Once mildew arrives in your house, it can take hold and begin to spread quickly. Ironically, the advances in better home insulation have had the side effect of allowing mildew and mold to grow more readily, particularly in poorly ventilated areas, so newer homes are often subject to the invasion of the various fungus that cause these problems. Prime areas for moisture to collect and to provide fungi with an ideal breeding ground are crawlspaces, basements, attics, kitchens and, of course, your bathroom.

The first and most important step in mildew mitigation is to increase ventilation, especially in your bathroom, where water is run regularly and collects most frequently.

Leave the bathroom door (and windows, if possible) open after you shower or bathe, and always use the exhaust fan. If you don’t have an exhaust fan, it’s important to have one installed.

Once mildew has taken hold in your bathroom, it can be nearly impossible to eliminate it or to prevent its return. However, this can be accomplished with the following preventive measures:

First, clean walls thoroughly with a mixture of 50% bleach and 50% water. Allow all surfaces to dry thoroughly and then re-paint with a fast-drying primer followed by the application of a specially formulated bathroom/kitchen paint. This paint will contain a mildewcide ingredient. Oftentimes, you can request that a mildewcide agent be added to the paint there in the store.

Mildew will also form inside caulking, so it’s important to remove old caulk and replace it with a mildew-resistant form of grout. Pay particular attention to the areas around the tub and shower enclosure where water can collect and stand for a longer period of time.

Keep in mind that, depending upon how long mildew has been present, there may be moisture damage to the wood and framing as well, and these are issues that must be addressed.

If all of this seems intimidating or too complicated for you to handle as a do-it-yourself project, your local Handyman Matters office is always willing to step in and tackle these repairs and restorations for you. Call 1-800-FIX-MY-HOME or go to www.handymanmatters.com to find the phone number of the office nearest you.