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Combat Mold and Mildew - The Bathroom is a Prime Target

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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Steamy summer days create a welcoming environment for mold and mildew. Any place where moisture collects is a prime growth area for mold and mildew. Thus, the bathroom is always a major target for these unwelcome guests because of its moisture level, especially during the hot summer months when people may be taking more showers.

Mold can cause allergies in some people, with symptoms that can range from respiratory to skin problems. Keeping surfaces clean and dry will help eliminate mold and mildew growth areas.

Tile grout and shower curtains are the obvious repositories for mold and mildew, but other collection points include under sinks, around window frames and sills, and where tub and shower meet the floor. Hazardous situations, such as plumbing leaks and rotting windowsills, should be repaired.

Wipe down the shower walls after showering using a sponge or squeegee or treat the walls with a shower spray cleaning product that's specially formulated to remove mold/mildew and soap scum. During and after each shower, arrange shower curtains so water doesn't leak on the floor. Self-stick shower clips and water guards will help keep the water inside the tub where it belongs.

Launder shower curtains frequently as they're especially susceptible to mildew. Read and follow the care labels for the curtains. Most can be laundered using detergent and liquid household bleach. If the label is missing, test on an inconspicuous corner of the curtain to be sure the bleach is safe for the fabric. If the curtain is vinyl, don't dry it in the dryer. Instead, hang it on the shower rod to drip dry. Any remaining wrinkles will be steamed away after a few hot showers. Use an exhaust fan when showering or bathing to dry up excess moisture.

Blot up moisture that accumulates on countertops around faucets and sinks. Keep a container of disposable wipes within easy reach so clean up becomes automatic. For general cleaning, choose a disinfectant cleaner formulated to control or prevent mold/mildew growth. Check the label to determine where and how to use the product.

Sour smelling towels can also become a problem in the warm humid weather. Always hang towels separately to dry before putting them in the laundry.

Removing or reducing moisture will help keep mold and mildew from becoming a problem.

Ask Lorene

(This resource was updated May 13, 2008 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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