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It’s not a secret that bathrooms have the type of conditions that facilitate mold growth. Poor ventilation, hot temperatures, and water sources (those toilets! steamy showers! dripping faucets!) can combine to create a very humid environment where mold can thrive.
A type of fungus, mold is not only unattractive when its black spots appear in a bathroom, it can also be a health risk. It produces spores which, at high levels, can cause allergic reactions and symptoms, including stuffy nose, congestion, itching, red eyes and throat irritation. For people whose allergic reactions are also linked to asthma, mold can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing.
Now let me say that I enjoy fungi in all their biological glory outside of my home – there are millions of species of fungi and frankly mold spores are all around us and we we probably inhale them with every breath we take. Usually a few, if you’re healthy, aren’t a problem. (We’re not talking about toxic black mold here, which can be dangerous.)
However, having two family members with asthma, I fought the good fight against mold and mildew (mildew is often used as a more generic term and can refer to mold that has a flat growth pattern) in our one and only, poorly ventilated bathroom, for ages. Being a 100 year old home, it never really had the technology or the setup to help reduce the humidity, and the steam heaters made the problem worse.
I replaced an underpowered bathroom fan (twice! Still useless), regularly cleaned the walls and ceilings with bleach-based products like Tilex, and repainted the walls and ceiling (also more than once) with a special antifungal paint that you can buy at Home Depot or just about any hardware store. All of these steps helped, but none were a magic cure.
The process was exhausting. I thought I had to change it, because frankly, I never wanted to clean my ceiling again.