You may think that a shower should be one of the cleanest parts of a property, however, if not cleaned regularly, it can be a hotbed for mold and mildew growth.
Finding mold growing in your shower is certainly not something anyone wants to have to deal with, but fortunately, it can be easily dealt with if caught quickly.
So, why mold has grown in your shower in the first place? What kinds and strains grow there, and how you can remove them and prevent them from occurring again? In this article, we will be answering all these questions and more, so, for all you need to know about mold growth in showers, keep reading!
What causes mold to grow in a shower?
The main purpose of a shower is to wash dirty bodies, and after cleaning, dirt and other organic matter (such as dead skin cells) remain on or around the shower enclosure.
Mold feeds off decaying organic matter, and as long as there is a consistent supply, it will happily grow as long as there are a few other key ingredients.
Along with nutrients, mold needs a steady supply of moisture for hydration. Being that we are discussing a shower, moisture is in abundance, not just from the water droplets created during bathing, but also from the high levels of humidity created from warm water evaporating and condensing onto surfaces.
In order for mold to grow at its fastest rate, a temperature range between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit is required. Mold and mildew can still grow at temperatures above and below this range, albeit a little slower.
Many thermostats in American homes are set between 60-80 degrees for large parts of the year, and with the warm environment that bathrooms often provide, you can see that the temperature ranges are often ideal for mold growth.
So, despite a bathroom appearing to be very clean at first glance, you should now be able to see how it is a perfect environment for mold to grow within.
Where does mold most often grow in a shower?
Mold and mildew are fungi, so they are not particularly picky as to where they decide to set up home, as long as their needs are met, they will grow. However, there are certain areas of the shower area where it is more likely that mold’s needs are met. These areas include:
- Shower curtain
- On bottles (shampoo etc)
- Behind tiles
- Shower drain
Let’s look into these areas in a little more detail to explain why they are so ideal for mold growth.
Shower caulking is the material used to fill gaps between the bathtub and tiles, or to fill gaps within a shower cubicle. It is prone to mold growth due to water pooling and organic materials within water droplets running down the shower screen or tiles and accumulating on the strip.
Shower curtains are subject to mold growth due to their proximity to the person bathing. Rubbing against the curtain whilst bathing can transfer shed skin cells and other organic materials onto the curtain.
The shower curtain may also be left wet for long periods of time, which provides plenty of moisture for mold to utilize.
For further information specific to shower curtain mold, take a look at the article below.
How To Clean Mold On Shower Curtains (Plastic & Fabric)
The ceiling of any bathroom is subject to potential mold growth due to its inaccessible nature. Because a ceiling can be difficult to access, cleaning it can be difficult, and this combined with warm air naturally rising will cause condensation to form on the ceiling.
Dust particles create a source of nutrients on the ceiling, and high moisture levels and generally warm temperatures make a bathroom ceiling an ideal location for mold to grow, especially around a shower enclosure.
Organic materials found naturally within tap water accumulate over time, and this combined with residual water left in the shower head after use makes a shower head a breeding ground for not only mold and mildew but bacteria also.
Shampoos, gels, face washes, etc all have oils, fats, and minerals that mold can use for a food source, not to mention the fact that after scrubbing and handling the bottles, shed skin cells can again be transferred to the surface of the bottles.
These bottles are often left by the side of the shower and can be splashed with water during bathing, this water pools on the exterior and mixed with the warm temperatures and food courses, can become the ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew.
Cracks in tiles or gaps within grout can allow for moisture to seep between them and into the framing behind the shower.
Over time, mold and mildew can accumulate on either the surface or even behind the surround, to the point where structural damage can occur.
Scrubbing and cleaning bodies result in skin cells, shower gels, and shampoos going down the drain. Some of the organic materials get stuck in and around the shower drain where they mix with water from previous bathing sessions.
A lack of cleaning around a shower drain will allow mold and mildew all the time they need to grow, and they can begin to grow in as little as 24-48 hours.
What kinds of mold grow in showers?
As a result of the near-perfect environment that a bathroom and more specifically, a shower within a bathroom provides, there are potentially hundreds of strains that could begin to grow.
There are, however, several strains that are more commonly seen growing in both bathrooms and shower enclosures, which are:
- Black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum)
Penicillium is one of the most commonly found strains of mold growing within a property. It is often blue-green in color with a velvet-like texture.
Aspergillus strains are often mistaken for the true black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum), as it is commonly seen in yellow-brown, dark brown colorations with either velvet or cotton-like texture.
This strain is most often seen growing on and around decaying plant matter, however, some species will happily grow within a property. This strain is often dark in color, with brown and gray greens often sighted, with a velvet-like texture.
Stachybotrys chartarum (black mold)
The true black mold Stachybotrys chartarum, prefers to grow on high cellulose materials such as fibreboard and paper, so whilst it is possible that toxic black mold could grow in a shower, it is fairly unlikely.
For reference, toxic black mold can appear in dark shades (including black), as well as browns and greens, and tends to have a texture that is said to be slimy when wet.
What about pink mold?
Pink mold is in fact, not a strain of mold at all, and is instead, a bacteria called Serratia marcescens. This bacteria can grow in any damp and humid conditions but particularly favors bathroom grouts, showers, showerheads, tiles, and toilets.
Despite it not being a mold, the bacteria can still pose a threat, as it has been known to create symptoms such as urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal discomfort and has the potential to cause pneumonia in those with weakened immune systems.
Are the molds dangerous?
Mold, mildew, and strains of bacteria can be hazardous to both humans and animals.
Within a shower cubicle or bathtub, the amount of mold that you may be dealing with would usually be fairly small. You would also be able to spot it easily, so as long as it was cleaned up as quickly as possible, there should be little harm.
Having said this, many strains of mold have the potential to be hazardous due to their ability to produce mycotoxins. These toxins can cause numerous symptoms and are often more of a threat to people with suppressed immune systems or allergies.
The most common symptoms of mycotoxins are:
- Skin irritation
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Itchy eyes
The toxic black mold we spoke about earlier has very similar symptoms to those listed above, but it has been said to be more likely to cause serious effects in some individuals.
Bear in mind though that only 3% of samples taken from mold within a property actually end up being toxic black mold, the other strains listed are far more likely to be the culprit.
Despite only dealing with small amounts of mold within a shower, it is still advised that you wear protective equipment whilst attempting to dispose of any kind of mold yourself. Even in healthy individuals, unknown allergies and asthma can be triggered by exposure to spores.
How to get rid of mold in the shower
So, now you know all about why mold might have started growing in your shower, let’s get down to the options you have to get rid of it.
Remember, before attempting to rid your shower of mold, you should wear a breathing mask, eye goggles, and rubber gloves to protect yourself from coming into contact with any strain of mold or its spores.
There are several options available to you, so I will list them out in step-by-step form, they are equally as effective, so you can choose whichever method you prefer.
No matter where the mold is lurking in your shower, these methods will effectively kill and remove it.
White vinegar has a high enough acidity to kill mold, but without being as powerful as to stain or damage the surfaces it is applied to. To remove mold and mildew from any part of your shower using vinegar, use the following steps:
Step 1. Make a vinegar solution by mixing one part white (distilled) vinegar, with equal parts water and pour it into a spray bottle.
Step 2. Liberally spray the affected area with the solution, then using a soft-bristled brush, work the solution into the mold using circular motions.
Step 3. Leave the vinegar solution on the mold for at least one hour to make sure it is fully dead at its roots.
Step 4. Using a clean cloth, wipe away any dead mold and vinegar solution residue. Any scent of vinegar will dissipate within a few hours.
Borax is a white powdery substance used for cleaning the home, it also happens to be a potent mold killer due to its PH creating an inhospitable environment.
To kill and remove mold from a shower using borax, use the following steps:
Step 1. Create a Borax solution by mixing one cup of Borax powder with one gallon of water.
Step 2. Dip a soft-bristled brush in the solution and scrub at the affected area using circular motions.
Step 3. Use a clean cloth to wipe the area clean of any solution or mold residue.
Hydrogen peroxide kills mold by breaking down the mold’s proteins and DNA. It is also more effective at killing mold than bleach and will very rarely stain or leave any marks where it has been used.
To kill and remove mold using hydrogen peroxide, use the following steps:
Step 1. Pour 3% hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle and liberally spray over the affected area.
Step 2. Leave the solution to work for a minimum of twenty minutes to give the chemical plenty of time to kill the mold at its roots.
Step 3. Using a soft-bristled brush, scrub the area using circular motions to get at the roots of the mold.
Step 4. Use a dry and clean cloth to wipe the area, taking any residue mold and solution with it.
If going the natural route isn’t for you, then there are plenty of bathroom and shower mold-specific products available for you to try instead.
Of course, each of these will be different, so you will need to read to usage instructions on the container to find out how to use them most effectively.
Here is a small sample of some of the most highly-rated shower mold cleaning products available on Amazon.com.
STAR BRITE Professional Grade Mold & Mildew Stain Remover
RMR-86 Instant Mold and Mildew Stain Remover
How to prevent mold in a shower
Cleaning mold and mildew out of a shower once it has gotten out of hand is really not something anyone wants to be doing, so preventing it from occurring in the first place is certainly the best course of action to take when possible.
Of course, if you are reading this article, it’s most likely that you are currently having to deal with mold in your shower, but, once you have used the removal tips outlined above, using the following prevention methods will stop you from needing to worry about it coming back anytime soon.
So, to prevent mold and mildew growth in and around a shower, use the following methods:
Keep it clean
No matter what strain of mold you are dealing with, it’s going to need food to survive. By giving your shower enclosure, the shower head, and any other accessories a good clean with antibacterial detergent at least once each month, you take away the organic materials that mold could otherwise use for food, thereby making the environment unsuitable for its development.
Keep the humidity levels down
Shower cubicles and bathrooms in general are subject to frequent bursts of very high humidity. If this humidity is short-lived, few problems will arise from it. Longer periods of high humidity, however, give mold exactly the kind of environment it needs, so do your best to keep the levels as low as possible.
Simple tricks like opening windows, making use of extract fans, using dehumidifiers, and wiping down wet surfaces are easy ways you can lower a bathroom’s ambient humidity.
Wipe down surfaces
After each bathing session is complete, consider giving the room a quick wipe-down. Doing so will help to remove pools of water and condensation, which keeps the moisture levels down, and also helps prevent layers of dust from building up and becoming a food source.
Keep it ventilated
Fresh air does wonders against mold growth for several reasons. Firstly, a flow of fresh air makes it very difficult for mold spores to settle in one place and form a colony, as gusts of air will separate them and move them onto other areas. Secondly, fresh air creates pressure differences within a property, which forces old, stale, and moisture-laden air out through small gaps in the building. This prevents large amounts of moisture-rich air from remaining in one location and condensing.
Consider an extract fan
Extract fans in bathrooms reduce humidity levels considerably, as they remove the moisture (usually in the form of steam), as it is being created.
Bathroom extract fans can begin working as you turn the light on, or can be controlled via a humidistat that keeps the unit running until a preset humidity level is reached.
Whichever type is used, an extract fan is a simple and effective manner of reducing excess moisture, therefore reducing mold’s ability to grow in a bathroom or shower room setting.
Inspect for mold regularly
Keeping an eye out for any mold growth won’t stop it from growing, but it can help to stop things from getting out of hand.
Once mold and mildew find a good place to set up a colony, they will continue to grow and expand. Nipping it in the bud will help to keep the growth under control and will allow you to remove it before any serious health complaints, damage or stains occur.
Is it normal to have black mold in a shower?
Black mold within shower enclosures is a common occurrence, however, despite its black or dark appearance, it is unlikely that you would find true black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) in a shower enclosure, other strains with dark coloration such as aspergillus are far more likely.
Why is there suddenly mold in your shower?
Mold suddenly appearing in a shower could be a sign of excessive humidity. Water damage, leaking pipes, broken window seals, etc can increase the humidity which mold uses for hydration. Increases in temperature due to seasonal changes or increased use of central heating can also speed up the rate at which mold grows.
Can you get sick from a moldy showerhead?
Strains of mold and bacteria that grow within a showerhead can certainly make a person ill. Skin irritation, respiratory issues, and urinary tract infections are all common symptoms of exposure to molds commonly found living within a showerhead.
What happens if you touch shower mold?
Touching shower mold may cause reactions in people with an allergy to the spores found in mold and mildew. Common symptoms include skin irritation, runny nose, reddening of the eyes, rhinitis, and sneezing.
Why does shower silicone go moldy?
Shower silicone becomes moldy due to water pooling and organic compounds collecting in small gaps within the material. The warm temperatures often found within bathrooms combined with adequate moisture and nutrients make it an ideal location for mold and mildew to grow.
Shower mold is a common occurrence, however, it can be easily removed with vinegar, borax, or hydrogen peroxide. To prevent it from occurring in the first instance, keeping the moisture and humidity levels as low as possible, as well as adhering to a regular cleaning schedule will help to reduce the likelihood of any mold growth.