Natural Mold Removal Options: 8 Common Household Items That Clean Mold Safely Without Harsh Chemicals
Unfortunately, mold is extremely common in homes because it will thrive anywhere there is a consistent source of water. Once mold appears, it will remain as long as the conditions are right. While many harsh chemicals will kill mold, they also pose a risk to you and your family. We look at some of the most common household items that clean mold. These natural options are less dangerous to both you and the environment. Plus you probably have at least three of these items in your home right now.
8 Common Household Items That Clean Mold
There are a number of common household items that clean mold. Most people have at least three of these items in their home at all times. For the most part, these are completely safe and non-toxic ways to kill household mold and pose a low risk to your family and the environment.
- Bleach – Regular household chlorine bleach is one of the most common things found in homes that will kill mold.
- Vinegar – Perhaps just as common as bleach, regular distilled white vinegar is another easy way to remove mold naturally.
- Hydrogen Peroxide – Often used to clean wounds, hydrogen peroxide can clean mold from most surfaces in your home.
- Rubbing Alcohol – Another common solution for cleaning cuts and scrapes, 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol is a non-toxic way to remove mold.
- Baking Soda – Mixed with either water or distilled white vinegar, baking soda is a mild but effective natural disinfectant.
- Vodka – While this may seem strange, the alcohol in vodka will safely remove mold. Other spirits will work, but vodka has a neutral smell that won’t linger.
- Ammonia – One of the least common household chemicals, ammonia will effectively kill mold. However, always work in a well-ventilated space.
- Tea Tree Oil – Likely the most uncommon of household items, tea tree oil is safe and effective at killing mold.
What Causes Mold
Mold is a naturally occurring fungus that exists in the air all around us. In nature, it breaks down leaves, dead plants, and other organic matter. While mold does have a number of requirements to grow, the biggest factor is a persistent source of moisture. Other requirements are low levels of light, moderate temperatures, and oxygen.
Within any building, mold can thrive as long as there is consistent water, condensation, humidity, or moisture. Since it floats in the air, it can enter your building through doors and windows. Once it lands on a wet surface, it can start to grow in as little as 24 to 48 hours depending on the conditions. Unless the moisture issue is addressed, mold will continue to grow.
Although mold in the air is unlikely to cause health risks, once it begins to grow the risks increase. In most cases, mold will cause allergic reactions even in individuals without allergies. These may include sneezing, congestion, dry eyes, dry nasal passages, and rashes. Those with allergies, chronic respiratory illnesses, or weakened immune systems are more likely to experience more severe symptoms.
How to Clean Mold with Bleach
Bleach is one of the most common household items you can use to clean and kill mold. Plus, bleach is one of the most inexpensive ways to kill mold. For small areas of mold, use a 3:1 solution of water to chlorine bleach. If you have large areas of mold, use a solution of equal parts bleach and water. You can use a rag to wipe surfaces, however, a spray bottle is more effective. Allow the bleach to air dry and repeat cleaning as necessary.
Take Precaution When Using Bleach to Kill Mold
Bleach can stain many surfaces and materials and have a distinct odor that can be overwhelming. When using a bleach solution to clean mold, always work in a well-ventilated area. You may also want to wear rubber or latex gloves to prevent the bleach smell from clinging to your hands. Also, never mix bleach and other chemicals, as they can produce toxic gases. This is especially true with ammonia.
How to Clean Mold with Vinegar
As with bleach, you can kill and clean most household mold with vinegar. Use regular distilled or white vinegar, instead of a fancy cooking vinegar. While apple cider or wine vinegar will work, they are much more expensive and can leave behind distinct odors. To clean mold with vinegar, mix a solution of equal parts distilled white vinegar with water. For large areas of mold, use just vinegar without any water.
Use either a rag or a spray bottle to apply the vinegar solution to surfaces contaminated with mold and allow them to air dry. You may need to reapply every couple of hours for a few days to effectively kill the mold. In some cases, you may also need to scrub with a rag or soft-bristle brush.
How to Clean Mold with Hydrogen Peroxide
Standard 3% hydrogen peroxide is also effective at cleaning mold, but it usually requires more scrubbing than bleach or vinegar. Apply the hydrogen peroxide with a spray bottle or rag and all it to sit for 10 minutes. Then scrub with a rag or a brush with soft bristles. For larger areas or mold that has grown deep into surfaces, mix together equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. You may need to repeat the process several times to effectively remove the mold. Once the mold is gone, all the area to air dry.
How to Clean Mold with Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is another common household item that will kill mold. Use standard 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol and apply with a spray bottle or a rag. Let the rubbing alcohol sit for a few minutes, then scrub with a soft-bristle brush or a rag. Depending on the size of the area and the extent of the contamination, you may need to clean with rubbing alcohol several times to kill the mold.
How to Clean Mold with Baking Soda
Another effective method for safely removing mold is with baking soda. For flat surfaces, sprinkle the area with baking soda and then spray with either water or distilled white vinegar. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, then scrub gently with a rag or brush with soft bristles. For vertical and irregular surfaces, mix the baking soda and liquid into a paste and then scrub with a brush or rag. Smaller areas of mold may only take one application, but larger areas may take repeated cleanings.
How to Clean Mold with Vodka
Perhaps the most unlikely method for cleaning mold, the alcohol content in vodka will kill mold. The same is true of any other alcohol that is at least 80 proof. However, we recommend that you only use vodka. Spirits like whiskey, rum, gin, and tequila are likely to leave behind odors and can even stain surfaces. To kill mold with vodka, rub the surface with a rag or soft scrub brush or apply with a spray bottle. Allow the vodka to air dry and repeat cleanings as necessary.
How to Clean Mold with Ammonia
Ammonia was once a very common household cleaner, but it’s less popular today because of its overwhelmingly intense odor. That said, ammonia is effective at killing household mold. For small areas, use a solution of 3 parts water to 1 part ammonia. For larger areas, use equal parts water and ammonia. Spray the ammonia solution on contaminated surfaces and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Then scrub the area with a rag or soft brush. Then wipe the area clean with a clean rag soaked in room temperature water. One cleaning is usually enough to kill the mold, but additional applications may be necessary in some cases.
Take Precaution When Using Ammonia to Kill Mold
Ammonia has an intense and overwhelming odor, so work in a well-ventilated area. Always wear rubber or latex gloves when using ammonia, as the smell may cling to your skin. You may also want to wear a mask or ventilator and eye protection as well. If you feel light-headed or dizzy, leave the area and get fresh air immediately. You should never mix ammonia with any other chemical or cleaner, as it may produce toxic gases. In fact, ammonia and bleach will produce chlorine gas, which is extremely toxic.
How to Clean Mold with Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a common natural chemical that has a wide variety of uses from a household cleaner to insect repellant. Although less common than some of the other items on our list, it is gaining popularity once again. To kill mold with tea tree oil, mix two teaspoons into two cups of lukewarm water. Then apply with either a rag or a spray bottle and allow to air dry. Also, tea tree oil has a distinct odor that can linger for several days. If necessary, repeat the cleaning process until the mold is gone.
Avoid Mixing Chemicals When Cleaning Household Mold
Whether you are using one of these common household items to kill mold or you choose a commercially available chemical cleaner, you should always avoid mixing chemicals. Bleach and ammonia will produce toxic gases when mixed and other cleaners and chemicals may produce a dangerous reaction as well.
It’s also important to be cautious when changing cleaning methods. If one method isn’t effective at killing household mold, you should wash the surface thoroughly with warm water before attempting another method. This is especially true with commercial cleaners, as they are likely to contain ammonia or bleach.
Always read the instructions and warning labels on all chemicals and cleaners before using them to kill mold. Wear rubber or latex gloves and consider wearing eye protection and a ventilator or face mask as well. If you feel dizzy, develop a headache, or feel ill, leave the area immediately. If symptoms persist, seek medical assistance.
Get Rid of the Mold Once and For All
While all of these options will kill mold, they only kill the mold you can see. Since mold thrives on a consistent source of moisture, new mold spores are likely to land in that area. This will create a repeated cycle of cleaning mold.
If you’re ready to get rid of the mold once and for all, contact one of our certified mold remediation contractors for an estimate. They will asses the damage, remove the mold, and address the moisture issue that’s causing the mold.
Choose a mold removal company in your area now or call 1-888-443-3110 to talk with our on-call mold specialist now. As the largest network of restoration contractors, we have listings for the most popular brands like 911 Restoration, Bio-One, and ServiceMaster, as well as many independent companies.