Bathroom Mold Remover – How to Choose the Best and DIY Safely
Do you love having a clean bathroom? How can you choose the best bathroom mold remover? Is there a way to choose products that are safe around adults, children, and pets? What should you wear when cleaning? Are there any special precautions you should take when cleaning away mold? Come learn the answers to all your questions and more!
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WHAT IS MOLD?
Let’s think about what mold is and how it ends up in your bathroom. From the arctic to equator and all the places in between, mold lives literally everywhere. Molds are fungi, and grow from microscopic spores that are everywhere in the air. Molds are important for recycling organic matter (such as leaves). The recycling process they perform returns nutrients to the soil, and is important for plants to grow.
In order to grow, molds need four things to grow: oxygen, moisture, a food source, and the right temperature range (ideal is between 77F – 86F). It is difficult to impossible to control the temperature and amount of oxygen in the unconditioned spaces in your home (attic, crawlspace, behind cabinets, etc). So, let’s think about the things you can control when it comes to mold.
Molds grow inside of their food sources. They penetrate deeply into drywall, carpets, floors, cabinets, underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks, etc. Anything with carbohydrates in it could be considered a food source for molds.
Moisture is the one thing you can reasonably control when it comes to mold. A dry home equals a home with much less mold growth. Keeping areas dry, especially areas that use water frequently (like bathrooms), is important to prevent mold growth.
How Fast Do Molds Grow?
Moisture behind baseboards and cabinets, wet carpet tack strips, in crawl spaces, basements, and other hard to reach areas are a ticking mold time bomb. Once enough moisture is present, molds can begin to grow in less than 48 hours!
What Caused the Bathroom Mold in the First Place?
Before cleaning the mold, you need to do a little investigative work. If you don’t solve the moisture issue that caused the mold, the mold will keep coming back! Some questions to ask include:
- Where is the mold located? Usually mold will grow in or near a place with lots of moisture, like your bathroom. Under sinks, behind cabinets, and between tiles are all places both moisture and mold can hide.
- Is this naturally a room with lots of moisture? Yes, bathrooms in particular are prone to mold and mildew growth because of the high moisture from baths and showers.
- Are there any leaking pipes, windows, or roof penetrations? Tiny leaks can cause as much or more damage as gushing water over time. Be sure to check for leaks before cleaning!
- Is the problem mold or mildew? Mold and mildew differ in the way they grow and what they look like.
How do I know I have mold vs. mildew?
Mildew is flat and grows on the surface of things. This window can easily be cleaned by the homeowner and the mildew removed. (However, the moisture from the window could be a continuing problem.)
Mold and mildew differ in the way they grow and what they look like. Mildew is always flat, and may begin white and then turn brown, gray or black.
Mold is usually fuzzy and raised above the surface that it is growing on. Mold can be many different colors ranging from white, yellow, green, gray, to black. The biggest difference between mold and mildew is how they grow. Mildew only grows on the surface. Mold grows inside of it’s food source. Mold has to be removed completely not just cleaned.
Black Mold – Something of a Misnomer
Before we go any further, we need to address a common misconception about mold. While all molds have the potential to cause irritation and allergy symptoms, some molds can also cause much more dangerous health problems. Some molds, but not all, produce toxins. Toxic molds can cause health problems ranging from poisoning to cancer. Not all molds are toxic, but many are. The thing is… dangerous and toxic mold is not just black, it can be many different colors. Toxic molds can appear to be gray, green, yellow, brown, and black.
So, where is the line between an allergic mold and a toxic mold? That line is defined by something called a mycotoxin, and is NOT defined by color.
Mycotoxins, literally ‘fungus poison’ in Latin, are secondary metabolites that can be produced by molds, and are not living organisms. Mycotoxins are a byproduct of mold. Not all mold spores produce mycotoxins, but some do. So the molds that produce mycotoxins are the ones that could be categorized as toxic or poisonous.
Mycotoxins are chemical substances that can cause many health problems ranging from mild to severe. Even if you are not allergic to mold, you can be affected by mycotoxins.
To learn even more about the health effects of mold check out our posts: Effects of Mold on Children’s Health and Mold and Mycotoxins: Effects on the Brain and Nervous System in Adults.
Is Mold Dangerous?
In a word, YES. Toxic mold can make you very sick, but most people don’t realize how insidious it can be. Remember that the color of the mold (black, green, brown, etc.) does not determine it’s toxicity. Mold can cause health issues ranging from severe allergic reactions to mental health problems.
To learn more about the different health effects mold can have on adults, children and pets check out our post: Health Effects of Black Mold.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Bathroom Mold Remover
There are several things to consider when choosing a mold remover including: location, amount of time or effort required, and above all safety. No matter what color the mold is, it could be toxic. Be sure to follow all safety precautions to the letter.
What To Wear – Bathroom Mold Remover
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 or from mycotoxins.
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.
Bathrooms are Excellent Places to Grow Mold and Mildew
Why You Need a Bathroom Exhaust Fan
Most of the time, water leaks are the culprits for mold growth but not always. Excess moisture and high humidity make bathrooms excellent places to grow some of your home’s worst enemies: mold and mildew. Remember that mold and mildew only need oxygen, a food source, and moisture to grow. Mold and mildew can damage the fixtures of the bathroom such as the trim, drywall, paint, doors, and more because for the mold and mildew, these fixtures are a food source.
Most building codes now require a fan in every bathroom. Why? Because fans help ventilate the room, remove bad smells, and most importantly fans remove moisture. The most important function of the fan is absolutely to remove moisture. No moisture = no mold growth! Even if the bathroom has a window, a fan is the best way to prevent moisture buildup.
Keeping your bathroom dry, well ventilated, and consistently using a bathroom exhaust fan is critical to preventing mold and mildew growth. Of course, that means you and your family have to use it.
To learn more about what size fan, how to install it, and most importantly how to get people to use the fan (!) check out our guide: Bathroom Exhaust Fans – All You Need to Know.
As we’ve just said, ventilation is very important in bathrooms, but especially when cleaning mold. Mold spores can fly around the room and enter other areas of your home. Before cleaning, block off the room to be cleaned from the rest of the home. Close the door, and stop air from flowing into other rooms. Add a fan in a window and use the bathroom ventilation fan while cleaning. Good ventilation can prevent mold spores from entering other areas of your home.
Location – Where you are using the Bathroom Mold Remover
Think about the location and type of surface to clean. Is the surface tile, linoleum, or ceramic? What about carpet, drywall, or fabric? Hard and soft surfaces require different strategies.
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 problems have been fixed.
Softer surfaces (such as carpet, drywall, upholstered furniture, etc.), are not always able to be cleaned completely enough to keep the mold from coming back.
Depending on how deep the mold penetrates the materials, upholstered furniture could be cleaned by a professional. 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, drywall, and furniture that have been contaminated with mold, it’s probably time to call the professionals. It is very difficult to tell just how much of the materials have really been invaded by the mold.
How Safe is my Bathroom Mold Remover?
Household cleaners are not food, drugs, or firearms, so the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) does not regulate them. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) only requires manufacturers of cleaning products to list ingredients that are active disinfectants or could cause potential harm. Manufacturers of commercial cleaning products for homes and businesses are not required to list all of their ingredients for consumers by any agency of the United States. They can claim that ingredients are a trade secret, and not disclose them on the product labels.
The truth is that companies can legally use just about anything in a cleaning product leaving you the consumer in the dark about its true safety and effectiveness.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a “non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.” EWG has created a database and guide for healthy cleaning in an easily searchable format called ‘EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.’ The EWG Guide can help you to find safer cleaning products and check products that you already use for safety. You may find that the products you already use are not safe or that they can cause respiratory distress.
The EWG Guide “contains information and hazard assessments for 2,109 products, 197 brands and more than 1,000 ingredients.” Product ingredients are rated with a high, moderate, or low risk based on different categories. Products are given a final rating of ‘A’ to ‘F’ based on the safety of chemicals present in the product and whether or not the ingredients are listed completely on the label. Ratings of ‘A’ being the safest and ‘F’ being the most dangerous or that have the least information available. To learn more about how the EWG guide was created go to About EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.
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. Cleaning and personal care product manufacturers are required to list their ingredients on the label of the products. 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. This means that they can use any chemical they choose to add scent to a product, including dangerous, allergenic, and even toxic chemicals. To learn more about hidden fragrance chemicals in personal care products go to: Not So Sexy – Hidden Chemicals in Perfume and Cologne.
Our government does not regulate cleaning products or personal care products in a way that allows consumers to have all the facts about a product before they use it. Because of this, we urge you to learn all you can before using a product in your home or on your skin. Cleaning products affect air quality, especially if ventilation is not used during cleaning. Remember whether sanitizing or disinfecting, use good ventilation when using cleaning products.
Best DIY Bathroom Mold Removers
Think of removing mold like removing dirt. You wouldn’t just spray dirt with a cleaner and call it clean! You have to remove the dirt from the surface.
When removing mold of any color, be sure to wet the area with your preferred cleanser thoroughly. Dry mold spores will explode all over the room if you try to dry wipe it away.
Be sure to always wear the safety equipment listed above and ventilate the room to the outdoors when cleaning.
There are 3 simple ingredients you can safely use to clean away mold in your home: white vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. Surprised? Remember, simple doesn’t mean that it’s ineffective. Never mix these ingredients! Keep reading for maximum cleaning power and safety!
Hard Surface Cleaning – Bathroom Mold Remover
To clean a hard surface (like a shower stall, tiles, toilet, sink, or floor), simply add your cleanser of choice to a clean, empty spray bottle undiluted. Never mix chemicals! Choose one.
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.
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 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.
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.
To explain why baking soda and vinegar clean better separately, we need to think back to high school chemistry. Wait, it’s really not that hard! Stick with us! :)
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. (See, that wasn’t so bad!)
Best Commercially Available Bathroom Mold Removers
There are 2 commercially available mold removal products that we recommend. Both are cleaners that are safe to use in your home and near children or pets. Remember that you should always wear personal protective equipment when cleaning mold of any color, no matter how safe your cleaner may be.
The first is Concrobium Mold Control Cleaner. You can check out the EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning | Concrobium Mold Control Cleaner Rating here.
The other product we recommend has not been reviewed by EWG, however, it is an excellent and safe product that we can highly recommend. Bioesque Botanical Disinfectant Solution kills fungi and mold within 3 minutes. It also kills bacteria and viruses including COVID-19.
To learn more about this product and its safety check out the company’s website at: Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution.
Tips for Cleaning Mold and Mildew
- Remember that your goal is not to kill the mold or mildew spores, but to remove them. When they have been removed completely they cannot grow back.
- Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate! Ventilation is very 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 and mildew 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.’
No matter what product you choose, be sure to wear proper safety equipment, ventilate the room to the outdoors, and follow all product directions.
Know When To Clean And When To Call
It’s easy to take care of mold and mildew as a homeowner, but it’s also a good idea to know when to call in the pros. You should be able to take care of mildew yourself, but if it keeps coming back, or is causing health problems for your family, you may want to call in the pros. It might just be mold, not mildew.
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 mold problem is more than an isolated issue. If you smell a musty odor in your home you can’t identify, or have health problems associated with mold, it’s time to call in the professionals.
Especially if you don’t live in our service area, check out our post: How to Choose the ‘Best’ Black Mold Removal Company. Have you ever hired a mold removal company before? We help you know all the questions to ask a mold removal company before you hire them and all the correct answers!
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:
- Mycotoxins – World Health Organization (WHO)
- Top 10 Ways to Prevent Water Damage – Branch Environmental
- Black Mold vs. Mildew – Branch Environmental
- Why Fall Is The Worst Season For Allergies And Asthma – Branch Environmental
- Mold and Mycotoxins: Effects on the Brain and Nervous System in Adults – Branch Environmental
- Mold Exposure Symptoms – Branch Environmental
- Branch Environmental How Does Mold Affect Your Health? – Branch Environmental
- What to Wear before entering a Home or Building with Mold Damage – CDC
- In-depth Guide to Face Masks: Allergies, Grass Cutting, and COVID-19 – Branch Environmental
- Black Mold in the Bathroom – Branch Environmental
- Health Effects of Black Mold – Branch Environmental
- EWG | Environmental Working Group
- EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning
- Not So Sexy – Hidden Chemicals in Perfume and Cologne – EWG
- Disinfecting, Sterilizing, and Sanitizing is there a Difference? – Branch Environmental
- Essential Oils For A Healthy Home – Branch Environmental
- EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning | Concrobium Mold Control Cleaner Rating
- Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution – Bioesque Solutions
- Spotlight on Mold Removal – Branch Environmental
- 5 Expectations about Mold vs. Eye-Opening Reality – Branch Environmental
- Do You Have Mold? How to Choose Between a Paid or Free Mold Inspection – Branch Environmental
- Top 8 Reasons Why Clean Air Is More Important Than Ever – Branch Environmental
- A Simple Guide To Cleaning Mold – Branch Environmental
- Branch’s Non-Toxic Spring Cleaning Guide – Branch Environmental