Mold, cleaning products, allergens
- Bathroom Mold Busters
- Ventilate, Don’ t Suffocate
- Safe Storage and Use of Cleaning Products
- Bathroom Allergen Control Tips
Bathroom Mold Busters
Indoor molds thrive in dark, warm, humid and musty environments. With all the water and steam that fill your bathroom, it’ s no wonder mold grows there. Mold can be a major allergy trigger, so it’ s a good idea to tackle those moldy bathroom spaces first, when trying to conquer indoor allergens.
Remember to keep bathmats, towels and surfaces as dry as possible. Shower door tracks, shower curtains, toilet bowls and the base of faucets are favorite spots for mold. It may also hide behind wallpaper, wallboard, ceiling tiles or under flooring.
To remove mold from towels, bathmats and shower curtains, wash them in hot water with laundry detergent. Dry towels and mats on high heat for at least 30 minutes. If possible, spread the shower curtain outside to dry on a hot, dry day. For mold on hard surfaces, household detergent and water often are effective. Products formulated for mold and mildew removal typically contain the common fungicide chemicals chlorine and alkyl ammonium chlorides. These cleaners may cause breathing problems or skin irritation, so ventilate well and wear gloves when cleaning.
If something strong is needed, use bleach but use with caution. It can irritate skin, eyes and nasal passages and produces toxic gases when mixed with ammonia or other cleaners. Baking soda mixed with water is a safer alternative for many cleaning jobs. When cleaning mold, wear gloves, eye protection and an N-95 respirator to protect against breathing airborne spores. Some N-95 respirators look like a paper dust mask with a nozzle on the front, and others are made of plastic or rubber and come with removable cartridges that trap most of the mold spores and prevent them from entering.
Here are some safety tips for using bleach:
- Mix 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water.
- Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners.
- Open windows and doors to provide fresh air when you use bleach.
- If the surface is rough or hard to reach, scrub with a stiff brush.
- Rinse with clean water.
If you find mold on porous or absorbent materials, such as wallboard, carpet or ceiling tiles, you may need to replace the material. If you do not see mold but notice a musty odor, mold may be growing behind water-damaged materials, such as beneath the vinyl flooring.
Ventilate, Don’ t Suffocate
Your best defense against mold is air circulation. In nice weather, open a window. Nice or not, turn on your bathroom exhaust fan every time you bathe or shower. If you loath to use it, because it’ s too noisy, it may be time to get a new one. Ventilation is important to keep indoor moisture levels down, especially in newer, more airtight homes. A good fan is affordable, easy to install and nearly inaudible. Typically a fan costs pennies a day to operate and the health benefits will be worth much more.
Here are some Consumer Report guidelines for choosing a fan:
- Estimate the air-moving capacity you need. The Home Ventilation Institute has this rule of thumb for most bathrooms: The fan should have airflow of one cubic foot per minute (cfm) for every square foot of bathroom area up to 100 square feet. For larger bathrooms, the institute recommends a ventilation rate based on the number of fixtures present — 50 cfm for each toilet, shower or bath and 100 cfm for whirlpool tubs. A large bathroom may need two smaller fans, not one large one.
- Find a quiet fan. The quietest ones are nearly silent. Use the industry’ s noise ratings to compare fans.
- Mind the drafts. Most fans will try to prevent outside air from entering the room.
- Seek useful features and accessories. Common choices include: an integral ceiling light; a humidity sensor; an easily accessible electrical junction box to allow wiring of the fan without taking anything apart; and adjustable mounting brackets to provide options for positioning the fan between ceiling joists.
Safe Storage and Use of Cleaning Products
- Always keep products in their original containers.
- Store hazardous products carefully. Store safely away from children and pets; use safety locks and caps as appropriate.
- When possible, avoid using hazardous household products. Use nontoxic alternatives.
- Read the label to protect you and the environment. Labels include important safety, storage and disposal information.
- Buy the right product and the right amount for the job and use only as much as you need.
- Minimize your exposure when using hazardous cleaning products by ventilating the room and wearing cleaning gloves and a mask.
- If you use aerosol products, try not to inhale any fumes.
- Know where to call for help. Keep your local poison control center number handy.
Bathroom Allergen Control Tips
- Keep the door and/or window open when showering so steam can escape.
- Install a new exhaust fan to vent warm, damp air and run it any time you take a shower or bath.
- Wipe down walls, floors, countertops and all hard, non-porous surfaces with a mold-killing cleanser or bleach-based solution every week. Don’ t forget shower door tracks and around faucets — great spots for slime.
- Wash bathroom curtains in bleach and hot water regularly.
- Wash and dry bathmats weekly to kill dust mites and prevent mold.
- Replace wallpaper with tile or mold-resistant paint.
- Clean or replace moldy shower curtains. They can be thrown in the wash with the bathmats about once a month.
- Towel-dry the tub and enclosure after use.
© 2012. National Women’ s Health Resource Center, Inc. All rights reserved. All content provided in this guide is for information purposes only. Any information herein relating to specific medical conditions, preventive care and/or healthy lifestyles does not suggest individual diagnosis or treatment and is not a substitute for medical attention.