One of the hardest things to get rid of around your bath and shower is bathroom mildew. Actually, this stuff seems like it can grow anywhere. It shows up on walls, ceilings, shower tile and joints, and even on shower curtains and under toilet lids. It seems unavoidable, but what can you do? You can combat it as it shows up – but it often just keeps coming back. Fortunately, you can also take some measures to prevent it from creeping up in the first place.
Bathroom mildew comes in many varieties. Colors range from dark brown or black, to tan and yellowish hues, and let’s not forget the deepest greens you can imagine. Tiny little spores can grow on practically any surface. All bathroom mildew needs is regular light and consistent moisture. Sounds like a plant, doesn’t it? The only trouble is, mildew in your bathroom isn’t very pleasant to look at and often creates a noticeable odor as well. If you don’t deal with it, it can get out of control.
Removing bathroom mildew
If you’ve had this stuff growing in your bathroom, you must first get it thoroughly removed. Chances are, if it’s been around a while, it has stained whatever surface it was clinging to. Mildew can stain paint, wall paper, caulking, tile and other porous surfaces.You’ll have to repair these areas once you’ve removed the mildew.
Your goal in removing bathroom mildew is simply to kill it off. In effect, you poison the environment that the spores try to attach to in order to germinate and grow. A bit like cleaning, you’re going to take a pretty harsh attack to stop the existing mildew population in your bathroom.
Here are a list of products and/or home remedies you can use for this thorough cleaning. All are affective, and can be made more so by increasing the amount of the active ingredient you’re combining with water. For good measure, always wash the mildewy areas with a warm soap and warm mixture. Then try one or more of the following:
- Bleach and water solution – 3 tbspn of chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water, or for hard to remove bathroom mildew use a 1:1 mixture (be careful using this concentration)
- (TSP) Trisodium phosphate – follow manufacturer’s directions
- Mildew remover solution (like the product shown on the right – it is very effective)
- 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup borax with 3 gallons water
When done with any of the above, it’s a good idea to wash the area and rinse away any remaining mildew or stain. Again, you may have to repaint or recaulk – see tips below.
Stop bathroom mildew
Rest assured, even though you’ve cleaned your bathroom mildew off and disinfected, it WILL come back. The air is full of tiny spores that would love to find a cozy, well-lit, warm and moist area like your bathroom to set up residence. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce and perhaps even stop mildew in your bathroom for good.
- Regular washing – it may add to your chore list, but if you can wipe down surfaces in your bath area, then it will much harder for mildew to reproduce and begin appearing. Use a clean cloth with warm water and a little bit of soap once a week if possible. Pay special attention to areas that have previously been prone to mildew staining. For shower doors, curtains or liners, spray down with a light mixture of bleach and water regularly.
- Reduce moisture – If you have the time and a little money, it’s always worth investing in ways to cut down moisture in your mildew prone bathroom. While you can’t necessarily take colder showers (to reduce steam), you can install exhaust fans if you don’t have one. Or, put in a bigger, more efficient one if you suspect yours isn’t strong enough. Also, ensure those that use the bathroom are actually using the fan while showering. Keep doors and windows open during bathing to create some ventilation as well. This does help dramatically as most people report bathroom mildew problems in spaces that aren’t vented well.
- Use mildew-resistant products – Products such as mildew resistant paint and caulking are becoming more common. These work well, but aren’t perfect. You can have mildewcide added to paint at some dealers. Or, look for paint made especially for baths and kitchens. The paint will last several years, and you should see good results with it. Mildew resistant caulking may need to be removed and reapplied more often. It’s better than the regular stuff, but don’t expect it to keep it away completely. It’s definitely worth using these kinds of products on walls and ceilings, and any joints that are exposed to water. They even make mildew resistant shower curtain lines. One of these can keep your shower looking clean and stain free.
While generally not harmful to your health, bathroom mildew’s primarily problem is that it’s unsightly. It doesn’t put your guests at ease, and fixing it can keep your home from losing value if/when it comes time to sell. Just make sure whatever you do, be consistent. There’s not reason you have to live with it. The information described above will help you eliminate it and reduce it’s ability to come back greatly if you just address it regularly. Remember to keeps things clean and dry, and your bathroom mildew may just be gone forever.