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Close up of bathroom mold in tile grouting. iStock

Mold is infamous for producing spores that, when inhaled, can cause anything from rashes to headaches to respiratory problems. At-risk groups such as the very young or old and people with compromised immune systems, mold sensitivities and allergies, or asthma can have serious reactions to mold.

How Dangerous Is Black Mold in Your House?

Many kinds—and colors—of mold exist. Stachybotrys, a black mold, has a reputation for being particularly toxic, but it doesn’t matter what type of mold you’re dealing with—all molds found within the house bring with them the possibility of health risks and should be removed immediately.

The most likely places to find mold in the bathroom are in the tile grout, around drains, and on the walls or wallpaper. Keep reading to learn how to treat affected areas and prevent mold from growing in your bathroom in the future.

How to Get Rid of Mold

Fortunately, bathroom mold that you can see is very easy to clean.

To remove black mold from hard surfaces, follow these steps:

  1. Combine 1 part bleach with 2 parts water in a spray bottle and spritz the affected area.
  2. Let the solution sit for 10 minutes. The mold should start to fade away on its own, but if areas of stubborn mold remain, use a coarse brush (for larger areas) or old toothbrush (for smaller areas) to scrub the mold away.
  3. Rinse the surface thoroughly with water afterward.

If you’d rather not use bleach, white vinegar or baking soda are good natural substitutes that kill black mold. Vinegar can be used just like the bleach.

To use baking soda:

  1. Mix it with small amounts of water to form a paste.
  2. Apply it to the mold, let it sit for 10 minutes, then use a brush to scrub it off. Other household cleaning products, including soap and water, will usually do the trick, too.

If there’s evidence of mold growing on the drywall or subfloor behind bathroom tile—the tiles appear to be askew or they move when you touch them—you’ll need to hire a professional to clean and repair that area.

How to Prevent Bathroom Mold

What all molds have in common is that constant moisture is required for their existence. That’s why the bathroom is a favorable place for them to thrive. Between the sink and the bathtub or shower, something’s always wet—but there are preventative measures you can take to keep mold from growing.

The key to mold prevention is to control moisture. Make sure the bathroom faucets and valves aren’t leaking, and the drains aren’t clogged. Having water that drips constantly or pools in an area of your bathroom is the perfect recipe for mold growth. Repair any leaks in the plumbing or walls. You don’t want water hanging around any longer than necessary.

Grout is extremely susceptible to mold growth because it’s porous and will trap moisture in. Reapply a grout sealer once a year to preempt mold growth.

1. Ventilate Your Bathroom

The tiled walls of the shower and tub get wet after every use, and these water droplets take a while to dissipate, particularly if the bathroom isn’t ventilated properly. Use a squeegee to remove water from the shower stall or bathtub after every use.

Make sure your bathroom air flows freely. If you don’t already have one, install an exhaust fan to dehumidify the room. The volume of air moved by the fan, measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm), should be appropriate for the size of your bathroom or it’ll be ineffective. Multiply the bathroom square footage by 1.1 to get the recommended fan capacity.

2. Dry Towels, Bathmats and Shower Curtains

Soft materials found in the bathroom, such as towels, bathmats, and shower curtains, are prime breeding grounds for mold. Allow them to dry properly after each use and launder them regularly.

3. Check for Cracked Tile and Wet Drywall

Cracked tiles or chipped grout can allow water to seep through to the drywall or subfloor behind them so repairs should be done immediately. Wet drywall and wood are very susceptible to mold growth, and it’s particularly difficult to eliminate mold that’s growing behind bathroom tile.

4. Use the Best Paint for Bathrooms

For painted bathroom walls, use a semi-gloss finish that creates a water-resistant surface. Consider using a paint that’s formulated with mold inhibiting antimicrobial agents or adding mold inhibitors to the paint before applying it.