How to Clean Mould From Bathroom Tiles and Walls

Cleaning mould from your bathroom or wet room walls, tiles or grout is never an easy task, however large or small the room. Because of this, cleaning the bathroom can often get neglected, paving the way for the build-up of nasty mould and mildew. Before we go any further, it’s important to note that having mould in your bathroom is nothing to be ashamed of. It might not have anything to do with how clean you keep the bathroom as there are many more factors of mould growth that can be at play than just the unclean surfaces (as discussed at the bottom of this post). Regardless, if you have noticed the build-up of mould, here’s a quick guide on how you can both remove it with ease and prevent it from returning in the future:

 

What is mould and mildew? 

 

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First and foremost, it’s important that we know and understand the foes we are facing. Mould is a type of fungi that has a ‘fuzzy’ type appearance and comes in a variety of colours from orange and green to the more common black. It’s important to note that once present, mould spreads incredibly quickly and can still remain present without any visible signs. On the other hand, mildew is a more specific kind of mould that can come in two forms. Downy mildew typically appears as yellowish spots that quickly turn to brown whereas powdery mildew appears as white powder that slowly turns to a dark black colour. Both types of growth occur when the area contains a high level of moisture and little ventilation.

Health Implications of mould and mildew

Prolonged exposure to mould spores can cause some quite serious health problems varying from mild allergic reactions all the way to respiratory problems and lung damage. The causes for these health implications are the ‘mycotoxins’ that mould produces that act as a toxin within the human body. When dealing directly with cleaning large amounts of mould in a bathroom, it’s always recommended that you wear protective goggles and a facemask to prevent exposure to mould spores in the air.

Where is mould likely to build up in the bathroom?

• Window ledges

• Bath edges

• Tile grout

• Ceiling corners

• Outward facing walls

• Shower enclosure fitting points

• Directly above a bath or shower

How to remove mould from the bathroom?

There are many ways, both natural and chemical, of removing mould or mildew problems from within your bathroom. As mould is a living organism, the key is to not just remove the visible signs of mould build up, but to kill it completely and stop it returning in future. Whatever you do, don’t just paint over the problem – it’ll only make it worse!

Natural Methods

1. Borax – Borax is a naturally occurring mineral compound that is found in the evaporate deposits of seasonal lakes and is known for its anti-fungal properties. You’ll be able to find borax in your local shopping centre’s cleaning aisle and it has the added benefit of being a lot cheaper than other mould cleaning alternatives. Mix around 1 mug full of borax powder with 4 litres of warm water. With a brush or soft cleaning pad, work the borax solution into the affected areas and be sure not to splash around too much otherwise there might be a chance that the mould will spread to other areas within the bathroom. When finished, wipe up the borax solution and let it dry naturally. If you’re still worried about any further recontamination, give the walls or affected areas a quick spray with some vinegar to prevent any further spreading.

2. Vinegar – The acidity of vinegar makes anywhere you spray it instantly inhospitable for mould. The most important things to note when using vinegar to remove mould is that you should always use mild white vinegar and make sure that you don’t dilute it within the spray bottle. Spray the vinegar on the affected surfaces and leave for around an hour. As we all know, vinegar can have quite a strong smell at first so it might be a good idea to open a window for the room to air out during the process. After an hour, wipe the affected surfaces with warm water to eliminate the smell and dry with a towel to ensure there is no damp surface for mould to grow again. Vinegar is also a fantastic preventative measure in the home and doesn’t cost a great deal of money. It is also reported to clean up to 82% of mould species and releases no toxic fumes.  Simply have a spray bottle of vinegar handy in the bathroom and apply to mould prone surfaces every few days. This will ensure that mould never grows on the applied surfaces, giving you some peace of mind that your bathroom is a safe zone.

Chemical Methods

 

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1. Bleach & baking soda – This has always been reported as one of the quickest and best methods for cleaning mould or mildew from grout, tiles and walls. Before you resort to using bleach, make a paste from liquid soap, baking soda and water and apply it to the affected areas. After leaving for an hour, wipe away the paste and see if this has done the job. If not, it’s time to bring out the big guns. First, put on some gloves and mix together a solution of 1 part bleach to 2 parts water and transfer into a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the affected areas and allow it to dry. Give it another spray and scrub with a soft brush. Rinse away the area and repeat as many times as is necessary until the mould has been removed. If you’re dealing with mould that’s found itself deep within the grout then you might need to replace the grout completely (scroll down for a quick guide).

2. Ammonia – First and foremost, never mix ammonia with bleach. The chemical reaction between the two creates dangerous fumes which can be damaging to your health. Ammonia comes in three varieties from DIY shops – clear, cloudy or sudsy. To clean mould from your bathroom, you’ll need only the ‘clear’ variety. Transfer the clear ammonia into a spray bottle and apply to the affected areas in the bathroom. Scrub the areas with a soft brush and leave for two hours. The smell of ammonia can be very strong and unpleasant so it’s best to open a window or keep the room well ventilated during the cleaning process. After the areas have been dried, simply wipe away the ammonia.

3. Hydrogen peroxide – Hydrogen peroxide can be bought in various degrees of strength. For cleaning mould from the bathroom, it’s best to use a fairly mild 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. You will be able to purchase this from most DIY suppliers and some high street supermarkets. The cleaning effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide will diminish if it is exposed to direct light so make sure you decant it into a dark spray bottle. If you want to increase the effectiveness of the hydrogen peroxide solution, you can add a little vinegar into the spray bottle. Spray the solution directly onto the affected areas in the bathroom and leave it for around 2 - 3 hours. This should give the peroxide enough time to attack the mould. During the process, keep the room ventilated or a window open as the smell of hydrogen peroxide tends to be quite strong. Once finished, simply wipe the surfaces clean.

4. Specialised mould sprays – If you don’t want to make your own cleaning solutions at home, there are plenty of specialised mould removal sprays on the market today. Always be sure to research the effectiveness of each product and read customer reviews to avoid making mistakes. We recommend using ‘HG Mould Spray’ as it is specially formed for cleaning the bathroom and bathroom tiles. Try to steer away from high strength cleaners such as ‘Cilit Bang’ as these have been known to eat away at grout and cause damage to bathroom fittings and surfaces.

*WarningIf you’re using bleach or other abrasive cleaning chemicals, always be sure to wear protective goggles and a face mask if necessary. Also, be sure to wear old clothes in case any of the bleach spills

Caulking and grout – The tricky bits

Grout and caulking around the tiles or bathtub can be a common place for mould and mildew to build up and can give people all around the globe some of the biggest headaches when coming to remove it. If mould has worked its way into the caulking or grout and stained it permanently, there’s a strong chance that the methods mentioned above aren’t going to be extreme enough to remedy the situation. If you’ve tried everything and the mould just isn’t budging, it might be time to remove your grout or caulking. To remove grout between your bathroom tiles, you will need:

1. Grout removing tool (This can be bought from most DIY retailers)

2. Old paint brush

3. Sponge & diluted bleach solution

4. Grout

5. Grouting squeegee

6. Gloves

 

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Step 1: Prepare the surfaces

If you haven’t already, try using a toothbrush to work in a strong solution of bleach and water or bleach and baking soda on the grout to bring back the whiteness before resorting to removing it completely. If this hasn’t worked, prepare the area by covering any bath or basin plug hole with and old cloth or large piece of material. This will stop any pieces of grout falling down the drain and causing a blockage.

Step 2: Scrape away the old grout

Using the grout remover tool, pull the tungsten tipped blade across the joint lines to start raking out the grout. It’s important that you work at a small area at a time so ensure that every last mould spore is removed. This will ensure that the mould does not return in future. Be careful not to push too hard on the removal tool as there’s always a chance you could slip and cause permanent damage to your tiles.

Step 3: Clean the joint lines

To make absolutely sure that there is no remaining mould within the joints, use an old paintbrush and some diluted bleach solution to clean the grout lines. This will also make re-grouting the joint lines much easier when it comes to step 4, given that the space you’re working with will be smooth and clean.

Step 4: Apply new grout to the tiles

Before applying new grout, make sure you’re using the correct grout for your tiles and the location of the tiles. A tiling or DIY store will be able to offer advice on the best grout to use. Using your grouting squeegee, re-grout the tiles and ensure that any remaining residue on the tiles is cleaned off properly before letting it dry. Removing dried grout from tile facings is an incredibly difficult task so it’s a good idea to take preventative measures during the re-grouting process.

How to prevent mould growth in future

 

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Keep the bathroom ventilated

Ventilation is absolutely paramount for preventing future mould growth in your bathroom as mould growth is encouraged by moist areas. If you have a built in extractor fan in the bathroom, try and turn it on during your bath or shower and leave on for 5-10 minutes afterwards. This will ensure that any excess moist air in the room is removed and help the room to dry much faster. If you don’t have a bathroom fan installed, open a window let all the moist air out of the room after you’ve finished in the bathroom. For a more in depth guide to how to ventilate your bathroom correctly, please click here.

Check for leaks and blockages

Sneaky leaks in the bathroom can be contributing to mould growth without you ever noticing. Check the caulking around bath or shower edges and behind the toilet’s waste pipe. If you see any signs of leaking or damp then it might be a good idea in investing in sealing the gaps to prevent future mould growth. A good plumber will have these common problems sorted in no time at all.

Regular cleaning

A dirty bathroom can encourage the build-up of both bacteria and mould growth. Taking the time to give the bathroom a weekly clean can reduce the likelihood that you’ll ever have a mould problem. Make sure that you remove as much dust as you can as this is a food source for mould and will encourage growth. If like me, you’re a bit lazy, then spraying a little vinegar around mould-prone areas will ensure that you never have a problem.

Mould resistant paint and grout

There are plenty of preventative measures you can take when installing a new bathroom or renovating an old one. Mould resistant bathroom products, such as paint, grout and caulking, are becoming ever more popular on the market today. They may be a little pricier, but can save you a lot of money in mould repair and removal bills.

Check the shower curtain

If you have a shower curtain installed in your shower bath or shower, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mould. Make sure that you stretch out your shower curtain fully after bathing to ensure that it dries out completely each time. If it’s looking a little dirty, running it through the washing machine is a really quick and easy way to get it gleaming once again.

 

Sometimes, mould can be a sign that there are concealed problems within the bathroom walls or within the bathroom itself. Burst or leaking pipework is a common example of a problem that can go unnoticed for long periods of time, leading to long term damp problems that can allow mould to build up time and time again. If, after removing mould multiple times, the problem still persists, it is suggested that you hire a specialised mould remediation expert who can diagnose and fix more complicated and serious mould issues within the home.

 

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