Prevention and Removal of Mold/Mildew
What is Mildew/Mold?
Mildew/mold is a live fungus. It needs three things to survive: dark conditions, damp conditions and a food source. Humidity and moisture are key to the growth of mold/mildew. The typical guest bathroom provides the perfect environment for growth (reproduction); dark, moist surfaces, a humid environment and lots of food (e.g. soap scum and body oils). Molds/Mildew will grow in the grout or on paint. Usually common Cladosporium is found in these areas. The growth occurs when washing neutralizes the grout or the mildewcides found in mildew resistant grouts are leached through aging.
Treating and removing molds and mildews is more difficult than preventing them. Mildew starts out in a vegetative state. (In many cases you can’t visually see it). In the state, it can be controlled with cleaners such as R2 and physical agitation. Using the proper tool is critical. A white hand pad may be aggressive enough, or you may have to use a green pad. If grout line is recessed, a brush will be necessary. Daily cleaning with disinfectant cleaner that has been allowed to dwell on the surface for approximately ten minutes is the most effective step to prevent the growth of mold/mildew. Thorough drying along grout lines and in corners, to eliminate the moisture, is also a critical preventative step. Steam cleaning is also a good method to remove mold/mildew from tough corner grouting
Proper housekeeping procedures are key to the prevention of mold/mildew. Through proper daily cleaning you can keep the mildew in check. The cleaning process eliminates the food source (soap scum and body oils). Thorough drying removes the moisture source. Once mold/mildew is visible, you have a special cleaning task at hand.
If not controlled through proper daily cleaning, disinfecting and drying, mildew goes into a “spore” state (very visible, typically seen as discoloration in the grout or pink red staining on the shower curtains). In this state, mildew is extremely hard to remove. There are two options one can consider: –
- Bleach type product (Titan Sanitizer)
- Re-grouting of tiles in mildew areas
Bleach type product
Bleach type products work effectively on mild infestations of mildew. Regular use of bleach or similar products is not recommended. These products should be used for problem situations or deep cleaning program. There are some strong negatives associated with using bleach:
i. Dissipating bleach fumes in poorly ventilated area is difficult. Typically, bathrooms are small, confined areas with ventilation that is inadequate to dissipate bleach fumes. Even in a very well-ventilated areas (with doors and windows open) the bleach fumes can make the room unpleasant for some time.
ii. Room cleaner personal hazards
- Bleach fumes are unpleasant and may irritate a cleaner. Proper protective equipment including gloves and eye/face protection must be worn.
- Bleach cannot be mixed with acids. When mixed, bleach and acid give off a dangerous gas which is hazardous to cleaners. It is not uncommon to have residual acid in the drain trap. This could remain from previous cleaning efforts. Mixing bleach with ammonia-based product will produce a toxic and lethal gas.
- Most professionals believe that a long-term use of bleach on calcium-based grout can dry it out causing premature decay. In the long run, this could encourage the regrowth of molds/mildew.
iii. If accidentally spilled on the floor or carpet, bleach will permanently discolor the surface.
Regrouting (Johnson Diversey Regrout):
When proper cleaning and disinfecting techniques have not been followed and molds/mildew growth is prevalent, bleach and acids may not be effective. Re-grouting may be the only option. The key to re-grouting is thorough removal of all old grout so that no mildew spores remain. This is a time consuming and expensive option. Proper disinfecting and cleaning techniques are critical to the prevention of molds and mildew.