Care Home Management

The Care Home Decision Makers’ Magazine

Insight & Analysis

Mould matters to residents’ health

Preventing mould growth in care home bathrooms is the key to safer and more comfortable living environment for residents, says Chris Michael, managing director of Meaco 

Mould is a common problem in bathrooms – but it’s one that care homes must get on top of:
exposure to mould can lead to respiratory issues, allergies, and exacerbate existing health conditions, posing a particular risk to elderly or vulnerable residents with weakened immune systems.

Causes of mould

  • Excess moisture: bathrooms are high moisture environments due to showering and bathing
  • Poor ventilation: inadequate ventilation traps moisture in the bathroom, creating an ideal breeding ground for mould
  • Leaks and dampness: plumbing leaks, cracks in walls or water seepage from shower enclosures, loos and sinks can contribute to moisture build-up
  • Organic matter: Soap scum, hair, and other organic materials provide nutrients for mould growth.

Where mould grows

  • Around fixtures: mould often accumulates around showerheads, faucets, and grout lines, where moisture tends to linger
  • On surfaces: tile grout, caulking, and walls are common surfaces for mould growth, especially in areas with poor ventilation.

Prevention and cleaning

  • Regular ventilation: open windows or use extractor fans during and after bathing
  • Repair leaks promptly and maintain dry surfaces to discourage mould growth
  • Cleaning: use a mixture of water and detergent, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide to scrub away mould from surfaces.
  • Always work in a ventilated area and use personal protective equipment.

Dehumidifiers

Most modern dehumidifiers use a humidity sensor which will detect the increase in moisture levels in the bathroom. The dehumidifier works by drawing in the damp air, removing the moisture and replacing it with dry, warm air. Modern devices can be set to switch themselves off when humidity reaches normal levels.

Using the dehumidifier in this setting removes the need to manually switch it on or off after bathing/showering and saves on energy bills.

For bathroom humidity, place the dehumidifier as close to the bathroom as possible with the door open. Domestic dehumidifiers are not IP (Ingress Protection) rated so should not be placed where there is a risk of water ingress.

Outside the bathroom dehumidifiers can be used wherever there are signs of excess moisture – condensation pooling on windows and windowsills, for example.

Dehumidifiers help save on heating bills as dry air is air is quicker and cheaper to heat than damp air. They can also remove allergens and pollutants from air, helping to reduce symptoms in people with respiratory illnesses.

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