How to Clean Mold On Bathroom Grout and Showers Without Bleach

Nearly everyone has experienced the plight of mold and mildew build-up on tile grout. It’s particularly common in showers and tubs where the combination of soap scum and moist warm air create the perfect breeding ground. And nearly everyone follows the “standard procedure” for removal: spray the area with a harsh bleach-based solution, wait several minutes, scrub clean, and repeat if necessary. Today, we’d like to propose a radically different way to clean mold from the grout in bathrooms: DITCH THE BLEACH. Yes, it is possible to get rid of mold without polluting your indoor air with chlorine bleach fumes, today’s article will teach you how (and why) to do it.

A little mold can cause a lot of issues

Oftentimes, mold and mildew in tile grout gets overlooked because it’s just so darn common. However, just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s healthy or safe. Mold in showers, or anywhere else in your home, can create a cascade of health issues including1:

  • Respiratory illness
  • Lowered immunity
  • Headaches
  • Eye irritation
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Skin rashes
  • And even mood swings.

What’s worse, long-term exposure can lead to even more serious consequences including2:

  • Asthma
  • Memory loss
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • And more

I’ve personally worked with many people in my practice whose health has been turned upside down by the effects of toxic mold in their homes; and these issues can be triggered by something as simple as mold in the shower. So, again just because it’s common doesn’t mean it should be allowed to persist.

A little bleach here-and-there can actually hurt

First off, if you’ve used straight bleach or bleach-based cleaners to eliminate mold before don’t beat yourself up. It’s what we’ve all been taught to do for decades. However, it’s important to understand that breathing in chlorine bleach, even in small amounts, can negatively impact on your health—especially if you’re already suffering from a chronic condition.

Bleach is a chlorine-based corrosive substance that is absolutely poisonous if it is inhaled, swallowed, or comes into contact with your skin in certain amounts. When it comes to cleaning with bleach, inhalation is of primary concern as bleach fumes have been shown to immediately irritate the mucous membranes of nose, throat, and mouth and deteriorate your esophagus, lungs, and respiratory system over time3. If you’re an otherwise healthy adult with no respiratory issues, you may not notice symptoms straight away, but the cumulative effects are impossible to deny. For example, research has shown that people regularly exposed to chlorine bleach, such as nurses and factory workers, are at a 30% increased risk of developing COPD4, and cases of new-onset asthma or occupational asthma are much more common in house cleaners and janitorial staff5. Children are even more vulnerable due to their smaller size and lung capacity per the CDC6, while the World Health Organization reports that bleach is one of top poisoning toxins of children worldwide7.

Plus, household bleach can become deadly if it’s mixed with other substances, including ammonia, vinegar, drain cleaners, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and other household cleaning products. Even mixing bleach with dirty water high or organic matter can create chloroform gas…crazy, isn’t it?

Bleach can exacerbate your mold problem

It’s true! Per OSHA8 and the EPA9 bleach is not recommended for removing mold because it only kills surface mold and does not eliminate the root cause of mold: moisture issues. Just like treating disease symptoms without addressing the root cause often result in more health problems, cleaning with bleach can actually exacerbate your mold problem. It’s also important to note that bleach cannot penetrate porous surfaces, such as wood, carpet, drywall, or natural stone. Fortunately, there is a better way.

How to remove (and prevent) mold in tile grout without bleach

Now that you understand the importance of keeping mold under control without the use of bleach, here’s what to do instead:

  1. Use Branch Basics Bathroom solution,  Oxygen Boost + 3% hydrogen peroxide to eliminate mold on hard surfaces
  2. Spray grout lines liberally with Branch Basics Bathroom solution.
  3. Sprinkle with Oxygen Boost.  Wet the Oxygen Boost with a spray of Bathroom solution.
  4. Let sit 1-5 minutes (the longer the better).
  5. Scrub with toothbrush or scrub brush to remove mold.
  6. Rinse or wipe off with a microfiber cloth.
  7. Finish by spraying straight hydrogen peroxide on the grout lines (you can add a spray bottle cap directly to your hydrogen peroxide bottle to make this easy), and let dry.

Since hydrogen peroxide has that wonderful “fizzing” quality, this method will also penetrate and kill mold at its source within porous surfaces. However, it’s not recommended for carpets. Controlling soap scum and humidity/moisture is your best defense against bathroom mold. Thus, use Bathroom solution regularly to remove soap scum, use a towel to dry off excess water after showers and baths, ventilate your bathroom by using your fan, opening a window, or running a dehumidifier and you will have far less mold issues (if any).

The big takeaway

Just because something is common, like cleaning mold on tile grout with household bleach, doesn’t mean it’s safe. By using our non-toxic mold removal method as outlined above, you can easily and safely take care of  mold problems in your bathrooms without causing any future health issues…a healthy home win-win!

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/holistic-psychiatry/201708/mold-toxicity-common-cause-psychiatric-symptoms
  3. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/lung-and-airway-disorders/environmental-lung-diseases/gas-and-chemical-exposure
  4. https://www.popsci.com/cleaning-with-bleach-might-increase-your-chance-getting-copd-how-worried-should-you-be
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3125175/
  6. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/MMG/MMG.asp?id=246&tid=45
  7. https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/child/injury/world_report/Poisoning_english.pdf
  8. https://www.osha.gov/dts/shib/shib101003.html
  9. https://www.epa.gov/mold/brief-guide-mold-moisture-and-your-home

Enjoyed this post? Sign up for our newsletter!

Clean Sweep

We only send great stuff. Twice a month.

Recommended

Starter Kit + Oxygen Boost

$69.00 Order Now

Laundry Kit

$59.00 Order Now

Trial Kit

$5.00 Order Now

15 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this article. It was really helpful and I’ve been wondering how to clean mold from the bathroom grout (without toxic cleaners)! Now I know!

  2. Thanks for this! How do you get the mildew off shower curtain liners? I have tried washing them in the laundry and they are still there?

    1. Hi Erin! It depends on what type of fabric your shower curtain is–if vinyl, it contains plasticizers (endocrine disruptors) that if it gets moldy the mold will incorporate into the vinyl if it has been there long term. We suggest looking at Bed Bath and Beyond – (have some beautiful cotton – even organic shower curtains. Hemp shower curtains are also an option. Consider a white or beige (dyes add more chemicals) polyester or nylon liner which are naturally mold resistant. They are synthetic, but if you want a liner these work great. Here is some more information: https://www.nontoxicliving.tips/blog/replacing-your-shower-curtain-with-a-safer-one

  3. I just ordered my starter set. I used the trial and loved it, thank you!
    Regarding the grout cleaning method isn’t hydrogen peroxide also toxic when inhaled, ingested, etc? I know it is regulated in the industries where workers are exposed to it. What about just using the bathroom cleaner + oxygen boost and no peroxide? I am afraid to replace one toxic chemical with another one..

    1. Hello Christine. Thanks for your question. Hydrogen peroxide is safe as long is it’s not ingested. If you have concerns, then you can cut out this step and just use the Branch Basics bathroom cleaner and our Oxygen Boost.

    1. Hi Amy. Thanks for your question. You should be able to spray the shower head with our bathroom spray and let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe. If that doesn’t do the trick, spray it again with some bathroom spray, and then add a little oxygen boost. Let this sit for several minutes, wipe and rinse. This should clean it nicely! Happy cleaning!

    1. Hello Vicki.

      Thank you for reaching out to us! Did you use the Oxygen Boost on the grout too? This is key! Spray the grout with our bathroom solution, and then Oxygen Boost. You can make a paste with the Oxygen Boost by putting some in a bowl and then adding just a little water and stirring. Pack the paste into the grout and then spray just a bit more bathroom solution on top. Let this sit for 15 minutes and then scrub and rinse. This works beautifully on really tough mold and mildew on grout.

      If your mold is on caulk, it may not come out, because it become incorporated in the caulk.

      If you have any other questions, please ask!

  4. I tried this method. It worked beautifully! I had a food grade 3% hydrogen peroxide, so I used that. Thank you for sharing this information! I am so happy to now know an effective way to remove mold without using harsh chemicals. These blog posts are so informative!

  5. This is great, thank you! Our bathroom tile really needs some serious help and now I know what to do.

    What I’m wondering now is if there is some kind of solution to replace the bleach the manufacturer of my washing machine recommends to clean the washer on a monthly basis. I hate using bleach and so I don’t do this regularly… but then our clothes start to have a funky smell! If you have any ideas for cleaning a washing machine on its clean cycle, please let me know.

    1. Hello Lisanna. Thank you for your note! I see you found our blog post on cleaning your washing machine. Happy cleaning!

Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *