Preventing Bathroom Mold
What does mold need to grow? In order for mold to grow, it needs oxygen, moisture, warmth and food. The ideal spot for mold to grow would be a warm place (somewhere between 77 and 86 degrees), with a high amount of humidity or moisture, and organic matter, like cotton, paper or wood for the mold to feed upon. This makes our bathrooms an ideal spot for mold growth. Our bathrooms tend to be warm, they contain things like towels, toilet paper, and woodwork for the mold to feed upon, and they often have high levels of relative humidity from running water and steam from hot showers. So what can you do to prevent mold from growing in your bathroom?
First make sure that your bathroom is properly ventilated. Poor ventilation is one of the most common causes of bathroom mold. Without proper ventilation, steam/moisture in the air from hot showers and running water, settles on bathroom surfaces and makes a perfect environment for mold growth. Every bathroom should have a clean and properly functioning ventilation fan permanently mounted in the ceiling and it should be turned on every time someone showers. They are inexpensive and can be purchased at most hardware and home improvement stores. A properly installed and functioning, ventilation fan in your bathroom's ceiling will help move the air out of your bathroom and clear the humidity caused by hot showers and other running water. It is important however to ensure that your ventilation fan has been properly installed and is venting the moist bathroom air outside of your home versus into your attic or some other room. If it improperly vents into another area of your home, you are simply transferring your problem from one location to another. If your bathroom does not have a ventilation fan, instead of showering with the bathroom door closed, as most of us do, an alternative until a ventilation fan can be installed, would be to leave the bathroom door open while showering. This will allow the steam/humidity to dissipate over a larger area reducing its impact. Another alternative during warm weather months, or in warm climates, would be to open a bathroom window while showering or even putting a box fan in the window with the air blowing out of the bathroom versus in. And of course, abstaining from very long, hot showers is always recommended when trying to prevent mold.
Regularly cleaning your bathroom by wiping down all surfaces at least once a week will also help keep mold in check. And when it comes to cleaning/preventing mold, wiping is always the best approach. Molds are fungi that reproduce by releasing spores into the air. Spraying bleach on mold may look like an easy fix. When you spray bleach on mold it looks like it almost instantly disappears. Unfortunately, when you spray bleach on mold, you are releasing the mold spores into the air. Think of it like a mature dandelion that you have just gently blown upon and released the seeds floating into the air on their white dried flowers. The mold spores that you have just released by spraying bleach upon them, float through the air and settle onto new surfaces, where they can begin to grow again if the conditions are right. Wiping with soap and water, or another cleaner, and then throwing away any rags that may contain beginning mold spores is your best bet.
Also when it comes to mold in bathrooms, consider that caulk and grout are there to block or keep out water and moisture. If you have missing or broken caulk or grout, water and moisture can get behind the tiles and mold can form behind the tiles where it's impossible for you to see or clean. It's important to regularly replace and/or maintain your bathroom caulk and grout.
Lastly, painting your bathroom with a mold resistant paint and/or primer will help you battle mold in your bathroom. As indicated earlier, mold needs a food source of organic matter. Drywall paper can be a source of food for mold. Using a mold-resistant paint on bathroom walls can help stop mold before it starts by sealing off access to a food source.