How to Prevent Bathroom Mold
Mold and mildew love warm, wet places. Do you have a warm, wet place in your home? Of course you do! It’s your bathroom. Bathrooms are one of the best places for mold and mildew to grow because of the warm, moist air in this room. Removing the moisture will help prevent these fungi from growing. But how can you keep the room dry? Even if the room has proper ventilation, will people remember to use it? What kind of bathroom renovations prevent moisture buildup? How can you keep it clean? We answer all your questions and more!
Keep it Dry
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. Excess moisture can cause mold and mildew to grow, and can also damage the fixtures of the bathroom such as the trim, drywall, paint, doors, and more.
What kind of fan do I need? Fans come in many different shapes and sizes, however, the size fan you need depends on the size of the room. A fan that has a rating of 50 CFM (cubic feet per minute) is suggested for bathrooms less than 50 square feet. For bathrooms more than 50 square feet, the recommendation is 1 CFM per square foot. For more information about bathroom fans and why you need them visit Why You Need a Bathroom Vent Fan – The Spruce
How do I get people to use the fan? This is the hard part. Kids, friends, family, and others visit your home, and will use the bathroom. How do you get them to use the fan? One method is to hard wire the fan to the same switch as the light. This will make the fan turn on every time someone enters the room. Another method is to install a timer. When you are ready to bathe, simply turn on the timer, and the fan will automatically shut off at the designated time. Fans should be run during and for at least 20 minutes after showers are over. You can also purchase exhaust fans that will run automatically or that can even sense moisture in the room.
Shower Items and Placement
Did you know that the placement of items in your shower or tub could contribute to mold and mildew growth? Think about shampoo bottles. They sit in the shower and water puddles under them. Leave them alone long enough, and suddenly you have a ring of mildew. Yuck.
A simple way to prevent mildew buildup is to dry the shower items every time you use them. Wait. You want me to dry off every bottle I have in the shower, and keep the soap dry, too?! I don’t have that kind of time! OK. How about this… Hanging metal shower caddies keep bottles, soap, razors, and other items, organized and dry. Shower items stay dry, organized, and ready for use!
A squeegee can help keep your bathroom dry if you use it every time you shower. Simply wipe the walls and doors of the shower down after you use it. It should take less than 2 minutes depending on the size of your shower. You can use a squeegee when cleaning to remove the water after cleaning the shower. Squeegees can also be used to clean mirrors.
Shower curtains build up moisture just like shower doors, but you can’t use a squeegee on them. To keep shower curtains dry, keep the curtain closed, or so that the curtain is exposed to as much air as possible. Shake the curtain gently when you finish showering to help remove excess moisture. Encourage family members to close the curtain when finished showering.
You may even want to consider shower curtain liners a disposable item. You can buy them in bulk, and replace them every time you change air filters every three months. For those thrifty folks among us, you can simply remove the shower curtain, and scrub with baking soda to remove stains, mold, and mildew. Rinse well before hanging to dry. Heavy duty shower curtains can be washed in the washing machine on a delicate setting using hot water. Add baking soda to the drum, and vinegar instead of laundry detergent. Most of the stains, mold, and mildew will be removed this way, and you can reduce the time spent scrubbing. However, even heavy duty curtains will not last more than one or two washing machine washes.
Rugs and towels hold water, and can become moldy or mildewed if not washed often or hung properly to dry. After showering, wipe the water off your body before using a towel to reduce the amount of water. Dry off your body before you exit the shower to prevent as much water as possible from reaching the rugs. Use washable rugs in bathrooms, and launder rugs often (at least once a month, but more often if needed).
Towels must be hung in a way that they can dry completely. Towels should be hung so that the towel is completely flat across the towel bar. This helps the towel dry faster and more completely. If a hook is used, towels may not dry completely because folds have formed preventing evaporation. For multiple family members, more towel racks are better than hooks. A wall mounted swing towel bar with multiple racks helps towels dry more efficiently.
If possible, wash towels and rugs in hot water to help eliminate fungi and bacteria that may be growing on them. Be sure to check manufacturers washing instructions.
Under The Sink
A common place to find mold growth is in the deep, dark corners of the vanity or cabinets. At least twice a year, remove all the contents from your cabinets and wipe clean. This is also a great way to spot water leaks that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. If you find a water leak, it is important to repair it quickly to prevent damage from water and mold.
Home Renovation Projects for Prevention
There are several different home renovation projects that you can do yourself to help prevent mold and mildew from growing in your bathroom.
Is your fan the right size for the bathroom you have? Contractors are required by the code to put in fans, but they may not be sized properly. Check the CFM rating of your fan to be sure it is the right size for your bathroom. This is usually marked on a label under the grill of the fan.
Is the fan working properly? Is it clean? Eeew! Dust! To keep fans clean and working properly, be sure to vacuum the grill often. You can even take the grill off, and wash it with soap and water to help it run more smoothly. To learn more about what features you should look for in a bathroom fan go to the Homeair Bathroom Fan Buying Guide. For bathroom fan reviews, go to Best Bathroom Fan Reviews 2019.
Paint is another area where you can defend your bathroom against mold and mildew. Mildew resistant paint that has a low VOC (volatile organic compound) rating can prevent mold and mildew growth on walls. Paint that has a high gloss finish also helps prevent moisture from entering the drywall, and can be easily wiped clean. Be sure to choose a paint with low VOC to help keep indoor air free from toxins.
Both mold and mildew thrive in the dark, so letting in light and sunshine can help prevent growth. Higher temperatures associated with sunlit rooms can also help moisture evaporate more quickly. Perhaps a larger window could be added to the room, or for a more practical option, add a frosty appearance to the glass of the existing window, so that it no longer needs blinds or curtains.
Grout and tile are notorious growing mildew. Scrub grout with a non-abrasive cleaner (like baking soda) every few weeks to keep it clean. Reseal grout every year to help it shed water. Be diligent in repairing grout and caulk as it degrades, because these areas can let water enter the framing of your home. If water enters the framing, you can be sure that mold is close behind! Pay close attention to the area your bathtub joins the shower walls, and the area the tub or shower meets the floor.
How to Clean
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. Caution: Do not mix hydrogen peroxide with baking soda or vinegar. 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.
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.
Remember, there are three big ways to prevent both mold and mildew from growing in your bathroom.
- Keep it Dry – Moisture is key for fungal growth.
- Renovate your home to prevent moisture buildup.
- Keep it Clean – Use non-toxic cleaners to remove mold and mildew.
These three simple steps can help keep mold and mildew at bay, and make your home cleaner and safer for friends and family!
Branch Environmental – Because nobody should live or work in a building that makes them sick.
For more information go to:
How to Prevent Bathroom Mold by the Family Handyman
Why You Need a Bathroom Vent Fan – The Spruce
6 Tricks to Keep Your Bathroom Mold-Free – The Spruce
Bathroom Fan Buying Guide – Homeair
Best Bathroom Fan Reviews 2019 – Homeair
VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) – American Lung Association
8 Ways to Mildew-Proof Your Bathroom – Bob Vila
How to Frost Glass – Bob Vila
How to Seal Grout – Bob Vila
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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