Black Mold in the Bathroom – Everything You Need to Know
Where did the black mold in the bathroom come from? How do you safely get rid of black mold in the bathroom? Is black mold toxic? Do you have to use a professional mold removal service or can you DIY? We answer all your questions and more!
Blog information is NOT intended to provide or replace medical advice. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.
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Suggestions for products to use are just that, suggestions. You know yourself and your home best. Please do your own research on any product you use in your home or on your skin, and learn all the facts for yourself. Thank you.
WHAT IS BLACK MOLD? WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
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!
Symptoms of Black Mold in the Bathroom
Sometimes you can visibly see or smell mold growing, but other times it is more difficult to detect. Tight spaces such as in attics, behind cabinets, and in crawl spaces are not places people are likely to venture.
There are 3 ways to tell if you have mold: 1 you might see it, 2 you will probably smell it, but 3 a comprehensive mold inspection by Branch Environmental will definitely find it! The best way to know if you have mold is to get a comprehensive mold inspection performed. Keep reading to learn more about how you can identify the symptoms of mold in your home.
Symptoms of Black Mold in the Bathroom – What Does Mold Look Like?
Before we go any further, let’s clear up the confusion about ‘toxic black mold.’ When you read about ‘toxic black mold’ it is kind of misleading. The thing is… dangerous and toxic mold is not just black, it can be many different colors. Toxic molds can appear to be green, yellow, brown, and black. Any of the colors you see could be producing mycotoxins. (We’ll explain more about mycotoxins shortly. Keep reading!)
Mold is usually a black, white, brown, green, gray, or yellow, fuzzy growth. Sometimes you can see it. Sometimes you can’t because it is hidden in the dark recesses of your home. Places like attics, crawlspaces, basements, behind cabinets, inside floors, etc. are great places for mold to grow.
Symptoms of Black Mold in the Bathroom – What does mold smell like?
Do you smell that? Did you forget to wash your gym clothes? Does the dog need a bath? I cleaned everything, and I can’t find the stench! It’s so musty! What could it be?! If this sounds like your bathroom, you might have a problem with mold and MVOC’s.
MVOC’s or Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds are compounds created by fungi and bacteria during their metabolic processes. MVOC’s can be detected by simply smelling the air. The smell of MVOC’s has been compared to stinky socks, locker room odor, wet dog, or old cheese. They give off a distinctly musty, moldy smell. There are over 200 compounds that have been identified as MVOC’s. MVOC’s can be dangerous and even toxic to humans. MVOC’s can be mycotoxins or can cause allergy symptoms. It depends on which ones are present. If you smell odors like this, you may have a mold problem in your home.
There are also compounds called VOC’s or volatile organic compounds that can be produced by household cleaners, paints, aerosols, disinfectants, air fresheners, glues, and even furniture. VOC’s are not caused by mold or other microbes, and give off a distinctly chemical scent. VOC’s can cause health problems as well.
What Kinds Of Damage Can MVOC’s Cause?
There have been over 200 different chemical compounds identified as MVOC’s that are produced by fungi and bacteria. The chemicals produced include alcohols, arsenics, benzenes, toluenes, acids, sulfur compounds, and many more. Many but not all of these chemicals are mycotoxins and are harmful to people and pets simply by breathing them in. Keep reading to learn more about why mold is dangerous for your health!
It’s not easy to see mold, but if you have any water leaks in your home, you are much more likely to find it! Flooding is of course a major problem, but usually people notice when pipes have burst or flood waters have invaded their homes. These are dramatic events!
However, tiny cracks in pipes and hoses, and clogs in drains can become a nightmare if forgotten long enough. Tiny leaks over a long period of time can cause as much or more damage than flooding water type events. Because they go unnoticed, tiny leaks can cause more damage than most people realize. Remember we talked about how mold has plenty of food sources in your home? All it takes is that tiny bit of extra moisture and mold starts growing. In most cases it starts within 48 hours!
The main sources for mold growth in homes are water leaks from faucets, roofs, hot water heaters, ground water damage and even sewer backup. In general if you find the water leaks, you find the source of the problem.
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 for the fungi.
Most building codes now require a fan in every bathroom. Why? Because fans help ventilate the room, remove bad smells, and remove moisture. The most important function of the fan being to remove moisture. 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 an exhaust fan is critical to preventing mold and mildew growth.
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.
Is Mold Dangerous?
In one word… Yes.
All molds have the potential to cause irritation and allergy symptoms. It is important to note that the longer you are exposed to the mold, the more pronounced your symptoms become. At first, it might just be allergy symptoms, but over time (weeks, months, years) mycotoxins build up in your system, and can make you sicker and sicker.
Not all molds are toxic, but many are. Mycotoxins can cause health problems ranging from poisoning to cancer. You can be affected by mycotoxins even if you are not allergic to mold.
You can’t tell if mycotoxins are present just by looking or smelling. You have to perform a laboratory test.
So, What is a Mycotoxin?
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.
Where is the line between an allergic mold and a toxic mold? That line is defined by the presence of mycotoxins, and is NOT defined by color. Mycotoxins are invisible and cannot be detected just by looking at the mold growth.
What Do Mycotoxins Do?
These chemical substances can cause many health problems ranging from mild to severe. Even if you are not allergic to mold, you can be affected by mycotoxins.
Mycotoxins can be absorbed by the body in a number of ways including: through the skin, the airways (inhalation), and through the intestinal lining (ingestion). Detrimental health effects caused by mycotoxins can range from “acute poisoning to long-term effects such as immune deficiency and cancer.” Chronic disease sufferers, such as people with immunosuppressive disorders or underlying lung disease may be more sensitive to molds and mycotoxins in their environment.
The main ways people and pets become poisoned by mycotoxins include breathing contaminated air or eating contaminated foods. Simply breathing contaminated air can introduce the mycotoxins into your lungs! Foods such as apples, cereal grains, coffee beans, nuts, spices, dog and cat food, and more can become contaminated with fungi that produce mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are NOT something you want in your home! Keep reading to learn how you can remove them.
Please remember that this blog is NOT intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
To learn more about how mold can affect your health, check out our post: Health Effects of Black Mold.
What do you do if you find mold in your bathroom?
So, hopefully we have convinced you by now that you don’t want to live with mold! Now that you’ve found it, what do you do?
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 call the professionals. We want to help you get back to living your best life in a clean mold-free home!
Step 1 – Get a Professional Mold Inspection
Mold is a difficult thing to find. Step 1 should be a comprehensive mold and indoor air quality inspection. A comprehensive mold inspection (like ours) can help you identify ALL the potential sources of mold in your home, not just the ones you can see easily. Even if you see mold in one place, it may be lurking in several more.
Why Should I Pay for a Comprehensive Mold Inspection?
The company you choose for the inspection should offer a comprehensive mold inspection that you pay for, not hand over a price without truly investigating the problem. Any company who gives you numbers before they inspect your home has a preconceived idea of what they ‘think’ the problem is.
The primary reason you want to pay for a comprehensive mold inspection is the time and resources that go into the inspection. Some of our competitors offer “free” inspections, which basically means that the inspector shows up and hands over a price to fix a symptom, without truly knowing the nature of the problem.
The inspection should include all parts of your home, especially the parts that are hard to reach like crawlspaces and attics. Those are the places where mold loves to hide.
Your inspector should define the extent of the necessary work and what may or may not need to be done. The inspector should talk you through all your options and tailor a plan that fits your needs and your budget.
Check out our post: How to Choose the Best Mold Removal Company Near Me to learn all the questions you should ask when hiring a mold removal or remediation company. Never hire a company to inspect your home or remove mold without asking lots of questions first!
Step 2 – Can I clean the mold myself or do I need a professional?
Customers often ask us, “Can I clean the mold myself or do I need a professional?”
Our answer depends several factors including:
- how extensive the mold problem is
- what building materials, furnishings, and belongings are affected
- where the mold is located
- whether or not you mind being in confined spaces such as your crawlspace, basement, or attic
If you’re familiar with our blog, you know that the first thing to do when cleaning mold is to fix the moisture problem that led to the mold growth. Until you fix the moisture problem, mold will continue to grow and spread.
When is it Safe to DIY?
DIY cleaning hard surfaces (like showers, bathtubs, sinks and tile) is easier and safer than cleaning soft surfaces such as drywall, cabinets, and carpet. Mildew (mold’s cousin) is usually easy to remove and is easily a DIY project.
Mold however is a different story. Mold grows inside of its food sources and makes soft surfaces difficult to impossible to clean. The only way to remove all the mold is to remove all of the soft material in which the mold is growing.
Mold is great at hiding in hard to detect locations such as in drywall, inside cabinets, flooring, and insulation. You may wonder if professional help is really necessary. 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, and it’s time to call in the professionals.
If the area of mold is less than 10 square feet, you may be able to DIY. Be sure to clean smart! Never clean mold without using proper safety equipment and ventilating the room.
Before cleaning check out our post Black Mold vs Mildew – 7 Common Misconceptions and When to DIY. We give you all the details on how to safely clean the mold or mildew yourself.
Know When To Call
It’s not hard to take care of mold as a homeowner, but it’s a good idea to know when to call in the pros. 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. If an area of mold covers more than around 10 square feet, there is a good chance the mold problem is more than an isolated issue, and it’s time to call 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. We help you know all the questions to ask the company you hire, and give you all the correct answers!
Don’t get scammed! Get smart! The company you choose should know all the answers to the questions in our article. Always ask a lot of questions before hiring anyone to work in your home.
The Branch Difference
At Branch Environmental, we see each mold inspection as an in-depth investigation, not an opportunity to hand over a guess-based estimate of work. If you think you may need a mold inspection, get in touch with us, and we’ll get down to the source.
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.
BRANCH’S RECOMMENDED MOLD AND MILDEW REMOVAL PRODUCTS
We highly recommend these products and protective equipment as safe and effective in removing mold and mildew. All products are safe to use around kids and pets, except for essential oils. Some essential oils can irritate lungs and eyes, so please use with caution.
Before cleaning be sure to check out our article: Black Mold vs Mildew – 7 Common Misconceptions and When to DIY before cleaning. We give you all the details on how to clean mold safely.
Never mix cleansing products! Remember to read all directions before beginning. Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment when cleaning, and be sure to properly ventilate the room.
All links are to Amazon listings for purchase. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
Your purchase helps support our mission of education through our blog. Thank you for purchasing through Branch Environmental!
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- White Vinegar
- Baking Soda
- Tea Tree Essential Oil
- Concrobium Mold Control Cleaner
- Bioesque Botanical Disinfectant Solution
- N-95 Respirator
- Goggles Or Eye Protection
- Protective Gloves With Long Cuffs
- Kitchen Sink Strainers – Pack of 2
Please note that vacuum and steam cleaners are not designed to remove mold. We have included our picks below for vacuum and steam carpet cleaners for regular cleaning NOT mold removal purposes. Thank you.
For more information go to:
- Do You Have Mold In Your House? Symptoms Of Mold
- Bathroom Ceiling Mold Removal – When to Clean / When to Call – Branch Environmental
- Bathroom Exhaust Fans – All You Need To Know – Branch Environmental
- How to Prevent Bathroom Mold – Branch Environmental
- How to Choose the Best Mold Removal Products – Branch Environmental
- Bathroom Mold Removal – 7 Things To Know – Branch Environmental
- Black Mold Affects Home Value – What to do about it for Buyers and Sellers – Branch Environmental
- How to Choose the ‘Best’ Black Mold Removal Company – Branch Environmental
- Mold from a Water Leak? – Everything You Need to Know – Branch Environmental
- 10 Things You Need To Know Today About Black Mold From a Water Leak – Branch Environmental
- Top 6 Types of Water Damage and How to Avoid Them – Branch Environmental
- Mold Allergy Avoidance – How to Stay Well – Mold Allergy Inside & Outside – Branch Environmental
- When Mold Is Worse Than Allergies – Branch Environmental
- Mycotoxins – World Health Organization (WHO)
- Basic Facts about Mold and Dampness – Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- Mold and Pets – 10 Things You Most Likely Didn’t Know – Branch Environmental
- The Health Effects of Black Mold – on Adults, Children and Pets – Branch Environmental
- What’s that musty smell? MVOC’s – Branch Environmental
- Volatile Organic Compounds’ Impact on Indoor Air Quality | US EPA
- What should I know about formaldehyde and indoor air quality? | US EPA
- Do You Have Mold? How to Choose Between a Paid or Free Mold Inspection – Branch Environmental
- Black Mold vs Mildew – 7 Common Misconceptions and When to DIY – Branch Environmental
- Mold Exposure Symptoms – Branch Environmental
- Cleaning Mold: DIY v. Professional – Branch Environmental
- Black Mold on Carpet – 12 Things You May Not Know and How to Deal With It – Branch Environmental
- Master the Skills and Knowledge Needed for DIY Black Mold Removal – Branch Environmental