How to Get Rid of Mold & Cockroaches This Summer: A War on Two Fronts

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Thursday, June 23, 2016 

under Culture by Nathan Thomas

After a week long holiday in Hong Kong, my girlfriend and I returned to Shanghai to find an uninvited organism had taken up residence in our Xujiahui apartment.


Our eyes confirmed the invasion. The once white wardrobe was riddled with dark sinister green dots. My shirts had been similarly afflicted, and the mold proved itself a cunning adversary. The mold on my black suit was white, whereas that on my white shirts was greenish brown. Well played, mold. Well Played.


Like any civilized couple, we jumped online, and started googli--I mean baiduing our way out of this predicament.


It took a couple of days, but eventually we vanquished our foe. If you've ever found yourself similarly under siege, I'll share what we learned and what worked, step by step.


1. Close All the Windows



In our case, this is easier said than done. We'd found something of a miracle in Shanghai: a ground floor apartment where the roof has a window which opens directly out to the sky. Yes, the sky. Not 48 floors of concrete. This is presumably an oversight on the part of the town planner, and no doubt it will be torn down next week.


Charming though this arrangement is, it means that to close the skylight, someone has to climb onto the roof. That someone is me. Pinching a ladder from next door and clinging onto the tiles for dear life, I eventually whacked the stubborn, creaky old thing shut.


2. Wash Everything


Clothes, bedsheets, walls, wardrobes. All gotta be cleaned.


Lucy, my girlfriend, spent her day off scrubbing layers of dirt dating back to the Tang dynasty off the walls of the wardrobe. Her weapon of choice was this mold spray which you should be able to buy at your local supermarket:



I took the worst of the clothes to a local dry cleaner around the corner. The Aiyi in charge looked at my expensive New Zealand made suit (with All Blacks logos on the inside) and commented, sadly,


Translation: it's molded pretty bad!


3. Keep the Place Dry


If you live in a small place, you probably don't need to invest your expatly wages on a dehumidifier. Your air conditioning unit may be able to do the job. Find the mode with the water drop, and the lower temperature the better.



Mini dehumidifiers like these:



and mold balls like these:



can be found at most supermarkets. Like landmines, place them strategically in drawers, wardrobes and cupboards as the first line of defense


We Had Won The Battle, But the War Was Just Beginning


With the our mold free clothes drying in our moldless apartment, it was time to celebrate Peace for Our Time with a cold Qingdao and the latest episode of Game of Thrones.


We were lying on the bed when Lucy yelled out in horror. An enormous cockroach was crawling across my chest. Instinctively I flicked the beast to the other side of the room, and leaped up.


Previously I hadn't taken the roach threat seriously. We'd spotted the odd one before, but had never sprung into action. But crawling across my chest was a big mistake. This was their Pearl Harbor.


The Floor Is Larvae


We started searching the room for evidence of cockroach infestation. We didn't need to look far. Cockroach larvae were crawling all over the floor around the bed.


Peacetime was over. We had another enemy. Why watch Game of Thrones when you have the real thing.


Here's the step by step for banishing roaches from your home:


1. Kill All The Ones You Can See


Raid bug killer spray is pretty ubiquitously available in Shanghai. Crack open a window, hold your breath, and nuke the bastards.



2. Plug The Holes in Your Wall


Believe it or not, construction standards in China aren't always what you'd expect back at home. Our place is brand new, but the construction work was shoddy. Where the wall meets the floor there were huge cracks which we surmised the roach larvae had used to invade. You're supposed to plug these properly with putty or concrete, but in a war one has to improvise. We used Blutak. Hopefully the landlord won't notice.


3. Clean The Place


Got an Aiyi? Well we don't. We used to, but eventually we realized it was impossible to tell whether or not she had come on any given day. Probably we had the wrong Aiyi. A missing or ineffective Aiyi is like a letter of invitation to cockroaches. They love filth. To keep em at bay, keep your place clean, it's that simple.


4. Buy These Little Things:



They're kind of like cockroach traps. The little beasties crawl in there, eat the stuff and then crawl out and die. These are tools of reconnaissance, not defense. They won't cure your cockroaches problem, rather that help you find out whether or not you have one or not.


Good Luck Out There


Mold and cockroaches aren't just a pain, they're bad for your health as well. Follow the tips above the get a decisive tactical advantage in your battle with the beasts. Godspeed, soldier.



Nathan Thomas first moved to China at the start of 2014 without knowing a word of Mandarin. He ended up in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, eating Sichuan Peppers for breakfast and studying Chinese full-time. After a one year break where he lived in Poland & traveled around Eastern Europe, Nathan moved to Shanghai at the end of 2015. A passionate traveller and writer, Nathan founded