It’s like a creature from a horror movie: alive, growing, gross, and potentially dangerous. And chances are high that it’s living in your home.
What is this scary-sounding being?
While not as serious as finding a monster lurking in the shower, mold in bathrooms should not be ignored. Exposure to mold, particularly for those with allergies or sensitivity to the fungus, can cause illness or discomfort. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health effects include itchy eyes, nasal congestion, throat irritation and coughing or wheezing.
Even if you are lucky enough to escape any mold-related health issues, having mold in your bathroom is unsightly and unpleasant. Wondering how to keep mold from growing in the shower? Here are five tips to prevent bathroom mold.
Moisture is Mold’s Best Friend
Mold thrives in damp, dark, and warm environments. Which pretty much sums up the conditions in your typical bathroom.
The key to preventing bathroom mold is to try to reduce the moisture levels. This can be pretty challenging, considering how showers and baths create a very warm and humid environment.
Your best weapon to combat the humidity is a bathroom exhaust fan. These fans suck the humid air out of the bathroom and vent it to the outside. Turn on the fan at the start of your bath or shower and keep it running for another 30 minutes after you are done.
A ceiling fan can also be helpful for drying out moisture in the room. These fans have the advantage of being quieter than an exhaust fan. Ceiling fans can also be left to run all day on a low setting to help keep the air circulating in the room.
Bring in the Light
Just like it works against monsters in stories, light is effective in combating mold as well. If there is a window in the bathroom, keep the shades open during the day. You could even install a skylight to allow for maximum sun exposure.
One lighting company, Ellumi, has developed a product that emits LED light at a wavelength that kills bacteria, mold, and other fungus. Their recessed light fixture is made to be installed in the bathroom for preventing mold in showers.
Use Mildew Resistant Items in the Bathroom
Another method of preventing mold in bathrooms from forming is by eliminating or reducing the kinds of surfaces that are friendly to mold. If your shower does not have a door, then use a shower curtain liner that is resistant to mildew. Many liners are specially treated to resist the growth of mold and mildew.
It is better to use window coverings in the bathroom made from plastic, vinyl, or other waterproof material, rather than cloth curtains. Fabric absorbs and retains moisture, which can create another surface for mold to grow. Fabric can also contribute to higher levels of humidity in the bathroom.
All those bottles of hair products and soap, as well as washcloths, sponges, or loofahs, can also be magnets for mold growth. Because these items often accumulate or hold water as they sit in the bath and shower stall, they provide the perfect conditions for mold. While it may be a bit inconvenient, storing them outside the shower is very effective for preventing mold in the shower.
First Clean Yourself, Then Clean Your Shower
One of the most effective tools in the battle against mold in the bathroom is the shower squeegee. This simple tool is inexpensive and easy to use.
After your bath or shower, simply run the squeegee along the walls and door of the shower. For maximum benefit, squeegee both horizontally and vertically. Your 30 to 60-second effort can reduce as much as three-fourths of the moisture in the room.
Not only does a squeegee job help reduce moisture and prevent mold from developing, it also makes it significantly easier to keep your shower clean. You eliminate the build-up of soap scum and water stains that are notoriously difficult to remove later. In fact, you may never have to scrub your shower again if you practice good squeegee habits!
You can take mold prevention one step further and spray the entire shower with a shower cleaner spray two or three times a week. You could also make a homemade spray of vinegar and water. To avoid having your bathroom smell like a pickling factory, add a few drops of tea tree or other essential oil to the spray.
Fix Any Leaks in the Bathroom
A dripping faucet, leaky shower head, or leaks in any bathroom plumbing adds moisture to your bathroom environment. A leak provides a constant source of water, which is exactly what mold needs to thrive. Not only do leaks promote mold growth at the site of the leak, it also contributes to the overall humidity level in the bathroom.
Sometimes moisture in the bathroom is caused by leaks outside the room itself. A leaky roof or overflowing gutters could also contribute to dampness in the walls, ceilings, and even floors of the bathroom.
If you notice any signs of water stains, investigate the source right away. Any mold growing behind tiles, inside walls, or under floorboards are much harder to access and clean up.
If leaking water damage is serious enough to require some major repairs, there are many budget-friendly approaches you can take to also upgrade your bathroom. You could look at it as an opportunity to make improvements to the bathroom.
Getting Rid of Bathroom Mold
Despite your efforts at prevention, mold can still win the battle and up pop somewhere in your bathroom. Perhaps you’ve fallen off in your daily squeegee duties. Or you discover mold caused by an unknown leak.
At Home Mold Remedies
In most cases, you can take care of the problem yourself, especially if the mold covers less than about one square foot of area. Scrub away the mold using either a household cleaner or make a ten percent bleach and water solution. Spray the area and let it sit for ten minutes or more to remove any stains.
Follow up with a vinegar spray and let it dry. Bleach does not actually kill mold spores as effectively as vinegar. Remember you can add a few drops of essential oil to the vinegar to combat the vinegar smell.
When to Call in the Professionals
If you have a mold problem that has gotten out of hand, it may be time to seek help. Breathing in mold spores can cause respiratory health problems, although for most people, it causes only mild discomfort.
In the case of toxic black mold, however, the health effects can be more serious. This strain of mold, Stachybotrys chartarum, can cause problems such as fatigue, headaches, rashes, nausea, and even bleeding in the lungs and nose. If you have black mold, you should not attempt to remove it yourself, but need professional help.
For large mold removal situations, or if you suspect you have black mold, you can ask a mold-removal service for a mold inspection. It’s a good idea to learn more about how mold removal experts can help you in these more serious cases.
Keep Your Home Clean and Beautiful
Your home is your sanctuary, and the bathroom can actually serve as a private oasis within that sanctuary. Keeping it clean and free from bathroom mold allows you to derive the most enjoyment from this part of the house.
For more articles about ways to increase your enjoyment of your home, explore our blog filled with information on design tips, safety advice, and DIY projects.