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Will Bleach or Vinegar Kill Mold?

Mold Damage
Author: ServiceMaster Restore

Household mold can be a nightmarish scenario. Not only can it cause structural damage to your home, it can also put your and your family's health at risk. You could experience an allergic reaction, eye, nose and throat irritation, and even nosebleeds and headaches. In extreme cases, you can even develop asthma or lung infections due to increased exposure to household mold.

There’s a lot of information out there that tells you how to get rid of mold in your home using everyday household products. Bleach and vinegar are the two products on top of that list. But, can bleach or vinegar kill mold? Let’s take a look at what products can actually kill mold and how you can use them effectively in your home.

Does Bleach Kill Mold?

The idea that bleach can kill mold is a myth! In reality, bleach only kills surface mold, not the membrane that lives underneath the black, fuzzy growth. This mold membrane is where the heart of the problem truly lies. If you try using bleach to kill mold, it will usually return with a vengeance. The chemical structure of bleach makes it unable to penetrate porous surfaces like drywall or wood, which means that mold membranes will simply retreat deeper into whatever surface they're on to avoid the chemical.

Once first exposed to bleach, the mold recognizes it as a threat and can actually use it as a fungal food to grow more rapidly. That's right – using bleach to kill mold can actually feed the problem! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not recommend using bleach to kill or remove mold, except under special conditions when supervised by a professional. If you want to effectively eradicate mold in your home, bleach simply won't cut it.

Does Vinegar Kill Mold?

Just because bleach is out doesn't mean you don't already have something in your pantry that can effectively kill mold. That old bottle of vinegar in your cupboard is actually a powerful tool. White vinegar is a mild acid that is known to kill roughly 82 percent of mold species, and it can even help prevent mold outbreaks in the future.

The reason why vinegar can kill mold while bleach cannot is because the vinegar has antifungal and antibacterial properties. The acetic acid that is present in vinegar has a decently strong pH of 2.5. Because of this strong pH level, vinegar is able to disrupt and stop the growth of mold, fungi, and other organisms.

Keep in mind that while vinegar can kill mold, it’s not effective at reducing or killing every type. Only a home mold removal expert, like ServiceMaster Restore, will be able to effectively kill the mold and remove it from your property. We have the tools and expertise needed to prevent spread and ensure that your mold problem is removed effectively.

How to Use Vinegar to Kill Mold in Your Home

Use vinegar to eradicate small outbreaks of mold by following these simple steps:

  1. Make sure you are wearing protective gear, including a mask, goggles and gloves, to protect yourself from direct exposure to mold.
  2. Pour plain, white distilled vinegar into a spray bottle. Because mold is such a resilient force, it's best not to dilute the vinegar.
  3. 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.
  4. If scrubbing is necessary, make a baking soda solution to use after the vinegar. Combine 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle and shake until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Spray the baking soda solution directly onto the mold and vigorously scrub the area with a scrubbing brush or scouring pad. Safety tip: be sure to use protective gear while scrubbing to prevent direct contact with the mold.
  6. Rinse the area with clean, warm water.
  7. Spray the area again with either the vinegar or the baking soda solution and let the chemicals dry naturally to help kill any remaining mold and prevent regrowth. The strong smell of vinegar will naturally fade within a few hours.

Effectiveness of Vinegar to Remove Mold on Different Surfaces

Though vinegar can be an effective tool against mold removal, it can be damaging to certain surfaces. Here are some common surfaces found throughout the average home and whether it’s safe to use vinegar on them:

Drywall

Using vinegar on drywall can safely kill the mold on the surface. However, scrubbing too hard may cause damage beneath the surface.

Concrete

Concrete is not harmed by vinegar, though it isn’t an effective way to kill mold. Keep in mind that while concrete will be okay, cement may be damaged.

Leather

Vinegar will kill mold on leather. If you are removing mold from a leather product, it’s common advice to dilute the vinegar with a 1:1 ratio of water. Use a cloth to help from damaging the surface. If you’re unsure if the leather will be damaged, try the vinegar mixture in an inconspicuous area first.

Stone countertops

Vinegar is not recommended to be used on stone countertops as it can dull or even buff surfaces including marble.

Wooden surfaces

Wooden surfaces, such as hardwood floors, are also not recommended to use vinegar on to kill mold. Vinegar can strip the surface of it’s protective finish or paint.

Porous Surfaces

Vinegar isn’t effective at killing mold from porous surfaces. Carpet and fabric are considered porous surfaces, so you’ll likely need to call in a professional or replace them in order to get rid of the mold.

Metal

Because of its acidity level, vinegar is likely to corrode many types of metals. Vinegar should not be used when cleaning metals like copper, aluminum, and stainless steel.

Call For Mold Remediation Help

Mold remediation is essential for homes if it is widespread or dangerous. If the mold growing in your home is too out pervasive or serious to handle on your own, it's time to call for professional help.

Protect your home and health from damaging infestations with the experts at ServiceMaster Restore. Call 1-800-RESPOND today or find your nearest ServiceMaster Restore location to see how we can help you with your mold needs. Our experts can also help you remediate the problem and prevent any long-term damage to your home.