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Mold is a natural decomposer that helps in recycling organic wastes, but not good when it grows in your home. The fungus can trigger allergies and other respiratory infections. Mold thrives in warm, dark, damp environments, expect it often in places like bathrooms, basements, and laundry rooms.
While a widespread of mold is best controlled by professional mold remediation experts, white vinegar is one of the most effective household cleaner for occasional growth of mold in your home. In this guide, learn how to use vinegar to kill mold and mildew.
Does Vinegar Kill Mold?
Vinegar can kill more than 70% of mold species, including the dreaded black mold. Distilled white vinegar contain 5-8% acetic acid that destroys mold, bacteria and even virus found on various surfaces. You do not have to dilute it by mixing with water, simply apply vinegar on mold in full-strength for faster action.
Concentrated vinegar can be very dangerous to work with. It has a potential to corrode your surfaces including concrete and metals. Further, you are advised not to use vinegar on absorbent surfaces like waxed wood or natural stone as it may cause etching in the finish.
When handling full-strength vinegar, protect your skin and eyes to avoid burning. Plants and weeds are also not spared by vinegar, use carefully around your lawns and flowerbeds. Vinegar may not be effective at killing mold on porous surfaces such as carpet or area rug.
How to use Vinegar to kill Mold
Before you begin, you’ll need the following:
- White vinegar full-strength
- Empty spray bottle
- Scrub brush or scouring pad
- Mask, gloves, and goggles
- Open windows to help ventilate the room you’re working in
- Put on your protective gear – mask, goggles, and gloves to avoid direct exposure to mold
- Pour the undiluted white vinegar into a spray bottle and spray it directly onto the moldy surface
- Let the vinegar sit for 30 minutes to one hour until it is absorbed by the mold
- Using a soft bristle brush, scrub the moldy surface until the mold comes off
- Rinse the area with clean warm water
- Finish by applying the area with one last spray of vinegar and allow it to air dry
How to prevent mold in your home
You don’t have to wait until mold starts growing in your home for you to use vinegar against it. You can avoid all the hassle of getting rid of mold by these simple preventive measures.
- Regularly inspect your home for any signs of visible mold and take immediate action before the spores spread in air.
- Inspect and fix any leaky pipes, windows or roofs to prevent damp conditions in your home.
- Keep humidity levels under control and consider using a dehumidifier in damp areas like a basement.
- Keep your home ventilated to drive away moisture – install exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom.
- Immediately dry your home after a flood, it takes about 24 to 48 hours for mold to start growing in such conditions.
- Keep your bathroom and laundry room clean to ensure that there is no residue that mildew feeds on.
- Hang your clothes and towels outside and make sure they are completely dry before you take them inside the house.
Vinegar vs other Household Cleaners for Killing Mold
Vinegar is more effective than bleach at killing mold. Bleach only kills the surface mold and it is likely to grow back even stronger. Although some people use bleach to kill mold on hard surfaces, prolonged use can cause severe health and environmental concerns. Bleach should not be mixed with vinegar. When mixed, a potentially lethal chlorine gas will be produced.
Baking soda also known as sodium bicarbonate is a natural and safe household cleaner you can use to get rid of mold in your home. Besides killing mold, baking soda will also deodorize the musty smell associated with mold. It also absorbs moisture thus making it impossible for future growth of mold.
To use baking soda to kill mold make a paste by mixing it with water and applying it directly to the moldy area. Let it sit for 20 minutes before scrubbing off. Also after killing mold with vinegar, you can sprinkle the area with baking soda to remove any moisture, stain and odor.
Hydrogen peroxide has strong anti-fungal properties that makes it a great alternative to vinegar for killing mold. Unlike bleach, hydrogen peroxide is safe and friendly to the environment. You can use this inexpensive ingredient on varieties of surfaces and materials including clothes, floors, in bathrooms and walls.
To use, apply standard 3-percent hydrogen peroxide directly on the mold with a spray bottle. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes and scrub off. Besides killing mold, this bleaching agent will also fade any stain left by the mold or mildew.
Borax is a popular household cleaning agent that is potentially effective at getting rid of mold and mildew on various surfaces. Unlike Vinegar, you can effectively use borax to kill mold on wood, metal and clothes without any problem. Do not mix vinegar and borax.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a natural and safe ingredient with strong anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties. Just like vinegar, tea tree oil is capable of killing most types of mold. To use the oil, mix a teaspoon of the oil and a cup of water. Apply on the mold and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Use a soft-bristle brush to scrub the dead mold and rinse with warm water.
You can use white vinegar for cleaning small sections of mold in your home. However, large mold infestation in your home, and mildew in your heating, air conditioning, or ventilation systems will require you to hire a professional cleaning service or a mold remediation company.