Our office gets a lot of calls from people concerned about mold growing on the caulk or grout in their shower. Most people want to know if the mold could hurt their family, while some just want to know if it’s normal to have some mold in their shower.
The short answers to the questions above are ‘no’ and ‘yes’. Shower mold is not likely to impact health and, yes, it is normal for mold to grow in damp environments. The truth is, mold is likely to grow in the shower and sink drain in a bathroom that is used every day and even in the showerhead in a guest bathroom.
Some molds thrive in damp environments such as showers, commodes and drain lines. The good news is that these molds are typically not the variety that will be harmful to a healthy person. The molds that tend to be a health concern usually grow on materials containing cellulose, such as paper or wood.
Does this mean we can let our showers and toilets become science experiments where the mold literally takes over by growing on the shower curtain and toilet lid? It is not a good idea to have that much mold growing in a home, therefore, we need to have some way of controlling the growth before it gets to that point.
We tend to find the bathroom mold issue to be more prevalent in smaller homes and apartments, especially those without bathroom exhaust fans. Bathrooms where moisture is more likely to build up are going to be happy places for mold. Thus, the best prevention is keeping the bathroom dry by running the exhaust fan while showering and for a few minutes afterward. If your bathroom does not have an exhaust fan, you may need to open the bathroom window to let the steam out or dry off the shower enclosure with a towel.
If mold in the commode is an issue, try keeping the lid open when the commode is not in use. The water in the bowl is always evaporating, and a closed lid will hold the moisture which can lead to mold growth.
One final thought on controlling mold in the bathroom is the use of bleach-based products such as Tilex. These products provide a temporary ‘fix’ but have to be used frequently in order to keep the mold under control. It’s better to avoid bleach, which is probably more unhealthy than the mold you are trying to eradicate, and clean off the mold with some very hot, soapy water.
We welcome your questions and comments about what has worked for you in the quest to control bathroom mold.