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Episode 4: Infestation (in your bathroom). Battling Black Mold.

Battling Black Mold

my high school foods studies teacher taught us a little about mold and bacteria.  she said that the three conditions that they thrive in are moisture, warmth, and darkness.

my old produce department manager ryan told me that some drunk guys won a bunch of subs (sandwiches) on their way to a party at his house once, and hid them in the bottom of his china cabinet when they got there.  anyway, ryan didn't know they had brought the subs in, and the drunk guys ended up forgetting about most of the subs by the time they woke up from their smashed stupor.  the subs sat there for weeks.

later ryan opened the cabinet while looking for something, and had the shock of his life.  a bunch of subs.  what on earth!

as he told the story i said to him indignantly, "but didn't you smell them rotting in there over all that time?!!?!!"

he said he hadn't smelled anything, and that they actually weren't sitting there in a rotten heap.  he went on to say that when he picked them up, they were hard as a rock.

dried out.  interesting.  anyway, pretty much end of the story.

but no mold.  and dried out.  this simple thought set my whole life on a new trajectory.

during my research and experimentation in the years that followed, i discovered yet another gem in the olde journals of early french microphysicist geordi la forge:

[click below to read on]

Even in warm and dark environments, but without sufficient moisture, life cannot be sustained.  [Moisture], then, is the key to their survival.  Eliminate this, and all else ceases. -- La Théorie, la Découverte.
(yeah- haven't you ever wondered why those loaves of bread on display in rustic-looking restaurants never go moldy? [not the ones glazed in lacquer, but the plain ones.]   it's because they're so completely dried out that mold cannot find a place to grow.  just like what happened to the subs in ryan's china cabinet.)
rad.  now to your billa bathroom.

your billa's bathroom is pretty much one big shower.  it is a 25 square foot shower with an exposed toilet in it, as well as a sink, and even a 220 volt!! outlet (so be careful!).  your billa shower bathroom is often wet for days on end, and often gets black and pink stuff growing on the tiles and toilet... especially on/near the floor.

also your front door (the door, door frame, and behind the shoe shelf) tends to collect condensation a lot.  so mold tends to grow in those places too.  black mold.

part 1: preventing mold

your billa is heated through the floor and probably does not have any ventilation ducts. this means that your house is not ventilated (at all) and that you simply need to take a few steps to keep your air fresh and house dry. to prevent mold, simply prevent excess humidity in your billa.

i usually shower right before i leave for work, and that only increases humidity and leaves the bathroom floor wet.  so after every shower, i make sure to open the balcony window for 20 minutes or so while i finish getting ready (i'll open the window even in winter for as long as i can stand it).  this cleans the air, but more importantly, brings dryer air in.
you should open your window once a day (regardless) for at least a few minutes just to freshen the smelly, stale air produced by you sleeping and breathing for the past 12 hours inside your little enclosed (non-ventilated) billa.
over the next 20 minutes as i'm getting ready for work (with the window open), i have the fan pointed toward the bathroom.  yes, it's the same life-saving fan that dries my laundry in hours (not days!).

by the time i'm finished getting ready, the air in the house is now dryer (and fresher).  so i close the window and set the fan's timer to run its maximum course (3 hours) keeping it pointed toward the bathroom, and i leave for work.

i never even have to think about it, but over the next 3 hours the wind from the fan almost completely dries out the bathroom (just see section on puddles and wind!), totally eliminating the birth and spread of mold.

this trusty fan saves the day once-again with nothing more than dry air. the small increase on the electrical bill far outweighs the asthma and allergy symptoms black mold can cause me.

part 2: cleaning out existing mold

when i first moved in to what was then a very smelly billa, there was black stuff everywhere along the bottom of the main walls (especially behind the desk and counter), over by the door, and in the bathroom.  i sprayed different things on the mold to see what would intimidate it.  nothing seemed to work until james --the great social experimenter and teacher who was living in town at the time-- told me to fill up a spray bottle with BLEACH and water. (i just used straight bleach).

anyway.  spray,  spray.

a few minutes later i went back to spray the black mold some more, but it had mysteriously DISAPPEARED.  it was gone.  that's all.  totally dematerialized by the bleach.  ciao.

missed a spot there in the crack, but you get my point.
let me say: i adjusted the spray dial from 'mist' to 'stream' and shot it like a laser.  that splashed, so don't try it or at least don't wear pants or socks when you're doing it or else you'll get awful bleach marks and ruin your favourite pants forever.  i'd even be worried about your shirt, as the bleach can always spray back a little.  setting the dial somewhere between 'mist' and 'stream' worked best for me. 
to prevent splashing, spray the target up close. 
oh- and wear a face mask.  bleach fumes usually burn out my nostrils for a day or so.  and forgoshsake what ever you do, be careful with the spray bottle and don't get bleach in your eye.

the mold comes back in little spots every once in a while, especially over by my entrance around the door frame.  if left, it will spread again, even take over.  but a few blasts from my bleacho 3000 ray-gun is all it takes to prevent that from happening again.

Smelly Billa 

why fester?

Jo Min Su경기도  평택시, 2010
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* of course, take all this advice at your own risk.  also, i'm really lazy so i just sprayed the bleach behind the desk and counter and on the wall and just let is dry there.  it dries and hardens into little white crystals or droplets, so be sure to wipe it up if you have a pet or child. all pictures used click through to their sources.


  1. Once again, Mr. Random, your advice has saved me from many a headache. I have been using your mosquito advice, your laundry advice and ESPECIALLY your anti-smell advice. Already, I am noticing a difference, just by putting the fan in front of my bathroom.

    Ay una pregunta! What do you know, sir, about condensation? ? ? I have had some serious problems with condensation. So much so that my cat drinks water off of the windows, and I have found ounces of water in the covers of my light fixtures. What advice can you give to help me avoid losing my life and my lace-doily collection to a horrific fire caused by condensation?

  2. We used to get mold every few weeks in the winter. The problem was lack of proper insulation in ceiling and walls. The solution was to take down the ceiling and walls and add insulation. It worked but was a BIG job! In fact, our bathroom is now the last place mold would grow since it is the warmest room in our house. See My Mold Story

  3. for sure, mike. unfortunately, billas have little insulation built into the concrete, and zero ventilation. your bathroom sounds awesome though.

  4. john- if you have that much condensation, definitely look into getting a 제습기 (dehumidifier). it will also bless you during humid summer months and cut down on your A/C usage. turns out that the summer heat isn't the problem, but the humidity. cut the moisture, and you can cool down with little to no A/C! the humidity is the same as wearing a big fat wet blanket around a fire.

  5. also john, do you live on the top floor? consider that there may be cracks in your roof and when you heat your place, the snow on the roof melts and leaks down. you mentioned moisture filling your light fixtures. that is alarming! it's 220 volts here (unlike 110 volts back home). don't end up like the famous monk thomas merton who was killed by electrocution in a wet asian (220 volt) bathroom.