| March 21, 2013

Wiping down bathroom surfaces is not always enough.

Mold, bacteria, viruses, and other irritants lurking in bathrooms could be preventing you from staying healthy and happy.

READ: Is Your Bathroom Reading Making You Sick?

See these ten ways to get rid of the yuck and keep the bath clean.

David Carmack | ThisOldHouse.com
Icky Caulk and Cracked Tiles

Puckered, missing, or shrunken caulk can allow water to seep into a wall cavity, leading to mold or even wall failure. Likewise, a chunk of missing grout in a tub surround can cause serious water damage behind the tiles. Not only will this damage cost you big bucks to fix, but it will harm your health when you breathe the air in the affected room. Molds reproduce by releasing spores that can provoke allergic reactions ranging from the mild (itchy eyes, runny nose, head congestion, coughing) to the more severe (skin rashes and worsened asthma).

Replace failing caulk and cracked tiles to discourage mold from growing behind the walls.

READ: 11 Ways Your House Is Making You Fat

Wyatt Gallery | ThisOldHouse.com
Too Much Moisture

Don't let moisture build up and cause mildew, which leads to mold! There are more than 100,000 species of mold on the planet, and one of their favorite places to live is your bathroom. Make sure to dry off surfaces that collect standing water, and also keep the room well ventilated. Run your ceiling vent fan after every shower. Install a switch timer to make sure it runs at least 20 minutes to vent moist, mildew-attracting air outside.

READ: 15 Ways to Burn Calories With DIY Projects

The Wrong Fan

Make sure your bathroom fan isn't just re-circulating indoor air or venting into the attic. Replace it with a true exhaust fan, which direct particles and humidity out of the house entirely. "If you're venting damp spaces to your attic, mold can start growing there and eventually spread to the rest of your house," says Laurie Ross, editor of Allergy and Asthma Today.

READ: 72 Easy Upgrades For a Healthier Home

Nancy Andrews | ThisOldHouse.com
Harsh Cleaners

Avoid using cleansers with ammonia and chlorine (and never, ever mix them). These irritate skin and lungs, and even provoke asthma.

Faucet is Often Ignored

Sanitize faucets, where germs and flu viruses collect fast. Wipe them down with a three percent hydrogen peroxide solution or try wipes that use plant oils to kill germs and viruses, such as EPA-certified Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes ($5.75; seventhgeneration.com).