Answers to Mold Cleaning Questions

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Q. I have mold on a nylon kayak spray skirt. How can I remove the mold?

A. Mold and mildew stains on fabric tend to be next to impossible to remove. At best, you can expect to lighten them. You may have some success blotting stains with lemon juice and sprinkling on some salt and place in the sun. An enzyme digester cleaner may also provide you with some success.

Q. I have a problem with mold in my bathroom shower ceiling area. A number of events have occurred to enhance this situation: (1) water leak from pipes located above shower stall, (2) flat enamel paint used on the ceiling, and (3) bathroom being located in the basement.

A. Surfaces affected by mold and mildew need to be cleaned and disinfected with a bleach/water solution. Then, seal with a couple of coats of primer/sealer like Zinnser. Repaint with washable paint. Or, if the shower is enclosed and you plan on retiling the shower, you can tile the ceiling too. Retiling will require removal of tile, grout, and mastic on concrete underlayment board to provide a smooth, clean surface for installing new tile.

Improving the ventilation in the bathroom, especially in the shower area, will tend to minimize mold/mildew problems. Keeping surfaces dry and clean will also keep mildew at bay.

Q. I have an all glass shower stall that has mold behind and/or in the rubber seals holding the glass in. Of course, the seals are clear, so it shows right through. We know how to fix the mold in the grout. Can I buy new seals for the glass? If so, where? We have looked and can't find them. If not, is there any hope of cleaning them and having them stay mold free?

A. Mold and mildew spores are everywhere and tend to grow on damp, dark, poorly ventilated and soiled surfaces. While wiping a shower with chamois or squeegee after use to keep surfaces dry, it is difficult to get the moisture out of the corners along glass door seals and along the edge of seal against glass using this method. Keeping surfaces prone to mold and mildew sprayed with disinfectant is helpful. Caulk in tubs and showers that has become stained by mold and mildew can be cut out and replaced. You will have to check your Yellow Pages to see if anyone removes glass from shower doors and replaces seals. You might find that spraying affected areas with enzyme cleaner for organic stains will be helpful. The trick to using enzyme cleaners is to give the enzymes time to work. This may mean repeat applications to keep the surface wet with cleaner. Enzyme cleaners are marketed under various names, including Out, OdoBan, Nature's Miracle and others.

Q. The seal round my shower cabinet doors are made from fabric rather than rubber and they have developed a sour / moldy smell which I can't eliminate.

A. Spray with enzyme digester cleaner. Enzymes should digest the odor. Enzyme cleaners include pet mess cleaners and others that are marketed under a variety of names such as OdoBan, Out, Nature's Miracle and others. These can be found at home centers and hardware stores.

Q. Living here in the Midwest, we have mold issues in the bathroom. We want to re-varnish the window, but what will take the mold off the window without damaging the wood?

A. Strip to the old varnish/finish off it. This would give you a lighter finished product, plus clean the surface at the same time. You can find solvent cleaners that should remove the old finish/stain at your local home improvement store.

Mold has penetrated into wood and cannot be sanded off, then you can try to lighten mold with wood bleach. You can also stain to camouflage mold. Mold problems will return if you do not address the ventilation problems in your bathroom. You need to run your fan vent, vented to the outdoors, during bathing and for at least 20 minutes after. The fan vent should have adequate CFM's (cubic feet/minute) air exchange. Many do not have an adequate size vent to do the job.

Q. I have mold growing on the back of some old drawers built into the wall of a concrete block basement. I have addressed the moisture issue that started the problem, but the old drawers still smell very moldy and have visible black and white mold growing on them. What is the best way to remove mold from unfinished wood - Bleach? H2O? Sanding? Also, to prevent the mold from coming back and in addition to moisture prevention, are there any paints or stains that are good for protecting wood from future mold attack?

A. You could clean the drawers with a solution of 25 percent bleach in water. This will kill the mildew and mold, and enable you to remove it with some soap and water. Some discoloration may remain in the wood. The solution is caustic, so be careful with it.

Good protection for the future would include a good coat of primer and paint or perhaps polyurethane. The mold and mildew grow because of the presence of sufficient moisture. Wash the wood one or more times with a solution of:

  • 2/3 cup of trisodium phosphate
  • 1/3 cup of detergent
  • 1 quart of household bleach
  • Enough water to make a gallon

Caution: Wear rubber gloves.

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