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homefish 07-28-2009 10:14 AM

mold/fungus in bathroom
My vanity is about 1" from the tub. Apparently, there is mold and fungus growing between them at the moment. I just noticed today. This is not a section of the house I inspect often. Anyway, what is the best way to reach in there and clean it out? What chemicals will clean it up the best when I cannot really get in there to scrub thoroughly?

Nestor_Kelebay 07-28-2009 02:25 PM

I'd use bleach diluted with 10 parts water. Just straighten out a coat hanger and put a bend in it. Tie a rag on the hanger before that bend and stick that into the gap between tub and vanity to kill anything alive in there.

As long as there's nothing in that area the bleach could damage, you could use straight bleach, too.

slownsteady 07-30-2009 11:01 AM

Depends on the surfaces. If your vanity is wood or some other porous surface, the bleach may not be the final answer. Bleach supposedly loses its killing power when it's required to go below the surface (porous surfaces like wood, MDF, etc). Mold and other fungi (funguses???) actually root into the wood and need to be killed in other ways. There are web sites with large discussions about this, but I can't name them offhand. I tried one solution that used baking soda applied directly to the surface followed by spraying white vinegar. The resulting mixture foams up and (supposedly) penetrates into wood. The results look good, but the test of time will tell if it is effective.

inspectorD 07-30-2009 04:11 PM

Bleach is the first step.
If the fungus comes back at all, the best thing is to remove the vanity and get a new one.
Then clean all areas before you install the new one.
Sometimes there are no easy solutions.:(

CyFree 07-31-2009 07:36 AM

According to the EPA and the Center for Disease control, there is no safe or effective way to remove mold from porous and organic materials. These need to be taken down and discarded.

You will probably need to replace the vanity or at least the part of it that is now moldy. I'd consider getting rid of the whole piece and install one made with inorganic materials (fiberglass, acrylic) or just install a pedestal sink and install shelves or cabinets for storage, away from the bathtub.

Your main concern here is to make the mold easier to detect before it infests the drywall, the insulation and the bathroom wooden sub-floor as that might compromise the structure.

Do to try to use bleach or any mold killing compound on that porous wood, as the mold is rooted in it already. Mold is a living thing, and when attacked, it tries to survive releasing a large number of spores in the air, which may cause an even broader infestation.

Nestor_Kelebay 07-31-2009 10:09 PM

I'm starting to think this is foolishness.

Every time a tenant moves out of one of the apartments in my building, I remove the mildew that is growing on the silicone caulk in the bathroom. I do that using bleach.

And, once that mildew has been cleaned off, it takes just as long to come back and become established as it did when the caulk was new.

That tells me that when the mildew comes back, it's new mildew growing on the silicone caulk, not dead mildew that has come back to life.

So, could someone please explain to me why, if after cleaning the mildew off the side of the vanity, and seeing that it comes back in 3 or 4 years, why Homefish would replace the vanity rather than clean it off a second time to get another 3 or 4 years out of it?

And, why would he replace the vanity when, in all liklihood the new vanity would get spattered with soap scum and would have mildew growing on it too within a few years?

Finally, I have cleaned mildew out of discoloured cement based grout MANY MANY TIMES over the past 20 years. And I've done that with bleach. So, this suggestion that bleach loses it's effectiveness as soon as it enters a porous surface is bogus. Cement based grout is porous. Also, woodworkers will often try to remove stain from wood by bleaching it out. They mix swimming pool chlorine crystals in bleach until the crystals don't dissolve anymore and use that concentrated solution to try to bleach a wood stain out of wood. Often, they won't bother with the swimming pool chlorination crystals and just use bleach straight out of the jug. Wood is porous too. And, of course, if bleach lost it's effectiveness when it entered a porous fabric, wouldn't that be common knowledge amongst housewives that you need more bleach to remove a stain from a thick cotton fabric, like blue jeans, than from a thin one like a t-shirt?

Ya gotta remember, this is ordinary mildew. The kind that grows on grout lines. Millions of people have it all over their bathroom walls, and have for years.

Nestor_Kelebay 07-31-2009 11:30 PM


Maybe phone around to the places listed under "Caulking and caulking supplies" or "Construction Materials" in your yellow pages. Find out who sells "foam backer rod", and buy enough 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 inch diameter foam backer rod to plug the gap between your tub and vanith. Then, apply duct tape (or any other water resistant tape) over the foam backer rod to prevent moisture from remaining in contact with your wood vanity for long periods of time, so that it starts to rot.

Or, use something else to prevent soap scum from getting on the side of the vanity and tub where it's hard to clean off.

Keeping the soap scum out of there will prevent mildew from growing in there. Mildew is like anything else, it needs food to survive. Bar soaps are made from natural plan oils (like palm and olive oil) and the oils (triglycerides, really) the soap and soap scum is made of is mildew food.

inspectorD 08-01-2009 07:40 AM

Nestor the issue is mold.

I'm not getting into science class with you, it takes to long for me to type.
The basics to the answer are, there are over a million types of mold and from my chair, what kind the person has is unknow until testing. The safest ,easiest and most logical thing is to try some bleach or other fungiside. If that does not work and the substance comes back in a few weeks, get rid of the vanity. No mention of years was brought up, it will happen relatively quickly.
And replace it with something which can take some abuse...maybe a pedastal sink, or another porceline type.
Otherwise you are back to square one.
Mold can do serious damage to a home, and not be seen. The mold on the vanity is only the tip of the iceburg in most instances, if the moisture contents of the room get to high,(as you know) it will grow on the back of the walls..seen it with my own 2 eyes.

slownsteady 08-01-2009 03:39 PM

This brings up a big question; there are many types of mold, but the only harmful one for humans is black mold. Where the h&ll was black mold for the last thousands of years??? Have we been calling it something else all this time? And why aren't we all dead?

homefish 08-01-2009 08:09 PM

This was a collection of little mushroom looking dealies. I am not well versed in this stuff, but when I think mold, I think of mold like on bread. This looked different. It also looks like it is coming back. It may be my imagination, but I see more little branches there than there were when I was done 'cleaning'.

This is not an area I look in much, and my discovery was probably too late. I have no idea how long that was growing there, other than it has to be since I gutted the bathroom three years ago. It didn't appear to be a huge growth though.

Anyway, I think the vanity is done. The wood closest to the tub is warped a bit. It is still usable, but it was a cheap one and I have no problem getting rid of it. I am going to keep an eye on sales and when I find a replacement this one is gone. I am thinking pedestal, just to avoid this happening again.

I retiled the floor before I put this particular vanity in, so I hope that everything under there is fine. I will find out when I take it out (hopefully a sale occurs soon).

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