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How to Clean Mildew Out of the Tub and Shower

    Even the most OCD of cleanliness freaks aren’t immune to it. Regular cleaning, deep cleaning, and a variety of cleaning agents and methods don’t seem to prevent it. It’s the despair of homeowners, tenants, building managers, and janitors. But, of course, we are talking about mold and mildew. They seem to return promptly after you’ve finished your bathroom cleaning routine. Lurking in your shower, in tile grout, in the corners of your bathroom floor, near the drain outlets, and in every possible hidden space, the battle against mildew is endless. While we can’t promise complete victory, we can certainly give you the scoop on how to get the upper hand over this nasty monster. Our guide House Cleaning Tips – Deep Clean Your Bathroom – How to Clean Mildew Out of the Tub and Shower, offers a range of solutions to help you tackle your mold and mildew problems.

    What Is Mildew?


    The terms “mold” and “mildew” are often used interchangeably, but to the botanist, they are two different species, though very closely related. They are both fungi. Mildew is generally whitish in color and forms a thin layer on cloth, leather, paper, or wood. Mold can appear in different colors, such as black, pink, blue, red, and green. The stuff you find growing in your bathroom is a variety of mold, but most people call it mildew. There are more than 100,000 varieties of mold, and not all of them are harmful. For example, you will be surprised to know that the drug penicillin is derived from a mold.

    Mildew needs certain conditions to be present before it appears and develops. Minus these factors, it cannot grow, reproduce and spread. In addition, it needs a regular source of food, ambient moisture and humidity, and warmth. Ideally, it also needs a slightly acidic environment.

    What you’ve just seen described is the perfect condition in your bathroom. The food source comes from dust, dead skin, oils and fats in your soaps and shampoos, and various minerals in water and cleaning agents. Bathrooms are naturally humid places and usually warm.

    What you see most commonly in the bathroom is black mold or mildew. This is a genus of fungi known as Stachybotrys, which includes more than 50 different varieties. The black gunk that grows in your bathroom is S. chartarum.

    Is Mildew Harmful?

    The CDC opines that black mildew isn’t inherently toxic or harmful, but apart from looking unsightly, it can aggravate conditions in people with asthma or respiratory problems.

    Mildew produces certain allergens and irritants in those with increased sensitivity or weakened immune systems. Inhaling or touching mildew may cause skin problems, hay fever-type symptoms, irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, and other reactions depending on your sensitivity and age.

    If left unattended, mildew can cause damage to structures. It can result in wood rot, staining, and pitting of surfaces. If you let mildew and mold thrive, you may need major repairs to your building.

    Though it may not seriously affect indoor air quality, mildew remains the #1 problem in home and building maintenance.

    House Cleaning Tips – Deep Clean Your Bathroom – How to Clean Mildew Out of the Tub and Shower


    You’ll find any number of mildew-cleaning products in your local supermarket. Most of them are effective and do a thorough job. The issue is that almost all of them are chemical based. For the sake of the environment and your well-being, it’s best to use homemade DIY cleaners that use organic ingredients safe for humans, plants, pets, and the environment.

    The important thing is to keep cleaning regularly so that you don’t provide a friendly space for mildew to develop, spread and grow.

    Almost everyone has a favorite tip for eliminating mildew. Here are some that we’ve compiled: simple, super-effective, and easy to use.

    1. Make a Checklist: Identify and locate the spots that need cleaning in your bathroom. The most common are the floor, shower, drain areas, sinks, tubs, wall tiles, and ceiling. Tackle one bathroom at a time and do a thorough job. Schedule a deep cleaning for mildew once a week for best results.
    2. Dress Right: Wear old clothes while cleaning, and throw them away after you’re done. This prevents the spread of mildew.
    3. DIY cleaning products: Most ingredients are readily available in your home:
    • White vinegar: is great for almost all surfaces in your bathroom. It can be sprayed on directly without diluting. Leave it on for about an hour, and then wipe it with a dry rag. Throw the rag away after use, and don’t reuse it.
    • Baking soda: Make a paste of baking soda and white vinegar and apply it thickly on the affected surfaces. Leave on for at least 15 minutes and rinse off. Wipe the surface completely dry.
    • Borax: Mix one cup of borax with a gallon of water and pour into spray bottles. Spray on the affected surfaces. You can wipe it dry or leave it on to prevent further growth of mildew. It is a natural insecticide and fungicide that is non-toxic.
    • Bleach: Use it as a last resort for stubborn and extensive growth of mildew. Remember to take precautions while using bleach, as it can cause skin, eye, and lung irritation. Wear gloves and a mask, and keep children and pets away. Keep the room well-ventilated during the cleaning. Rinse off after a few minutes and dry the surface thoroughly.



    An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. To prevent the recurrence of the problem, it’s smart to identify and understand the main cause or source of the issue.

    Poor ventilation, lack of regular cleaning, humid conditions, not using a good exhaust fan in the bathroom, and forgetting to dry the walls and floor tiles after a shower are some of the reasons why mildew thrives in your bathroom.

    • Set house rules for the family. Keep microfiber cloths handy on your bathroom shelf that can be used to quickly dry off the tub, sink, tiles, and faucets. A floor squeegee takes care of puddles. Leave the exhaust fan on after using the bathroom to keep the air dry.
    • Get rid of food sources for mildew. For example, spray vinegar or baking soda solution in the corners and leave it on to get rid of bacteria, oils, and fats.
    • Discard towels, mats, and shower curtains that have mildew on them.
    • Use anti-mildew paint in your bathroom.
    • Clean the drains regularly.
    • Repair leaky faucets immediately.
    • Check the caulking, remove and replace it if necessary.
    • Check whether the overhead insulation is in good condition so that mildew doesn’t spread across the ceiling.
    • Hire a professional cleaning agency to do a complete deep clean at least once or twice a year.

    Final Thoughts

    Mildew is more of a nuisance than a health threat. It looks ugly and speaks about a lack of hygiene and care in your home. You can get rid of it quite easily using homemade cleaning products. Regular cleaning is the key to the prevention of its growth and spread.