Tips to Prevent and Remove Mold from Grout Lines
It’s a well-known fact that mold thrives best in warm, moist areas with poor air circulation. This makes bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and basements ideal places for mold to develop – humidity is always high and air flow is usually limited. Therefore, it is very common to see mold in these rooms – on walls and ceilings, on caulking and between tiles, etc.
Tile grout, however, is where mold is most often found. There is a good reason for that – tiles are typically used in areas where moisture is abundant (like kitchen backsplashes, shower enclosures, bathroom floors, etc.) and the porous nature of grout makes it particularly susceptible to mold growth.
When mold builds up on the grout, it not only makes your kitchen or bathroom look old and dirty, but also poses serious health risks to you and your family and compromises the integrity of your home.
To prevent such troubles and save yourself a lot of money and nerves, you need to find an efficient way to keep mold at bay – remove it from the grout as soon as you notice it or, even better, prevent it from developing in the first place.
How to Prevent Mold in Grout
As you certainly know, prevention is the best cure. And indeed, why spend so much time and effort cleaning mold from grout, when you can simply prevent it from appearing altogether? All you need to do in order to keep mold under control is to deprive it of the main prerequisite for its growth – moisture. Just keep the tiles dry and you’ll never have to worry about the harmful microorganisms.
But how can you remove moisture from a room that is designed to be wet – such as the bathroom, for example? It sounds absurd.
You can’t, of course, but you can reduce the dampness – there is a big difference between getting wet and staying permanently wet.
Here are some simple, yet highly efficient measures you can take to lower the humidity in your bathroom, kitchen, and other “wet areas” of your home and prevent mold growth:
1. Keep doors and windows open for as long as possible to ensure proper air flow within the home:
- Let the bathroom window stay open for at least 15 minutes after you turn the shower off, so that excess moisture can move out of the room rather than condense on the walls and tiles;
- Leave the shower door open when the shower is not in use;
- Keep the kitchen windows open while cooking to allow the steam to escape;
- Ventilate the laundry room, basement, and attic as often as possible.
2. Run the exhaust fan in the bathroom for about 20 minutes after showering to draw the moisture out of the room;
3. Wipe down the shower walls and shower floor after bathing – you can use a squeegee, a hand towel, or a washcloth to do the job (the latter is particularly good at getting to the tile grout and in the corners where mold tends to appear first);
4. Use shower curtains and liners that are easy to clean, so that you can keep them in pristine condition all the time. Remember to shake the worst of the water off the curtain after taking a shower and to leave it partially drawn so that it can dry faster (but doesn’t impede air circulation within the bathroom);
5. Hang your bath towels to dry after using them – if you leave them wet in the bathroom, they’ll contribute to the humidity in the room;
6. Spray the tiles and caulking in your bathroom with a mold-prohibiting solution at least once in a week. All you need to do is mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle (or add 10 drops of tea tree oil to a spray bottle filled with water) and you’ll get a natural anti-mold solution that will protect your bathroom against the fungi;
7. Keep the tiles clean. Regular scrubbing and cleaning is the best way to minimize the chance of mold growth in the grout. Unless frequently cleaned, the tile surface can become coated in a fine layer of soap-scum over time. It builds up and creates a porous deposit which provides the ideal breeding ground for mold;
8. Fix leaky faucets and showerheads to remove the source of excess moisture in your bathroom and kitchen;
9. Seal the grout. Apply a coat or two of a silicon-based grout sealer to dry grout. It will significantly reduce the speed at which moisture can penetrate the porous grout so that it gets less wet and dries much faster. Besides, the durable antimicrobial technology incorporated in the sealant will provide a good barrier against all kinds of microbes, including mold;
10. Use mold-resistant paint and grout that contains anti-fungal additives when repainting your kitchen or bathroom and installing new tiles.
The more you do to prevent mold in grout, the easier it will be to keep your bathroom and kitchen in excellent condition. However, if mold appears in the grout lines despite your efforts, you need to remove it without delay.
How to Remove Mold from Grout
Removing mold from grout requires a bit of patience and elbow grease on your part. You need to not only clean the visible mold patches, but also fully disinfect the area to make sure you have killed all the spores and restored the safe and hygienic environment of your bathroom or kitchen.
So, how to get rid of mold in shower grout? How to remove it from the lines between the tiles of the kitchen backsplash? How to clean it off bathroom grout?
There are several different methods you can use to clean mold from grout and prevent it from regenerating:
How to Remove Mold from Grout with Bleach
Chlorine bleach is the most commonly used cleaning agent when it comes to DIY mold grout removal. It works well and not only kills the mold spores, but also disinfects the area and removes the buildup of soap residue from the tiles and grout.
- Mix one part bleach to four parts water in a spray bottle;
- Spray the affected area, wait for about 30 minutes, then scrub vigorously with a brush (use an old tooth brush for the grout lines);
- Rinse with cool, clear water. Repeat the process, if necessary.
- Use a stiff bristle toothbrush to scrub bleach directly onto the moldy grout;
- Let the bleach sit for about 15-30 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Repeat as needed.
- Bleach causes fading and discoloration, so it should not be used on colored tiles or colored grout;
- The fumes from bleach can be irritating to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract, so you need to wear a mask, safety glasses, and rubber gloves when using it. Keep the room well ventilated during the cleaning process and let the windows open for a couple of hours afterwards to make sure that all harmful fumes have left the room.
How to Remove Mold with Baking Soda
Unlike bleach, baking soda won’t harm or discolor the tiles or present any health hazards to the occupants of the home. It will clean the affected area very well, but won’t be as efficient in killing the mold spores as bleach.
There are several different ways you can use baking soda to clean the tiles and grout in your home:
- Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with one gallon of water and spray the mixture on the affected area. Wait for about half an hour, then rinse the surfaces thoroughly with warm water;
- Dip a damp sponge into pure baking soda and scrub down the tiles and grout with it. Rinse with warm water;
- Stir 1/2 cup of baking soda and several teaspoons of water to make a paste you can spread directly over the mold. Apply the paste to the moldy grout, let it sit for 10 minutes, then scrub away with a bristle brush. Rinse with water and repeat, if necessary.
Good to know: You can use borax to clean mold in the same way as baking soda – it is highly alkaline and very effective at cleaning, disinfecting, and deodorizing.
How to Remove Mold with Salt
Salt is surprisingly efficient in killing single-cell organisms like mold. All you need to do is rub the affected area with a damp cloth (it needs to be wet while the salt is applied) and sprinkle on salt, then scrub it into the grout lines. Let it to stay overnight and rinse the surfaces with clear water in the morning.
How to Remove Mold with Vinegar
Vinegar is one of the most effective natural cleaning agents. Due to its acidic nature, it creates an environment that inhibits bacteria growth.
At the first signs of mold on the grout, mix equal parts distilled white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and generously spray the affected area. Wait for 30 minutes, then scrub the surfaces with a bristle brush and rinse with warm water. For best results, repeat the process several times.
You can use tree tea oil in roughly the same way – use two teaspoons of the products to every cup of water you add in the spray bottle, spray the moldy surfaces, and wait for several hours before rinsing with clear water.
Make sure you keep the windows open to ensure good air circulation and counter the strong smell of the vinegar or the tea tree oil.
If the mold growth is extensive, however, these natural products won’t be strong enough to remove it.
Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Clean Mold
Hydrogen peroxide – a highly effective fungicide and whitening agent, may do the trick when all other mold removal methods fail.
You can make a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide and spray it on the affected area, but for better results you need to apply the peroxide directly over the grout:
- Mix hydrogen peroxide with white flour to create a thick paste. Apply the paste to the grout and allow it to work overnight before rinsing well with cold water;
- Apply a thick baking soda paste to the moldy area (as described above). Pour hydrogen peroxide over the paste so that it begins to fizz – this will help loosen the mold. Scrub with a stiff bristle brush, then rinse away with water. Repeat as needed.
There is no doubt that the best way to clean mold from grout is to use natural cleaning agents. Sometimes, however, even hydrogen peroxide and bleach won’t be powerful enough to kill the mold spores and remove the problem. In this case – as well as when the mold is too much for you to handle on your own – your best option is to use professional mold removal services.
The experienced tile and grout cleaning professionals will use advanced equipment, appropriate cleaning materials, and safe and efficient cleaning techniques to remove the mold before it spreads further and causes costly damage to your home. They will not only ensure the pristine condition of your bathroom and kitchen, but will also save you plenty of time and effort – and even money in the long run. It’s up to you to make the call.