How to Use a Bleach Solution to Clean Mildew
Mildew is disgusting, and it can get into any slightly dampened point of your home. It can find any nook or cranny you didn’t quite dry thoroughly enough, and it will set up shop.
Mildew is a specific type of mold that grows flat in either a downy or powdery manner. In its beginning stages, downy mildew will show up as yellow spots and progress into a brownish color, while powdery mildew begins with white spots that turn yellowish brown and then black over time.
It is commonly found on basement walls, bathroom surfaces, fabrics or plants. It will damage any plants it infests and can cause many serious health problems to people and pets that are constantly exposed to it or ingest it. It can cause headaches, scratchy throats, coughing, and serious lung problems, especially because it can actually start growing in lungs.
While there are many different solutions for keeping mildew from attacking your home and your health, there is one substance that works better than the rest: bleach. A simple bleach solution can attack mildew where it lives and destroy it, leaving you with a sanitized environment to be proud of.
Type of Bleach to Use
It is important that you use the correct type of bleach. It should be chlorine bleach that is used to clean surfaces, not the kind meant for cleaning clothes or the kind for dyeing hair. There are many different kinds of bleach, so make sure to double check what you already have in your home before using it.
While bleach is toxic, such a diluted amount should not be too dangerous. However, you want to be sure to work in a well-ventilated area and to keep children and pets away from the solution. You should also be cautious with your clothing, as bleach will ruin what you are wearing if gets on it.
A Basic Solution for Most Surfaces
The most commonly used solution to use to remove mildew from a surface contains 1/4 cup bleach for every 1 gallon of warm water. This should be your rule of thumb for most mildew-removal projects.
Depending on the size of the area you want to clean, you’ll need a larger quantity of the solution. Also keep in mind that the more porous the affected area is, the more solution you will need, as you will need to reapply and scrub multiple times to penetrate down to the roots of the growth.
If the solution and scrubbing is not enough to remove the mildew, add another 1/4 cup and try again. Sometimes you need something just a little stronger depending on how long the mildew has been growing.
Mildew’s Favorite Room in the House: The Bathroom
Mildew also can infest many different parts of your home, but it is primarily found in your bathroom.
One of the most common places for mildew to grow is on the shower curtain. Generally it affects the bottom of the shower where you do not often look. You may only start to notice the growth when it has advanced to higher up on the shower curtain. The best action is prevention here. Developing a regimen for regularly cleaning your shower curtain is important, as neglecting it leads to growth, which most don’t notice until it is too late.
Cleaning a shower curtain may seem self-explanatory, but there are some methods that are more effective than others. If you have a cloth curtain, you can run it through your washing machine. However, often these types of shower curtains have a plastic inlay, which doesn’t do well when it is machine washed. If you have curtains of this type, make sure to separate the inlay before washing the fabric part.
Another option is to pour your diluted bleach solution into a spray bottle and spray the shower curtain every time someone uses the tub or shower.
If you’re finding the bottom of your shower curtain is often showing signs of mildew, it is a good idea to clean the tub that it sits in as well. This will ensure that you’re entire area is clean and sanitary. To do this, mix your solution in a large quantity to fill the tub. If you know how many gallons your tub can hold, that should make it easy to calculate. Let the solution sit for about 30 minutes, then scrub, drain, and rinse.
Outdoor Mildew Can Be More Stubborn
Stucco, cement, and other porous, yet hard, surfaces can grow mildew. In order to more effectively clean these surfaces, use a solution of 1/2 cup bleach for every 1 gallon of water. You will likely need a large amount of the solution to effectively cover the surface. You will also need to use a scrub brush, as mildew that has grown outdoors can be tougher to remove.
When dealing with a vertical surface, such as your home’s siding, you will need to spray the solution to cover the entire affected area. Allow the solution to sit for 30 minutes, and then scrub with a long-handled bristle brush and rinse.
Bleach is Not Good for Fabrics
People often try and use the solution on fabrics that have grown mildew, but it is not recommended. This only works some of the time, and even if it does work, it is likely that your fabric has been discolored and ruined in the process anyway. Unless you’re dealing with plain white linens, bleach should be avoided. It is often better to use borax rather than a bleach solution to clean mildew-covered fabrics.