A white tiled bathroom, with dark grout that might bely some mildew or mold.
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Natural mildew banishment

How Can I Prevent Bathroom Mildew and Mold or Get Rid of It Naturally?

Kailey Luzbetak
November 27, 2023

No one wants to deal with bathroom mold or mildew, and yet it is incredibly common in households across the country. Luckily, there are many ways to successfully prevent this unwanted growth in the first place. And if some pesky mold or mildew still manages to pop up on your bathroom ceilings or walls, fear not – several common household items will easily do the trick.

Preventing Bathroom Mold and Mildew

Both mold and mildew grow in moist environments, meaning that bathrooms are ideal places for fungi to thrive. Given this, the first and simplest step for anyone interested in keeping their space mold and mildew-free is to increase the ventilation of the bathroom to help manage the overall airflow and reduce moisture. Most bathrooms in the U.S. have fans installed, and always running the fan during your shower is key. Crucially, you should leave the fan on for at least 15 minutes after you’re out of the shower, too. Bathroom fans use very little energy, so don’t worry – leaving the fan running won’t drive up your energy bill. This cheap but effective solution circulates air in the room and plays a key role in keeping mold and mildew at bay!

If you don’t have a bathroom fan, installing them costs less than many other home repairs. This installation, which averages below $300, will not only help prevent bathroom fungi, but can increase the longevity of many of your other bathroom purchases, like floor tiles. Be sure to regularly clean this fan as well so it can operate as efficiently as possible.

If you are a renter rather than a homeowner, however, and the room does not have a fan, you’ll need to rely on other strategies to keep the air flowing. One simple step is to open the bathroom window. As an added bonus, this can double as a cost-saving temperature management strategy for hot summers! However, if there are no windows in your bathroom, or you’re showering in the chilly months of the year, where letting in cold air would be wasteful and increase heating costs, you can also try opening the bathroom door while you’re showering. This is easiest for folks who live alone, but strategizing around showering when your roommate is out of the house or apartment can help mitigate privacy concerns while keeping fungi at bay.

Another way to prevent this persistent fungi from making a home in your bathroom is by reducing water use overall to bring down moisture levels. Ultimately, more water means more moisture, and showering and bathing less address this problem at the root. Plus, this strategy can bring down your water bill, too. Showers are one of the largest contributors to water expenses in the home, and taking fewer of them – or reducing the length of them – can save you money and prevent mold and mildew!

General household tips for keeping clean and tidy apply to preventing mold and mildew as well. Washing your shower curtain, curtain liner (we recommend a fabric one like this that can be washed so you don’t end up tossing a bunch of plastic), and towels regularly will go a long way in helping you avoid unwanted fungi. Wiping up water that is lingering on the bathroom floor or any surfaces helps keep mold and mildew at bay, since both thrive in high-moisture areas.

Naturally Addressing Bathroom Mildew

Sometimes, regardless of the precautionary steps you take, mildew and mold will still appear in your bathroom. This can – understandably – be quite frustrating. But fear not! There are several natural ways to deal with mildew or mold once it has arrived. As an added bonus, these strategies are very cheap, and rely on common pantry items that many of us already have lying around.

Vinegar has been used as a cleaning agent for thousands of years, and for good reason. Distilled white vinegar is a powerhouse of a cleaner, in part because it is very acidic. You can absolutely use the food grade distilled white vinegar in your pantry to get rid of mold and mildew. To do this, you do not even need to dilute the vinegar with a solution – simply fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray vinegar directly onto the problem area. Importantly, resist the urge to clean up the space immediately! Give your vinegar at least 45 minutes (ideally an hour) before coming back and scrubbing or wiping the place where you’ve got mold or mildew.

When you’re finished cleaning the space, you can even spray some additional vinegar on top and allow it to air dry, because vinegar doesn’t just get rid of mold, it is effective at preventing it in the first place. This is because acetic acid has both antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it ideal for prevention. However, you’ll want to be careful to avoid using vinegar on wooden floors or porous surfaces, like rugs or ceiling tiles, because it can damage them. If the mold or mildew in question is located in one of those spots, try our baking soda solution suggested below!

Baking soda is another very effective way to remove mold and mildew. For this strategy, you’ll want to use a ratio of ¼ teaspoon of baking soda for every 2 cups of water. Make sure the baking soda is fully absorbed into the water by shaking it well before using it in your bathroom. Then, pour your solution into an empty spray bottle and spray the moldy area enough to cover it. From here, you can use a scrub brush to scrub the mold away.

*Note that it may be tempting to treat mold with bleach, but please do not do this.

The beauty of using natural solutions is that you can repeat/combine the above steps with different household cleaners at no risk to your indoor health or air quality. Plus, as common pantry staples, these solutions are available to most at little to no cost. What better way to tackle a household problem than doing so sustainably and cheaply?

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