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The Home Depot

How to Prevent Bathroom Mold

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Cleaning > How to Prevent Bathroom Mold
How to Prevent Bathroom Mold

Thanks to their damp nature, bathrooms provide an ideal habitat for mold, which can create problems for those with allergies, asthma, and respiratory issues. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent mold growth in your bathroom, from simple maintenance tasks to upgrades of fixtures and materials. Mold spores are present just about everywhere, but you don’t need to let them establish territory inside your home.


Prevention and Removal Measures

Follow the steps below to prevent mold growth in your bathroom, or to correct issues you already have.


    1. Dry It Up

    Materials Skill Level Estimated Time
    • Towel Beginner 5 minutes

    Mold requires water to thrive, so its presence is typically an indicator of excess moisture. In addition to creating a fantastic habitat for mold, trapped water can lead to staining and rot damage in structural and finish materials inside your home. It’s important to eliminate problematic water, so in the bathroom, be sure to hang bath mats and towels to dry, wipe up puddled water on the floor, counter, and tub ledges, and repair leaks from pipes, drains, and even shower doors that might be allowing the constant presence of water. Be sure to check hidden areas, like the floor around the toilet and in the cabinet under the sink, where water from condensation and hidden leaks can go unnoticed for quite a while.

    2. Air It Out

    Materials Skill Level Estimated Time
    • Bathroom Exhaust Fan Intermediate to Advanced 1 to 4 hours

    Ventilation is key to reducing humidity and condensation in the bathroom, especially from the use of showers. Be sure to run your exhaust fan during showers and up to 30 minutes afterward to help move steam safely outside. If you don’t have an exhaust fan, or if yours isn’t very effective, open the window and consider installing a fan or upgrading yours. If installing the ductwork needed for exhaust is complicated or impossible due to a lack of access, a through-the-wall fan could be a practical alternative.

    3. Clean It Up

    Materials Skill Level Estimated Time
    • All-purpose cleaner or detergent Beginner 30 minutes
    • Bleach
    • Water
    • Microfiber or dusting cloths

    In addition to water, mold needs food to survive. Building materials like wood and drywall are common food sources for mold, but regular old household dust can provide plenty of nutrition as well. Keeping the bathroom clean can reduce its appeal, so take care to dust horizontal surfaces and wash the walls and trim periodically. Don’t forget the top of the window and door trim or cabinets, heating registers, light fixtures, and the grates of HVAC and ventilation ducts or fans. If mold has already formed, just clean it up with an all-purpose cleaner or a solution of detergent and water. Bleach isn’t generally necessary to remove mold or mildew, but it can help remove stains they leave behind and sanitize surfaces; just dilute ¾ cup of bleach in water for cleaning.

    4. Seal It Off

    Materials Skill Level Estimated Time
    • Tile and grout sealer Beginner 1 to 2 hours
    • Polyurethane or other varnish
    • Silicone-based caulk
    • Caulking gun

    Among many practical reasons to use hard, non-porous materials for bathrooms, resistance to moisture infiltration and damage is on the top of the list. Even if your bathroom already sports hard surface finishes, some maintenance can make them less vulnerable to moisture, and thus less likely to become a host for mold. Cleaning and sealing grout or porous tile is essential to protect it, and sealing any untreated wood trim or decorative items can minimize the retention of moisture. Replacing the caulk around sinks, tubs, and showers is also important to prevent water getting trapped behind fixtures and finish materials.

    5. Fix It Up

    Materials Skill Level Estimated Time
    • Plumbing tools Intermediate 1 to 4 hours
    • Plumbing fittings and supplies
    • Wax ring
    • Drywall tools
    • Joint compound or spackle
    • Paint
    • Replacement hardware
    • Contact cement

    Even if seemingly minor, worn and damaged walls, flooring, and trim can increase the likelihood of mold problems. These finish materials provide the first line of defense for vulnerable wood subfloors and framing, which are excellent sponges for excess water, and can produce a buffet of dust and debris for mold to feed on. Stay on top of repairs to keep things clean and dry in the bathroom, whether they are loose toilet bases or supply lines, crooked shower doors, dings in the wall, or peeling laminate on the counter or cabinets.

    6. Change It Out

    Materials Skill Level Estimated Time
    • Moisture-resistant drywall Intermediate to Advanced 1 hour to 2 weeks
    • Moisture-resistant drywall
    • Mold- and mildew-resistant paint
    • PVC or vinyl trim
    • Tile
    • Grout
    • Backer board
    • Shower door
    • Window blinds or shutters
    • Bathroom exhaust fan

    Changing some choice fixtures and materials in your bathroom can go a long way in preventing mold problems. If you are planning a remodel, materials like moisture resistant drywall, or “green board,” mold and mildew resistant paint, tile floors, and PVC or vinyl trim elements can perform better than standard drywall and paint or wood flooring and finishes. Even if you aren’t planning a complete overhaul of the room, upgrading your exhaust fan with one of higher capacity, replacing curtains and drapes with blinds, upgrading from a shower curtain to a shower door, and installing hard flooring in favor of carpet can improve ventilation and simplify cleaning to reduce the likelihood of mold forming.


Level of Difficulty

While remodeling a bathroom to install mold-resistant materials or to repair or upgrade fixtures could call for some advanced skills in fields like carpentry, wiring, tile setting, and plumbing, there are several projects that are suitable for a beginner to tackle, like cleaning, painting, and applying caulk. A slightly higher skill level is required for jobs like replacing an exhaust fan, repairing flooring, replacing the wax ring on a toilet, or installing a shower door, but these projects are reasonable for an intermediate-level DIYer.


Find a Pro

If you don’t have the skills to tackle the mold-proofing upgrades needed in your bathroom, or if you would just rather leave the dirty work to someone else, get in touch with a local Pro to plan your project. Whether you need a house cleaner, painter, plumber, electrician, flooring specialist, or a remodeling contractor who can oversee it all, you can find trusted professionals in our national network of contractors.

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