Mold is absolutely nasty, and unfortunately, it comes in many different shapes and forms. Getting rid of it isn’t necessarily hard, but it has the habit of appearing everywhere. So, with mold constantly growing and taking over your home, you have to find a good, cost-effective way of getting rid of the stuff. The question is, which budget method of removing mold will work the best?
Most people usually opt for one of two solutions:
- Kill the mold with some store-bought vinegar
- Kill the mold with good, old-fashioned bleach.
Of course, both of these methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, and this article will try to cover the most important ones. By the time you read the last paragraph, you will know which solution works best for you — bleach or vinegar. Moreover, I will briefly cover some other solutions, in case you don’t have either vinegar or bleach available.
But before we get down to brass tacks, let’s first cover what mold is and why it causes such a problem for homeowners worldwide.
Mold is a type of fungus that appears as a collection of fuzzy, multicolor spots. Normally, we associate fungus with various food and rotting, but really, mold can (and will) grow in a variety of different places.
Mold spores tend to move about, thanks to the air currents. All it takes is a gentle wind and the spores will already be miles away from the ‘mother’ fungus. Once the spores find a dark, moist corner, they will settle and begin to grow.
According to the CDC, mold can enter your home in a variety of ways. It simply needs open access and the air current will do the rest. In other words, an open window or a door slightly ajar can let the spores in, and so can untreated holes in your walls or roof, the mail slot on the door, an untreated vent, or any kind of air conditioning system. In addition, homes that don’t have proper protection from the elements (rain, snow, hail, etc.), or natural disasters like flooding, will most likely be a breeding ground for various mold species.
You might notice the presence of mold in two different ways. The first, obvious one is discoloration of walls, wooden areas, etc. But sometimes the mold will begin spreading in places you can’t reach easily, such as behind the closet, under the carpeting, or in hidden corners of your walls. Nevertheless, you will most likely be aware that you have some unwanted growth in your home due to mold’s distinct, musty, earthy smell.
Using Bleach to Remove Mold
Bleach is an extremely powerful chemical that we normally use on fabric for stain or color removal. However, there is a surprisingly large number of other uses for bleach. Anything goes, from toy sanitizing to helping flowers last longer.
There’s no denying that this substance is extremely useful around the house, but how effective is it against mold? And, more importantly, is it better or worse than vinegar in that regard?
Whether you’re using chlorine or non-chlorine products, bleach is quite potent. For that reason, safety measures are an absolute must. For example, whenever you’re applying bleach to a moldy area, make sure to air the room out completely during the whole process; open all windows and let the fumes dissipate. While most brands of bleach on the market are fairly safe for humans, it’s still a wise idea to air the room out when using it.
However, bleach isn’t always an effective mold killer. For example, it cannot penetrate deep into porous surfaces such as concrete, drywall, and wood. In other words, it can effectively kill the surface-level mold, but it won’t prevent further mold growth from happening.
In some instances, mold will react to bleach by actually using it as ‘food’. When it has been exposed to it enough times, mold will recognize bleach and develop a type of immunity to it. Once that happens, it won’t matter how much bleach you pour onto the mold — it will simply continue to multiply and grow.
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Proper Way to Kill Mold With Bleach
So, when and where should you use bleach as an effective mold killer? Well, the best solution is to apply it on non-porous surfaces. For example, if you see mold on glass or tiles, feel free to use the chemical, but not without some dilution. For instance, mix a cup of bleach with a gallon of water and stir it well. That way, you will reduce the potency of the chemical and you won’t damage the material you’re trying to remove mold from.
Once again, I must stress that safety is key. Some people mix bleach with other household cleaning products or chemicals such as ammonia. Under no circumstances should you do that, since it can result in a negative reaction that can either damage the surface you want to clean or harm you by burning your skin. And speaking of skin-burning, always remember to wear rubber gloves and other protective gear.
Using Vinegar to Kill Mold
As potent as bleach is, it comes with many disadvantages, and it’s no wonder why some people out there avoid it altogether. More importantly, the same people will rightfully point to vinegar as the better alternative when it comes to cleaning mold.
You and I have both heard the same claims — with a little bit of baking soda and a little bit of vinegar, you can quite literally solve any problem around the house. So, what exactly makes vinegar an effective mold killer, and why would it be better than bleach, a chemical with a lot more potency?
Vinegar is mildly acidic, as most white vinegar products move anywhere between 5% and 20% acidity. In other words, it’s potent enough to remove quite a few species of mold, 82% of them to be exact. But more importantly, it’s safer and a lot easier to use than bleach. For instance, the fumes that come from vinegar won’t pose a serious risk to your health, and while it might have a strong scent, it will dissipate within the hour after you’ve applied it.
Possibly the biggest advantage of vinegar over bleach is that you can use vinegar on porous surfaces effectively. In other words, you can spray some on your drywall, wooden areas, and concrete without worrying that mold will grow back.
Of course, vinegar is far from perfect. For example, even if you dilute it, it can damage certain surfaces, such as marble, granite, and other natural stones. In addition, vinegar cannot clean certain types of mold, so you might have to mix it with substances such as borax, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or salt. However, avoid mixing it with bleach or ammonia, as it might cause a negative reaction.
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Proper Way to Kill Mold With Vinegar
In order to get the best results, make sure to buy white vinegar. In fact, you can buy specific brands that can be used for cleaning. And pay no attention to the brand name — even lesser-known products can do the job well.
Once you have your product, pour it into a spray bottle, but don’t dilute it with water as it will lose its effectiveness. Next, apply some vinegar to the moldy area and leave it alone for about 60 minutes. Next, take a scrubbing brush and some water and slowly scrub away the mold. Finally, wipe it with a clean cloth and repeat the scrubbing if necessary. If the problem persists, either mix the vinegar with one of the products listed a few paragraphs above or call a specialist.
Removing mold is one thing, but in order to avoid all the hassle, you should work hard on trying to prevent mold from invading your home in the first place. With that in mind, here is a handy list of everything you should focus on in order to keep your home fungus-free.
Airing your room often might seem contradictory since mold spores can enter any crevice. However, when you allow fresh air to circulate by opening the windows and using fans, you also increase the chances of releasing the spores back into the world. Moreover, you will prevent any stale air and moisture from sticking around.
Roof Gutter Repair
If you don’t maintain your gutters regularly, they have the tendency to retain water or, worse, to allow it to leak into your home. Moisture is extremely beneficial to mold growth, so always make sure to check your gutters thoroughly. If you need to perform some repairs, do it as quickly as possible.
Drying the Wet Areas
You might, at times, spot lots of wet areas around your home, from puddles to wet spots on the walls and floors. Whatever the case might be, make sure to dry them quickly, either using a rag or a paper towel. You can also blow-dry certain surfaces, such as tiles and aluminum.
Sometimes, your windows and doors are a bit old or something has caused damage. Whenever that happens, you can expect leaks. And while a small leak might seem…well, like a small problem, you definitely shouldn’t ignore it — remember, even a little bit of moisture can cause mold to grow and expand.
Checking Indoor Humidity
Your indoor humidity should be below 50%, every single day. In order to do that, you will need an air conditioner or a humidifier.
Of course, air humidity changes throughout the day. Therefore, you will have to check it regularly, and a decent humidity gauge will help you do that. In fact, nowadays you can buy an all-in-one gauge that, among other things, checks the indoor humidity levels pretty accurately. More importantly, these tools are reasonably priced and you can get them anywhere.
In Case You Don’t Have Vinegar or Bleach Available
Here are some other methods of removing mold:
What kind of DIY list would it be if it didn’t contain baking soda? After all, it can almost literally do anything. And while you can mix it with vinegar to get amazing results, as stated above, you can also apply it in a different way.
First, add a quarter of a tablespoon of baking soda to a spray bottle of water. Shake the mixture until the soda dissolves, and then spray the moldy area with the solution. The next step is similar to the one with vinegar: use a scrubbing brush to remove the mold and then apply warm water to the surface. Finally, apply some more solution and let it dry without any wiping.
Hydrogen Peroxide is like a less potent, less damaging variant of bleach. However, it comes with a lot of benefits that make it a preferable option. For instance, it doesn’t emit any noxious fumes like bleach. Moreover, while it does have a minor bleaching effect on different surfaces, it’s nowhere near as powerful as that of bleach might be.
Using lemons is an excellent solution because of several key factors. Firstly, lemons are a natural solution that doesn’t involve any artificial chemicals. Next, the acid within lemons is strong enough to kill mold and prevent further growth. Finally, you get that sweet lemony aroma afterward.
The only real flaw behind using lemon juice as a mold remover is staining. With that in mind, I suggest not using it on white walls and other painted surfaces.
Tea tree oil and other similar products have the same benefits that lemon juice does. They not only have a pleasant aroma but are also natural fungicides that get rid of mold quickly and safely.
Citrus Seed Extract
Extracts from citrus seeds like those of a grapefruit have all the potency of bleach and vinegar, but none of the odor. However, most of them are sold in small packages, which doesn’t make them a good choice if you have a wide area of mold to cover.
Generally speaking, if you had to choose between bleach or vinegar, the latter would be the best option. It will not only cover more ground but also won’t emit toxic fumes that might be bad for your health. However, neither of the two is perfect, so before you decide on your mold killer of choice, you need to check a few things, i.e., the surface you’re trying to clean and the type of mold that’s growing on it. More importantly, if neither solution works for you, don’t hesitate to consult a professional mold remover.