We’re all familiar with the dank smell that indicates mold growing somewhere nearby. What people may not realize, however, is that mold can actually be more than an annoyance or minor inconvenience. Mold can turn into a serious problem if it’s not promptly dealt with.
Since you can’t ever entirely get rid of mold, it’s best to prevent it before you have it. Bathrooms have a very high moisture content that makes them especially susceptible to mold problems. Here are some ideas for preventing mold, and if you already have it, here are some easy cleaning ideas.
Ventilation and Light
Eliminating dampness in your bathroom is the most important thing you can do to prevent mold from taking over. After your shower, squeegee off your shower walls. It may seem like an unnecessary thing to do, but it will prevent at least three-fourths of the moisture that supports mold growth. And be sure to run your bathroom fans during your shower and after it for about 15 minutes. If you want to, you can add a timer to your fan so that you don’t even have to think about it.
If you have a bathroom window, open it, even if it’s just a crack. If you have inadequate ventilation in your bathroom, consider leaving your bathroom door open while you shower (if possible). You can also use a dehumidifier in your bathroom if needed.
Allow light into the bathroom. You can install low-light bulbs and leave them on for 10 to 15 minutes after a shower. You can even put a timer on these, as well. And if you have a window, don’t forget to open the blinds and allow natural light to come in.
Building Materials and Decor
Poor tiling and caulking jobs cause leaks. Then you end up with rotting beneath the tile’s surface, giving you a big and expensive renovation job. A cracked appearance in your molding is a good indicator that you have leakage and that mold is growing behind the tiles. Don’t ever reseal or re-caulk molding grout. Strip the caulking, clean the surface thoroughly, and put on new caulking and sealant. Replace grout with a latex-fortified version, which helps prevent new mold growth. And if you’re renovating, consider replacing your tile shower wall with a one-piece shower that doesn’t have crevices where mold can grow.
Mold inhibitors in paint may help keep walls free of mold. These paints should only be used after existing mold has been treated. Mold-resistant drywall, which incorporates a fiberglass mat, prevents moisture (and thus, mold) from growing. Greenboard is a less expensive (although also less effective) material that is often used in bathroom construction.
Wash bathroom rugs frequently and use a mildew-resistant shower curtain. You can also wash shower curtains in the washing machine several times a year, or just replace them if needed. Keep your towels free of mold by washing them frequently and always hanging them up to dry.
To get rid of mold you already have, scrub with detergent and water. Be sure to let the surface dry completely after you clean it. If you have more stubborn mold, use a solution of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water. Spray on the solution, let it sit for ten minutes, and then rinse off and dry. If you don’t like bleach, you can use a vinegar and water mixture for a more natural solution. Some people also have luck using tea tree oil and a toothbrush to get rid of small amounts of stubborn mold.