How to Tackle Mould and Mildew in the Bathroom
Let’s face it – nobody wants mould or mildew in their bathroom. Aside from mould’s distinctively unpleasant appearance, black mould can pose risks to your health and may damage your bathroom furnishings or tiling for good.
As long as you take the right action, there’s no need to worry. Simply follow our top mildew and mould-busting tips for a clean and sparkling bathroom that feels brand new.
What is mould and mildew?
Mould and mildew (its early-stage counterpart) are forms of fungi that grow in damp areas and multiply quickly.
Mildew is a surface fungus that can be identified as a patch of white/yellowish spots that quickly turn brown or dark black in colour. Mildew develops and remains on top of surfaces – allowing it to be easily removed.
On the other hand, mould is black or green in colour and is indicative of a much larger infestation. Unlike mildew, mould is a fungus that contains multiple identical nuclei and can penetrate beneath the surface of affected materials. Mould can result in considerable structural damage if left untreated for a long time.
Both types of growth occur when the area contains a high level of moisture with little ventilation.
Prolonged exposure to mould can cause health complications because the mycotoxins produced by black mould are particularly harmful. Mould exposure can cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems, migraines, fatigue and more. It’s always best to eliminate mould as soon as you see it to avoid these problems.
Where is mould found?
Mould or mildew can be found anywhere with high levels of moisture. You’re likely to see it growing around roofs, windows or pipes, especially if there’s a leak. Mould spores can grow on a variety of materials including walls, carpet, fabric, paper, cardboard and more.
One of the most common places to find mould growth is in the bathroom. This is because the room is exposed to high levels of moisture and, without the right ventilation, mildew and mould could grow.
In the bathroom, mould is most commonly found in:
- Shower enclosure fitting points
- Ceiling corners
- Bath edges
- Window frames and ledges
- Tile grout
Even though bathrooms are more likely to harbour mould, it doesn’t mean you won’t find it around the rest of your home. Kitchens are another likely spot and you may notice it growing around the sink, in bins, behind the oven and around the window.
It might not seem like the most obvious place to find mould, but the bedroom is another place to check. Mould spores can grow on the walls and windows, especially if the room isn’t ventilated enough.
Condensation is one of the biggest causes of mould forming in bedrooms. We might keep these rooms at a higher temperature to improve sleep quality but if the humidity isn’t controlled and ventilation kept, you might see mould appear.
How to remove mould
Luckily if you spot mould in your bathroom or around the rest of your home, there are a few things you can do to get rid of it. There are several methods that people use including natural products and chemical cleaning solutions.
When removing mould, make sure you wear protective goggles, rubber gloves and a face mask to prevent exposure to mould spores in the air. You should have a window open if possible to allow ventilation while cleaning.
Borax is a cheap, natural cleaner that is known for its anti-fungal properties. Simply mix one cup of borax powder with 4 litres of water, and work the solution into the affected areas with a brush. Take care not to spread the mould to other parts of the wall or room. When finished, wipe up the borax solution and let it completely dry. To prevent re-contamination, give the walls a quick spray with white vinegar.
Mild white vinegar is a brilliant mould deterrent. Its acidity makes it inhospitable for mould to grow, and vinegar can clean up to 82% of mould species. Simply spray the vinegar solution onto the affected areas and wipe the surface with warm water after an hour. Dry the surface thoroughly with a towel to prevent any mould re-growth. Keep a bottle of vinegar handy in the bathroom and spray onto mould-prone surfaces every few days. Vinegar ensures that mould will never grow on the applied surfaces.
Baking soda is a cheap and fume-free gentle cleaning agent for mould. Use one teaspoon of liquid soap, one cup of baking soda and enough water to form a paste. Then apply the paste to the affected areas and leave for an hour before you wipe it away.
If baking soda doesn’t work, then it’s time to bring out the big guns. Mix together a solution of 1 part bleach to 2 parts water and transfer to a spray bottle. Spray the area with the bleach solution and allow it to dry, then spray a second time and scrub with a brush. Rinse and repeat this process as much as necessary until the mould is gone.
Never mix ammonia with bleach and be sure to use only “clear” ammonia. Ammonia comes in “clear”, “cloudy” and “sudsy” varieties. Pour the ammonia into a spray bottle and spray the ammonia onto the mouldy surface. Scrub the area vigorously with a brush to ensure complete removal of any mould and spores. Open windows to air out the room and to eliminate the smell of ammonia.
Hydrogen peroxide is available in various degrees of strength from DIY stores. For cleaning mould, it’s best to use a fairly mild 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and to dispense it into a dark spray bottle. If exposed to direct sunlight, the hydrogen peroxide solution will lose its chemical strength.
Spray the solution directly onto the affected areas and leave for 2 to 3 hours. During this time, keep the room ventilated (open windows, turn the extractor fan on etc.) to dilute the smell of hydrogen peroxide. Once finished, wipe the surfaces clean.
Specialised mould sprays
If you don’t want to make your own cleaning solution at home, there are many specialised mould sprays on the market. Make sure to research the cleaning agent’s effectiveness before you buy.
How to get rid of black mould in the bathroom
One of the most common places to find black mould is in bathrooms. These rooms are usually exposed to high levels of moisture which is incredibly inviting for mildew and mould. You may spot it on bathroom ceilings, around the window or on the walls. If you do notice growing mould growth then you need to remove it to protect your health and home.
The process of removing black mould in your bathroom depends on how serious the situation is. You should only remove mould yourself if:
- The mould covers less than 1 metre square in the location
- It’s been caused by condensation and not issues with contaminated water or sewage
First assess the location of your mould and decide whether you want to use natural or chemical products to treat it. This decision is entirely up to you and what you think will work best.
Once you’ve removed any mould, make sure you keep your bathroom ventilated and clean it consistently to prevent regrowth. Always use an extractor fan whilst having showers or baths and open the window regularly to allow air to circulate.
How to get rid of black mould in bathroom sealant
Depending on how severe the mould is, it might be best to remove and replace your bathroom sealant. Try spraying the silicone sealant with a cleaning solution such as distilled white vinegar and then wipe away the mould. Make sure you’re wearing gloves before you start doing anything.
If this doesn’t work, you can try this process again but with a stronger solution like bleach or borax. If using this bleach, you should wear a mask and gloves as the chemicals can be harmful.
The next step is to remove your old sealant around your bath or shower. Find a flat head screwdriver and use it to gently lift away the silicone sealant. You may need to clean the area before re-applying sealant.
A top tip is to roll up sheets of toilet roll and place them where the sealant was. Then with either vinegar or bleach - depending on what you prefer - soak the toilet paper and let it sit for a few hours. Once you lift the toilet paper after, it should remove any remaining mould. After this has dried you can replace your sealant.
How to get rid of mould in bathroom walls
Removing mould from painted walls in the bathroom is a simple task with the right tools. The best approach is to use a natural cleaning solution like vinegar or borax to prevent any damage to the paintwork.
You’ll need a spray bottle to put your solution into once you’ve made it. You can either use diluted vinegar with warm water or combine vinegar and water with a small amount of borax.
Once in the bottle, spray directly onto the affected areas in your bathroom and scrub the wall. Wipe this clean and then reapply and leave for 10-15 minutes before wiping away again.
How to get rid of ceiling mould in bathroom
Bathroom ceilings are another common spot for mould to grow. It might be a bit trickier to reach, but the process of getting rid of mould is similar to painted walls. It’s recommended to use a combined solution of warm water and vinegar to scrub away the mould.
Make sure you’re wearing protective clothing such as a face mask and rubber gloves before starting to protect yourself. You may even want to wear some old clothes before you get stuck in.
Simply spray the area with the solution, scrub it, and then wipe the solution away. After this, reapply the vinegar solution and leave it for 10-15 minutes before removing it.
How do you remove mould from bathroom grout?
Similar to silicone sealant, you might have to remove and replace your grouting depending on how far the mould has spread. It’s worth trying to clean away the mould first before having to replace your grout. Simply use a vinegar or bleach solution to spray and wipe away any visible mould.
Baking soda is another technique that some may find works for them. Combine baking soda with water to create a paste and apply it to any areas on the grout where there is mould. Leave it to sit for at least 15 minutes. A tip is to use a toothbrush to rub away the paste and remove any stubborn mould. Once done, rinse the area with warm water and you should have a clear area.
If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to remove the grouting. Use a flathead screwdriver to remove it, clean the area and then reapply your grouting.
How to prevent mould growth
The best defence against mould is to regularly clean your home and ensure proper ventilation in every room you use. Following a few simple steps like these can prevent growing mould issues and keep your home free from dangers.
Ventilation is key
Ventilation is key to preventing mould growth. Make sure you install an effective extractor fan in your bathroom and kitchen areas. You should turn your extractor fan on while having a shower, bath or washing. Make sure you leave it on for at least 10 minutes afterwards to clear excess moisture from the atmosphere.
Make sure you regularly open your windows and allow air to circulate through rooms in your home. We all love a warm home, but if the humidity goes unchecked for too long moisture can build and invite mould in. Opening windows in stuffy rooms like bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens can air the property.
Most windows also have vents at the top of them and you should check that these are open. Window vents are there to allow fresh air into the room and help to remove moisture.
Check for leaks and blockages
Sneaky leaks around bathtubs, sink basins and toilets could be causing a mould infestation in your bathroom, so it’s always worth checking. To avoid this, check the caulking around your fixtures and seal the gaps to prevent future mould growth. Bigger leaks may require a qualified plumber to rectify the damage.
Other areas to check around your house include your washing machine and dishwasher if you have one. It’s also wise to check your radiators for leaks. If you notice ceiling mould, you could have an issue with a blocked drainpipe, so check these regularly as well.
Dust is a food source for mould and encourages growth, so cleaning regularly will help eliminate the fungi in its early stages. Spray vinegar on mould-prone areas after cleaning to ensure you never have a problem.
It’s best to wipe down the tiling around your shower or bath after you use it. This way you can remove moisture and also wipe away any signs of mould. The showerhead is another place where mould can build, so regularly clean this to prevent limescale and dirt build-up. You could even change your shower head if it’s leaking or in need of replacement.
Another tip is to regularly clean your extractor fans. It’s common for debris and dust to build up over time, so removing this ensures they keep working as they should.
Remove any clutter
You may think spring is the best time for a thorough clear out, but colder months are the perfect time to remove any unwanted clutter. Having excess items lying around your home prevents air from circulating as well as it could.
Having shelving and cupboards full of toiletries, clothing and clutter could actually help mould by increasing humidity and making airflow difficult. Spend time clearing out any unwanted items and making sure each room can circulate fresh air.
Use a dehumidifier
If you have a room with a particular problem and want to remove excess moisture from the air, then a moisture trap or dehumidifier might be a good option. You can place a small moisture trap on your windowsill if condensation is an issue to draw excess moisture away from the window frame, sill and surrounding walls, preventing mould build-up.
For more serious humidity problems, a dehumidifier is something to consider. You can buy these in all sizes and sit them wherever you need to remove moisture.
Update your shower curtain
Shower curtains are a breeding ground for bacteria and mould. Make sure you close your shower curtain after every use to air it out and give the curtain a monthly wash.
If possible, replace your old shower curtain with a sleek glass shower screen. These offer longevity and are easier to maintain. Read our guide on how to fit a shower screen to easily replace your shower curtain with an easier to clean alternative.
After you’ve had a shower, use a shower squeegee to scrape all excess water from the shower screen and use a vinegar or shower spray solution to sterilise the area against mould.