Mould and mildew thrive in warm, damp places, which make your bathroom their dream habitat. And once nasty mould spores settle, it can be a mammoth job to get rid of them. Left to their own devices, they’ll soon make themselves at home on walls, furniture, shower curtains and even towels. And as if ruining your bathroom’s good looks wasn’t enough, both mould and mildew give off that unmistakably horrible dank, throat cloying smell that’s at its worse during the chilly winter months.
Treat the cause
Preventing mould and mildew from taking a hold in the first place is obviously the best plan but it’s not always possible if you live in an older property with damp or leaky windows. If you can though, always try and ventilate your bathroom as much as you can after a steamy bath or shower. An extractor fan is ideal but opening your window a crack can help circulate some air too. Wipe down tiles and damp walls regularly and try not to leave damp towels languishing.
Leave material in a damp place and it won’t be too long before little black spots of mildew appear. If the weather’s good enough, one quick way to speed up the removal process is to hang affected towels, flannels or curtains outside. Sunlight is a natural mould inhibitor and once it’s performed its (natural) magic, you should be able to brush away most of the black smudges before a regular machine wash. Unfortunately sunny days can be few and far between here in the UK, so another alternative is to soak machine-washable items in bleach for 30 minutes, rinse thoroughly, then wash as usual. For non-machine wash fabrics, dab the affected areas with bleach instead, letting it soak in for a few minutes, then gently rinse with a washing detergent-soaked sponge. Repeat the process if you need to, then hang everything out to air dry.
If your bathroom walls are seriously stained this could indicate a more serious problem, so always call in an expert if you suspect that your mould and mildew issues might be on the extreme side. To remove the odd black spot or smudge, you can use bleach diluted with water, using a scouring pad to gently rub the magic formula in. Leave for a few minutes, then rinse with a wet cloth. Most shower curtains can go into the washing machine on a warm wash with your usual detergent and a capful of bleach. When the cycle’s finished, just be sure to hang them out to dry thoroughly before you re-hang.
Wooden furniture that’s succumbed to damp can be freshened instantly with a soft brush that should gently lift any mould and mildew spores. Use a dash of washing up liquid diluted with water to clean away any stubborn remaining marks then let it dry. A quick hoover once dry will remove any remaining mouldy bits and a sprinkle of baking powder in corners and drawers will help banish any nasty musty smells.