Mould removal
July 16, 2017 8:09 AM   Subscribe

We're reaching the end of our tenancy and after a house inspection, the landlord has threatened to serve us with a breach of contract notice unless we remove some mould he found on the bathtub caulking. I've tried using normal cleaning products to no avail, and am wondering what are your best tips / recommendations for mould-removing products? Would I need to re-caulk (?) the bathtub? Bonus points for cheap and UK-accessible options! Pictures under the fold.
posted by monocot to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried a melamine magic eraser? The internet says the Flash brand should be available to you. Use gloves while you use it or you'll abrade your skin.
posted by hollyholly at 8:12 AM on July 16

Note: magic eraser will take the shine/surface off nearby tile unless you're careful. That might put you on the hook for re-tiling the whole thing.

If straight bleach didn't work, you might want to look into re-caulking. You could perhaps put a thin layer of new caulk on top of the old; that should last long enough for your purposes here.
posted by aramaic at 8:15 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]

NHS Choices advice on safely removing mould.

Also, before shelling out a lot of money on this you might want to look into Shelter's advice on mould and corresponding landlord and tenant responsibilities. Your landlord threatening you with breach of contract is... somewhat extreme, to say the least.
posted by Catseye at 8:21 AM on July 16 [16 favorites]

It looks like there's a depression there and maybe some holes that are black? Maybe just caulk over the top? Get the right stuff and watch a YouTube video about how to make it look good and then run a bead. Can you even get to that spot with a caulking gun? If not you might need to get creative with your hands - put a dollop of caulk on a finger and press it into the space that you can't reach with the gun and then smooth the whole thing with a wet finger or wet cloth (watch a video first).

I think there's also bleach pens that could work in that space. Think "coloring the mold" vs actually removing it.
posted by amanda at 8:39 AM on July 16

Re-caulking is the landlord's responsibility. Like, this is something to be done in-between tenancies and is definitely part of normal maintenance.


Take a retractable utility knife and slice a verticle line on each side of the bit of caulk you need to remove. Use a caulk removing tool (I recommend something like this) to dig out the caulk. Lay a new bead of caulk, smooth the repair edges with a caulk tool or wet finger, let dry overnight. Done.

Mold grows into caulk. You might be able to bleach it out, but it will grow back in the same spot because it's still in there. Best bet is to dig it out and start over. You can get everything but the caulk digging tool at a dollar store, you don't need high end equipment to do it right. Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 8:43 AM on July 16 [17 favorites]

Buy bleach gel and let it sit overnight. That stuff is magic.
posted by raisingsand at 8:51 AM on July 16 [9 favorites]

Depending on the type of caulk, you'll need to clean the surface with naphta after you scrape it off. Silicone caulk leaves behind an oily residue that will prevent the new caulk from adhering unless properly cleaned up with solvents.
posted by halogen at 9:14 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]

What jbenben said. I've been doing that procedure in my bathroom once a year. Killing time until the remodel.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:38 AM on July 16

Caulking is going to fix this in a day or so.

Avoid silicone caulk. It is the superior product but what do you care? It is 50x more difficult to work with compared to basic latex caulk.

Buy basic bathroom latex-based caulk. Dig out the moldy caulk with any knife you have on hand, scape adjoining tile and tub with a single edge razor. Dry with towels and a hair dryer until perfectly dry.

Apply the caulk as directions say.

The beauty of latex caulk is you can be messy and overapply and then clean up and smooth with a water soaked sponge and/or finger.
posted by sol at 10:08 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]

Silicone caulk is not difficult to work with and is the only appropriate type of caulk for a bathtub. Latex caulk will degrade in contact with water. All that's annoying about it is that you can't paint it and itndoesn't wipe off with water. I know that you shouldn't be having to do this at all (I mean, seriously? Breach of contract for a couple small mold spots in the bathroom?) but if you're going to do it, why do it wrong?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:49 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]

Here's a tutorial on recaulking a bathtub from This Old House. (They assert that either acrylic latex or silicone compounds are appropriate for bathtubs.)
posted by heatherlogan at 11:11 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]

If you'll be re-caulking, a tip not yet mentioned is to put masking tape along the edges of where you want the new caulk to be, apply and smooth the new caulk, then remove the tape. That makes it much easier to get a clean line of caulk.

Don't leave the tape until the caulk is set otherwise the caulk won't let go of the tape leading to either pulled-out caulk or caulk+tape left!
posted by anadem at 11:11 AM on July 16 [3 favorites]

If you want to try bleaching before recaulking: soak cotton wool balls in bleach and pack them in over the spots. The cotton wool will keep the bleach in the right place for longer... I suggest leaving it overnight.
posted by teststrip at 2:38 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]

Thirding bleach overnight. I soaked wads of toilet paper in bleach and swooshed it into the corner and left it for 8ish hours. Nothing happened for the first few hours, but it did work eventually. Repeat if necessary withnew bleach, but I didn't have to.
posted by kjs4 at 3:31 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]

I'm sure you could recaulk it. I'm also sure you could probably retile the room too. While you're at it, why not buy the landlord some new fancy taps? What I'm getting at is, while you COULD do it, there's no way you should have to do it. Being threatened with breach of contract over two tiny specks of mould is insane and when you jump through the landlord's ridiculous hoops, you're just teaching them that being a bully works and he will keep using that tactic. I'd use bleach gel or exit mould and call it a day. If he threatens you with breach of contract still, tell him you'll sue him for renting an unsafe living environment that has black mould and put it right back on him. Two can play that game.
posted by Jubey at 6:24 PM on July 16 [13 favorites]

Cillit Bang is terrifying in its efficiency. Start there; you can get it at Tesco for less than a fiver. Re-caulk only if required.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:50 AM on July 17

Dettol Mould and Mildew is the best. Just make sure you ventilate the room as it's quite harsh stuff, but it really works. Available from your local supermarket.
posted by veebs at 8:51 AM on July 17

Came here to agree with Jubey. I actually re-caulked the tub just yesterday to remove the black moldy stuff that had accumulated. But we own the place and it's the better long-term solution (as well as using silicone – never use the cheap stuff). In your case, just bleach to appease the landlord and move on.
posted by homesickness at 10:54 AM on July 17

Seconding Cillit Bang - they have a black mould remover product that is just spray on, leave for 5 mins, rinse off. Job done. Doesn't damage the bath sealant either.
posted by Chunder at 11:50 AM on July 17

Thanks all - mould remover + bleach soaking overnight did the trick well enough. We all hate the landlord and can't wait to move out!
posted by monocot at 3:00 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]

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