Is Blackish Mold in Shower THE Black Mold?

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Q: The bathroom in our apartment was re-done just before we moved in. There's a window in the shower, which makes it nice and bright, and which can be opened for ventilation after a shower. Within a week or two of moving in, though, we had black and pink molds starting to grow, particularly around the window sill and under the soap-holder, in the grout. I've never seen/had this much of a mold problem in previous apartments — even ones with no window in the bathroom. We've scrubbed and our grout has given way only to reveal more gross, old grout and moldy recesses underneath it.:

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We use vinegar, bon ami, "green" products — but I've been thinking I need to start cleaning with bleach regularly. We don't keep things on the window shelf (besides a little plant in a jar of water, which has its own ecosystem of green algae but no black mold).

The paint has started to peel off the window (why someone would paint an enameled window with latex paint is beyond me), and it's icky under there, too. I imagine there's probably mold camped out in the little "hairs" that keep the window sealed.

I would re-grout, but I think the mold would grow its way back out. And the window frame is another story. I'm pretty sure there was a significant mold problem in the bathroom, which they attempted to fix and/or just cover up — and is now rearing its ugly head again. I imagine under the new tile, there's a rotting wooden window frame spewing mold.

How do I keep this under control? Is this black mold officially "black mold" and therefore super toxic? Is there a kind of grout that would "seal it out" in any way? Help!

Sent by Kari

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(Image credits: Kari)

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Regina is an architect who lives with her husband and children in Lawrence, KS. As a LEED Accredited Professional and longtime contributor to Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, her focus is on healthy, sustainable living through design.