Does Vinegar Kill Mold and Mildew? What Works, What Doesn’t (2024)

Does Vinegar Kill Mold and Mildew? What Works, What Doesn’t (1)Share on Pinterest

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.

Does vinegar kill mold on drywall?

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

Does vinegar kill mold on concrete?

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.

Does vinegar kill mold on leather?

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:

  • Stone countertops. Vinegar can dull and etch some stone surfaces like marble and limestone.
  • Wooden floors. Flooring manufacturers often include warnings not to clean wooden floors with vinegar since it has the potential to break down the protective finish.
  • Electronic screens. Vinegar has the potential to damage the anti-glare properties of some screens and may interfere with a touch screen.
  • Some types of metals. Vinegar may corrode certain types of metals like aluminum and copper. It’s often not recommended on stainless steel.
  • Porous surfaces. Vinegar is unlikely to be effective at cleaning mold out of porous or absorbent surfaces. If you notice mold on ceiling tiles or carpet, you’ll likely need to replace them.

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.

What you’ll need:

  • undiluted white vinegar with at least 5 percent acetic acid
  • non-porous gloves
  • face mask
  • protective eyewear
  • spray bottle
  • cleaning rag
  • soft brush

Instructions:

  1. If possible, open a window to help ventilate the room you’re working in.
  2. Put on your protective mask, goggles, and gloves.
  3. Pour the undiluted vinegar into a spray bottle. Spray it directly onto the moldy surface.
  4. Let the vinegar sit for at least an hour.
  5. Using a brush with soft bristles, scrub the moldy surface until the mold comes off. If you’re scrubbing a rougher surface you might need a thicker brush.
  6. Dry the area completely with a clean rag and throw away the used rag and brush.

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 or hydrogen peroxide

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.

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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

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

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

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.

  • Regularly inspect your home. Look for signs of water damage or visible mold. Fix any leaky pipes or leaks in your roof that can cause water to accumulate.
  • Keep humidity levels under control. Consider using a dehumidifier in damp areas like a basem*nt. Humidity levels between 30 to 50 percent are ideal for avoiding mold.
  • Keep your home ventilated. Use fans in your kitchen and bathroom.
  • Repair or replace leaking windows. Fixing your windows regularly will help you prevent mold growth around the frame.
  • Immediately dry your home after a flood. To avoid mold growth, it’s best to dry your home 24 to 48 hours after flooding.
  • Add mold inhibitors to paint. Many home improvement stores sell mold inhibitors you can add to paints.

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.

Does Vinegar Kill Mold and Mildew? What Works, What Doesn’t (2024)

FAQs

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

Does Vinegar Kill Mold? Yes, vinegar is a mild acid that kills 82% of mold species. It's often used as a natural and nontoxic alternative to cleaning chemicals when it comes to killing household mold. Cleaning vinegar, which contains 6% acetic acid, is the best type for killing mold.

What mold does vinegar not kill? ›

Vinegar with about 4 percent acetic acid can kill Penicillium chrysogenum but not Aspergillus fumigatus mold. A 2015 study found that vinegar with about 4 percent acetic acid was capable of treating common household molds including Penicillium chrysogenum but not Aspergillus fumigatus.

Why isn't vinegar killing mold? ›

3 Distilled white vinegar in the condiment aisle contains around 5% acetic acid and 95% water. Cleaning vinegar contains about 6% acetic acid. While vinegar will kill the mold, it is slow acting, and the discoloration and stains from the mold may remain and require additional scrubbing with another household cleaner.

Does vinegar kill all types of mold? ›

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.

What permanently kills mold? ›

Use undiluted white vinegar on hard surfaces in kitchens and baths. A bleach solution also works to kill mold. Mix one cup of bleach in a gallon of water, apply to the surface and don't rinse. Mix a 50/50 solution of ammonia and water.

What kills mold better than vinegar? ›

Yes, ammonia is a strong mold killer. In fact, many commercial mold cleaning products contain ammonia. It's stronger than vinegar and is similar to bleach in terms of potency, although make sure to never mix two together — ammonia and bleach react to produce toxic fumes.

What kills black mold permanently? ›

'Bleach will kill mold spores growing across a hard surface, but if the mold has extended below the surface, then white vinegar is the best choice,' she says. 'The vinegar will penetrate to kill the mold and mildew at the root, preventing it from regrowing.

Is baking soda or vinegar better for mold? ›

Why vinegar and baking soda: Vinegar is a super powerful tool! It kills around 82% of mold species because it has acetic acid. On the other hand, baking soda is great because it absorbs moisture.

How long can you leave vinegar on mold? ›

Pour enough undiluted white vinegar into the empty spray bottle to cover the area of mold growth. Spray the mold directly, fully saturating it with the vinegar, and allow the vinegar to sit for at least an hour. Don't be tempted to scrub or rinse; the mold needs time to completely absorb the vinegar.

Can black mold grow in vinegar? ›

Normal vinegar concentration (usually around 5% acetic acid) is too acidic to grow mold in the vinegar itself. Mold can sometimes grow on the bottle or on the surface of the vinegar. It isn't dangerous and can be wiped/skimmed off.

Should you use straight vinegar to kill mold? ›

To clean mold, use regular white distilled vinegar, typically sold with five percent acidity. You can also use “cleaning vinegar” with its six percent acidity. Both are effective at killing mold.

How long does it take for vinegar to kill mold spores? ›

Give it at least an hour before you return to scrub the mold away. Scrub the mold away with warm water and a scrub brush. Using a brush, scrub at the area of mold which has been sitting in the vinegar. Continue to clean your brush off in warm water as you work through the moldy area.

Will vinegar kill black mold? ›

Black Mold Removal Using Vinegar

White vinegar is a mildly acidic product that cleans, deodorizes, and disinfects. It can also kill 82% of mold species, including black mold, on porous and non-porous surfaces. You can use it safely on most surfaces, and its offensive odor goes away quickly.

What kills 100% of mold? ›

Use a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup (8 ounces) household laundry bleach per 1 gallon of water to kill mold on surfaces.

Is vinegar or hydrogen peroxide better for mold? ›

Using vinegar is another effective way to clean mold in your home. However, it's important not to mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar together. Hydrogen peroxide is known to react with vinegar to create peracetic acid , which is a toxic substance that can irritate your eyes, skin, or lungs.

What is difference between mold and mildew? ›

Mildew refers to certain kinds of mold or fungus. The term mildew is often used generically to refer to mold growth, usually with a flat growth habit. Molds include all species of microscopic fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments, called hyphae.

What kills mold better vinegar or Clorox? ›

While it is possible to use bleach to kill mold as well, experts agree that vinegar is a much better option. Unlike bleach, vinegar can effectively kill the mold at the root, which means it's less likely to return. Vinegar is also less toxic than bleach, making it a better choice for household use.

Is it better to clean with bleach or vinegar? ›

So the answer to the titular question is vinegar. Vinegar is better for cleaning. But that's because bleach isn't intended for cleaning, but for disinfecting. And, by the way, if you want to use bleach for disinfecting, make sure the area you want to treat is clean (and rinsed clean, if you used vinegar!)

Can you mix baking soda and white vinegar together? ›

Although mixing vinegar and baking soda is not considered dangerous, you should still avoid mixing these in a container. Vinegar is acidic and basic soda is basic, so the by-products are sodium acetate, carbon dioxide, and water that are not toxic.

What is the best homemade black mold killer? ›

For a natural solution for getting rid of black mold, combine one part baking soda with five parts distilled white vinegar and five parts water in a spray bottle. Alternatively, you can use a chemical-based mold and mildew remover, all-purpose cleaners, bleach or dish soap.

What kills mold the fastest? ›

In such cases, a solution of diluted bleach provides the fastest way to kill mold on walls or flooring. Prepare the solution by adding one cup of bleach into a bucket that contains about a gallon of warm water. Then proceed to scrub the mold vigorously with a stiff-bristled brush you've dipped in the bleach solution.

What is the best natural black mold killer? ›

Vinegar. White distilled vinegar is an affordable, natural solution to removing black mold. Its antibacterial acidic characteristics are exactly what you need to get the job done. Pour the undiluted vinegar into a spray bottle to apply to the area, or just go for it and pour that vinegar right onto the mold stains.

Can you mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide? ›

Don't mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar together in the same mixture. This can create peracetic acid, which may be toxic and can irritate your throat and lungs, eyes and skin.

Can you mix bleach and vinegar? ›

Mixing bleach and vinegar creates potentially lethal chlorine gas. If you notice a pungent smell after mixing household cleaners, you should immediately leave the area and try to breathe in fresh air.

What kills mold on wood? ›

On almost all wood surfaces, distilled white vinegar is a very efficient method to kill mold effectively. It will go through the wood and kill the fungus at its source. Painted or stained wood can be cleaned with a cleaning solution of warm water and dishwashing detergent or laundry detergent.

Is distilled vinegar the same as white vinegar? ›

White vinegar, also known as distilled vinegar or spirit vinegar, is made by fermenting grain alcohol (ethanol) which then turns into acetic acid. Water is then added to the vinegar, so white vinegar is made of five to ten percent acetic acid and ninety to ninety-five percent water.

What happens if you clean mold without a mask? ›

If you're not wearing any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), you're inviting all of those mold spores to settle on your clothing, the area you're cleaning, your shoes (allowing mold to travel to other areas in your home), in your eyes, and up your nose into your upper respiratory system.

Can you leave vinegar on walls? ›

Cleaning Walls

Mix together ½ cup of vinegar and 2 cups of warm water. Put the solution into a spray bottle, and apply a light layer onto the wall (don't oversaturate it). Let the solution soak in for a few minutes, then wipe it off with a soft sponge.

What percent vinegar kills mold? ›

To clean mold, use regular white distilled vinegar, typically sold with 5% acidity. You can also use “cleaning vinegar” with 6% acidity. Both are effective at killing mold.

How long to leave white vinegar on black Mould? ›

Mix 1 part of vinegar with 1 part water and pour into a spray bottle. Apply the solution onto the mouldy area and leave it to sit for one hour. Wipe the surface with damp cloth to “rinse” the acidic solution. Allow the area to dry completely.

What is the stuff growing in my vinegar? ›

Once opened and exposed to air, however, harmless “vinegar bacteria” may start to grow. This bacteria causes the formation of a cloudy sediment that is nothing more than harmless cellulose, a complex carbohydrate that does not affect the quality of the vinegar or its flavor.

Does hydrogen peroxide kill mold? ›

Hydrogen peroxide kills mold effectively on materials such as clothing, floors, bathroom fixtures, walls and items such as kitchen appliances. Pour 3% concentration hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle. Spray the moldy surface completely to saturate the area with hydrogen peroxide.

Is borax or vinegar better to kill mold? ›

Borax solutions are excellent for removing mold on walls, tiles, or around plumbing. Here's what to do: Combine one cup of borax with one gallon of warm water.

Can you spray vinegar on wood to kill mold? ›

Combine equal parts vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle and spritz this solution on the mold. Let the solution dry for one hour, then wipe down the surface with a moistened cloth, followed by a dry towel.

Will spraying vinegar in the air kill mold spores? ›

Vinegar is a natural alternative that can kill mold on porous and nonporous surfaces. However, spraying vinegar is not an effective way to kill mold spores in the air.

Can vinegar turn into mold? ›

Mold is a rare, though common problem with making vinegar. In some cases mold can grow on the mother of vinegar and in this case, the batch should be discarded. Preventing mold can be done in several ways. First, make sure your vinegar vessel is covered during fermentation.

Will vinegar kill mold on concrete? ›

Vinegar is an all-natural solution for cleaning concrete. It kills mildew and mold, removes grime, and helps treat set-in stains. Before cleaning concrete with vinegar, it's essential to dilute it so you don't affect your sealer. Here's what type of concrete to clean with vinegar and which types to avoid.

Does Lysol kill mold? ›

If you're wondering “does Lysol kill mold”, the answer is yes. The key ingredient in Lysol is hydrogen peroxide, which is known for being effective against mold and mildew. Lysol also contains potassium hydroxide, ethanol, and isopropyl alcohol. These ingredients, when combined, kill 99.9% of germs in your home.

What is the difference between cleaning vinegar and regular vinegar? ›

The only difference between cleaning vinegar and the distilled white vinegar is their levels of acidity. White vinegar is usually 95 percent water and 5 percent acid. By contrast, cleaning vinegar contains up to six percent acid and is around 20 percent stronger than regular white vinegar.

What fights off mold? ›

According to the CDC, “If mold is growing in your home, you need to clean up the mold and fix the moisture problem. Mold can be removed from hard surfaces with household products, soap, and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water.”

What stops mold from spreading? ›

To Prevent Mold Growth in Your Home. Keep humidity levels in your home as low as you can—no higher than 50%–all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. You can buy a meter to check your home's humidity at a home improvement store.

What happens if you spray bleach on mold? ›

Bleach can contribute to further mold growth

Bleach is made up of about 90 percent water. Moreover, since molds thrive with moisture, spraying bleach on mold can contribute to further mold growth, especially on porous (permeable) surfaces.

How do you make homemade mold killer spray? ›

Mix 2 teaspoons of borax with 1/2 cup white vinegar in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture on mildew and let sit for about 30 minutes. The borax will scour the surface while the white vinegar combats the mildew and mold. Rinse with clean water and allow the area to dry thoroughly.

What kills mold on walls? ›

Use 1 part bleach to 3 parts water, according to Sherwin-Williams. If you don't want to use bleach but do want something other than water, try vinegar, borax or branded products that you can find at a hardware store or home center, which also kill mold.

Which smells worse mold or mildew? ›

Mildew has a milder, musty smell that some compare to damp socks, but mold smells stronger and more pungent. The reason mold has a more powerful odor is that as it grows, it produces microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs).

What looks like mold but isn't mold? ›

Mildew and mold are both fungi, but mildew is not as invasive or troublesome as other types of mold. Typically found in wet areas, mildew looks grayish-white and may turn brown. It's flat and powdery and it's an easier fungus to clean because it lives only on the surface of a material (such as bathroom tile).

Is it OK to live with mildew? ›

Any mold should be removed and the moisture source that helped it grow should be removed. There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss.

Will vinegar kill mold without scrubbing? ›

Pour plain, white distilled vinegar into a spray bottle. Because mold is such a resilient force, it's best not to dilute the vinegar. Spray the vinegar directly onto the mold, and let it sit for at least an hour without rinsing or scrubbing so that the vinegar gets completely absorbed by the mold.

How long does it take for vinegar to kill mold? ›

Give it at least an hour before you return to scrub the mold away. Scrub the mold away with warm water and a scrub brush. Using a brush, scrub at the area of mold which has been sitting in the vinegar. Continue to clean your brush off in warm water as you work through the moldy area.

Is vinegar better than bleach for mold spores? ›

Is Vinegar More Effective Than Bleach? Vinegar truly is better than cleaning with bleach when it comes to killing mold. The EPA does not recommend using bleach to kill or remove mold, except in special circumstances. In most cases, “a background level of mold spores will remain” after the application of bleach.

Does Dawn and vinegar remove mold? ›

There are 4 simple ingredients you can safely use to clean away mold in your home: white vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and detergent or soap.

Is vinegar better than baking soda for mold? ›

Why vinegar and baking soda: Vinegar is a super powerful tool! It kills around 82% of mold species because it has acetic acid. On the other hand, baking soda is great because it absorbs moisture.

What ratio of vinegar to kill mold? ›

Here's how: Mix 1 cup each of vinegar and warm water into a spray bottle. Spray a cleaning cloth with the solution and gently dab the affected area until the mould is gone. Absorb the cleaning solution with a dry cloth and leave to air dry.

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