One of the hardest cleaning jobs in most homes is the shower recess. This is because a shower is used several times a day and let’s face it, we’re in there to clean ourselves, not our shower. Think about your kitchen sink, you use it mainly for cleaning dishes etc so you have sponges and detergent readily available all the time. Most sinks are wiped down daily or a least weekly because it’s part of washing up and it’s convenient and easy to do. Try leaving your kitchen sink without cleaning for a few weeks and you’ll see a build up of detergent deposits, oils and black mould within days, and by the end of your trial the sink will have lost most of its shine. Your kitchen sink will soon resemble a third world public bathroom and your sink is made from stainless steel, one the most dirt and mould resistant materials known to man!.
Your shower is made from tiles (often with a textured glaze and porosity built in), grout (a rough and porous material that holds onto mould and dirt) and silicone, a mould magnet!. Every time you shower, you deposit soap, shampoo, conditioner, body oil, etc etc on your tiles, grout and silicone. Think about your shower, you step out and dry yourself but walk way leaving the shower warm, wet and dirty- a paradise for mould and fungus!! Often the shower will still be wet when the next person steps in and repeats the process. If you have young kids or teenagers, your shower may never be completely dry!
The problem with showers is porosity. If mould grows on your kitchen sink, a quick once over with a scourer will remove it. However when you leave mould to grow in your shower, it penetrates the surface of the grout and silicone. Once penetration has occurred it is very difficult to remove the mould. Your grout and silicone may be permanently stained.
This is where your pride kicks in. You go shopping for the strongest chemical cocktail on the market and you start scrubbing. Some people even use toothbrushes or steel wool, desperate to eliminate those embarrassing stains. You wear down the grout, you create tiny pits and channels in the surface. This provides even more holds for mould and dirt and often causes leaks which lead to major damage behind the tiles. The shadows created by these cavities look like more stains, so you scrub harder. You have entered a cycle that’s getting you nowhere while damaging your shower and your reputation as a competent housekeeper.
The only way out is to physically remove the stains. This is best done by having a professional shower refurbishment, including replacement of your grout and silicone.
Once that’s done, you have a new beginning.
The key is to do a quick clean more often. Remember that mould starts on the surface and penetrates over time. Try cleaning your shower once a fortnight. Also watch for spots on the grout and silicone and hit them quickly when they appear. This way you won’t need abrasive scrubbing. Your cleaners and light wiping will do the work.
The most effective products on grout stains are bleach based. In fact a generic bleach mixed with water, sprayed on and hosed off after 20 mins is very effective. A gentle abrasive such as Ajax or Jif used with a plastic scourer will remove any build up on the tile glaze, but the key is to avoid reaching this stage. Remember that whatever you use will end up in the ocean so be aware. We’ll take a close look a natural alternatives in my next blog, you might be surprised!