How To Prevent Mildew in the Bathroom

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Mildew thrives in moist environments, so it's of little surprise that there's one part of your home highly susceptible to the scourge: the bathroom. In order to prevent mildew from cropping up, there are a few steps you can take to tackle the area...

Assess the Situation: Is there already a mildew problem? Grout mold can sometimes be removed with bathroom cleaner and some elbow grease, but if not, replace the grout with a latex-fortified version. Mold found on painted walls or ceilings is a bit more difficult. If you live in a rental we suggest bringing it up with your landlord, as it is possible they'll need to remove parts of the wall to get rid of it for good (and make sure to let the area dry out for at least a day or so before patching).

Prevent Its Return: Once you've gotten rid of the existing mildew, work to prevent it from coming back. Two major ways to do so are with proper air circulation and light filtration. If you have a window, keep it open (or at least cracked) as often as possible. Also, keep the blinds up to let light into the room (a natural enemy of mold). If you don't have a window, consider installing an exhaust fan to move the air around and dry things out a bit, and if you have low-energy light bulbs, try leaving them on for 10 to 15 minutes after showering. If you plan on repainting, ask for a mildewcide additive to be added to the paint before it is mixed. If you are buying paint that is made specifically for a bathroom or kitchen it might already be in there, so ask an expert to see if it's needed.

Keep it Clean: Hang towels, spray tiles with vinegar or store-bought cleaner regularly, and mop up any standing water as quickly as possible.

Any other suggestions? We'd love to hear 'em.

- Re-edited from a post originally published August 8, 2008 - DF