Detecting Bathroom Mold
Bathroom mold is common because of the constant source of moisture, especially under the sink if there are any leaks. Check in and behind the cabinet periodically. Fill and drain the sink; use a mirror and flashlight to check for leakage underneath. If you have had a leaking pipe behind the drywall or tile, it’s important to determine the extent of the bathroom mold growth before repairing the wall. It is advisable to remove any moldy or damp material – don’t paint over moldy wall materials or install tile over deteriorated drywall.
In addition to possible sink leaks, bathrooms are prone to shower leaks. Inspect for cracks and missing grout and caulk between tiles and/or a shower and tub. Shower pan leaks are common sources of water problems and mold growth. See How to fix a dripping shower.
Toilet leaks are frequently responsible for mold problems. Often a broken or cracked elbow joint just below the toilet or a toilet flush overflow are the culprits for toilet leaks causing mold. In addition, in humid weather, when the temperature of the water in the toilet tank is below the dew point, moisture will condense on the tank and drip onto the floor below, which can lead to mold growth.
Sewer backups are probably the number one bathroom mold problem relating to toilets. When a sewer backs up, make sure the clean-up company treats for bacteria, viruses, and fungal contaminants, as this “black water” is full of contaminants that are hazardous to your health.
Isolated mold, as in the folds of a vinyl shower curtain, can cause a musty odor. This is easy to fix by containing the curtain in a plastic garbage bag to avoid spreading the mold spores, throwing it out, and replacing it.
You can often find mold on the upper part of walls and on ceilings in bathrooms, because these areas are by their nature prone to conditions of high relative humidity because hot, moist air rises.
Cleaning Bathroom Mold
Most of the time mold can be cleaned. The longer that mold is on a surface, the harder it will be to clean off so don’t put it off. Regular chlorine bleach mixed with water in a 50/50 solution and sprayed on the surfaces, will remove the mold immediately, but only consistent cleanliness and keeping the moisture levels down will stop bathroom mold from coming back.
Vinegar does a great job with deodorizing and killing mold and mildew. It’s mild acidic nature makes the environment inhospitable to future growth and it also removes any musty odor.
Create a thick paste from a small amount of water, lemon juice and baking soda. Place paste directly on the affected grout and brush with a small brush or toothbrush. Scrub until the mold stain is gone. Rinse solution with water after scrubbing.
Add 1/2 cup of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water to a spray bottle. Apply to grout affected with mold, spraying liberally. Leave solution on. Do not rinse. Repeat the process, if necessary
Preventing Bathroom Mold
To prevent the potential for mold growth, you have to minimize the moisture. In a bathroom this is obviously difficult, but it can be done. Try to keep the humidity levels in your home to below 50 percent and provide adequate ventilation for optimum prevention of mold.
After showering, run the exhaust fan for at least five minutes and leave the bathroom and shower door or curtain open. If you have space on the vanity top, you can even operate a small table-top fan to mix the air and hasten evaporation (but be sure the fan is plugged into an outlet that is protected by a ground-fault interrupter, or GFI). If there’s a window, leave it open in mild weather so that you can get a cross ventilation to let the steam out. If you are really concerned, use a squeegee on the shower walls after each shower.
Keeping the bathroom clean is important. Wipe down surfaces with an antifungal spray once a month to prevent bathroom mold from growing. To prevent mold from growing on walls, paint with antimicrobial additives to discourage mold and mildew growth.