We live in a rental. The toilet was leaking when we arrived. Landlord paid for a plumber to do a simple repair, but before that, there was definitely water pooling underneath the tile (and seeping through the grout in some areas when you stepped on the tile. The correct thing to do, I suspect, is to re-do the tile and clean up the mess. However, our landlord will not agree to this and I don't have the time / funds to do the project right now. I'm wondering if there is a temporary way to get rid of the mold / mildew under the tiles. You can guess what I'm thinking: pour disinfectant all over the grout and tile and hope it seeps backwards and kills all the mold. I have enough sense, at least, to ask if there's a chance this may work (with the right product) and also whether there's a better temporary fix. Thank you!

2013-12-10 Edit: Thank you to those who provided advice. I thought I would update: I took no action and slowly (maybe a month or two), the smell went away.

  • 3
    I was thinking of the same fix, but with a bleach type product.
    – hookenz
    Jul 17, 2013 at 20:13
  • 1
    Don't use bleach. It adds water, which is the entire reason you have mildew. Yes, bleach kills mildew too, but the water will stay longer than the chlorine. If you want to kill mildew, use a professional mildew retardant. It has a lower water content. Also, don't saturate the item; remember, the less water, the higher your chance of satisfactory results.
    – Edwin Buck
    Nov 22, 2013 at 4:54

3 Answers 3


If your renting, your only concern, I would think, is the smell. If there is a smell it will disappear as soon as the water dries up. When I fixed my mothers house the smell was supposedly there for years. It was caused by a slowly leaking toilet. When it was fixed, it took some weeks for the floor to completely dry, and the smell went away. You may have other problems later like dry rot, and mold dust if you ever remove the tile. SO don't. If the smell continues then there is still a leak somewhere. Tell the landlord to repair it again.


I would try a couple of things. Hydrogen Peroxide is really good to clean mold in many areas. I am not a scientist, I do believe it could help. Also you can try baking soda with the Peroxide, there may be another idea too. I think you could try baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice. Try anything with an acid, before burning your lungs. Maybe salt and or sand can be used along with these ideas as a scrubbing force.


See if you can rent an ozone machine. You don't want to stay in the place when it is running, but they are excellent for clearing out odors. Keep in mind that ozone is pretty hard on a lot of items, so you might see extra wear on fabrics, sofas, etc after using the machine.

Look locally to rent one, but something like these should be ok.

Read all the instructions, and if you don't get any, download them from the internet and read them before using the machine.

I would avoid acids, bleaches, peroxide, ammonia based products, etc. You are not likely trying to kill live mildew, so these cannot kill something that's already dead. You are trying to speed up the oxidation of the dead mildew proteins which are both smelly and a possible allergen. Ozone pumps out reactive oxygen which will burn these items away. It will also burn away other things too, so move items of value out of the room and seal the doors to other rooms with a towel near the bottom.

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