Mold comes in many different colors and range from harmless to extremely toxic. Without testing, it’s hard to identify which is harmful. With that in mind, it’s best to treat every mold as a potential hazard. In trying to get rid of mold, the cell wall breaks down. This can cause an increased release of mycotoxins from within the mold cells which can cause allergies and illness. So, when attempting to get rid of mold from anywhere within your home, you should wear the appropriate protective clothing, gloves, and masks needed for the job at hand. Professionals should be contacted for questionable areas and when health symptoms arise.
Mold Must Be Taken Seriously for Its Effect on Health
Symptoms of a reaction to mold can include headaches, dizziness, red eyes, loss of smell, skin problems such as rashes and hives, major respiratory illnesses such as asthma, lethargy and allergies. Prolonged exposure can lead to serious health problems including memory loss, irregular blood pressure, damaged digestion, damaged respiratory, and/or infertility. Infections caused by mold can manifest as flu-like symptoms or even pneumonia. You should contact your health care provider who is knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating fungal infections and immediately get rid of the mold in your home!
Why Get Rid of Mold Naturally?
It can be the air full of mold spores that we breathe that makes us sick. There are many chemicals on the market that can get rid of mold, but then you are exposing yourself to more toxic stuff. Chemicals such as bleach are effective but caustic and require good ventilation as well as protective gear. If you’re trying to avoid additional health hazards, rather than turning to harsh chemicals, such as bleach or borax to banish mold, there are natural ways to kill mold in your bathroom that won’t hurt your family, pets or the environment.
Common Areas in the Bathroom Vulnerable to Mold
Shower grout is particularly susceptible to mold since it is porous and holds water for longer. For this reason, you will often see mold growth in grout before anywhere else.
Shower drain collects hair and soap scum which mold feed on in a damp environment
Caulk around tub and shower enclosures retain dampness
Soap dishes hold standing water and soap scum
Shower curtains made from plastic or PEVA often stay damp for long periods of time
For Mold Prevention in the Bathroom: Twelve Tips
- Control humidity and try to promote better airflow. For instance, to keep air moisture low, turn on the ventilation fan while taking a shower or bath. You can open a window (if you have one) and keep the bathroom door ajar when showering. Use a dehumidifier if poor ventilation.
- Always remove moisture from shower walls (or other mold-prone surfaces). Use a squeegee to take excess water off the shower walls and glass doors after every use.
- Wipe down problem areas like corners, ledges, and around faucets with a dry cloth. Mold needs a wet environment to grow so keep things dry!
- Limit the number of products in your bathtub/shower, the more cluttered the area the more chance mold can hide and thrive.
- Shake out the shower curtain after each shower. Leave partially open after use. Wash or replace shower curtain frequently.
- Vinegar is great at preventing mold from growing in the first place. Always keep a spray bottle of vinegar in your bathroom and use it to spray surfaces prone to mold whenever they get wet. (see recipe for a vinegar preparation below).
- Keep your drains open and hair catchers free and clear of hair and soap scum
- Periodically treat the drain with a vinegar or baking soda and water solution to get rid of mold and keep the mold spores from developing into colonies.
- Don’t keep wet towels, clothes, or rugs laying around
- Wash rugs, shower curtains and other bathroom accessories on a weekly basis.
- Use an air purifier
- Place a diffuser with essential oils on a shelf in the bathroom outside of the shower
Non-Toxic Household Products that Get Rid of Mold
Vinegar: Vinegar contains no toxic fumes like many other agents used to kill mold, such as bleach. Studies have shown that white distilled vinegar kills 82 percent of mold species, as well as viruses and bacteria. Vinegar works best as a mold-killer as well as a safe agent to prohibit future mold growth when it’s sprayed undiluted straight up from a bottle onto the offending area. After an hour passes, use hot water and a clean towel to wipe the area. Make sure surfaces are dry to prevent mold from coming right back.
Tea tree oil solution: Tea tree oil, having a very strong scent, is effective as a natural mold remover. This essential oil is more expensive than some other eco-friendly remedies, but just two teaspoons of tea tree oil mixed with two cups of water can last you a while. Spray the solution onto the mold spores and do not rinse.
Note: TEA TREE OIL IS NOT SAFE FOR CATS!
Citrus seed extract and water: Unlike vinegar and tea tree oil, citrus seed extract (such as grapefruit) does not have an odor. Dilute about 20 drops of extract with 2 cups of water, mix in a spray bottle and spray onto the mold. As with the other solutions, do not rinse.
Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen Peroxide is an effective, non-toxic way to get rid of mold in your bathroom. Because of its effervescent fizz, hydrogen peroxide is better than bleach at penetrating porous bathroom walls. Spray three percent hydrogen peroxide from a bottle onto the moldy surface and leave on for about 10 minutes. Follow with half tsp of baking soda and a cup of water. Use a scrubbie then wipe with a damp cloth to remove residual mold spores. Afterwards, wipe the surfaces clean and dry.
You can also use hydrogen peroxide and vinegar together, and then store the bottle in a dark area (as light breaks down the potency of the hydrogen peroxide).
Baking soda: Baking soda is a non-toxic, natural disinfectant that can effectively prevent future mold from growing. It is very mild and does not leave behind a scent. It can be dissolved alone with water or with vinegar added. A little baking soda can take care of just about anything. This product is safe and easy to use. To get rid of mold, combine a spoonful of baking soda with water in a spray bottle. Spray moldy areas and use a sponge or non-scratch scour pad to scrub the mold away.
Much like vinegar and baking soda, borax is one of those cleaning products that can take care of almost any job. Use caution though – it can be harmful if ingested. To prevent mold, you can sprinkle a little borax powder on a damp sponge or washcloth and scrub your showers, tubs, sinks and tiles, then rinse with water. Or, to tackle a bigger cleaning project, you can mix a cup of borax with a gallon of water and use the mixture to scrub your whole bathroom. As the mold comes loose, wipe your surfaces clean with a damp rag and then dry thoroughly.
Homemade Shower Cleaning Sprays to Keep Mold at Bay
2 cups water
1/2 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons liquid castile soap or eco-friendly dish soap
20 drops of antiseptic essential oil like tea tree or grapefruit or lavender
Mix all ingredients together in a spray bottle. Spray liberally over entire shower area.
Use after every shower
Method for Cleaning a Shower Curtain to Get Rid of Mold
- Remove the shower curtain
- Throw it into your washing machine along with some bath towels which help to scrub the curtain
- Add 1/2 a cup of baking soda and your eco-friendly laundry detergent and start the cycle
- When the washing machine gets to the rinse cycle add 1/2 a cup of vinegar
- Hang the curtain out on the line to dry
How to Get Rid of Mold in Shower/Tub Drain Naturally
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil
Meanwhile, combine a paste mixture of equal parts borax and water or baking soda and water.
Apply paste to the outer rim of the drain opening and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
Loosen any mold debris using a non-scratch scour pad or old tooth brush. Rinse and repeat if necessary.
Slowly pour the boiling water down the drain – keeping arms, hands and face clear of rising steam from water exiting stock pot. The boiling water will kill any mold spores that are lurking in the pipes.
Follow the boiling water with a cup of white distilled vinegar down the drain and, immediately pour a ½ cup or so of baking soda down the shower drain, which results in a bubbling reaction. This gently cleans mold spores from the inside of the tub or shower drain that were left behind. It also will help you keep your shower draining well, smelling good, and free of accumulated hair and soap scum.
Repeat the process of adding baking soda and vinegar to your shower drain a couple of times a month to get rid of mold.
Contact a physician of Environmental Medicine if you suspect mold may be a cause of your symptoms.