5 Ways to Fight Humidity Indoors in Catania and other Island Environments

We moved to Catania from Beijing, arguably one hell of a dry city in my book even if my wife disagrees with me. In Beijing, we needed humidifiers especially during the winters and central heating otherwise it was just nose bleeds and dry skin.
We settled in Catania’s downtown in a ground floor apartment in the winter 2020

We didn’t think much about humidity issues over the winter considering we were lucky enough to have proper heating in the flat we could use. It kept us and the apartment warm. However, as the temperatures started going up and we stopped using the heating system, issues started popping out like this:

my guitar bag with its mold forest.. sorry about the blurry picture. my camera got scared

Jackets hanging in the living rooms, shoes under the stairs, phone cables sitting in a corner, toiletry bags in the bathroom. You name it, mold popped up in there! I really freaked out when i say traces of it, or in some cases whole colonies, on my valuable music instruments: Classic guitar, Guembri, Djembe… I nearly blew a fuse.

Now, I lived for years in Florida with average 80% humidity and didn’t see anything like this. Internet research to the rescue! I’m gonna save you guys the pain and give you the steps you need to deal with the situation. Your mileage might vary but i started with 91% humidity indoors and 3 weeks later, we’re enjoying an average of 55. I’d say it’s worth a shot!

Note: we live in a ground floor unit with no wind through even if we open the windows so it is an EXTREME case. We were also under Covid19 lockdown so i couldn’t exactly get outside help.

within 48h, we went from 91 to 70% humidity

1- Get a hygrometer ( aka, humidity measuring device). After reading tons of reviews on Amazon, i got the ThermoPro TP49. I used ThermoPro devices in the kitchen before and was always happy with the quality and durability. 3 Weeks in, no problems! It’s an added bonus to have the temperature reading as well. Humidity is invisible, this is your way to track it and keep tabs. Anything under 60% humidity is gonna be spore and mold heaven.

2- Clean all the affected areas and look for hidden ones.And keep on looking because you’ll find them in places you didn’t even think about.
I used antiseptic serviettes on things like purses bags and shoes that i couldn’t wash easily. Twice a week the first two weeks to make sure the mold was gone completely.
For things i could wash, they went into the washing machine on the longest possible cycle with extra vinegar on top of disinfectant detergents etc..

our weapon of mass dehumidification!

3- Get a dehumidifier. Don’t bother with the mini units for 40-60EUro, get one around 100 Euro or more. I decided on on the olimpia 10P and that baby has kicked some humidity booty. It’s sucking out an average of 6 to 8 Liters of water a day. I also got a baby one for the bathroom but it’s barely able to get out 500ml of water a day, basically a toy. Go big or go home!
You could also use your AC unit “dry mode” if it has one but they’re not as reliable in my experience. That said, they can help a lot until you get your proper dehumidifier.
Another reason to get the dehumidifier is the lower wattage resulting in lower power bills.
We’re moving flats next door soon and I’m definitely getting another big unit for the new space.

4- A big recommendation when we got here was the Ariasana 360 units. Basically plastic boxes with salt tablets to suck humidity out of the air. Avoid them, they go too quickly. Tablets cost 4 to 6 Euro a piece online and lasted less than 4 days in each room. I deployed 3 units in a 50 square meter space. That’s a cost of 15 Euro every 4 days. They didn’t make a dent in the humidity levels of the flat. 40 days is the cost of 150Euro dehumidifier that will kick some watery ass. The economics are very simple.
The normal box unit (pictured above) lasts much longer and can help small environments.

put these everywhere!

5- Get a bunch of silica gel sachets and put them everywhere (drawers/purses/dry goods…) It’s a cheap add on to you dehumidifier and especially for food and spices, it’s worth it. I’ve also put them around all of my instruments and tech toys but I’ll have another post about that soon!

Bonus: #6
Get a fan to create some sort of air flow if you can’t get one by opening your doors and windows. It’s simple physics and the simplest way to help long term.

3 weeks into the humidity wars, we are winning

hope this helps you get rid of some mold and humidity problems in Catania, Sicily or any type of island climate.
As I finish typing this, it has been a 3 week process but i do believe we’re safe, for now, and the average level of humidity in the flat is a steady 55%.

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