Mould can be a big problem in bathrooms and other areas that have a damp atmosphere. Mould is a type of fungus that thrives in a warm environment where relative humidity is 70% or higher. Fertile mould produces spores that are carried around in the air and so spread further.
Mould appears as a black deposit on ceiling and walls, and not only looks unsightly and has an unpleasant smell, but also causes damage to walls, floors and ceilings as well as giving rise to breathing difficulties for those who have respiratory problems. So, it’s important you prevent or eliminate it.
How to Prevent Mould
As with most things, prevention is better than cure, so trying to avoid mould occurring will always be preferable to attempting to eradicate it once you’ve got it.
Since mould thrives in damp and warm conditions, a bathroom is the perfect environment for it to flourish. Your aim, therefore, is to change these conditions and so prevent the build-up of mould.
1. Let moisture escape
The most obvious way to reduce the amount of moisture is to remove it from the bathroom. That can be done by opening a window while showering or bathing so that steam can go outside naturally.
In cold winter months, this may not be practical and the best alternative is an extractor fan that will remove the worst of the steam. Run this while showering or bathing and up to thirty minutes afterwards to be most effective, ensuring the bathroom door is closed to prevent the moist air circulating throughout the house.
As well as helping to reduce the level of moisture, adequate ventilation is also good for health generally.
2. Reduce condensation
Moisture in the bathroom is a bigger problem when it condenses as water on cold surfaces, which can be alleviated by keeping the room well heated. Effective insulation will certainly help here while air conditioning will also purify the air and a good dehumidifier will remove moisture from the air, both in the bathroom and throughout the rest of the house. Aim for humidity levels of no more than 50%.
3. Remove excess moisture
Preventing a build-up of moisture is also helped by removing excess water at the outset. Always squeegee the shower dry when you’ve finished so the excess water drains away rather than remaining on the walls. Fix any drips or leaks since they will otherwise constantly add to the room’s moisture.
Don’t leave wet sponges and cloths in the shower or bath since they will add to the level of moisture in the atmosphere. If you can’t put them in a sealed container or cupboard, at least squeeze them out thoroughly so they’re relatively dry.
4. Keep the bathroom clean
It’s also important to keep the room as clean as possible since dust is a source of food for the mould and the mould spores travel through the air. Dust at least weekly with a slightly damp cloth and clean all surfaces with a general purpose cleaner, drying thoroughly to reduce moisture. Also, wash any mats and shower curtains once a week and ensure they’re completely dry before putting them back.
Lastly, mould thrives in dark areas as well as those that are warm and damp. So make sure your bathroom is well-lit and don’t leave the blinds down throughout the day.
How to Get Rid of Mould
If, despite your best efforts, you still have mould in your bathroom, it’s important you get rid of it straightaway before it becomes a major problem. While treating the mould:
- Wear rubber gloves and possibly protective goggles
- Ensure the room is well ventilated and, especially if you have respiratory problems, wear a dust mask
- Never try to scrape off the mould because this will release spores that your are likely to breathe in.
Treatment generally involves a few simple steps:
- Wash down affected areas with a mixture of one part bleach to four parts water. You may first want to test on a small area since bleach can damage some paint. Alternatively, use other products such as specialist mould remover sprays or anti-bacterial sprays, although the latter are likely to be less effective.
- Remove any affected sealant and apply fresh in its place.
- Ensure all areas are clean and dry.
- Repaint the walls and ceilings with a barrier solution to prevent further penetration.
- Once dried, apply a paint top coat. You can add fungicide to the emulsion to prevent a reoccurrence of the mould.
If the mould covers large areas, has penetrated into the walls and ceilings or you are unable to eradicate it, you must seek professional help. Failure to do so can result in further damage to your property and increased danger to your health.
Even when the problem seems to have been cleared, that’s not the end of the matter. You’ll still need to concentrate on keeping the bathroom clean, warm, well-ventilated and free of excess moisture. If you don’t, the problem will recur time and time again, so be on your guard.
As with everything, prevention is better than cure. Make sure your bathroom has good ventilation and isn’t too cold, and use an anti-mould paint on the walls and ceiling if possible. You can also measure the humidity levels in your bathroom using a hygrometer to check that your efforts to reduce the humidity are working.