Bathroom Mold Removal –
7 Things To Know
Bathroom mold removal is not as simple as it might first appear. Bathrooms are warm, wet places that tend to stay damp. Mold and mildew thrive in such damp warm places. How can you get rid of that mold and mildew? Do you need harsh chemical cleaners? We answer all your questions and more! Come learn how to remove bathroom mold safely.
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Is Bathroom Mold Removal a DIY Project?
Removing mold can be a DIY project, but it’s a good idea to know when to call the pros. Our tips for mold removal help you know what to use, and what not to use. We can help you remove the mold safely, whether you choose to DIY or have us help you. We want to help you get back to living your best life with a nice mold-free bathroom!
What Not To Use – Bleach
The goal of mold cleaning is not to kill mold, or even to disinfect a surface or material, but rather to remove mold from a surface. Think of mold more like dirt. If you had a wall with dirt on it, would you simply spray it with bleach and consider it cleaned? Of course not.
Bleach is a combination of chemicals used to kill bacteria and whiten clothes, floors, and walls. Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite which is toxic to bacteria, fish, and human beings. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discourages the use of bleach and biocides for mold cleaning.3
Of course, there are more reasons to avoid bleach. Bleach is designed to kill bacteria, and will not completely remove a mold problem. Molds are fungi and they can, and will, grow back after bleaching.
What Should I Use To Remove Mold in my Bathroom?
There are 3 simple ingredients you, probably already have on hand, that can safely use to clean away mold in your home.
What about all of the mold cleaners that are being marketed? What about the claims that a certain product kills mold, removes mold, removes stains, disinfects surfaces and prevents mold from ever returning? If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
What To Use To Clean Mold Safely
There are 3 simple ingredients you can safely use to clean away mold in your home: white vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. Remember NOT to mix these ingredients! Keep reading for maximum cleaning power and safety!
Hard Surface Cleaning
To clean a hard surface (like a shower stall, tiles, toilet, sink, or floor), simply add hydrogen peroxide OR white vinegar to a clean, empty spray bottle undiluted. Never mix these chemicals! Choose one or the other.
When using hydrogen peroxide, spray the area to clean thoroughly, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Then, scrub the area, and rinse it clean with water. Repeat if needed.
For white vinegar, spray the area to clean thoroughly, and let it sit for at least 15 minutes or up to one hour. Then, scrub the area, and rinse it clean with water.
To use baking soda, add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of baking soda to a clean empty spray bottle and fill the bottle ¾ full of hot water. Shake to dissolve. Spray the area and use a scrub brush to clean the mold away. Then, rinse the area with clean water.
When using baking soda, it usually works best with a white vinegar spray following the baking soda, but not at the same time. The baking soda should be scrubbed away and rinsed before spraying with vinegar.
Baking soda is a base and vinegar is an acid. When they are used together, they react to form carbon dioxide gas and heat. The chemicals then are neutralized (changed to a neutral pH of 7) and have less cleaning power than they would if they had been used separately.
You can add 5 to 10 drops of tea tree essential oil to the white vinegar spray to increase the disinfectant power. Tea tree essential oil is distilled from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree from Australia. The essential oil is antifungal (kills fungi), antiviral (kills viruses), and antimicrobial (kills microbes, including bacteria). We advise people with allergies or asthma to use this oil with caution, as it can be irritating to the skin and lungs. To learn more about essential oils and how to use them safely check out our post: Essential Oils For A Healthy Home.
Cleaning Softer Surfaces
Hard surfaces generally are able to be cleaned, and most of the time mold will not grow back if it is completely removed and the moisture problem has been fixed. Soft surfaces (such as carpet, drywall, upholstered furniture, etc), are not always able to be cleaned completely enough to keep the mold from coming back.
Linens, clothes, and towels can be laundered in hot water to remove the mold, but stains may remain.
When you have softer surfaces such as carpet and drywall that have been contaminated with mold, it’s probably time to call a professional. It is very difficult to tell just how much of the surface has really been invaded by the mold just by looking.
To learn more about mold cleaning products and to see 2 Easy DIY Recipes check out our post: Cleaning Products – Homemade vs. Store Bought.
It smells good. It’s clean, right?
Wrong! Smelling good does NOT indicate that something is clean! In fact ‘fragrance’ can be anything in a product that gives it a smell from essential oils from plants to industrial petrochemicals.2 Cleaning and personal care product manufacturers are required to list their ingredients on the label of the products.4 However, because of a loophole in government regulations (specifically the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973), they are not required to list any fragrance ingredients.4 This means that they can use any chemical they choose to add smell to a product, including dangerous, allergenic, and even toxic chemicals.4 To learn more about hidden fragrance chemicals in personal care products go to: EWG Not so Sexy – Hidden Chemicals in Perfume and Cologne.4
Our government does not regulate personal care products or cleaning products in a way that allows consumers to have all the facts about a product before they use it.4 Because of this, we urge you to learn all you can before using any product in your home. Cleaning products affect air quality, especially if ventilation is not used during cleaning. Remember to always use good ventilation when using any cleaning product.
To learn more about the products you use to clean your home, and how they are NOT regulated by the federal government check out our article: Cleaning Products – Homemade vs. Store Bought.
What To Wear To Clean Mold Safely
Before even choosing a cleaning product, you should know what kind of safety equipment to wear to clean a moldy surface.
The basic equipment consists of an N-95 respirator, goggles or eye protection, & protective gloves with long cuffs. Long pants, a long sleeved shirt and waterproof boots are important to wear as well. Closed toed shoes are a good substitute for boots, especially if you are working on a small area of mold.
Mold is a respiratory irritant and allergen, so a mask with a N-95 respirator is important, especially if you know you are allergic to mold. A simple dust mask will NOT protect you from the mold spores. For more information about safety, visit: What to Wear before entering a Home or Building with Mold Damage by the CDC. To learn more about face masks see our post: In-depth Guide to Face Masks: Allergies, Grass Cutting, and COVID-19.
Tips For Cleaning Mold
- Remember that your goal is not to kill the mold spores, but to remove them. When they have been removed completely they cannot grow back.
- Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate! Ventilation is important during cleaning, so that any disturbed spores exit the building. Close and tape off doors to the rest of the house and use a box fan in a window pointing out while cleaning. This will prevent spores from invading the rest of the home, and remove them from the air of the room to be cleaned.
- Be sure to spray and then wipe all surfaces with a damp rag. Dry wiping will disturb spores and send them into the air! Airborne spores can regrow in new locations, and cause even more mold to grow. Mold spores are not visible to the naked eye, so be sure to cover all surfaces with your cleaner of choice, even if they look ‘clean’.
- Do NOT use a vacuum to clean mold unless you have a vacuum with a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, which means the filter can stop most particles of dust, pet dander, allergens, etc. that are 0.3 microns or larger and keep them from being put back into the air. The HEPA filter should be changed periodically to increase efficiency. Use with caution as mycotoxins may not be filtered out even when using a HEPA vacuum. Remember that you will eventually have to empty the vacuum, and it will be filled with the mold. So, vacuuming is not the best method of removal.
Know When To Clean And When To Call
Remember with mold and mildew, there are three steps to take for remediation:
- Clean what you can see. Baking soda, white vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide are excellent cleaners and can help remove the surface mold and mildew. For more information see our post – A Simple Guide to Cleaning Mold
- Prevent new growth. Keep areas of high humidity dry by ventilating rooms such as bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry rooms. Dehumidifiers may be helpful.
- Get a professional inspection if you suspect the problem may be more than an isolated area. If you see areas larger than about ten square feet, or there is a musty smell you can’t identify, it may be time to call a professional. A professional mold inspection can ensure your problem is solved and not just covered up.
Remember, mildew is a surface dweller and easily removed. Mold grows inside of the food source (carpet, drywall, etc.), and can cause major health issues. If you clean up an area and the fungal growth comes back quickly, you may have a mold problem. A professional inspection can determine the true source of the problem and fix it.
It’s easy to take care of mold as a homeowner, but it’s also a good idea to know when to call in the pros. Mold is great at hiding in hard to detect locations such as in drywall, under sinks, and in carpet. If the area of mold covers more than about 10 square feet, there is a good chance the problem is more than an isolated issue. If you smell a musty odor in your home or have health problems associated with mold, it’s time to call in the professionals.
To learn more about what professional mold removal really looks like check out our post: Home Mold Remediation.
How Can I Prevent Bathroom Mold?
Mold loves warm, wet places just like your bathroom. How do you prevent mold from growing? Just 3 words – Keep It Dry! Ventilation fans are extremely important to prevent mold. The fans reduce moisture and heat levels in the bathroom dramatically… if people use them.
To learn more about ventilation in bathrooms check out our post Bathroom Exhaust Fans – All You Need To Know.
To learn more about preventing bathroom mold check out our post: How to Prevent Bathroom Mold.
We’re Here When You Need Us
Call Branch Environmental. We’re experts not only at mold removal, but at determining and remediating the underlying causes. From hidden mold sources to major contaminants, we can identify exactly what is going on in your home and rid it of environmental toxins, often for good.
Branch Environmental – Because nobody should live or work in a building that makes them sick.
For more information go to:
- Environmental Working Group – Weak Regulation of Cleaning Products
- EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning
- Guide to Healthy Cleaning | About EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning
- EWG Not so Sexy – Hidden Chemicals in Perfume and Cologne
- Essential Oils for a Healthy Home – Branch Environmental
- A Simple Guide to Cleaning Mold – Branch Environmental
- Branch’s Guide to Spring Cleaning – Branch Environmental
- More than 200 Scientists, Medical Professionals Urge Stricter Limits on Antibacterial Agents – EWG
- Antibacterial Soap? – FDA
- 16 Effective and Safe Products To Guard Against Coronavirus – EWG
- Biggest Threats and Data | Antibiotic/Antimicrobial Resistance – CDC
- How to Disinfect Properly – Branch Environmental
- List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 | US EPA
- How to Prevent Bathroom Mold – Branch Environmental
- Bathroom Exhaust Fans – All You Need To Know – Branch Environmental