What is mold? And why is it in your bathroom? Mold and mildew are enemies that constantly need to be kept under control. AHS is here to help get your bathroom mold problem under control.
Mold and mildew are enemies that constantly need to be kept under control. The presence of mold can cause health problems, including coughing, skin and eye irritation, and serious lung infections in people that have breathing problems or other chronic illnesses. Some level of mold is always around in your house, due to the outside mold spores coming and going. But if you discover mold in areas with moisture, warmth and darkness — like your shower — there are things you can do to keep that shower mold (and bathtub mold) under control. Let’s look into ways to control and prevent mold in bathrooms.
What is Mold?
We hear a lot about mold these days. But what is mold? It’s not a plant or an animal; rather, it’s a type of fungi. Mold spores are very small and light, and they actually float in the air. This is what allows them to spread and be inhaled. All molds, including the dreaded toxic black mold (in bathrooms and other areas of your house), can feed on organic building materials found in your house if they have been exposed to the right environmental conditions: moisture, warmth and darkness. What are some common spaces with these conditions? Attics, basements and crawl spaces, to name a few, especially if there are roof leaks or leaking water and drain pipes. The showers and tubs in your bathrooms also provide what mold needs to grow, when the conditions are right. There’s, off course, moisture from the water you use to bathe and shower, not to mention the warmth –– unless you’re into cold showers –– and subdued lighting. In a nutshell, your home could easily make for a “home sweet home” for mold.
Why Do We Have Mold Issues These Days?
As homes and buildings are being designed and built for more energy efficiency, they are more airtight. This traps the warm, moist air inside. Without proper ventilation, mold could likely be a problem.
How Do You Get Rid of Mold in Showers and Bathrooms?
Although mold can grow in virtually any conducive conditions, it especially loves to grow in the grout of the shower, which is porous and holds moisture longer than the tile, as well as around the shower drain. The same goes for bathtubs and sinks.
The first thing you want to do when it comes to knowing how to get rid of mold in showers and other bathroom areas? Assess the damage. If your mold problem covers less than 10 square feet, you should be able to handle it on your own. (If it’s a larger area, you need to call a professional as soon as possible.) And if the grout around your shower, tub and sinks is compromised — that is, broken, cracked, missing sections, overrun with mold, etc. — you’ll need to remove it and recaulk after the mold is removed.
Next, gather these supplies:
- Product(s) that claim to kill mold: bleach, white vinegar and many other commercial cleaners
- Baking soda
- Nylon brush, toothbrush or sponge with a scrub pad on one side
- Large bowl or plastic bucket (if you are mixing your own solution)
- Spray bottle (if you are mixing your own solution)
- Dry towel or paper towels
- Caulk (if necessary)
American Home Shield® Insight: If you are planning on using bleach or a commercial cleaner, open a window or run the ventilation fan. You should also wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from fumes. Likewise, never mix bleach with other cleaners.
Now, let’s get to the cleaning:
- Scrub – Before using chemicals, you might try just scrubbing with a damp sponge. If there isn’t much mold there, this might be the ticket.
- Mix – Otherwise, mix a solution of one part bleach to two parts warm water, and fill your spray bottle with it, if you aren’t using a pre-mixed commercial cleaner. If you are using a commercial cleaner, be sure to follow the instructions on the container. Looking for a non-bleach and non-commercial alternative? Try white vinegar –– either straight or diluted with water.
- Spray – Spray generous amounts of your cleaning solution on the areas of visible mold, and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
- Scrub again – Scrub the areas with the nylon brush, toothbrush or sponge.
- Rinse – Rinse the areas with warm water from another spray bottle, a very wet cloth or from the shower head or faucet.
- Paste – For tough areas, make a paste of baking soda and warm water. Apply the paste and let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Scrub again – Like before, scrub the areas with the cleaning utensil and rinse them clean with clean water.
- Dry – Dry all surfaces with a dry towel or paper towels.
- Caulk – If you had to remove your caulk before cleaning, now’s the time to recaulk. Pay special attention to the instructions on the caulk tube about how long you must wait before you can use your shower, tub, etc., again.
How Do You Prevent Mold in the Bathroom in the Future?
If you have an operable window in your bathroom, open it and leave it open for a while after showering. Note: This is not a solution, however, if the air outside is very hot and humid. The bathroom vent fan should also be running during baths and showers and for thirty minutes afterward. In addition, air conditioning systems reduce humidity. The goal for relative humidity in your house to keep mold at bay is 50 percent or less. If you struggle to reach that percentage, a dehumidifier will also do the trick. And, of course, wiping the surfaces down after using them will certainly help. Remember: Moisture is one of the top requirements for mold.
What Does Light Have to Do With Mold?
Fortunately, light is one of our weapons against mold. Open those blinds. Replace heavy curtains with something more sheer. Let the light in. Many of our showers are at the end of a dead-end bathroom with no window. If this is the case, you may have to use artificial lighting, or consider putting in a skylight. Also, keep the shower doors open or shower curtains drawn back to allow light into the shower –– when you’re not using it, of course. Basically, try to avoid creating a dark environment for mold to thrive in.
How Can You Prevent Mold in Bathroom From Growing?
Once your bathroom is squeaky clean, keep it that way. Spray or wipe the shower and bathtub surfaces with a solution of white vinegar and a little water. You can add a drop or two of essential oils to lessen the vinegar smell, if you’d like. And if you want to keep mold from becoming your unwanted bathing partner, make sure you do this quick and easy chore at least once a week.