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How to prevent mold from growing in the joints of your tile tub surround

Here’s a post from our friends at Correct Caulking.

What is mold and where does it come from

Mold and mildew are not only unsightly when they build up on the joints of your tile tub surround, but they are also hazardous to your health.

Mildew, a type of fungus, grows easily on warm, moist surfaces. It likes to form on fabric-type surfaces, such as towels, fabric shower curtains, and that shower puff you use to wash with. Mildew usually has a white, yellow, or gray appearance and almost looks powdery. Since mildew is usually easier to spot and remove, it does not present the same serious health hazards that mold does. Although mildew is considered to be “pre-mold” it is just as important to remove it as soon as possible once discovered.

Mold is also a fungus, but unlike mildew which usually just affects the surface of something, mold can burrow and spread onto walls, ceilings, and other close-by surfaces. Mold looks almost like dirt, and can be black, green, or red. Mold also usually has a musty smell to it, and has a fuzzy, hair-like appearance. Mold is also potentially more of a health hazard, as it can trigger allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and even lung inflammation.

Both mold and mildew love to grow in moist, humid environments, the kind of dampness that your bathroom readily provides. Different sources that can produce mold and mildew in your bathroom include:

  • hot water steam
  • leaking bathroom plumbing
  • towels, washcloths, and loofahs that stay damp
  • tile grout

If there are defects in or around your tub, you should immediately bring this to your landlords’ attentions to prevent it potentially becoming your problem.

If there is no mold or mildew, lets talk about some ways of preventing it becoming a problem, so you can keep your security deposit and stay on your landlord’s good side.

It can take as little as 24-48 hours for mold or mildew to show up on damp surfaces, so taking preventative measures is your best bet to combat these two. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can prevent mold and mildew from growing:

Clean water from grout joints

As mentioned earlier, it only takes between 24-48 hours of grout being exposed to moisture before mold or mildew can start to form on it. Especially in a bathroom, where moisture accumulates daily, it is important to make sure you keep the area as dry as possible, both in use and not.

  • Proper ventilation

An exhaust fan is important to adequately deal with the constant moisture that accumulates in a bathroom. Excess moisture from those steamy, hot showers has to go somewhere. If it is not properly ventilated outside of the bathroom, it will accumulate on your shower walls, tile surfaces, and grout lines. It is genuinely less expensive to install an exhaust fan if you don’t already have one than it is to deal with mold removal and remediation. Run your exhaust fan each time you use the shower or tub, and continue to leave it running for 20-30 minutes after you’re done.

  • Squeegee everyday

Yes, it’s time-consuming to use a squeegee in your shower each day, but in the long term, it is both beneficial for your home’s value, as well as your family’s health. If you’re already using a microfiber cloth to wipe down your shower walls after each use, a squeegee can cut that time in half. Since it doesn’t absorb water, you simply have to use a top-to-bottom or left-to-right motion to remove the excess water left behind. This simple step is one of the best ways to prevent mold and mildew from forming in your tub surround.

  • Practical tips
    If you have a shower curtain, make sure it is a mildew-resistant one. If it is plastic, it is easily replaceable every few months. If you invest in a cloth one, use bleach (color-safe if necessary) to wash it each time you wash your towels and bathroom rugs. Make sure towels are hung up to thoroughly dry after each use. As convenient as it is, try to keep just the bare minimum of shampoo, shower gels, and other personal care products in the tub area. These containers provide nice places for mold and mildew to hide and grow. Clean the tub area and all containers regularly, drying each after you clean them.

You know the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is especially true when trying to prevent mold and mildew from forming in your tub area. Follow these guidelines and tips when you’re planning your next remodel or installation job, and you’ll be well on your way to preventing a potentially hazardous situation.

About The Author

Correct Caulking are the leading joint sealing applicators in Victoria, they have over 10 years’ experience in all types of construction from custom homes to high rise buildings.