The caulking in our shower is getting blacker and yuckier by the day. I’ve tried a few different cleaning agents but was wondering if you have any tricks up your sleeve for mildew?
Ione, Sunshine Coast
Mould and mildew are definitely cleaning challenges. That yucky black stuff is a colony of moisture-loving mold spores. It grows on caulking (the squishy stuff that seals your tub to the wall), in grout lines (the hard material between tiles), on the shower curtain, or on tub and tile surfaces. And it can affect air quality.
You can tackle such mould and mildew on bathroom surfaces a few different ways:
Make a paste with baking soda and liquid castile soap (try the types infused with tea tree or lavender essential oils). Apply with a sponge or rag, let sit for 15 minutes for heavy duty jobs, then rinse and wipe clean.
A spray bottle of undiluted white vinegar will also do the trick, but be careful. Vinegar is a strong acid that can etch tile or grout. Use it only on the caulking and rinse it off thoroughly –- it’s always best to do a test patch.
Liquid oxygen bleach is another option. It’s basically diluted hydrogen peroxide, found in the laundry aisle of your grocery store. Apply it with a spray bottle or follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
The worst case scenario is if the mould has worked its way behind the caulking. In this case, you may have to re-caulk, and if you do, choose non-toxic, 100 per cent silicone.
Of course, mould and mildew prevention is the key. Get a handle on the humidity of your bathroom. Make sure the fan is rated to fit the size of your bathroom and that it’s working properly.
Lindsay Coulter gives you the straight goods on living green. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more great tips, visit The David Suzuki Foundation at davidsuzuki.org.