Vinegar is an inexpensive, all-natural cleaning product that can be used to remove mold and mildew. But it is not the best product that you can use.
The main problem with using vinegar to kill or prevent mold is that it does not kill all molds and the vinegar has a very low pH level (2), which means it’s very acidic. For example, a 2015 study had shown that vinegar (4.0%–4.2% acetic acid) did not show an inhibitory effect on the growth of Aspergillus fumigatus.
Vinegar works much better when used in combination with other antimicrobial products such as hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and or tea tree oil. According to LiveScience:
“Baking soda is the opposite of vinegar. It is harsh like vinegar but dissolves organic matter,” Nyman told Live Science. “Like vinegar, it cannot harm you and will not be harmful when cleaning places where you store your food.”
When used in combination with one of these other products, it is not only effective at killing mold, but also prevents future growth by removing the moisture that is necessary for it to grow.
What is Vinegar?
Vinegar is made by fermenting alcohol with bacteria or yeast. The most common types of vinegar are distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar.
Vinegar has been used as a natural cleaning solution for centuries, as well as a food ingredient and preservative.
WARNING: Some people who are very sensitive to mold or have severe mold allergies have reported that they may react negatively when using this product, so please use caution.
How does vinegar kill and prevent mold?
Vinegar has two main components: acetic acid and water.
Acetic acid is what makes it smell like it does (vinegary). This compound has antimicrobial properties that help prevent mold growth on surfaces such as wood, concrete or drywall.
When you spray or wipe down surfaces with a mixture of water, vinegar, and baking soda or hydrogen peroxide, you will notice bubbles forming where the mixture comes into contact with the surface — this means that acetic acid is being released from the liquid onto the surface.
It works by breaking down the cell walls of the mold spores and preventing them from growing again in your home. It also helps eliminate any lingering odors from the vinegar.
You can also clean your home using this solution without using chemicals that may harm your family or the environment.
Here’s how you can use vinegar to kill mold in your home:
1. Get personal protective equipment (PPE)
You should wear gloves, a n95 or p-100 face mask, and long sleeves and pants or a protective cover suit when doing the clean-up.
2. Control moisture and or fix water damage
Before you attempt to clean up the mold, you should try to find and fix the source of the problem, which normally is excess humidity or a water leak from a pipe or roof.
3. Clean area and surfaces and remove the mold
Clean up the area where the mold is growing first by using a HEPA vacuum cleaner or a broom and dustpan. This will help remove any loose debris and make it easier for you to spot areas where mold may still be present.
If mold is growing on a porous surface like drywall, then the drywall MUST be removed and disposed of because you need to get the growth that may have penetrated the drywall and is also inside the wall as well.
4. Kill the mold
After cleaning up the area, mix one part white vinegar, one part baking soda and or hydrogen peroxide with two parts water in a spray bottle or bucket. Spray this solution onto the affected area and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
The solution should disinfect the area and kill most of the remaining spores that might still be on it after cleaning it up with water alone.
If there are still visible signs of mold growth after spraying with vinegar solution, then repeat this process until all visible signs are gone.
If you want to prevent future mold growth in your home, spray down surfaces with your solution. This will help prevent water from staying on those surfaces long enough for mold spores to start growing again.
You can also use this mixture as an all-purpose cleaner on other surfaces in your home, such as countertops and door frames.
5. Dry area thoroughly
It is most important to dry the damaged area and items for 48-120 hours with commercial fans and a dehumidifier to prevent further mold growth.
Mold Safe Inspections Conclusion
In summary, vinegar is not as effective at killing mold by itself but is much better when combined with baking soda and or hydrogen peroxide.
It is important that you also follow all the procedures listed above to properly remediate the mold and stay safe.
Moe Bedard is the founder of Mold Safe Inspections and manager at Mold Safe Solutions. A full-service Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) company specializing in property water damage, mold inspections, consultations, and mold remediation.
If you need help with a project, please call 760-818-6830.