How to Tackle Mould and Mildew in the Bathroom
Let’s face it – NO ONE wants mould or mildew in their bathroom.
Aside from mould’s distinctively unpleasant appearance, black mold can pose risks to your health and may damage your bathroom furnishings or tiling for good.
As long as you take action, there’s no need to worry. Simply follow our top mould-busting tips below for a clean and sparkling bathroom that feels like 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. This is because the mycotoxins produced by black mould are particularly harmful. Mould exposure can cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems, migraines, fatigue and more. It is always best to eliminate mould as soon as you see it to avoid these problems.
Where is mould found?
In the bathroom, mould is commonly found in:
- Shower enclosure fitting points
- Ceiling corners
- Bath edges
- Window frames and ledges
- Tile grout
How to remove mould
When removing the mould, make sure you wear protective goggles and a facemask to prevent exposure to mould spores in the air.
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 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 onto affected area 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 loose 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 on extractor fan) 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 prevent mould growth
Ventilation is key
Ventilation is key to preventing mould growth. Make sure you install an effective extractor fan - turning it on during your wash and leaving it running for 10 minutes afterwards. This will remove all excess moisture in the air.
Check for leaks and blockages
Sneaky leaks around the bathtub, sink or toilet could be causing a mould infestation. 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.
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.
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. Use a shower squeegie to scrape all excess water from the shower screen and use a vinegar or shower spray solution to sterilise the area against mould.