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Bathrooms are notorious breeding grounds for mould, thriving in the perfect conditions of darkness, moisture, and dampness. From grouting to tiles, bathtubs to sinks, mould can infiltrate various surfaces, posing not only aesthetic concerns but also potential health risks. In many cases, inadequate ventilation exacerbates the problem, creating an environment conducive to mould growth. Leaking pipes, toilets, or sinks further contribute to the proliferation of mould in bathrooms. In this guide, we’ll explore how to identify, prevent, and eliminate bathroom mould effectively.

Causes of Bathroom Mould

Excess water and moisture content

Mould thrives in environments with high levels of moisture, making bathrooms an ideal breeding ground. The constant exposure to water from showers, baths, sinks, and faucets creates a damp environment that promotes mould growth.

Lack of ventilation

Proper ventilation is crucial for reducing moisture levels in the bathroom. Without adequate ventilation, steam from hot showers and baths can become trapped, leading to increased humidity and condensation on surfaces. Installing exhaust fans or opening windows during and after showering can help improve ventilation and prevent mould formation.

Poor air circulation

In addition to ventilation, good air circulation is necessary to prevent stagnant air and moisture buildup in the bathroom. Closed-off spaces with limited airflow allow moisture to linger, creating conditions favourable for mould growth. To enhance air circulation, consider keeping bathroom doors open when not in use and using fans or air purifiers to promote airflow.

Wet surfaces and cold surfaces

Surfaces that remain consistently wet or cold are susceptible to mould growth. Areas such as shower walls, ceilings, and floors that are frequently exposed to water but not properly dried can become breeding grounds for mould. Additionally, cold surfaces, such as poorly insulated walls or windows, can create condensation, providing moisture for mould spores to thrive.

Finding Mould And Its Impact On Your Health

It’s important to keep an eye out for mould growth in your bathroom to ensure the health and wellbeing of your family. Regularly checking behind doors, under sinks, in crawlspaces, in the exhaust fan, on shower curtains, and even inside showerhead is important. It is common for mould to start in more hidden locations where it is darker and then spread to other places in the room. It spreads through the spores it releases. Bathroom mould should be dealt with as soon as you find it to prevent it from spreading and doing more damage.

Mould can pose a significant risk to your health, causing a range of issues including:

  • Respiratory problems (particularly at risk are people with existing breathing problems such as asthma),
  • Mild to severe rashes to the skin,
  • Lung infections,
  • Coughing,
  • Irritated red eyes,
  • Hives.

Types and growth of bathroom mould

Mould growth in bathrooms can manifest in various forms, with different types of mould presenting unique challenges and potential health risks. Understanding the types of mould commonly found in bathrooms, as well as the conditions that facilitate their growth, is essential for effective management and prevention. Here’s a closer look at the types of bathroom mould:

  • Aspergillus: this genus of mould encompasses various species that can appear in shades of green, grey, or brown.
    Aspergillus moulds are allergenic and can cause respiratory issues, particularly in individuals with allergies or weakened immune systems.
  • Cladosporium: Cladosporium moulds typically present as black or olive-green in color and are commonly found on damp surfaces. While generally less harmful than some other mould species, Cladosporium can still trigger allergic reactions and respiratory symptoms in susceptible individuals.
  • Stachybotrys chartarum (black mould): this infamous mould species, often referred to as black mould, is known for its dark green or black appearance. Black mould produces mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks, including respiratory problems and neurological issues, especially with prolonged exposure.

Ideal conditions for mould growth in bathrooms

Mould thrives in damp, humid environments, making bathrooms with poor ventilation and frequent water exposure prime breeding grounds. Condensation from hot showers or baths, provide an ample supply of moisture for mould. Additionally, organic matter serves as a key nutrient source for mould. Mould feeds on organic matter present on most bathroom surfaces, such as soap scum, skin cells, and dust. When combined with moisture, these nutrients create an ideal substrate for mould spores to colonise and proliferate.

Common areas affected by mould growth

  1. Shower tiles: grout lines and tile surfaces in shower areas are susceptible to mould growth due to frequent water pooling.
  2. Bathroom walls: walls surrounding showers and baths are prone to mould growth, deriving from condensation that sticks to the walls. This is particularly prevalent in areas with poor ventilation.
  3. Shower screens: glass shower screens can develop mould in areas with persistent moisture and inadequate cleaning.

How to prevent mould growth in the bathroom

Preventing mould growth in the bathroom involves implementing several key measures:

  1. Install and use a ventilation fan: a ventilation fan is essential for removing moisture from the bathroom, particularly if there’s no window for natural ventilation. Ensure the fan is turned on during and after bathing to expel damp air. It’s recommended to leave the fan running for at least 30 minutes post-shower. If you don’t have a ventilation fan, consider hiring a professional to install one.
  2. Control humidity with dehumidifiers or air conditioning: keeping humidity levels below 50% is crucial for mould prevention. Use dehumidifiers or air conditioning units to regulate humidity levels in the bathroom.
  3. Choose mildew-resistant shower screens or curtains: when selecting shower screens or curtains, opt for mildew-resistant materials. Fully open the screen or curtain after each shower to facilitate drying, and ensure they are cleaned regularly.
  4. Frequently wash bathroom rugs and carpets: regularly washing bathroom rugs and carpets helps prevent moisture retention and mould growth. Hang towels and rugs in a dry, ventilated area after use.
  5. Regular cleaning: maintain a regular cleaning schedule for your bathroom, paying close attention to hard-to-reach areas where mould can proliferate. Additionally, use sanitising agents to clean surfaces, including rugs and curtains, rather than relying solely on perfumed sprays.
  6. Use gloss paint: opt for gloss paint in areas prone to moisture accumulation, as it provides a harder surface that is less conducive to mould growth.

By following these preventive measures consistently, homeowners can significantly reduce the risk of mould growth in their bathrooms and maintain a clean and healthy environment.

How to get rid of bathroom mould when you find it

If you do find or smell mould, you should act straight away to get rid of it. Some of the things you can do are:

Strip out and re-do any sealant or grout that has mould growing on it.

Use mould-killing products when cleaning such as vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, bleach. Just do not mix them as that could be toxic. Soap and water are not enough. Use protective gloves in case the harsh product is not good for your skin.

When cleaning open windows, doors and turn on the ventilation to help dry it out.

Usually, the best approach is to kill the mould first then clean it to remove it to prevent spores from spreading.

Keep pets and children away when using certain sprays and cleaners.

If you suspect a leak is the cause of the mould in your bathroom, we advise calling a plumber. You can discover our expert leak detection services here.

Here at Gold Coast Plumbing Experts, we value the health of our local communities. That is why we put so much emphasis on the importance of regular inspections and proper maintenance. We invest in the latest plumbing technologies to not only comprehensively resolve the issue, but to protect the welfare of both you and your family as well.