Feature Articles - Housing
Protect your bath and shower from mold and mildew
Moisture makes bathrooms attractive to mold and mildew growth. A leaky seal under a toilet can allow water to seep between vinyl floor covering and wood or concrete subflooring, encouraging mold growth. A loose connection under a sink may allow mold to grow inside a vanity cabinet. “Also a shower curtain or door may restrict air flow and encourage mold and mildew growth in the bath or shower,” says University of Missouri Extension Housing and Environmental Design Specialist Marsha Alexander.
Molds are microscopic fungi that require moisture to grow. They thrive on organic materials, natural fibers such as cotton or wool, paper or wood.
Mold and mildew, which are some of the most common household molds, can cause discoloration on bathroom tile or other fixtures, on walls, around windows, and between layers of flooring. Molds vary in color – from white to orange, green, black or brown – and usually produce a musty odor. Homeowners and renters can sometimes detect growth in poorly lighted or unexposed areas, such as behind baseboards by the odor. However, that is not always the case.
To reduce mold and mildew in the bath and shower areas, Marsha Alexander offers these tips:
- Keep bath and shower areas as clean and dry as possible.
- After showering, wipe down the shower walls with a sponge or towel.
- After a bath, wipe up splashes and puddles.
- Keep shower curtains clean and mold and mildew free.
- Use a vented exhaust fan to reduce moisture in the air; allow the fan to run for a few minutes after showering or bathing. Fans should be vented to the outside, not to an attic or crawlspace.
- When the weather permits, open a window to allow extra moisture to escape.
- Launder towels frequently.
To clean mold and mildew from bath and shower areas, Alexander recommends scrubbing surfaces with a solution prepared with one cup liquid chlorine bleach, one tablespoon of detergent that does not contain ammonia, and one gallon of water. Rubber gloves and glasses or protective eyewear are recommended. As with any cleaning solution, avoid breathing fumes.
If shower curtains can be laundered by machine, add chlorine bleach with detergent. For plastic curtains, use a warm water rinse and hang curtains to reduce wrinkling.
For more information on mold and mildew, contact your local University of Missouri Extension Center or visit the Extension website at http://extension.missouri.edu/.
Source: Marsha Alexander, Housing and Environmental Design Specialist, University of Missouri Extension
Last update: Monday, August 23, 2010