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Kanji Cheat Sheet: Buying Cleaning Products in Japan

Get things spick and span as quick as you can.

By 2 min read

House cleaning. We’ve all been there. Sometimes we put cleaning off for as long as we can because there are certain things we’d rather not face like that particularly large patch of mold on the floor.

In this guide, you’ll familiarize yourself with the necessary kanji to help rid you of that dust (or skeleton) in your closet and clean your Japanese apartment.

Common Japanese cleaning products. Top: Detergent (left & middle), fabric softener (right). Bottom: mold killers (left & middle), all-purpose cleaners (right).

Know your enemy

One of the problems with living in a climate like Japan’s is the constant change in weather coupled with humidity can make some horrible things grow under your futon. That bit of salad that slipped off your plate while you were eating? It’s now home to a metropolis of mold that is plotting your overthrow and claiming your apartment for itself.

When it comes to winning this particular war, get to know your enemy and then crush it with cleaning products you can find at any drugstore in Japan. Look for the following kanji depending on what problem you need to address.

English Japanese Romaji 
Mold カビ kabi
Dust hokori
Stain 汚れ yogore

Types of cleaners

Whether it be mold, dust, or stains, getting rid of it requires learning the right kanji to help you identify which kinds of cleaning products you can use. Even in the UK, I had friends who mistakenly used the wrong kind of cleaner which led to obvious repercussions. 

Here are some of the most common kanji you should look for while choosing a cleaning product.

English Japanese Romaji 
Kitchen cleaners 台所用合成洗剤 daidokoro you gousei senzai
Bathroom cleaners 浴室用合成洗剤 yokushitsu you gousei senzai
Glass and metal cleaners グラス用洗剤 gurasu you senzai
Drain cleaner 排水管用洗剤 haisuikan you senzai
Tile cleaner タイル用洗剤 tairu you senzai
All-purpose cleaner 万能汚れ落とし bannou yogore otoshi
Mold remover 防黴剤/カビキラー boukabizai/ 


Now that you know exactly what you are facing, it is time to choose the best tool for the job. This may depend on all types of factors, such as whether you have a western-style room or a Japanese-style room.

Read the full article on GaijinPot Study!

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