My fancy shower has mold. Help me!
April 21, 2010 6:16 PM   Subscribe

My huge fancy stone-tile shower is growing mold like crazy. What can I use to clean this up that won't hurt the septic tank?

I am renting a house with a large (~12-15 sf) shower tiled with large and small stone tiles and a TON of grout. This shower grows a lot of mildew/mold primarily on the grout but also on the tiles. The small tiles are uneven and "rustic" with lots of crooks and gullies to hold and grow mildew. Some of the large tiles (which are smooth) sort of overhang the grout lines, which makes those grout lines grow mildew. This is clearly a shower to be maintained by a cadre of housekeepers, but I don't have a cadre of housekeepers. Just me, and I don't want to spend my life maintaining this shower.

What can I use to clean this up? I would just bleach the heck out of it, but I don't think that is compatible with the septic tank. I prefer something that is non-toxic/environmentally friendly, but I'm willing to go for a nuclear option this one time to get it cleaned up - assuming it doesn't cause a catastrophic failure of the septic tank.

I know once it is clean I will need to keep it dry, etc. and have committed the household to physically drying it off after showering once I get it cleaned up.
posted by jeoc to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Look into using plain white vinegar.
posted by onhazier at 6:22 PM on April 21, 2010

Best answer: Seconding vinegar. Clean the shower with vinegar and then make sure to spray it down after the last shower of the day.

There are also environmentally friendly post-shower sprays available to help keep things in between showers. Takes maybe five seconds to spray one down.

However, bleach really shouldn't cause septic problems. At least the amount of bleach it would take for one good cleaning of the shower. It would take a significant amount of bleach to kill all the bacteria in your tank. Ceramic tile has been my family's business for a long, long time and bleach is the recommended cleaner when normal cleaners won't cut it. After the initial cleaning you can return to using vinegar or a green shower spray.
posted by Loto at 6:35 PM on April 21, 2010

After you clean the shower, here is a recipe for homemade shower spray. It's easier to spray this after each shower than to dry the shower, and it will keep 90% of the mildew at bay. It will also keep the glass clean.

Into a spray bottle that will hold at least 24 ounces, put:
1/2 cup isopropyl alcohol
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
6 drops dishwashing liquid
1 teaspoon Jet Dry rinse agent
2 cups water

Don't mix up more than this, or the peroxide will break down before you can use it all.
posted by zinfandel at 7:11 PM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]

Toothpaste and an old toothbrush cleans grout very well, and you don't need a lot. The extensive research (one whole page!) that I read through does not mention toothpaste as being a concern for septic fields.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:17 PM on April 21, 2010

Best answer: Just reread your question; ignore the 'old toothbrush' part of my previous comment and switch to a bristle brush or you'll be there 'till Tuesday.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:18 PM on April 21, 2010

Best answer: I clean my toilet with bleach all the time. I have a septic tank. Not a problem.

Just put some bleach and water in a spray bottle and spray those walls down-make sure you ventilate the area of course.

Vinegar is fine too, but seriously, you won't have trouble with the bleach unless you plan on pouring gallons of it down the drain.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:55 PM on April 21, 2010

St. Alia is on the right track. The only effective grout cleaner we've found is diluted bleach. We're on septic as well.
posted by maxwelton at 12:45 AM on April 22, 2010

TILEX! that shit WORKS. Tilex. it's got bleach and shit. use it!
posted by sexyrobot at 1:23 AM on April 22, 2010

Ask your landlord's advice. Harsh solutions will damage the tile job, not just the septic tank.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:07 AM on April 22, 2010

Cleaning lady recommends bleach and Sprite.
posted by alice ayres at 9:08 AM on April 22, 2010

TILEX! that shit WORKS. Tilex. it's got bleach and shit. use it!

sexyrobot, since bleach alone works beautifully, and costs less, why both buying Tilex? (Honestly.)
posted by IAmBroom at 1:53 PM on April 22, 2010

Anyone regret such a shower? I've thought about upgrading our simple plastic shower into a rustic stone tile type shower but always wondered about the maintenance requirements.
posted by InvestorMD at 7:03 PM on April 22, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all for the answers. I have been using lots of white vinegar and elbow grease to good effect. The elbow grease seems to be key. I think I will save the bleach until right before we move out.

Don't know if InvestorMD will see this thread again, but the show is really very nice and beautiful when it is clean. I'm a lax housekeeper, and I'm sure if I was more diligent I wouldn't have any problems.
posted by jeoc at 3:59 PM on May 23, 2010

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