Silicone caulk can last a decade or more in most areas of your home. But caulk requires regular cleaning and maintenance, especially surrounding tile and grout in high-moisture areas. Regular cleaning will keep your caulk looking new, and it also provides regular “check-ins” on the overall condition of your caulk. Identifying any drying, cracking or peeling caulk early — and recaulking them immediately — will prevent expensive water damage problems in the future. In this post, we’ll provide a little “Caulk 101” to keep your caulk looking and performing great.
Caulk Cleaning, Keep it Simple
Have you ever noticed a pinkish, orangish or yellowish tint to your caulk? You’re not seeing things. That tint can be a byproduct of bacteria growth, especially in areas of your home that damp, dark and have poor ventilation. Aside from cleaning hair, dirt and dust accumulation from the caulk’s surface, regular cleaning and maintenance also allows you to attack this ugly, and potentially harmful, bacteria growth.
Clean your caulk as often as your clean your tile and grout in the bathroom and kitchen. A mixture or water and hydrogen peroxide and water, or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and bleach, will kill both bacteria and mold growth on caulk. For lighter surface cleaning, a mixture of vinegar and water can be used, too. For best results, alternate the type of cleaning mixture you use.
A Word About Mold on Caulking
It’s not uncommon for mold or mildew to form on the surface of caulk in baths and showers. It’ll usually appear in black blotches, and it can be scrubbed away using a bleach-water or hydrogen peroxide-water mixture. But if the mold appears to be coming from inside the caulk, or if it reappears in a matter of days, it could be a sign of a larger problem. Namely, water has likely penetrated beneath your tile and grout, causing mold to grow from the inside out. This can most likely be attributed to a lack of cleaning and maintenance.
Call for Help
At that point, it’s advisable to contact a tile contractor to assess the situation and address any underlying issues. They’ll cut away the old caulk, identify the source of the mold, and recaulk the tub or shower so that the mold doesn’t appear again. The best defense against mold is choosing the right type of caulk (some are manufactured to withstand mold) and to clean it on a regular basis.
Recaulking Is Fast and Inexpensive
Failing caulk is one of the most common reasons for water damage to tile, grout and substrate. If you don’t remember the last time your bathroom or kitchen was caulked, or if it hasn’t been done since you moved into a new home, there’s a good chance it’s high time to recaulk. Persistent mold or caulk that’s visibly dried, cracked or peeling are usually the most common indicators. Ideally, however, you should contact a grout and tile expert to recaulk before those visible signs emerge. That’s the best way to prevent costly water damage.