How To Get Rid Of And Prevent Mildew
You’ve noticed a black spot of mildew in the corner of your business’s bathroom. You’ve been ignoring that white gunk on the boxes in your building’s storage basement.
It can be hard to inspect and treat commercial settings for mold and mildew due to the size and extent of the space. But it’s crucial that you attack mildew and mold spots before they become a hazard to your employees, clients, and building structure.
What Is Mildew?
Mildew is a type of mold that feeds on organic surfaces. It’s found in humid, dark, damp areas with excessive water, poor ventilation, and no sunlight. Because of these growing conditions, you’re most likely to see mildew in bathrooms, basements, attics, wallpaper, insulation, and carpet backing. Mildew is often the source of “musty” or “old” smells.
In small doses, mildew isn’t necessarily hazardous. However, in larger volumes, it can trigger allergic reactions, cause respiratory problems, and eat away at walls and floors. In fact, mildew negatively affects air quality to the point that it can actually reduce productivity and focus for employees.
Bacteria breeds bacteria. When you see a little spot of mildew, it’s likely that more grime is headed your way fast.
Mildew can be damaging to the overall health of your building and its inhabitants.
So what can you do to get rid of and prevent mildew in your commercial space?
How To Rid Mildew
When getting rid of mildew, be sure you are protected with safety equipment. You should wear eye goggles and rubber gloves. If getting rid of mildew spores, we recommend a respirator to ensure you don’t inhale any of the bacteria.
Below you’ll find our advice for getting rid of mildew from a variety of materials.
- Bathroom Grout
Blackening between tiles is almost always a sign of mildew. This can make your bathroom floors and walls unattractive and unsafe. To get rid of mildew in your grout:
- Mix ¾ cup chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water. You can also use a tub and tile cleaner for smaller mildew spots.
- Apply solution to the mildew with a stiff brush.
- Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Scrub with a stiff brush.
- Rinse well with warm water.
- Dry thoroughly with a ventilator fan.
- Shower curtain
Does your building offer showers? If so, you’re more likely to see mildew growing in your bathrooms due to the moisture and humidity of the steam. Mildew especially loves clinging to the moisture and soap residue on shower curtains.
For plastic liners or washable curtains, clean in the washing machine. Use the highest water level with a regular amount of detergent. Add one or two towels for cleaning agitation. Dry on low heat or hang out in the sun.
For fabric curtains, follow instructions on the care label.
Mix a few squirts of dishwasher detergent with a gallon of water. Slightly dampen the cloth with the solution, wringing fully. Wipe over wood to remove gunk. Rinse with a clean-water cloth. Be sure not to oversaturate the wood, as this can warp the material. Dry immediately with a fan to remove moisture.
Apply a wood polisher to restore shine and protect from future mildew.
- Painted walls
Although painted walls don’t breed mildew as much as wallpaper, it’s still a possibility in humid areas. Mix ¾ cup bleach with 1 gallon of water. Apply using a soft scrub brush. Let the solution sit on the wall for 15 minutes. Rinse with water. Dry thoroughly with a fan for a half hour.
If you believe you have mildew in your wallpaper, you will likely need to remove the wallpaper to clean the wall. You will then need to redo the walls entirely. Don’t let mold fester in the structure of your building.
Carpet is the biggest flooring culprit of mildew. It can hold moisture that breeds mold and bacteria. If you spot growth on your carpet:
- Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid laundry soap with 2 cups of cool water. You can also use a carpet-safe spot and stain remover.
- Apply the suds to the stain on the carpet using a damp cloth. Dab lightly.
- Repeat until the stain is gone.
- Rinse with cool water.
- Dry area completely with a fan.
Maybe you’ve noticed some growth on the bottom of your office chairs or on the backside of your bathroom window curtains. Removing mildew from fabric is important to ensure it doesn’t spread to clothing or skin and affect inhabitants’ health.
- Vacuum the item to remove any loose spores. Throw out the vacuum filter after use.
- Mix a solution of 1 cup rubbing alcohol and 1 cup warm water.
- Sponge the surface with a cloth moistened in the solution. Test the solution in a small area first to ensure it doesn’t stain the fabric.
- Rinse by wiping with a clean water sponge.
- If possible, let the fabric dry in the sun for a few hours. This will help kill any leftover bacteria and remove orders.
If you have small areas of mildew, you can try treating it with natural, eco-friendly solutions.White vinegar is a natural antimicrobial that can quickly get rid of mildew. Spray non-diluted white vinegar directly on moldy spots on hard or fabric surfaces. Let sit for 20 minutes. Wipe away and repeat as necessary. The vinegar odor will go away in 24 hours—and it will dissolve any other odors with it.
Tea tree oil is another great natural solution for removing mold. Add 20 drops of tea tree oil to a spray bottle and fill with distilled water. Spray on moldy areas. Let sit for 15 minutes. Wipe away the mold, leaving your home clean and smelling great.
Some people even swear by cheap vodka. You can spritz vodka right on the mold and use a rag or sponge to wipe away. The vodka kills the bacteria and removes odors in just a few minutes.
How To Prevent Mildew
So you’ve gotten rid of the mildew—how do you prevent it from coming back?
- Use a dehumidifier in damp areas to reduce moisture.
- Place ventilation fans to circulate air in rooms with excess moisture.
- Use air purifiers to maintain healthy air quality.
- Put filters in your AC vents to help catch mildew spores in the air.
- Avoid storing valuables or goods in damp places.
- Seal bathroom grout This ensures mildew can’t make a home in between the tile.
- Clean bathrooms Squeegee all excess water.
- Address plumbing issues, floods, and spills quickly.
- If you have humidifiers in your building, be sure to clean their reservoirs with an antimicrobial solution every other week. You should also change humidifier filters
- For walls, use paint as opposed to wallpaper, as wallpaper traps moisture easily.
- Seal all leaky air conditioning joints with flexible mastic to avoid moisture buildup.
- At the start of each season, the AC’s condensation pan with ½ percent bleach solution. These pans are known for harboring mold.
- If possible, install a water-resistant drywall to avoid moisture leakage.
- Ensure that all the outdoor foundation surrounding the building slopes away at a rate of 1 inch per foot. This ensures moisture isn’t draining towards the building.
- Caulk windows yearly to ensure they’re sealed and not letting in condensation.
- Inspect roofing annually to check for leaking shingles that could be introducing moisture into the attic.
- If your building is subject to flooding, be sure to dry the room in the first 72 hours if possible. Provide adequate ventilation.
Learn more about mold remediation in commercial buildings with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guide.
The Bottom Line
Mildew can be dangerous for the health of your employees, clients, and building. You can prevent mildew by removing excess moisture and ensuring proper ventilation throughout your commercial space. Daily cleanings and maintenance of floors and counters can also help prevent mildew or mold growth.
Want to create an arsenal of equipment and products to keep your building clean and mold-free?