Dear Tiaralestari,
I’m going overseas soon. I just got my luggage down and it’s covered in mould. Aside from throwing it out and starting over, what can I do?

First up, lucky you to be going overseas. I am not at all jealous as I sit here, pecking away at my keyboard and stealing glimpses of the sunshine through my window. Nope. Not at all jealous.

Anyway, back to you and your icky mould problem. First thing: what’s mould? It’s a fungus that, like climate-change deniers and people who watch Australian Ninja Warrior, is sadly everywhere — indoors and outdoors. Mould thrives in wet, warm conditions, and enjoys a dark space, too. So if you’ve been storing your suitcase — as many of us do — in the top of your wardrobe, I can absolutely see what has happened. You have basically said to the mould: “Come to my home. Here is a lovely warm space for you that is quite humid in summer. I’ll keep it nice and dark. Here are some drinks. I’ve left chocs on your pillow.”

Look, it’s not your fault. Mould is everywhere, as I said. So how do you get rid of the stuff? A lot of people swear by an essential oil called ‘oil of cloves’ (you can get it from your local pharmacy) to nix mould. Mix three drops of it with half a cup of white vinegar and five cups of water and spray this mixture lightly over the suitcase, wherever there is mould. Then sprinkle a layer of coarse salt (not the fancy pink stuff you put on your steak, normal, generic-brand salt will do quite nicely) over the top and leave it in the sun to dry. The next day, vacuum the salt away and the mould should be gone, too.

This is an effective method, but there’s an even easier one. Just as mould has essentially ‘eaten’ into your luggage, white vinegar will ‘eat’ your mould. So take the suitcase outside, douse it with white vinegar and leave it to dry in the sun (also an effective mould-killer). You should find the mould will be gone by the next day. If not, repeat the process. Eventually — like all troublesome house guests — it will leave.

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