It’s a well-known fact of life: with cold and damp conditions comes black mold.
Black mold growth is something that many unfortunate homeowners have to deal with on a regular basis, and it’s far from a pleasant task.
Black mold should be removed as soon as it is observed because of its potential negative health impacts.
This type of mold is known for setting off allergic reactions and can even worsen pre-existing respiratory conditions like asthma.
These risks are increased for vulnerable groups such as elderly people and infants.
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Unfortunately, for many people, the first reaction to seeing black mold growth on walls, floors, or ceilings is to meet the problem head-on with copious quantities of bleach.
Whilst this is certainly an effective cleaning and disinfection method, it’s definitely not the healthiest option.
Bleach and other highly-concentrated chemical cleaning products can be highly toxic and irritating to essential organs, including the lungs and skin.
In some cases, using bleach and similar products to clean black mold can even have worse side effects than the mold itself.
Research has shown that chemicals like bleach release chloroform particles with potential carcinogenic effects. Furthermore, they can cause intense symptoms ranging from migraines to breathing difficulties.
Luckily, a far more natural product exists for effectively cleaning black mold.
It’s so widely available that you probably already have it in your kitchen cupboards and so safe for use that you can even enjoy it on your fries or salad. That’s right: we’re talking about vinegar.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the science behind why vinegar is so effective at killing black mold, as well as what types of vinegar are effective at removing mold.
We’ll then move on to explain how to use vinegar to kill mold and mildew and get rid of mold and mildew stains.
How does Vinegar Kill Black Mold?
Because of vinegar’s acidic composition, it is very effective at killing mold. Black mold is just one of the many species of mold that vinegar can remove from surfaces.
It’s thought that vinegar is more effective than bleach when it comes to killing black mold because bleach is typically only able to kill a percentage of the mold.
The spores left behind then lead to regrowth which requires more cleaning.
Vinegar, on the other hand, leaves behind fewer spores after the mold has been cleaned away, meaning that the black mold is less likely to grow back.
For this reason, vinegar is considered a more effective and long-lasting solution to black mold infestation.
The only common home surfaces onto which vinegar should not be applied are varnished wood and stone varieties, so it has the added benefit of being much more suitable for all-purpose use than bleach.
What Types of Vinegar Kill Black Mold?
Now that we’ve established that vinegar does, in fact, kill black mold, we should point out that not all types of vinegar are suitable for this purpose.
The best vinegar types to use for cleaning mold in your home are white vinegar or, in a pinch, apple cider vinegar.
These types of vinegar are light in color, so they won’t stain your walls further, unlike balsamic or red wine vinegar which, for obvious reasons (their dark pigmentation) are a no-go.
If you want to make sure that the vinegar you’re using to clean black mold disinfects as thoroughly as possible, you could even invest in a brand of vinegar manufactured specifically for cleaning purposes.
This type of vinegar will have a slightly higher than normal acidity rating compared to cooking vinegar, so its disinfectant properties will be stronger.
How to Use Vinegar to Kill Mold and Mildew
Using vinegar to kill black mold and/or mildew from surfaces in your home is a multi-step process.
In this section, we’ll be breaking down the procedure one step at a time to guide you on your way to a clean, mold-free home.
Step 1: Prepare Yourself
Unfortunately, a lot of people forget about this step, but it’s possible the most important and the first thing you should do before you begin the actual cleaning process.
Even though vinegar is much safer to use than bleach in terms of health, your respiratory system can still be irritated by mold spores during the cleaning process. Therefore, the first piece of equipment you’ll need is a cleaning or dust mask.
The next thing you’ll want to have on hand - literally - is a pair of gloves. Again, this is to protect your skin from any mold you might come into contact with as opposed to the vinegar.
Step 2: Prepare Your Solution
The second thing you’ll need to do before you set about cleaning the black mold is to prepare your vinegar solution.
Luckily, there isn’t much to this step because, unlike bleach and other harsh cleaning chemicals, vinegar has a moderate acidity level that doesn’t need to be watered down.
Therefore, you don’t need to dilute your vinegar to any extent before use. Doing so will actually diminish the effectiveness of the vinegar’s cleaning properties.
The best method of preparing your beginner for cleaning black mold is to simply transfer it into a spray bottle.
This will allow you to evenly apply the vinegar to the moldy area without getting it on your hands (of course, vinegar isn’t harmful to the skin in the way that bleach is, but it can still be sticky and unpleasant).
Once you’ve put your vinegar into a spray bottle, you’re ready to get cleaning!
Step 3: Apply the Vinegar
When you have located the area you want to clean, spray the vinegar as evenly as possible across the affected area.
Make sure to apply enough product to cover the mold and some of the area around it in case of invisible spores outside of the visible infestation.
At the same time, try not to spray an excessive amount of vinegar. Using too much vinegar is unlikely to make your cleaning process significantly more effective and may, instead, make a mess.
Step 4: Wait
Once you’ve applied the vinegar to the problem area, your first instinct will probably be to start scrubbing it off straight away.
However, it’s best to wait for about an hour before you start trying to actually remove the mold from the surface.
This hour-long waiting time will allow the vinegar to do its work, giving it time to soak into the moldy surface and thoroughly disinfect.
This process is especially crucial when you’re dealing with larger quantities of mold because there will be more spores to kill off, and these spores are likely to be more deeply embedded in the surface you’re cleaning.
Step 5 (Optional): Scrub
Having waited an hour, you’ll be in a position to judge how much further action is needed.
If you feel like your surface needs a little extra TLC to get it back into top condition, you can scrub the area down with a mixture of water and baking soda.
You should use either a cloth, a soft brush, or the soft side of a sponge to scrub as opposed to a scouring pad.
Scouring pads are abrasive and, while effective at lifting dirt and mold from surfaces, it carries a risk of lifting your paintwork with it.
Moreover, scouring pads are often colorful (usually dark green), and this color may leech out of the pad and stain your walls or ceiling.
Step 6: Wipe Clean
Finally, it’s time to wipe your surface clean.
Just use warm water and a cloth to gently clean away any remaining vinegar or mold spores.
How to Get Rid of Mold and Mildew Stains
Even once you’ve effectively used vinegar to kill all the black mold itself, you may still be left with stains from mold and mildew.
Stains may be left behind on the previously moldy surface itself or, in cases where black mold has gotten into areas such as drawers and wardrobes, you may have to deal with some staining on clothes or other fabric items.
Thankfully, as well as being a thorough disinfectant, vinegar is also a good cleanser and deodorant, so it’s equally effective at removing pesky mold and mildew stains.
If having completed the process outlined above, you notice that some stains have been left behind, you can repeat the process from start to finish to see if the second dose of vinegar solves the problem.
If this does not work, it’s likely that the mold infestation has been left for a long time and has become quite severe.
In this exceptional situation, you may need to use a solution of diluted bleach to fully lift the stains.
Using 1 part bleach to about 10 parts water (ratio suggestions vary, but you should aim to minimize the amount of bleach used if possible), spray the stained surface area, and wait for about 5 minutes before wiping clean.
If you have been left with stained clothes, curtains, or other fabric items following your black mold problem, the good news is that you can also use vinegar to deal with this.
Vinegar is a relatively gentle, yet effective cleaner that will remove stains from your clothing or fabrics without bleaching colors.
Its disinfectant properties will also leave your clothes free of invisible particles and spores.
If the staining isn’t too severe, you may be able to lift it with a small amount of vinegar and a soft cloth or pad.
In cases where the stains are too extensive to remove by hand, you can load your clothes or fabrics into your washing machine with detergent before adding a cup of vinegar (or 2 in severe cases) to the water.
Make sure to run the machine twice on a hot cycle for maximum effect, as long as your fabrics can withstand it.
Well, there you have it! Cleaning black mold and mildew from surfaces and fabrics using vinegar is easy, effective, and much healthier for you than using harsh chemical products.
Following the easy 6-step process outlined in this article, and the directions for stain removal if necessary, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your living space again, free of the harmful effects of black mold.