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Does Vinegar Kill Mold and Mildew? What Works, What Doesn’t

Jan 18, 2024Jan 18, 2024

Mold, often referred to as mildew, is a category of fungus that likes to grow in damp areas in and around your home. Shower walls, windowsills, and other areas that attract moisture are prime areas for mold growth.

In nature, mold plays an important part in breaking down organic material like leaves and plant debris, but in your home, it can potentially contribute to health problems. Mold exposure is associated with a number of issues like allergic reactions, breathing trouble, and asthma.

Can you get rid of mold growing in your home using vinegar? The answer is yes, depending on how much mold you have and what surface it’s growing on.

Keep reading to learn when vinegar may be an effective solution to remove mold in your home, how it compares to other options, and when you should call a professional cleaner.

Vinegar has antifungal and antibacterial properties, and it can be a cheap and effective treatment for many types of mold.

Household white vinegar typically contains about 5 to 8 percent acetic acid. Acetic acid is a moderately strong acid with a pH of around 2.5 that can disrupt the growth of a wide range of fungi and other microorganisms.

Research has found that vinegar is effective at preventing mold growth on fruit and at removing some common household molds, but it isn’t effective at killing every type of mold.

In a 2015 study, researchers found that vinegar made out of 4- to 4.2-percent vinegar acetic acid was effective at treating Penicillium chrysogenum but not Aspergillus fumigatus. Both are common household molds.

If you find vinegar doesn’t help you get rid of the mold in your house, you can try one of the other cleaners we’ll look at in this article or call a professional.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends getting a professional cleaner if the covered area is larger than 10 square feet or roughly a 3-foot by 3-foot square.

You can safely use vinegar on a wide range of surfaces, but we’ll look at some specific surfaces on which you should avoid using vinegar.

You can safely use vinegar to kill mold on drywall. However, be careful when scrubbing not to damage the surface underneath.

Vinegar usually isn’t recommended to kill mold on concrete. Although it’s unlikely to harm the concrete itself, it may damage the surrounding cement.

Vinegar can be used to kill mold on leather. Anecdotally, many recommend diluting vinegar with a 1:1 ratio of water. You can apply the vinegar mix to a cloth to avoid over-moisturizing and potentially damaging the leather.

Vinegar’s acidity has the potential to damage some types of surfaces in your home. Don’t use vinegar on:

Before you clean the mold, it’s important to address the moisture problem that led to the mold growth in the first place. If you get rid of the mold without targeting the moisture, it will almost certainly grow back.

Once you’ve fixed the moisture problem, here’s how you can use vinegar to remove the mold.

Vinegar is one of several DIY options for getting rid of mold. We’ll take a look at three other cleaners you can use to get rid of mold below. We’ve omitted bleach from the list even though it has the potential to help you manage mold on hard surfaces.

Even though many people use bleach to get rid of mold, prolonged exposure to bleach fumes can irritate your lungs, skin, and eyes. People with respiratory conditions like asthma may be particularly sensitive to the fumes.

Do not mix vinegar with bleach. Doing so can create toxic chlorine gas. You should also avoid mixing vinegar with hydrogen peroxide. This reaction creates a toxic chemical called peracetic acid that can potentially irritate your skin or eyes.

Even though vinegar is often an effective mold cleaner, there are many other household cleaners you can use. Here are a few other DIY options.

Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of a small tree that originates in Australia called Melaleuca alternifolia. Tea tree oil contains a number of chemicals including terpinen-4-ol that has antimicrobial properties.

In a 2015 study, researchers found that tea tree oil was more effective at inhibiting mold growth than vinegar, alcohol, and two types of commercial mold cleaners.

To use tea oils, try mixing a teaspoon of oil with about a cup of water.

Hydrogen peroxide is commonly used to disinfect open wounds due to its antimicrobial activity. It also has the potential to inhibit mold growth in your home.

In one study, researchers examined the effects of hydrogen peroxide and several other disinfectants on six common types of fungi found indoors. The researchers concluded that hydrogen peroxide has the potential to disinfect fungi on hard surfaces but is unlikely to be effective on porous surfaces.

To clean mold with hydrogen peroxide, you can apply standard 3-percent hydrogen peroxide directly on the mold with a spray bottle. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes and scrub off.

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, has antimicrobial properties that give it the potential to kill household molds and mildews.

In a 2017 study, researchers found that sodium bicarbonate was effective at controlling powdery mildew grow on hazelnuts.

To use baking soda to kill mold in your home, try making a paste by mixing it with water and applying it directly to the moldy area. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes before scrubbing off.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can clean small areas like a section of a wall the size of a door or your shower yourself. However, if you have mold in a larger area, it’s a good idea to get professional help. You may also need to hire a professional cleaner if the mold has penetrated your heating, air conditioning, or ventilation system.

Mold thrives in moist areas and you can often find it around pipes, leaks, or windows. The best way to keep prevent mold from growing is to minimize moisture in your home.

If you notice mold in your home, it’s important to remove it right away since inhaling mold spores can contribute to numerous health issues. Vinegar has the potential to kill many types of household mold in your home. However, if you’re dealing with particularly large areas of mold or mold in your ventilation system, it’s a good idea to call a professional to help you deal with it.

Stone countertops. Wooden floors. Electronic screens. Some types of metals. Porous surfaces.Regularly inspect your home. Keep humidity levels under control. Keep your home ventilatedRepair or replace leaking windows.Immediately dry your home after a flood. Add mold inhibitors to paint.