Ive said that Oregon is lush, fertile, verdant, but then the mold began to take over and I stopped feeling poetic about the PNW.
The situation came to a head when I discovered a pair of shoes, unworn for 5 days, completely covered in mold. I am not an allergy prone person, but it turns out, mold is rather potent. The shoes had been next to the bed, and I had awoken each morning with increasingly painful headaches and clogged sinuses. A cursory investigation revealed that everything hanging in our closet had become moldy. Unused backpacks were covered in a green film. The freaking windows were moldy. I have a high tolerance for gross, and it turns out that moldy windows is my low bar.
We went into attack mode. Here's our step by step on mold battles:
- Buy a small dehumidifier, but don’t fool yourself that this can defeat the mold. You’d need something industrial to do damage, and a trailer just doesn’t have that space.
- Take ALL clothes out of the closet and run them through the dryer. If the garment has been overtaken by mold, wash it first. If something is only fringed with mold, wipe the growth clean with non-bleach wipes and then run it through the dryer.
- Do not put anything away unless it is completely cool and dry. Jeans that are mostly dry, but still warm will gather moisture and a layer of green fuzz if you put them away warm.
- Invest in DampRid. Hang silica packets in the closet. Place silica tubs in the bathroom and in cabinets.
- Wipe down woodwork, windows, and shoes. These things either need regular airflow (a fan in the bedroom while I’m walking the dog) or the comfort of an airtight container (all climate inappropriate shoes go in a storage bin under the bed.
- ALWAYS use the shower fan. Even if it’s cold outside. Also, close closet doors while you shower, the closets are cold so water condenses here and breeds mold.
- Same goes for cooking or washing dishes. Turn that fan on. Propane heat is wet heat. You heard right.
- Sleep with the windows open. Open windows mean airflow and less condensation. Quit your whining. You live in a trailer. It’s not that cold outside. Cuddle.
- Look for your next travel assignment in the desert.
One of my fears when we moved into the trailer was that the trailer would stink. The bathroom would stink. There would be bugs everywhere. We’d be eternally covered in dirt. This has turned out to be false, or as true as it would be if we were living in a normal house. A normal house gets dirty. Your bathroom requires extra attention as far as fragrance goes. The post and beam homes around us in Oregon are also moldy.
Keeping a trailer is much the same as keeping house—only on a smaller scale. In stationary life it was easier for dust bunnies to hide under the furniture, because we had more of it and the space underneath that furniture wasn’t necessarily doubling as storage space. In the trailer, we have to clean as often as we did in our apartment, but cleaning takes less time because the space is smaller.
For those who are curious, here's run down of normal cleaning rituals:
- The hourly sweeping Odin hair (The hair insurmountable, regardless of number of times you sweep or size of living quarters).
- Bi-weekly vacuuming. After a few months of trailer life we needed something to distinguish the carpet from the dog hair. A $60 hand held, electric vac is cheaper than trying to replace the carpet a-la-all the cute trailer remodels on pinterest. If we used the vacuum more often it would probably be more effective.
- Daily wipe down of the counters, weekly wipe down of bathrooms. We use all the same cleaning products we did in apartment life, but we accumulate less of these products. This seems to be true of ALL products. We don’t have space for 5 different shampoos or 5 different cleaning sprays, so we just have the one. Except for sunscreen, we always seem to have at least 5 different sunscreens.
- Dunk the dog sporadically. If the dog rolls in something he finds in the woods, throw him into a body of water before retuning home. (This is normal to stationary life also, but even more important in a small space).
- Add tank bacteria every time we empty the tanks (usually once a week)—this is the only product that isn’t native to a stationary house. The bacteria helps break down waste in both the grey and black tanks. When it’s hot outside, we find that we have to put an extra scoop of bacteria in to speed up the breakdown and combat stench. Beyond this, the trailer bathroom doesn’t smell any worse than a normal bathroom.
I suspect that trailers DO get grosser when they are used only for weekend trips. Water sits in the tanks and pipes. Air is stagnant and the dust settles. But isn’t this true of homes too? Whenever we returned from a long trip, I remember the apartment being a bit stale. We’d usually clean before we left, but the return trip always meant a bit of airing out and dusting off. One must be ever vigilant. Even a moment of letting your guard down can lead to a total plant life take over.