Sunday, November 04, 2012

Before, After and Amazing

On Friday morning, the day after my clean out of the loft room, I was overcome with the realization that if it was going to get painted, it had to happen right then. So this project jumped ahead of all others and I got at it. Hurricane Sandy was still passing by to our East, merely belting us with wind and rain, unlike those poor souls who have been so hard hit. Even with only tropical storm conditions, leaving the house wasn't a consideration. It made staying in doing this daunting project a little easier. I got going despite the close quarters of all the stuff I had just rearranged in the room the day before. There's still much to be done in here but I've already gotten rid of more things since I took the picture on the right.

On Saturday, the great reorganization of the bathroom cabinet began:

This cabinet has been a horror story. Combined with the bathroom caulk mold it could have been used as a horror movie set or as Haunting Halloween display. The cabinet was functioning like a booby trap and garbage can. Once organization has gone out the window, there is no place for anything, so stuff gets tossed onto one of the shelf piles. I present this crummy cabinet confession to you as a public service. You ARE feeling better about yourself, aren't you? Surely YOU would never live like this.

I have been terribly ashamed of this cabinet forever, but it's just one of those projects that seems better suited to "another day". However, I had been working up to this for a long time, and I was finally primed to take it on. I realize the "after" doesn't have any sort of prettification factor to inspire you, but it's clean, been pared way down and it's organized by shelf now. And that feels GOOD! I admit I did not repaint the inside of the cabinet, even though it needs it, because it took until mid afternoon to finish as it was, and I had other projects burning their way through my consciousness.

Okay, okay! I also confess that the two plastic bins of old crummy jewelry from the 80's and 90's and my girls' hair ties from that era are still sitting on the floor outside of the bathroom. Dealing with that would require way too much decision making right now. Even figuring where to stash it until I can get to it is too much of a decision, so it sits.

The medicine cabinet also needed to be cleaned out, as did the area under the sink, which I tackled. Then I moved back to the loft room area and did some more arranging and figuring out of things there.

Since the weather had been wet and terribly windy for days, the mowing got put on hold until late on Saturday afternoon, which turned out to be a lovely day for mowing. Cool, breezy and mostly sunny. Can't beat that. It was so nice out I almost WANTED to mow the lawn. When I finished, the evening sun was sparkling on the trees and casting intriguing shadows on the lawn. The orchid that's blooming its heart out on the patio was looking vibrant, courting my attention in the Autumn glow.

I didn't call it quits yet, though, or get a shower and plop down on the couch. Yes, of course I wanted to... but there was something else I desperately needed to do first. The compulsion to get this next job done just came over me. I have to admit compulsion has been know to push me around a bit. When it says "Scrape!", I dig until I find the scraper, when it says "Paint!", I grab a brush, when it says "It's time to teach some mold a lesson!" I usually muster some backbone against my compulsion, turn on my computer and get engrossed in something else until it's just way too late for cleaning. But this time I caved. I heard my compulsion's demand and got out the cotton balls!

Well, I had to settle for cotton balls because I didn't have the cotton coils I had read was the best thing to use.

See this? I know, you can hardly avert your eyes. It's like being hypnotized or witnessing a train wreck, isn't it? Well, I present it to you not to gross you out but as proof that some things you read on the internet actually do work. I spared you the sight of the look of the entire thing. I realize now I should have photographed it for the comparison, but I couldn't bring myself to take a picture of it, it was so embarassing.

Is this going to be a tutorial on how to grow mold? I can see why you might think that, since the picture indicates that I have a lock on it, but no, silly; I am about to show you how to banish grout and caulk mold in the manner I learned right here on the interwebs.

Please excuse me a minute while I go mark this day on the calendar... because I think my life just changed for the better!

You see, in the past when mold started growing on the caulk and grout, I tried everything to get it out, but failed. This was terribly discouraging because that stuff makes a me feel creepy and dirty. In the past, my last ditch fix was to give up and rip the caulk out. Huge pain. Took forever. Tried my patience in new and astounding ways. I had believed it would be a quick project - I don't know where I get such ridiculous ideas.

Anyway, I'm against wasting a day on something that can be done much quicker and cheaper and without performance anxiety. Caulking is deceptive. It seems so easy when others do it, and yet it can be a huge mojo crusher, especially in a place that's always sort of on display and needs to look especially good. My tub has been refinished too, so getting the old caulk out was difficult enough, but trying not to scratch the finish made the job laborious and it took all day in the past. Besides I didn't want to make it look like I set a small child loose with a sharp object and caulking gun. Yet that's sort of how it went the last time. Knocks the wind right out of my project loving sails.

What's worse, within months of completely redoing the caulk with the best stuff I could find that was never supposed to get moldy, it began to turn dark. I was crushed. Practically despondent. Having to redo my work does that to me. There is only so much time in a person's life for fixes, but redos of fixes are beyond trying. So I tried bleach, magic eraser, a toothbrush and bathroom cleaner, Tilex, etc. Didn't even phase it.

I never ever could gear myself up to rip and redo the caulk again, although I was about to bite the bullet because this blackness in the shower was making me crazy. Bad enough that I have 1956 beige-pink tiles throughout the whole bathroom, but contrasting them with black mold was not easy on the eyes and was completely embarrassing whenever anyone came over.

Enter something I had not yet tried. Now, I had to alter the method because I was filthy from mowing and I hate to leave the house anyway, especially when I'm in project mode, and more especially to buy anything. If I can rig something else to do the trick, I will. Which in this case, I did. Now you can go to Jessica's blog, This Blessed Life  and read the how-to if you don't already know how to perform this magic trick. Since I didn't have the cotton coils, I made do with cotton balls and stretched them out best I could, soaked them in bleach and then plastered the grout and caulk with them. I was wondering how I would do the vertical grout, but the wet cotton balls stuck like a charm.

Looks so white and fluffy and hopeful doesn't it! I ran out of cotton balls along the way, so I have to go back and do some areas later, but for now...

Waa, laa! It's like a miracle. Amazing! It did take me about an hour and a half to get everything in place, but that had a lot to do with using cotton balls and having to do it so piecemeal, plus trying not to touch the bleachy cotton balls. I read in the comments at Jessica's blog that toilet paper works just as well. Good to know.

It's amazing what something like this does for that anxious place inside. Just seeing the mold erased is an amazing feeling. So glad I kept at it and I just have a few places to redo like there under the soap holder and a few wall spots that I either didn't get well enough and some I haven't done yet at all. When I got up the next morning, removed the cotton balls and saw the transformation from frightening to fresh, I was so glad I hadn't quit partway through. It was like a miracle cure! Having this behind me meant I was free to get at other things, and believe me, there is no end to the other things that need to be done around here.

Oh the stories I could tell.

And I probably will.

I'll be sharing my organization and bathtub transformation at:

Mop it Up Mondays @ I Should Be Mopping The Floor


  1. The shower looks great! I hate cleaning the bathroom. It's my least favorite chore!

  2. Liz, you have saved a huge fight at our house. I always make my husband re-caulk when the bathroom shower gets moldy which doesn't bother him like it does me!

  3. Wow, you sure did get a load of projects accomplished. Doesn't it feel good? The mold free grout looks wonderful and it's good to know what works and doesn't work. Thanks for the organization inspiration...I have so many needy areas right now:-)

  4. I'll bet you were TIRED after all this. Some days I go full blast like that, and my husband keeps asking where all the energy comes from. It feels so good to get those aggravating jobs done! Hope your week is splendid!

  5. Congratulations on the sparkle job, your grout looks wonderful!

  6. Hi Liz,

    Kudos to you for getting all those jobs done! Everything looks great! It's easy to keep leaving these types of things at the bottom of our 'to do!' lists. Sometimes, they bring us the most satisfaction, though. After all, they probably are the most important.

    Have a great week!

    Poppy :)

  7. You always amaze me with your energy!!! I've got a couple of spots in my shower that are beggin' for this treatment. Thanks Liz... and take it easy today... you need a day at work to get some rest! :)

  8. I love this! I am going to try it your way with cotton balls...I don't have tile, but I do have shower surround (fiberglass maybe) but where it comes in contact with the tub and in the corners where it snapped together... It gets pretty gnarly!

    Thanks for posting...glad you're getting bunches done.(Me? no. I got new gadgets over here this past weekend and am slightly distracted)-- Pat

  9. I feel so much better after reading your post, cause my bathroom looks exactly like this, mold and all! I sure am gonna try out the cotton balls, you've given me and my bathroom hope. I admired your courage also for showing us the truth, if only I was so brave!

  10. Wow, that is amazing. Thank you for sharing and sharing the real life photo even if you were embarrassed. It helps us.

    We may have met by chance...but we become friends by choice.

  11. Looking good! I popped in quick after a long weekend away - hoping to catch up soon!

  12. Bad weather is always a good time to do such a task, well done.

  13. So glad it worked for you! :) Thanks for the link back! :)


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