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How to Remove Mildew from Your Bathroom Walls and Ceiling

Have you noticed a strange odor in the bathroom? Mildew emits a very distinctive odor, sour or musty. Mildew can cause permanent damage to surfaces and is a health hazard, so take a minute and consider some facts about mildew.

Wherever there is little or no sunlight, poor air circulation, humidity, dampness, and warm temperatures, then you will have a good breeding ground for mildew. I can’t think of a better place for it to grow than in a windowless, poorly ventilated bathroom.

Do you see the fuzzy black or green spots on the bathroom wall or ceiling? Mildew consists of various spores that are actually a fungus. Mildew and mold grow on almost any surface: tiles, grout, paint, wood, glass, and porcelain. Most often, mildew will find its way into the smaller bathrooms vs. larger rooms. It finds a damp, dark crack or corner on the wall or in the shower and slowly grows, causing a huge problem by the time your nose informs you of the situation. Here’s what you can do to keep it under control.

For Walls: Make sure you wear rubber or latex gloves to protect your skin from the chemicals needed to do away with this problem. The gloves also protect you from the health hazard of coming into contact with the spores themselves. Mix a solution of ½ cup chlorine bleach and 1/3 cup powder laundry detergent with 1 gallon of hot water. Spray the walls with this solution, working from the base of the wall up. Gently scrub away the surface mildew using a plastic scrubber sponge. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water. Once dry, consider applying a coat of paint with an anti-mildew agent if your walls are a painted surface to begin with.

For Ceilings: Again, wear gloves. Dip a scrubber sponge into your bucket with your solution, being sure to squeeze out excess fluids. Stand on a safe stepladder and carefully scrub the affected area. Fill the bucket with fresh water and rinse thoroughly. Once dry, consider painting this service with the anti-mildew paint.

For Caulk and Grout: Mildew may be cleaned from caulking in the same way as for walls. If it extends below the caulk, it will return even after cleaning. It is better to remove the old caulk and apply it new. For grout, try using a commercial spray-on mold and mildew remover. Keep a spray bottle of vinegar in your bathroom and after each shower or bath, spray the walls and tiles; vinegar is a great deterrent of mildew and bacteria.

Of course the best way to take care of mildew is to prevent it.

  • Control the humidity in your bathroom with a fan to pull the steam and moisture from the air. Keeping a window opened a bit helps. If you have a bathroom that doesn’t have a window, as I do, make sure the ventilation system is working to its best standard.
  • Good lighting is also a deterrent because mildew loves dark places. Turn on your lights before a shower or bath and leave them on for twenty minutes or so after.
  • Always keep the bathroom wiped down with a dry cloth and hang damp towels. A squeegee works great on tiled surfaces for the excess water.

Don’t be embarrassed by that funny, sour smell in your bathroom. Prevention is always the first step in solving any problem.

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