Tiles are everywhere but, at the same time, so is damp and moisture. Tile grout mold (mould) and the other effects of moisture are a recurring issue for anyone using ceramic tiles. How can we prevent and deal with this problem?
In this article we look at a few ways of preventing the problem in the first place as well as some tips on how to fix the issue.
preventing mold in grout
Mold thrives in damp environments and, unfortunately, these are also the areas where we are most likely to use ceramic tiles - bathrooms, kitchens and outdoor areas.
Prevention is better than cure so it's important to ensure tiles are kept as dry as possible. Ventilation is crucial - after a shower or after cooking for a long time it is important to ensure windows are kept open for half an hour so excess moisture leaves the room rather than clings to tiles.
Exhaust fans, where available, and towels can also help to remove moisture. Ensure your fan is powerful enough for your room (check the label of the fan to see what size room it is best for and upgrade if necessary).
For especially-wet rooms it's important to spray the tiles and caulking with an anti-mold solution regularly to discourage mold. You can buy such solutions in hardware stores or make it yourself with equal parts of white vinegar and water. Similarly, keeping tiles clean from the the moment they are installed prevents scum buildup and reduces the likelihood of mold and moisture.
Grout should be properly sealed with one or more coats of grout sealer which will reduce the speed that moisture will accumulate provided you follow the other steps above.
removing mold from grout
It can't be stressed enough that preventing mold in the first place saves a lot of time later on but even the cleanest and best maintained room will attract mold problems at some point.
The first step should be to clean and disinfect the affected area to ensure spores are killed. Chlorine bleach should be used to remove mold from grout. Bleach should be used as one part bleach and four parts water. The affected area should be sprayed and scrubbed extensively after waiting half an hour and using an old cloth or toothbrush. Following the scrubbing rinse the area with cold water. The process should be repeated if necessary.
An issue with bleach is that it can discolor some tile types and is obviously toxic if not rinsed properly after use. Baking soda makes for a safer method of removing mold although it's not as effective. If using baking soda you should mix half a cup of baking soda with a just under 4 litres (1 gallon) of water. Then spray it on the moldy area and after thirty minutes rinse well.
If you have a dehumidifier then consider using it in rooms with high moisture and in bathrooms make sure you have a mildrew-resistant shower curtain, keep it clean and replace it when necessary. It's also best to keep your shampoo bottles and soap outside of the shower area to avoid allowing allowing a place for mold to grow and hide.
Most importantly, keep bathroom and kitchen tiles dry. Dry them off with an old towel or use a squeegee to remove any moisture.
Battling mold is an ongoing battle but it's worth it if you want your ceramics to continue looking good.
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