I remember in my first apartment there was no ventilation whatsoever and the room was constantly humid. My wife (then girlfriend) and I tried everything to keep the place dry; we even tried lighting a bunch of candles in an effort to dry the place out. As you can imagine that did not work!
As if damp places like bathrooms are not already one of the hardest places to keep clean, they can also be the perfect breeding ground for mold. Especially older bathrooms that lack adequate ventilation can be a safe haven for this disgusting thing to spread.
The good news is you can easily prevent this from happening.
Preventing mold in the bathroom is all about taking simple proactive measures. Remember, prevention is always easier than dealing with the consequences. Even if you already have signs of mold you can get rid of it quite easily. However, it is important to act now and don’t let it spread any more than it already has.
Now, put away your candles; here are the things that actually work and keep your bathroom mold-free.
1. Install and Use an Exhaust fan
Remember, mold thrives in humid, dark, and poor air circulation conditions. Thus, your first line of defense against the bathroom’s enemy No.1 will be to keep your bathroom’s humidity level low. You do this by ensuring there is sufficient ventilation in the bathroom.
The Home Ventilating Institute recommends at least 8 air changes per hour and the International Residential Code specifies a minimum fan rating of 50 CFM (intermittent) and 20 CFM (continuous). You can check out my article on How Bathroom Exhaust Fans Are Rated if you are unsure what is meant by CFM.
Related article: Are Bathroom Fans Necessary (find out how they could save you thousands)
Installing an exhaust fan is by far the best way to keep the bathroom humidity in check. Turn the fan on before taking a shower and keep it running for at least 30 minutes after you are done taking a shower. A timer switch will make this much easier.
2. Install Underfloor Heating
Underfloor heating combined with an exhaust fan will dry out the bathroom so fast that there is no time for the mold and mildew to start growing.
Not only will it protect the bathroom from becoming too damp, but it will also add a luxurious touch to your life. There is nothing like walking on toasty bathroom tiles in the morning!
If you are interested in installing underfloor heating in your bathroom make sure you check out the 12 reasons why bathroom underfloor heating is worth it.
3. Dry Surfaces After Showering
Use a squeegee on the floor and walls to get rid of most of the water. By doing so, you will eliminate most of the water that would otherwise evaporate over the course of several hours and skyrocket the humidity level.
You can use a towel, but then you must take the towel out of the bathroom to dry or it simply replaces the walls and floor as the source of evaporating moisture.
While the goal is to keep the bathroom as dry as possible, you still have to be rational about it. So, if you are taking a shower or using the sink, it will get wet and that’s fine. The problem occurs when we leave it that way for a long time and the excess moisture has nowhere to go.
The truth is, you can even leave the bathroom wet and have no problems, but only when you keep the bathroom fan on until the room has completely dried out.
Since most people don’t leave their exhaust fans on for long enough after taking a shower, it is a good idea to try and dry it out as much as possible directly after showering.
4. A Good Old-Fashioned Cleaning Does the Trick
We all clean our bathrooms—at least we hope you do! But, mold control involves going the extra mile, so to speak.
Try to set a deep-cleaning routine for your bathroom, one that you know you can follow sustainably. It’s not enough if you clean your bathroom only when it feels like it needs a scrub down; by then it is most likely too late.
A weekly cleaning routine will not only keep your bathroom sparkling, but will also eliminate any possibility of mold growth.
While you are at it, it is generally a good idea to use an anti-fungal cleaner or vinegar once a month in order to beat that pesky mold at its own game.
I recommend using vinegar since it is a natural product and won’t give off toxic fumes.
5. Use a mold-resistant shower curtain
Mold-resistant shower curtains dry faster and make it harder for mold to grow. It’s also a good idea to wash the shower curtain in a washing machine, but remember to turn off the spin cycle.
Mold is just one out of 9 reasons why having no ventilation in the bathroom is terrible.
6. Use a Dehumidifier
If you live in a very humid climate, it is difficult to keep humidity levels low enough to make life hard for mold spores to thrive.
If you are using an exhaust fan and the bathroom is still too humid, then the only solution is to use a dehumidifier. This will remove the excess moisture and keep humidity levels low enough to keep mold from growing.
However, it is important that you understand that dehumidifiers cannot be used instead of bathroom fans.
7. Use Special Bathroom Paint
Bathroom-specific paint is formulated with a tighter structure. The paint molecules rest closer together than in normal paint. This leaves fewer gaps for moisture to penetrate into the paint surface.
This smooth surface makes it very difficult for mold to grow on the paint; as we discussed earlier, mold likes porous surfaces.
Bathroom paints that contain antimicrobial agents are further able to slow the growth of mildew and mold.
You could also consider a paint that is tougher with a washable finish for your bathroom walls. Using this type of paint significantly reduces the risk of peeling or blistering.
Applying bathroom paint can increase the longevity of your bathroom walls, ceilings, and trim. As the moisture cannot build up over a long period of time, it also limits the growth of mold and mildew.
8. How to Get Rid of Mold on Bathroom Walls
If you happen to already have an infestation, no need to worry! Getting rid of mold is not as difficult as one might think. You can follow these easy steps and have a clean, mold-free bathroom in no time.
The first thing to do is to identify the type of mold and what surface it is growing on.
Different types of mold and surfaces require different strategies for removal. Take some pictures of the mold and compare them to images online.
If you can’t figure it out on your own, consult an expert.
When you’re cleaning the mold, keep in mind it is constantly releasing spores into the air. This means you need to be wearing appropriate PPE.
Furthermore, to prevent these spores from spreading to other parts of your home: wash your clothes or throw them out when you’re done, turn on the bathroom exhaust fan to ventilate the area, and turn off your heating or cooling system to prevent the spores from spreading.
Mold Removal With Vinegar
Vinegar will remove mold effectively from all surfaces, including porous materials, unlike bleach that only kills the mold spores on the surface.
Vinegar is the most underused natural cleaning product. You can use it for everything from cleaning electric kettles to killing mold spores. Also, It does not give off any toxic fumes like bleach or some commercially available cleaning solutions.
|Things you’ll need||Amazon link|
|Spray bottle for vinegar||view|
|Hard brush (you must use one you are willing to throw away afterward)||view|
|Sponges (you must use one you are willing to throw away afterward)||view|
|Rubber or latex gloves||view|
If you prefer to shop at a local store, you can purchase all these items from somewhere like Home Depot. When it comes to the 30% Vinegar, make sure you check the concentration before you buy it. General cleaning vinegar is between 3-10 % and is useless for dealing with mold. If you don’t find the concentration printed on the label you can find it from the SDS (Safety datasheet).
Here are the steps to using vinegar to kill mold spores:
- Turn on the bathroom fan (although vinegar is not toxic, it has a very strong smell)
- Wear thick rubber gloves
- Spray vinegar directly on the affected area and let it sit for a couple of minutes
- Scrub with a hard brush
- If there is still some visible mold left repeat steps 3-5 until it is all traces of mold are gone
- Apply more vinegar and let it sit for an hour.
- Rinse with warm water
- DONE! Now you have a mold-free sparkling clean bathroom
There will be a strong vinegar smell in the bathroom for a while, but it will disappear after a couple of hours.
If you would like to neutralize the smell of vinegar immediately you can mix 1/2 cup baking soda, juice from 1 lemon/lime, and 1/4 cup warm water to make a paste that can be applied with a sponge. This will not only remove the smell of vinegar but will get rid of any last traces of grime.
If you prefer not to use vinegar, here are some other effective mold removal products:
- Hydrogen peroxide
Use Grout Sealer
After you have cleaned all traces of mold and let the bathroom totally dry out, it is a good idea to use a grout sealer to minimize the amount of water absorbed by grout, thus minimizing the risk for mold growth in the future.
Is Bathroom Mold Dangerous?
Mold is associated with many dangerous health issues. They range in severity from irritations like sneezing, coughing, a runny nose, or skin rash to severe breathing disorders and lung infections. Immune-comprised and asthmatic people especially need to watch out for mold as they can experience the most serious side effects.
What Are the Different Types of Mold?
Mold is categorized into three groups.
- Allergenic mold can causes problems mainly for people with allergies and asthma.
- Pathogenic mold can cause more serious, acute sickness.
- Toxigenic mold contains toxins that can result in death.
Some specific types of mold commonly found in bathrooms are:
This mold is one of the most common allergenic molds in the whole world, and the chances are that you have seen this mold before. It feels velvety and has black, green, and brown hairs.
As an allergenic mold, it will cause irritations that might be considered mild. Typically, it affects asthmatic people more severely.
Even though this mold is not incredibly dangerous, it can spread through a home quickly. If you have this mold, don’t put off dealing with it.
If every house in America was tested for this mold, it would likely be in over 75% of them. It is one of the most common molds in the world. As such, it can take on many different shapes and colors.
Usually, it is categorized as allergenic; however, with time it can evolve into a much more dangerous toxigenic mold.
If you see a cotton textured, white, brown, or black substance growing in your bathroom, it’s likely this mold.
It likes wet spaces, has a musty scent, and releases particles that irritate the skin and nails.
If it is left to grow uncontrollably, it can start to release mycotoxins that are very harmful to immune-compromised people.
This mold loves to grow near ducting and vent systems to take advantage of moist conditions.
It grows in white and grey clumps and can get out of control quickly.
It attacks the respiratory system, making you feel flu-like symptoms or experience trouble breathing. In extreme cases, people who have been exposed to too much mucor can develop mucormycosis. This infection can cause problems in the brain, lungs, and eyes if not treated. It can even get into the blood and become a systemic infection.
Water-damaged areas in any building are a good place to find this mold.
It is the namesake of an important drug that saves lives, but unfortunately, the name is where the similarities end. It can cause respiratory problems, pulmonary inflammation, and asthma.
Look for a distinct blue, green velvety substance, when checking for penicillin.
Another name for this is “black mold.” It thrives in warm, damp areas. It feels slimy with a dark green or black pigment.
Exposure to black mold leads to all sorts of terrible symptoms, but it is most dangerous for children and infants. Neurological and pulmonary conditions in these age groups have been linked to prolonged exposure to black mold.
White and green wooly patches are the hallmarks of this mold. It likes to live on damp wallpaper and carpets. It can become toxigenic with time.
Building materials are also at risk. Trichoderma can destroy an entire building if left to spread.
It requires professional removal.
Anywhere with high condensation is at risk for this type of mold. It loves bathrooms and has a black color.
It usually grows with other types of mold, so if it is present, check for other types as well.
This mold will aggravate existing respiratory issues and can cause hay fever.
It is easier to prevent problems than to deal with the consequences. However, people, by nature, only see something when it is already a problem.
Getting rid of mold when done right is not much of a hassle. It might be hard to hear but most problems are caused due to our own negligence and laziness. Mold looks bad and some types can even be potentially dangerous.
It is important to remember that we need mold and mildew in nature since it is a part of the circle of life. However, it does not belong inside our homes and it is something we need to fight against and take precautions to make the conditions unfavorable for mold growth.
Some of us are more vulnerable to the adverse health effects caused by mold, for example, infants, young children, pregnant women, elderly people, and people with allergies. It can cause many health issues including but not limited to respiratory problems, headache, and irritation of throat, nose, or eyes.
Follow the easy step-by-step guide we provided on how to prevent mold to eradicate your issue—it won’t even know what hit it!