DIY Projects · Flip #3 · Uncategorized

How to Get Rid of Mold & Mildew In a Shower

The only shower in the house of Flip 3 has the mint green tile surround- which I love! What I don’t love, it was quickly growing mold and mildew. While it’s gross and unsightly, it’s not necessarily a monumental task of getting rid of it. But I’ve just been so busy lately that I had placed it on the back burner, but I finally got enough of looking at it that I tackled the project one week. If you follow me on Instagram, though, you saw some of my stories about this project that consumed my life for two days!

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Those black spots are gross and not very relaxing when you’re in the shower. A lot of people [wrongly] assume they can just bleach those clean. If it’s mold on the caulking, it has to be removed. If you notice in the picture, the mold was originating at the base where the tub met the tile…where it was caulked. The caulk was turning black.

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Since Flip 3 is a restoration project, it was important to me to restore the shower to its original shiny charm. So that meant getting rid of the mold! And since it originated in the caulk, I had to start by removing the caulk. You will not get mold and mildew out of caulk. It must be removed.

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To remove the caulk, I used a box cutter to slice it. I scored it on both sides of the caulk. Some of it was so brittle that it literally just fell off once I started scoring it. Other parts I used a scraper and flat head screwdriver to scrape off the rest.

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Once the caulk was removed, you could see the culprit. Especially on the back [tile] side of the caulk, it was covered in black mold. Gross!

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After I had the moldy caulk removed, I treated the entire shower and tub with Zep Mold and Mildew Remover. I swear by this stuff. It’s important to remove the mold culprit first. I use this to help prevent future mold and mildew and it enhances and brightens the grout.I used Zep and then some bleach spray to thoroughly clean the shower with a toothbrush- focusing mainly on the grout lines.

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After I cleaned the shower, I then took my glass scraper (Side Note: Best $10 investment! I used this thing all the time] to each tile. This 50 year old shower was covered in soap scum, grime, mildew, and dirt. Even if you clean a shower regularly, soap scum builds up on the tile. The scraper doesn’t damage the tile, but it did scrape off tons of soap scum and grime. I also used this to get parts of the caulk that wasn’t coming off easily.

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The scraping process was eye opening! I couldn’t believe all that grime and soap scum had been on the tiles! After I scraped the tiles, I then repeated the cleaning step with the bleach spray and Zep. I also used regular shower cleaner.  Even after that first round, the tiles were looking better and less mildew! But for good measure, I repeated the steps. Once I was satisfied that the tiles and grout were as clean as they could get, it was time to do some patching. In the 50 years since these tiles were installed, some of the grout lines became brittle and even had missing chunks. It’s never a good idea to grout over existing grout- especially if you’re just wanting to “patch” it, but there is an easy way to repair brittle grout lines in a shower and along the tub.

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After I had the shower cleaned & caulk removed, it was time to tape the tub and tile. I will say, after I got knee deep in this project, I regretted the taping- it was a waste of time because it wouldn’t stay stuck. But, at any rate, I did tape off before adding new caulk.

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I purchased silicone caulk made for tubs and showers. Any ole caulk won’t work for this project. The downside to silicone is that you have to use mineral spirits to clean up. I hate when things aren’t water based because clean up is a pain, but it is what it is. Another thing to keep in mind, silicone has a very strong odor. My eyes were watering like I was cutting an onion!

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One of my favorite little tools is this caulk scraper I bought at Lowe’s years ago. I’ve seen some people use spoons, but I like this and I’ve used it so much. After I caulked the edges of the tub, I used the scraper to remove the excess caulk.

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After I addressed the old brittle caulk by removing it and adding new caulk, it was time to address the old grout. You can’t grout on top of old grout. But even after cleaning and scrubbing, some of the grout lines were just faded & discolored from age. There were even sections of grout that were missing from years of use. But since you can’t grout on top of grout, you can caulk on top of grout! So I used the caulk to go over tile grout lines. Then I used my scraper to remove.

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When I was done caulking the grout lines, it looked like this. This may be the point where you are thinking– why on earth did you spend all that time cleaning the grout just to cover it up? Actually, this is the point I was asking why did I spend all that time cleaning! Before I added the new layer of caulk to act as grout, I wanted to make sure I had done everything to get rid of the mildew and mold so it wouldn’t reappear.

In a spirit of full disclosure here, though, I need to tell you that it was in this stage that many, many curse words came out of my mouth. As I’ve already mentioned silicone is a pain…PAIN…to work with because it’s not water based. So, it was great at adhering to the grout. Actually, it was great at adhering to the tile….obviously NOT part of the plan. So in order to clean up the tile, I had to bring the scraper back out. And scraping at this point was a lot more tedious because I was trying to not damage the silicone over the grout lines. Hence, all the curse words.

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After I did one round of scraping, I used a cleaning brush to brush off all the residue. And then guess what I did? If you guessed scraped some more, you are right. I was really getting tired of this project fast.

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Even though this was not one of those projects that resulted in a jaw-dropping transformation, it was a very beneficial transformation. Even through the annoying scraping and scrubbing, I’m glad I tackled this project. The black mildew and mold is GONE! I’m sure I’ll probably go back and do a little more scraping to appease my OCD, but, overall, I’m glad I tackled this not so glamorous project.

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Sometimes owning a home means spending a couple nights crouched in the tub scrubbing & scraping. But, it’s worth it in the end! My next project in the tub is to order a new shower kit. The nozzles aren’t original or matching. In keeping with the vintage era of the home, I’m searching for some vintage inspired ones and a new/better shower head.

There are still several other projects going on in the background– the finishing of the Vintage Florida Gallery Wall & the sink vanity. This room has surprised me how many projects there are to do in there!

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7 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Mold & Mildew In a Shower

  1. Great post and nice results. It is wonderful to see a girl house flipper. I have been a diy duchess of rental repairs and upgrades for over 25 years. I do a lot of research before I start a new project, Write down a plan and do my best to get the right materials a head of time. Sometimes it can take me a lot longer than I feel it should, but I just keep going anyway. One of my favorite cleaning tools is a straight blade razor. The stiff kind with a protective edge on one side. If you are careful you can clean all kinds of gunk off any smooth hard surface. I have also spent days sitting in a bathtub scrapping out caulk, grout and someone else’s soap scum. Although it is not any fun for sure, and can bring out the “potty mouth” in the best of us, it really isn’t difficult. You just have to stick with it. The results are amazing, so in the end it is well worth the effort. Keep up the good work!
    Tina

  2. I’m fascinated by your use of caulk over grout. I have a similar situation in my shower with missing grout pieces and I was considering hiring someone to completely regrout but I may give your idea a try first. I am a little scared of the caulk sticking to the tiles though.

    1. I’ll be very honest….I didn’t tape the tile part before caulking and instantly regretted it. I would highly recommend in the green frog painter’s tape and taping off each tile before caulking. The scraping was so annoying. And I think this is a shorter term fix…we’ll see how it holds up long term. And I’m not sure I’d use it for grout lines any larger than what I have.

  3. I really enjoyed your step by step recounting of your experience. A tip I’ve learned is extra fine steel wool. Cleans off soap scum and shines shines shines. A layer of spray wax helps water run off (on walls only!)
    This is my first visit to your sight and I plan on becoming a regular. Thanks. Robin

    1. Hi Robin! Thanks for the tip about spray wax & wool! Does it leave a “foggy” appearance at all? Cleaning showers is my LEAST favorite home chore!

      1. When feeling inspired to tackle my tile shower, when done cleaning I’ll add a protective layer of car wax. A spray or cream type is easy enough to apply. The spray kind is so fast! It goes pretty quickly. One cloth to apply. One to shine it up. I do one shower wall at a time. Apply to the entire wall. Then go back and wipe it. It’s nice and shiny and smooth. The water rolls off just like on your car. If you keep up with it you’ll never have to clean with elbow grease!

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