Battling mold in a slow-draining shower

December 5, 2012

Q. The master bathroom in our new house has a large standing shower. I use the exhaust fan, which is in the middle of the room, and I leave a window cracked open. Even though I also leave the shower door open after showering (I can open it only a third of the way due to the door leading to the bathroom), I have to scrub the shower floor twice a week because the floor doesn’t drain well and orange mold constantly grows on the shower floor. Is there a way to solve this problem?

Fairfax

A. There isn’t much you can do about a shower that doesn’t drain well, so the best strategies are to keep the floor as dry as possible and to remove soap residue, which is a food source for mold.

It’s possible the exhaust fan is undersize. You can upgrade to a better, more powerful one, but that involves expense and hassle. Try simpler things first. Because the exhaust fan is in the middle of the ceiling and you are leaving a window cracked open, it’s possible that the fan is simply sucking air from the window area and spitting it out through the exhaust vent, bypassing the stagnant, moist air in the shower area. You might be able to change the airflow by closing the window and leaving the bathroom door slightly ajar.


A reader photo of the moldy shower. (bigstock)

If that doesn’t work, try switching on a portable fan in the bathroom as you leave. Aim the fan so the moving air gets into the shower area, and plug the fan into a timer switch so the fan turns off after a short time.

You can also try mopping the floor after each shower or the last shower of the morning or evening. This chore is easy and quick if you get a sponge mop with a mechanism that squeezes out excess water. Store the mop in the bathroom, perhaps by resting the mop end in a decorative ceramic pot.

Switching to different hair and body soaps might also help. Some creamy formulas seem especially prone to encouraging mold growth. Clear formulas rinse away more easily.

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live, and try to include a photo.

The Checklist Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in December, such as combating dry or moist air.

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