They’re gross, they’re dirty, and they make even the most well-kept bathroom look yucky—mold and mildew.
These grody cousins are particularly fond of bathrooms, since they thrive in moist environments. They can grow on grout, tile, walls, shower curtains, and other spots in your bathroom. Not only is this stuff unsightly, it can be unhealthy. Mold and mildew can cause respiratory problems, aggravate allergies, and be especially harmful to children, the elderly, and people with existing respiratory issues.
Luckily, you don’t have to live with this menace! There are many ways to get rid of and prevent mold and mildew growth in your bathroom.
An Ounce of Prevention: Ventilation
If your bathroom has a fan, make sure to turn it on before you start your shower or bath and leave it running for at least 10 minutes after you finish. This helps remove the moisture from the room as it’s forming. If you don’t have a fan, keep a window open an inch or two if possible. If your bathroom has neither a fan nor a window, consider using a portable dehumidifier.
If your bathroom’s poor ventilation is causing a serious mold and mildew problem, consider a minor bathroom remodel to add a fan.
Cleaning Mildew the Natural Way
Before you attack your bathroom’s mildew problem with heavy-duty chemicals, see if you can clear it out with natural, non-toxic cleaners.
- Hydrogen peroxide – Hydrogen peroxide is known for its mildew-killing prowess. Spray full-strength (3%) hydrogen peroxide on the mildewed areas; let it sit for 10 minutes, then scrub and rinse clean. If you are dealing with particularly tough grout mildew, you may need to repeat the process. (You can find hydrogen peroxide packaged in spray bottles on Amazon or you can buy it from the drugstore and decant into your own clean spray bottle.)
- Baking soda and vinegar – This classic cleaning combo can work on mold and mildew that’s just starting to form and might keep you from having to get out the bleach later on. Add water to baking soda in a small bowl or cup and mix until it forms a paste. Dip a grout brush or old toothbrush into the paste and scrub it into your grout and other mildewed areas. Don’t rinse yet! Spray with a 1:1 vinegar and water solution. The vinegar will react with the baking soda to cut through the mildew and other grime. This method is also good for ridding your grout and tile of soap scum.
BONUS TIP: If your shower curtain gets mildewed, take it down and toss it in your washing machine with a couple of towels to help it agitate. Add a half-cup baking soda to the wash cycle and a half-cup vinegar to the rinse cycle; let drip dry.
When All Else Fails: Call in Reinforcements
If your attempts at natural cleaning fail or you know that your mold and mildew problem is serious, a heavy-duty store-bought cleaner is your best bet. There are several bleach-based mold and mildew cleaners on the market and most get the job done with just a few sprays. Keep in mind: these chemical cleaners are highly toxic and should be used with care. Follow the directions and precautions listed on the bottle. Keep your bathroom window open and your ventilation fan on when using them—and always wear protective gloves.
Once you’ve conquered the enemy, keep it at bay with daily and weekly maintenance. You can keep a bottle of 1:1 vinegar and water solution in the shower and spray down the walls 2-3 times a week and/or keep a squeegee handy to scrape down the tile after the last shower of the day every day. These methods will add a little extra work to you day-to-day routine, but they’ll help keep your bathroom mildew free!