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Black mold in the bathroom – what to do about it

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: I just went to clean our rental property after the tenant left and found black mold in the bathroom. Yuck! How can I get rid of it?

A: Yuck, it’s true! Black mold is disgusting. And depending on the strain it is, it can be dangerous. If the space has been inundated, or if a long-term leak has only recently become apparent, what you are seeing could be the black mold: Stachybotrys chartarum. This highly toxic mold should only be removed by a professional.

But, more than likely, a buildup of coarseness along your tub or shower indicates the presence of more generic bathroom mold. The only way to be sure is to test it, either by having professionals take samples or by sending samples through a DIY kit, and wait for the results. Once you can confirm that this is the latter type of bathroom mold, you can get down to business getting rid of it on your own.

In general, mold is an abundant fungus in the natural environment and, when conditions are favorable, also indoors. Take the bathroom: its damp, dark and often hot interior makes mold growth a permanent problem. Without proper ventilation or regular towel drying after each use, black mold can easily set in and thrive. Here’s how you can give them an eviction notice.

Black mold in the bathroom - Clean black mold between tiles

Photo: istockphoto.com

1. Remove the mold.

Use an antifungal surface cleaner (such as Clorox Antifungal, available on Amazon) and a sponge or rag to wipe mildew from non-porous surfaces like tiles and porcelain. Follow up with a scrub brush on any stubborn areas and rinse with plenty of water. This process should remove mold, even if a dark stain remains.

2. Clean the spots.

To remove black spots left by mold on non-porous surfaces like grout, mix equal parts bleach and water in a spray bottle and spray it on the stained area, allowing it to sit for several minutes. Come back and spray the area again and use a scrub brush to remove any remaining discoloration. Advice: An old toothbrush accurately reaches the narrow lines of the rout.

3. Eliminate mold spores.

While bleach is great for removing dark stains caused by mold, it’s not the most effective way to remove mold spores. Instead, spray vinegar on the area and allow it to dry so the cleanser can remove any remaining mold spores.

4. Prevent future mold growth.

  • Keep vinegar on hand. Keep a vinegar spray bottle in the bathroom, apply and air dry after each shower or soak. (You might consider adding several drops of your favorite essential oil – tea tree, peppermint, or lavender – to the bottle to make the vinegar smell less offensive.)
  • Reduce humidity. If you don’t have one, install an exhaust fan. Throwing one every time you take a shower or a bath and several minutes afterwards should remove any residual steam and dry the air.
  • Wipe off after each use. Scrape and then wipe down glass doors and tiles to remove excess moisture from these surfaces. While you’re at it, also wipe down sinks after each use, so mold has nowhere to go (and grow).
  • Clean regularly. Make sure to do a deep cleaning of the bathroom every week; if all else fails, this consistent diet should prevent mold spores from setting in and going crazy. Incorporate an anti-fungal cleanser into your routine at least once a month.

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