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Expert Contributor

Mold is the bane of every homeowner, and bathrooms are where the fungus often takes root.

If you’re planning a bathroom remodel, keep mold prevention in mind and ensure there is no mold in the bathroom before you get started. If you see any black spots on the ceiling or walls – usually near the baseboards – the odds are good you’ve got a mold issue. Another telltale sign is wet spots on the wall when the tub or shower hasn’t been used.  If you have mold in your bathroom, you’ll need to call in a mold remediation company before beginning your remodeling.

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure when it comes to mold, since mold is tough to eradicate once it is established. In a worst-case scenario, bathroom mold spreads through the floors, walls and ceiling to affect the rest of your house.


small bathroom remodel ideasMoisture Removal and Mold Control

Mold prevention revolves around keeping an area dry, and that’s not easy in the room where you shower, wash and flush the toilet. Good ventilation and water management are key. That means opening windows after showering – weather permitting – and/or turning the exhaust fan on for about 15 minutes post-shower. When planning your bathroom remodel, pay as much attention to the unglamorous necessities such as the exhaust fan as to the attractive fixtures. Rather than use wallpaper – which is a great place for mold spores to hide -  paint wall surfaces with a semi-gloss paint. Not only does semi-gloss paint make walls easier to clean, but it creates a more impenetrable surface and discourages mold infiltration. Here are some tips on keeping moisture to a minimum:

  • Check all fixtures for leaks, and repair them immediately. Leaks are a mold magnet.
  • If your sink, tub or shower takes too much time draining, that backup is an invitation to mold formation. Use either a liquid drain cleaner to unclog the pipes or a drain snake to break the blockage. Clean the stoppers on sinks regularly, to remove soap and hair residue.
  • If your showerhead has bits of white on it, that’s calcium buildup and you can get rid of it with vinegar. If the showerhead has black dots on it, that’s mold. Don’t try to clean it, as mold on the outside indicates mold on the inside. Instead, replace the showerhead.


bathroom exhaust fanStopping Mildew and Mold

Mildew and mold isn’t exactly the same thing, but both are fungi. Mold is dark, while mildew is light, and both impact the bathroom. Preventing mildew requires diligence. Clean your bathroom at least weekly. Spray a disinfectant cleanser on all surfaces, leaving it on for the period recommended on the product label and then wipe it off with paper towels. Here are some other recommendations:

  • Encourage family members to wipe down the shower after each use. This simple act considerably cuts down potential mildew formation.
  • Shower curtains are prime fungal breeding grounds. Spray the shower curtain weekly with a mix of three parts vinegar and two parts water and then wipe it down an hour later. Spread the curtain after each use, rather than leaving it bunched up at one end of the tub or shower. This allows it to air out.
  • Seal the grout lines in tile annually to keep them waterproof.

With a little effort, your bathroom remodel will remain free of mold and mildew and your updated bathroom will improve the value of your home.


Jane M.’s work has appeared in dozens of publications, including USA Today, Legal Zoom, Zack's and The Motley Fool. In addition to writing for cultural, business and financial journals, she worked for a dozen years as a staff reporter for a major New Jersey newspaper chain, and still contributes regularly to nj.com. She has written thousands of articles on various subjects. Her expertise includes personal finance, real estate, business and pets.