Mold problem in bathroom. How to best prevent?
July 3, 2014 8:24 PM   Subscribe

We are renters with a nice but somewhat slow-to-act landlord. We have a 700 sqft apartment that has one bathroom with one window but no exhaust fan. Even though we live in SoCal (dry and warm all year) and open the window and door after showering, we still get grayish-black mold growing on the ceilings and grout, and sometimes in the garbage can. We get rid of it with bleach but it always comes back. Will installing a window fan that exhausts air out (either twin or single) help this at all? Or is that a waste of money?
posted by emily37 to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
A fan will probably help. You also might try squeegeeing the tiles quick when you're done. We have a poorly ventilated bathroom too and that seems to be more important to inhibiting our mildew issues than keeping the fan on - we still try to do both. (We don't do a crazy perfect job squeegeeing - we just try to get most if the 'wall water' down the drain instead of evaporating...
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:41 PM on July 3, 2014

Your grout needs resealed, this is easy. A window fan will help, I like the twin reversable ones. This is maybe forty dollars total. [I live in moldland [Louisiana] and was a remodeler.]
posted by vapidave at 9:22 PM on July 3, 2014

Yes, the fan will probably help. What will also help is misting the ceiling, after cleaning, with white vinegar. This keeps the mold away for a decent time (usually several weeks), unlike bleach. The vinegar smell goes away in a day.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:53 PM on July 3, 2014

After every shower, I spray the tiles with Clorox clean up spray. In all these years, I have no mold problem. There is no window, but there is an exhaust fan which I leave running for the recommended 15 minutes at least.
posted by Cranberry at 10:55 PM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anti-mold paint helped us (the kind specifically for bathrooms). I know you're renting but if you match the colour and finish the landlord probably wouldn't notice.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:41 PM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cleaners with tea tree oil (found at Whole Foods or Sprouts) work too.
posted by brujita at 12:14 AM on July 4, 2014

I can attest to the "bathroom paint". We are even using it on windowsills where condensation is conducive to mold.
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 4:10 AM on July 4, 2014

I work with mold in my dayjob. In my opinion, a window fan (or other exhaust fan) is the best option here that will prevent future regrowth. (Kilz is great, don't get me wrong, but it's mold-resistant, and there will be other things in your bathroom that still aren't, like towels.)

The good news is that since you are in SoCal, I would expect a functional window fan to totally fix the issue.

Make sure you consider safety when installing -- if you're on the first floor, remember someone can push in the fan to get access to your apartment if the window is big enough. And be extra-careful if the fan is in an area of the room that's high moisture. If you don't already have a GFCI outlet in there (and you should -- but you should also have a vent fan, so), look into that. They are cheap to buy if you have access to your circuit breakers (and are 100% sure of which one serves your bathroom) and are comfortable with that level of electrical work. If you aren't, it might be worth getting an electrician in to install one and look at your proposed fan location.
posted by pie ninja at 4:41 AM on July 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

I will 3rd using the Zinsser, which has done a great job of cutting down mold in my own bathroom.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:35 AM on July 4, 2014

Nthing window fan, pointed outward, installed in the top part of the window if possible. When using the shower, keep the bathroom door open, AND, have another window in the apartment open. Keep the fan running at least 15 minutes after turning off the shower. If it's a shower with a glass door, leave that open during those 15 as well, and squeegee if you're so motivated.

I think that will totally solve it, but as extra steps, apply the Zinsser, and for the grout, go to a big hardware store and get some grout cleaner and grout sealer. Clean and apply, it will cut down greatly on the propensity of mold to grow on the grout.
posted by beagle at 6:47 AM on July 4, 2014

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