by editorial team and Sophia Ruan Gushée
Showers can accumulate mildew and mold that can stain the grout and caulk in your shower. Keeping the shower walls clean helps minimize bad odors and staining.
Remember that you don’t have to use toxic chemicals to remove mildew and mold. Natural cleaners can be effective while not exposing your family to toxic chemical fumes.
According to the National Poison Control Center, household cleaning substances accounted for the second largest source of chemical exposure for children younger than 6 years old, and the sixth largest source of chemical exposure for adults ages 20 years and older in 2016. (1)
These statistics are one reason it’s important to know how to clean a shower without chemicals.
When choosing nontoxic cleaners, consider the ingredients they’re made of. Many standard cleaners contain harmful chemicals, such as chlorine, methylene chloride, PFCs (perfluorochemicals), and at least seven other harmful chemicals that may be linked to several types of cancer, immune system damage, birth defects, nervous system damage, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. (2)
Consult the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning for a list of cleaning products that are ranked by how healthy (or hazardous) the product ingredients are.
Another option is to make your own nontoxic cleaners.
You can make your own nontoxic shower cleaners from natural ingredients found in your local grocery store. Using nontoxic cleaners reduces your exposure to harmful chemical vapors, fragrances, dyes, and other ingredients that may be harmful to health. Be careful not to combine ingredients in a hazardous way.
Mold and Mildew Tile Grout Cleaner. White vinegar kills mold and bacteria and gets rid of bad odors. Spray white vinegar onto the shower, rinse, and wash the area with dish soap. You can also use hydrogen peroxide to kill mold, rinse, and wash with castile soap. Both methods kill mold and then remove the dead mold spores by washing them away.
Drain Cleaner. Need to unclog a drain? Alternate pouring baking soda, white vinegar, and hot water down the drain. Watch the mixture bubble. Let it sit for a few minutes until the bubbling stops. Then pour boiling or hot water down the drain to rinse away any residual baking soda. Repeat this process until the drain is unclogged.
Showerhead Cleaner. Fill a plastic bag with white vinegar, enough so that when you secure the bag to the shower head the entire shower head is sitting in the vinegar. Secure the bag tightly with a rubber band or zip tie. Let the shower head soak for a few hours or overnight, remove bag, and wash shower head with dish soap to wash away any residual vinegar.
Showers can accumulate mold and mildew, and start smelling bad. Instead of reaching for a standard chemical cleaner, consider using a nontoxic cleaner. This can reduce health risks from your cleaning approach.
According to the National Poison Control Center, in 2016, cleaners were the second largest cause of chemical exposures for children 6 years and younger, and the sixth largest for adults 20 years and older. These chemicals may contribute to cancer, and damage the immune and neurological systems.
Consult the EWG’s Cleaner Guide for their health ratings of cleaning products. Or make your own natural cleaning solutions to remove mold and mildew from tile grout, drains, and cleaning up showerheads.
(1) Poison Control