you can use to get rid of mold in your bathroom, such as Kabi Killer (カビキラー) or Kabi Fighter (カビハイター), among others. Any item with bleach will have a warning on the bottle or packaging that says: まぜるな危険 

危険 (きけん, kiken) means "danger" or "hazard".

You can also look for 次亜塩素酸塩 on the ingredients list (成分) to confirm whether there is bleach in the product or not.

bleach, mold, cleaning, bathroom, Japan
Anti-mold cleaning agents with bleach


All right fellow mold-fighters, what tools of choice do you use? How do you prevent and get rid of the mold?

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