A musty smell is a sign your bathroom isn’t properly ventilated and is ripe with mildew and other airborne mold spores. Daily cleaning will help maintain your health and your bathroom’s structural integrity.

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While most people can tolerate some clutter and dust in their home, a grungy bathroom is another story. Ironically, the room devoted to personal cleanliness is often rife with bacteria, mold and mildew – even if it looks spotless.

Bacteria and mold not only affect the air you breathe, but the structural integrity of your home, say experts. There are several things you can do yourself, as well as efficient home upgrades, to make your bathroom healthier.

• Clean your shower. Not just once a week, but daily. Use a squeegee to wipe down walls, or spray an eco-friendly white vinegar solution after each use. If you use a shower curtain, wash or change it regularly (depending on how “hard” your water is, but usually every one to three months). Cooler, drier air will also reduce mildew in grout between tiles.

• Unclog showerheads. If a showerhead becomes clogged with mineral deposits, fill a plastic bag with undiluted white vinegar, and place it over the head and seal tie it off with a rubber band. Soak overnight and then scrub it with a toothbrush.

• Circulate clean air. That musty smell is a sign your bathroom isn’t properly ventilated and is ripe with mildew and other airborne mold spores. To control it, try a ventilation fan with a motion and humidity sensor, such as Panasonic’s WhisperSense, which turns on when someone enters the bathroom and automatically shuts off 20 minutes later.

When you shower, a humidity sensor overrides the timer and continues extracting moisture until the humidity is back to a pre-set level. This will help eliminate that musty smell and prevent excess moisture from ruining expensive fixtures and cabinetry. 

• Keep toothbrushes apart. Germs can spread from person to person when the heads of toothbrushes touch. Also, make sure you put down the lid whenever you flush the toilet. Bacteria-filled mist can travel several feet, landing on porous surfaces like toothbrush bristles. 

• Don’t let paint blister. Paint blisters are caused by moisture that helps mold grow. A typical shower adds half a pint of water to the air. Scrape and re-paint blisters. To avoid future growth, replace moist air with dry air by ventilating properly. 

“The most important thing you can do to keep mold, bacteria and mildew out of your bathroom, is to properly ventilate it,” said Anita So, an executive with the Panasonic Home & Environment Company. “Indoor pollutants are virtually impossible to eliminate completely by just opening a window, creating the need for a second step to improve air quality. A vent fan can remove stale, moist, polluted air and replace it with fresh air.” 

It’s important to make sure bathroom ventilation systems are properly installed. Detailed information is available online, on such websites as

By practicing safe bathroom practices, you’ll breathe cleaner air and prevent structural problems that can decrease the value of your home. 

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