Cleaning Advice

Written by Patrick Finn (Toyama)


Depending on where you live, the days you can take our certain trash can vary greatly. However, one thing I advice (especially if you live in a more humid part of Japan like me) is to take out your organic trash weekly. Especially in the summer.

Even though it may not be completely full, bugs will quickly appear out of nowhere to feast on the buffet you’ve left out for them.

One possible solution is to use smaller plastic bags from the grocery store or otherwise for organic kitchen waste, tie them off, and put them in a larger city-specified garbage for disposal later. This will stretch the use of those garbage bags that you have to buy and (hopefully) keep the bugs away.


Regularly clean out your toilet, sink, and shower drains to prevent clogging and odors. There are plenty of products (liquid and powder-based) at grocery stores and even 100 yen shops. Personally, I tend to mine twice a month, letting the product sit overnight before flushing or running water the next day.

Rust / Oil Stains

Ever notice those lovely brown colored spots on your teakettle or impossible to remove burnt oil from your burner grate or burner bowl? Again, there are numerous products out there at your local grocery or 100 yen shop that can shine them right up for as little as 100 yen.

The instructions are usually similar. Fill a plastic tub or bucket with warm water, mix in the powder, and let whatever you want to clean soak. Drain the buck, rinse off everything well, and presto, a brand new looking teakettle for a fraction of the price!

Do be careful though as some products are specifically for a certain material. Most will have pictures on the back giving some guidance.

Laundry Machine

Just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there. There are liquid and powder-based products sold at most major grocers that clean out the parts of the machine you can’t necessarily see.

Usually, all that’s required of you is pouring the product into the laundry machine like you would any detergent and run it for a cycle (with nothing else in of course). You’ll be amazed at how much your filers will catch afterwards.

I would advise letting the machine air out after this, and in fact, after using it any time to prevent mold.


If you live somewhere where you toilet is equipped with all the fancy buttons and other features unique to a Japanese bathroom, it may seem like those crevices where dust and hair collect are unreachable and forever lost. However, some electronic seat covers are removable.

There may be a button(s) to hold it before it begins to budge, just search along the back and sides. You’ll be glad, or rather horrified, when you do because quite a lot can get underneath during general use.

Air Conditioner

Occasionally there might be a flyer in your mailbox for air conditioner cleaning (priced at 10,000 yen or more!), but it can easily be done by yourself. All you need is a screwdriver and a vacuum or lint roller.

Take the screws out of the plastic shield in the front, pop out the filter and give it a good cleaning.

You can take things even further by buying a product that looks like compressed air, but is made specifically for air conditioners. It will usually have the unit on the packaging so you know what it’s intended for.

With these sprays, things can get a little messier, so either move what might be under your indoor AC unit or put some plastic down. All you need to do is spray the parts behind the filer, not the filter itself. Also, be sure not to spray any of the electrical components to the side.

What the spray does is it pushes out the gunk that might have collected through the tube that typically leads to the outside. Some are also sented, so the next time you run your unit, the room will be filled with a pleasing fragrance.