Rid Your Bathroom Of Mildew

Bathrooms are a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Learn how to get rid of offending mildew and keep it at bay forever.

WHAT IS MILDEW?

Mildew is a type of fungus that be found growing on a multitude of surfaces where moisture and temperature levels are high. Mildew can be identified and distinguished from other types of fungi by its thin, sheet-like appearance that often coats entire surfaces. Mildew can be black or white in color. As mildew grows, it leaves behind a musty, sour-like odor. Most mildews are caused by an overgrowth of it's close cousin, mold. In the home, mildew can grow on most types of fabric, leather, wood, paper, cement, linoleum, paint, sheet rock, and more.

CAUSES OF MILDEW

The most common causes of mildew include:

Poor air circulation.

Low or non-existent lighting.

Warm, humid temperatures.

Grease or body oils left on materials, such as shower walls and doors.

Damp or wet conditions.

BATHROOM MILDEW

While you may head to the bathroom to get clean, bathrooms are most often the dirtiest and most bacteria infested rooms in the house. Due to their small size, mixture of surfaces, and the fact that they generate tremendous amounts of moisture and humidity, the bathroom is a natural breeding ground for all types of bacteria and mildew. White and black mildew often shows itself in bath areas by clinging to walls and ceilings, growing on shower doors and curtains, and spreading between grout and tile.

GETTING MILDEW UNDER CONTROL

DECREASE THE HUMIDITY

Hot showers and baths cause humid air buildup in bathrooms. Controling the humidity in the air will help to keep mildew from growing.

Turn on the bathroom fan! It's there for a reason. Use it. Fans will help pull moisture from the air, preventing the growth of mildew altogether. If you don't have a fan, use a dehumidifier, air conditioner, or open a bathroom window to help circulate air. In the winter, turn on the heat. Electric and gas heat will help dry the bathroom faster and remove excess moisture from the air.

TURN ON THE LIGHTS!

Use bathroom lighting before, during and after a shower or hot bath. Mildew doesn't grow in well-lit areas. Leave lights on an extra fifteen minutes after showering.

CLEAN!

Mildew grows on shower walls and doors by feeding on body oils and soap scum trapped on painted surfaces, grout, shower doors, curtains, and tiling. Scrub bathroom shower walls and doors with a stiff brush and a solution of bleach and water (1 cup chlorine bleach to 5 cups hot water). Bleach not only cleans, but kills bacterias, like molds and mildews, as well. You can use regular household bleach or cleaners containing bleach.

Chemical mildew-removers can also be effective, but are highly toxic, so be sure to wear rubber gloves and leave bathroom fans running during cleaning to provide adequate air exchange.

And don't forget the shower curtain! Mildew commonly grows on shower curtains that get bunched up on their holding rod. Wash shower curtain in hot water, adding 1 cup of bleach to the washer.

KEEP THINGS DRY

Wipe down the shower and bath area after bathing to help remove moisture. Use a squeegee to handle shower walls and tiles and sop water from shower curtains with a sponge.

HANG EVERYTHING

Wet towels and washcloths are also hot spots for mildew growth. Hang towels, clothing and anything that can collect moisture.

KEEPING MILDEW AT BAY

INSTALL FANS OR VENTS

The lower the moisture in the air, the less chance you give mildew to grow. Install bathroom fans or vents to help air circulate. Be sure to vent outside, not into the attic of your home.

REPAINT

Repaint your bathroom using a mildew proof paint especially designed for high moisture areas, like kitchens and baths.



ALTERNATIVE MEASURES

WAX IT UP

Many people swear by car wax! Once you've cleaned grout, tile and shower stalls, apply a small amount of liquid car wax to the bathroom and polish. Users insist it keeps things moisture and mildew-proof for up to a year.

DISH SOAP

Using a squirt of dishwashing gel in a bucket of hot water will help to clean tubs and sink of soap scum and common bacteria. Rinse and dry well.

THE VINEGAR CURE

Fill an old spray bottle with vinegar. Following each shower, spray shower walls, tiles, curtains and doors. The vinegar will kill the mold bacteria before mildew has a chance to get started, remove soap scum, and body oils. Vinegar is also an effective mildew and odor remover.

ODOR STOPPER

You can get rid of the musty odor of mildew by scrubbing bathroom grout and tiling with a brush and paste mixture made of equal parts baking soda, water, and salt. Rinse thoroughly.

Use a disinfectant daily to kill germs that cause odors. After showering, simply spray the tub and sink area and go!

Put a fabric softener sheet in a bathroom garbage pail or spray some perfume on a cotton ball or light bulb.

Lemon juice diluted with water will remove odors and stop the buildup of body oils and soap scum that contribute to mildew growth.

GET AT THE CORNERS

To remove mildew from the corners of walls, tubs, and other hard to reach areas, dip individual cotton balls in bleach and let them sit directly over mildewed area for 10-20 minutes. Remove cotton balls and rinse.

To remove mildew from the shower track door, pour vinegar into the track and let soak for 10-15 minutes. Rinse.

SHOWER CURTAINS

Soak shower curtains in salt water after washing to prevent future mildew growth.

Rub shower curtain with the juice of a lemon to help remove stubborn mildew stains and odors. Hang and allow to dry.

Clean shower curtains with laundry sprays. Pre-wash sprays will help to remove mildew and mold stains.

Soak shower curtain in steaming hot water and and fabric softener. Rinse and dry as usual.

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