Moldy Shower Tile, Cha-cha-cha

Dear Home Ec 101,
What is the best way to clean that black yuk that tends to grow in the corners of the shower? I have a ceramic tile shower and I have used every mixture I can think of to rid the shower of the black stuff from straight Clorox to the gimmicks from “As Seen On TV” and nothing seems to work. Help!
Signed,
As NOT seen on TV

how to clean moldy shower tiles

Ivy says:

Ah, moldy shower corners are the bane of professional maids everywhere. Getting it off is tough, and keeping it from coming back is fairly easy- but it takes a bit of commitment on the part of the homeowner.

“Mold spores are everywhere,” says Ivy, trying not to breathe and failing. They are just hanging out in your bathroom waiting for optimal conditions to grow. What does mold need to grow? The proper temperature (which is conveniently about the same temp as your nice, toasty, warm bathroom), a food source (yummy soap!) and water. And that’s the problem. What happens after you take your shower is, the water settles and so do the mold spores. If you don’t keep your shower door open and/or dry the shower walls after showering, and if your bathroom doesn’t have great ventilation, it’s a mold factory waiting to happen.

The easiest way to stop mold growth is to keep it from having enough water to thrive. So, once you get this mold off, make sure you dry down the walls and leave the shower door open after each shower. Also consider running the bathroom fan after each shower. I also read turning on the lights can help inhibit mold growth.

There are a few routes you can take to get rid of this mold. First, make sure you have adequate ventilation by opening any windows you might have in the bathroom and turning on the bathroom fan. My old standby, Bar Keepers Friend®, is what I would try first. Use an old toothbrush or a scrub brush with stiff bristles. You are going to need to put some elbow grease into this – serious scrubbing is required!

Another thing you could try is spraying straight vinegar onto the area and letting it sit for at least 20 minutes, then scrubbing it all off. Vinegar is supposed to both kill and inhibit mold growth. I’ve had good luck with using vinegar on mold, but I can’t say it really has inhibited mold growth. But that’s anecdotal evidence, so don’t take that as gospel.

One more thing you could try is Oxiclean. I’d mix it in a spray bottle with water and apply and let sit like you would with the vinegar. This is not something I have personally tried on mold as luckily, I don’t have a tiled shower and haven’t had too many mold issues. However, I’ve read that it works really well.

bathroom cleaning

Tips to keep your bathroom squeaky clean!

There’s one more thing you could try. Again, I have no personal experience with it, but I have both read and heard a lot of good things about it. It’s called Zep Pine Disinfectant and Cleaner. Apparently it’s great for getting rid of mold and mildew and keeping it away.

I know I’ve given you a lot of options here, but this is one of those “there is more than one way to skin a cat” things. (Ack! Who would want to skin a cat, anyway!?) Good luck, and let us know what works best for you!

Still have a question about your bathroom? Email helpme@home-ec101.com.



21 Comments

  1. Ashley on February 25, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    A friend of mine does flooring for a living, when I asked him about cleaning nasty grout, his recommendation was Muratic Acid ( Home Depot or Lowes), very inexpensive, you will have to wear gloves and VENTILATE!! Be sure to use it diluted, and pull out your scrubbing brush, but aside from Magic Erasers, it works wonders! Any grout/tile, in any room. Whenever I work with acids or ammonia, I always send baby and hubby out on errands, so the chemicals have enough time to air out!

  2. Mrnotsoclean on April 17, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    I too have the black grout at the bottom of my tile shower that will not go away by using bleach. I am thinking about digging it out and replacing it with white tub and tile caulk.  Good tip about leaving the shower door open after using the shower. I have always squeegeed the tile after showering but the black stuff does not budge. 

  3. bathroom cleaning on January 22, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    my issue is that if i dont keep the shower door closed my puppy gets in there and starts tearing up shampoo or sponges or whatever… mold or mess…that is the question.

  4. KRM on November 29, 2009 at 8:58 am

    For 6 months i never had mold or anything in my shower, i was using the scrubbing bubbles automatic shower cleaner. when the liquid ran out i decided not to replace it because its expensive and i didnt know if it was working because my shower was always clean. Anyway i have been without it for 3 months…and my shower now has that discusting black mold everywhere! buy the automatic shower cleaner all you have to do is press a button when you get out of the shower. Its amazing!

  5. Dan Puroclean on October 27, 2009 at 5:20 am

    Keeping the moisture out is a good start to preventing mold – the vent fan you mentioned needs to be strong enough to vent all the air in the bathroom to get rid of the moisture. Most home builders install inadequate fans for this – have a look at replacing the fan (or at least cleaning the cover plate – if it's caked in dust it doesn't do anything)

  6. sabrinac on October 21, 2009 at 1:20 am

    mr. scrubber is found at publix or bed bath and beyond incase you dont know.

  7. sabrinacharles on October 21, 2009 at 1:17 am

    what i ensure to use is mr. scrubber i mean its the best. i'm serious.

  8. guest on October 7, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I just had my bathroom redone, and the tile man said no bleach, no ammonia–bad for grout, which is basic so don't use vinegar, which is acid (baking soda's okay–it's basic). I didn't ask him about mold, though, because I don't have any–yet.

  9. Guest on August 25, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    I tried bleach full strength or diluted with water and it works!

    • back scrubber on September 18, 2009 at 10:18 pm

      Bleach is the only thing that kills all the mold and fungus in my opinion. It’s a must have.

  10. nate on May 16, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    We keep getting these pale pinkish stains on the shower curtains and at the base of the tub…
    Our neighbor has the same issue, and he thinks it’s metal in the Mt P. water supply.
    Could it be mold?

    I’ve found a weak bleach solution or most any bath cleaner completely fades the stains without much scrubbing – but the spots will return in less than a week if I don’t spray on a near-daily basis.

  11. Joan J on May 16, 2008 at 6:52 am

    I agree about the bleach. It not only cleans the surface mold, but gets to the origin of the mold and kills the spores so they won’t grow back. Surface cleaning is very temporary with mold! Grab some rubber gloves and a rag and put straight bleach in the black areas (rinse thoroughly or it may eat your grout!) and the mold should disappear. Then get a bleach “pen” and use it on your grout lines once a month to keep the mold away. Works like a charm!

  12. Margo on May 15, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    I don’t know what I did before the magic eraser!!!!

  13. JayMonster on May 15, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    There are all great tips here, but I am a bit surprised that the originator said that they used clorox without success. This I find a combination of stunning and a bit worrisome.

    Bleach, whether straight or in a product like Tilex, should work well on removing (though not maintaining) mold. If that is not working, then I would be concerned about mold being in or behind the wall. That is the only thing I could think of for a reason that the grout (and I am assuming it is the grout, and not broken tiles) would be that damaged that the mold could not be removed.

  14. Gabriela on May 15, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Bar Keeper’s Friend is available at Bed Bath & Beyond or Linens n Things. I’ve seen it at both stores in the cleaning supplies section.

    I also make sure to rinse down the shower walls and the shower curtain liner after each use as I’ve noticed it greatly reduces the growth of any funky stuff.

  15. AnnMarie on May 15, 2008 at 9:25 am

    A year or so ago, I asked where I could find Borax, and I finally found it with your help. could you also help me find Barkeeper’s Friend? Do you know what chains tend to sell it? And where would I find it–cleaning supplies, kitchen supplies, pots n pans?

    Thank you! My DH was just complaining about the shower last weekend….

    And have you tried their stovetop cleaner?

  16. kate on May 14, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Depends on how long it’s been there, as it failed to work on my mother’s upstairs bathroom (where mildew goes to retire) but those ‘magic erasers’ can do wonders on cleaning it up. Takes a few, cause the effort can rip them, but it works.

  17. AA on May 13, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Mean Green! It’s very toxic so keep kids and pets away (and don’t lock yourself in the bathroom after use 😉

    I spray it on the corners and let it sit for 20 minutes. When I come back the grout is sparkly clean.

  18. Jackie W. on May 13, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    I have used OxyClean many times on my white tile shower and it works like a charm. I mix up a batch and use a scrubber brush to scrub clean. It has worked each time! Good luck!

  19. Badbadivy on May 13, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Good tip, Jim! I’ve used Tilex before, but it has the worst barfness smell ever. It does work, though!

  20. jim voorhies on May 13, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Tilex Mold & Mildew Spray will get it off too, Ivy. Spray it on, let it sit a while, rinse it off. It has bleach in it but bleach by itself smells worse and makes things slick.

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