Shades of Black: What to Do About Mold in Your Shower

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Mold. Whether it’s green, pink, or black, it’s always an unwelcome guest in our homes. Humid environments, however, are the perfect breeding ground for this major allergen. So, what do you do when you find mold, especially black-colored mold, in your bathroom?

Facets of the Issue

Black mold in bathrooms does not necessarily indicate Stachybotrys chartarum, the black mold. This highly toxic variety of mold requires cellulose to grow, and most modern construction practices have eliminated the risk. If you have black-looking mold in your showers, odds are it is a less toxic variety and tainted in color from other grime.

The only true way to know what type of mold is growing is to have it tested, which can be expensive. Most mold problems can be handled easily so long as you do your research and protect yourself.

Size up the mold in your bathroom. If the mold spreads over more than nine square feet, you may need to consider contacting a professional. Many mold removal services will give you honest feedback on whether you should hire and offer free estimates. However, most homeowners are perfectly equipped to deal with smaller issues and clear out the bathroom on their own.

Personal Protective Equipment

Even if you aren’t dealing with the hazardous Stachybotrys chartarum, you should protect yourself from the aggravations of mold exposure. Even the least toxic molds are allergens. Nitrile, disposable gloves are a must to protect your hands. Consider wearing a respirator mask as well, so that any disturbed spores do not set off a respiratory reaction. They can also protect you if you choose to use one of the stronger cleaning agents.
While safety goggles are not required, many homeowners prefer to wear them when dealing with allergens and anything involving cleaning a bathroom. Proper ventilation such as an open window or a ventilation fan in the ceiling can also help keep the air clear and prevent the allergen from spreading.

The DIY Approach

Smaller mold issues can be dealt with simply: cleaning with warm water and a scrubber— old toothbrushes are especially effective. If that does not prove sufficient, try one of the following:

• Borax or Baking Soda
Simply mix the Borax or the baking soda in with your water and apply with a small spritzer bottle. Allow the mixture to sit for five or ten minutes before scrubbing away. After you’ve scoured the mold, wipe away any excess and rinse the area.
• Hydrogen Peroxide
Peroxide can be used on both porous and nonporous materials to clean bleach. If you are needing to clean fabric such as any towels, be sure to test in an inconspicuous area to ensure the peroxide does not cause color damage.
• Commercial Cleaner
Many bathroom cleaners are specifically formulated to remove mold and mildew. If the baking soda and peroxide ideas don’t seem to cut it, consider buying a bottle from your local store.
• Chlorinated Bleach or Ammonia
Do not mix these two! Bleach and Ammonia can work wonders killing mold in any nonporous areas, such as your sinks, tiles, or tubs. However, it is highly toxic, and should only be a last resort for DIY efforts. The EPA recommends avoiding these unless someone in your household has a weakened immune system.
While all of the above are valid treatments, the best action against mold is preventative action. Exhaust fans, regular cleaning, and post-shower applications of vinegar can stop mold from growing in the first place.

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