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How to Remove Mold From Bathroom Ceiling With Vinegar

How to Remove Mold From Bathroom Ceiling With Vinegar

No matter where it is in your home, mold can seem like a daunting nightmare to handle. It’s stubborn, can cause unpleasant reactions in your body and loves to grow in many of the harder-to-clean areas in the house. Of all the difficult places to tackle a mold outbreak, however, the bathroom is often extremely vulnerable to mold growth.

Mold starts out in the form of spores, tiny microorganisms that can’t be seen without a microscope. There are mold spores free-floating all around you constantly, though medical research has shown that the amount of mold in the air normally is fairly minor and safe for human exposure.

That being said, it only takes one mold spore to grow an entire colony (the discolored patches you see growing in your home). Bathrooms are often warm and full of moisture, so those free-floating mold spores are often attracted to this room in particular when looking for somewhere to land. As well, when it comes to finding the perfect place to grow, many types of mold (like aspergillus and Stachybotris chartarum) are attracted to high cellulose materials — including your bathroom ceiling.

It might seem difficult, but the method for getting mold off a bathroom ceiling is easy to follow and can be done with many household cleaners and equipment. Before you start, take note of where the mold is growing, how it’s progressing and what kind of cleaner you plan to use. Remember: If the mold is covering a surface area greater than 10 square feet (about the size of a bath towel), it’s best to call a mold specialist for the job.

What Is the Best Product To Remove Mold?

It’s difficult to peg the best product for treating mold. There is a diverse variety of mold cleaners available, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.

  • Vinegar is an all-natural mold killer that is safe to use in the home, even around food. This cleaner has both anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, and it’s great for getting rid of pesky odors. If you’re working with porous surfaces like drywall, wood, plastic or fabric, vinegar is safe enough to get the job done. Vinegar should be diluted in water at about a 1:1 ratio before using on delicate materials like carpeting.
  • Bleach has been a cleaner of choice for ages when it comes to serious bacteria, mold and mildew. This is an especially harsh chemical cleaner that may be a little too potent for porous surfaces; however, bleach can take care of nearly any mold outbreak on nonporous surfaces like metal and ceramic tile. No matter what you’re cleaning, it’s best to use about 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water. Never pour undiluted bleach directly onto any surface in your home, and never combine bleach with ammonia or ammonia-based cleaners.
  • Baking soda is commonly used along with vinegar to pack an extra cleaning punch, but also works well on its own for smaller outbreaks with stubborn mold spots. Baking soda can be used to clean in two ways: as a paste or fully dissolved into water as a liquid cleaner. Baking soda paste is made by adding a tablespoon of water at a time to about a cup of baking soda until it’s thick and spreadable, and is well suited for high traffic mold spots on softer materials like carpet. Liquid baking soda cleaner is more all-purpose and is made by adding a few tablespoons of baking soda into a cup of water.

Is Bleach or Vinegar Better To Kill Mold?

The debate between vinegar and bleach as mold killers has been a hot topic for years, but vinegar has recently gained traction as the superior choice. Most people often worry that vinegar isn’t strong enough to kill mold spores, but the reality is that bleach is often too strong to treat an outbreak properly.

Since mold is a living organism, it can detect the presence of danger in its environment. Bleach, being an extremely harsh chemical, is something that can immediately alert mold spores to ‘retreat’ by delving deeper into the porous surfaces they grow on. Essentially, bleach can clear mold away from the surface, but it can’t penetrate any deeper than that. Once the hidden mold spores detect the absence of the harsh bleach, they can return to the surface and recolonize. This is why you may notice that a mold patch has come back after you seemingly killed and cleaned it off.

Vinegar, on the other hand, is far more gentle than bleach. It has a natural pH of about 2.5, making it only mildly acidic. This level of acidity is strong enough to kill mold, but not so strong that it signals spores to retreat. Because of this, a vinegar treatment can effectively kill off all mold spores on a surface before they have a chance to hide, allowing you to get rid of an infestation more easily. Using vinegar also vastly reduces the possibility of a return outbreak.

What Kind of Vinegar Is Best To Kill Bathroom Ceiling Mold?

Most types of vinegar are great for mold because of their very mild acidity levels. Virtually all types of vinegar are made with two key components: acetic acid bacteria and either ethanol or sugar. The bacteria feeds on the sugar/ethanol, processes it chemically and creates vinegar as a byproduct.

What separates different types of vinegar is what the bacteria feeds on. Like bacteria, mold can also feed on sugar, so using sweeter vinegars (like apple cider or wine vinegar) may actually prolong the outbreak in the long run. At the very least, sugary vinegar isn’t likely to be an effective cleaner.

On the other hand, ethanol is a type of alcohol. This very pure form of alcohol not only lacks any kind of sugar but is also a dehydrating agent that naturally draws water out of other things. By depriving mold of one of the two major substances it needs to survive, ethanol is much more likely to kill and help prevent recurring mold outbreaks.

Knowing this, the most effective type of vinegar for clearing out mold is distilled white vinegar. This is a sugar-free, ethanol-based vinegar that is simple, inexpensive and very safe to use around the house.

How Do I Use Vinegar To Get Mold Off My Bathroom Ceiling?

Before you start the cleaning process, you need to gather your equipment and some personal protective gear. Most of the time, everything you need to clear out minor to moderate outbreaks can be found around your home. Make sure you have protective gear:

  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • Protective eyewear, such as goggles
  • A cloth face mask

Also get together all your cleaning supplies and other necessities:

  • An empty spray bottle
  • Your mold cleaning solution of choice
  • A scrubbing tool, such as a soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush
  • Paper towels or old rags
  • A box or standing fan
  • Disposable drop cloth or other covering
  • Trash bags

After this, you’re ready to get cleaning. Make sure everyone in the house knows that you’re cleaning mold and encourage anyone who isn’t involved to steer clear of the area while you work. Countless mold spores will be released into the air during this time, so it’s best to contain them to a small area of the house if possible. No one should be in the area without a face mask.

  1. Start by prepping the area. Get any exterior doors and windows open right away, and place the fan to blow outside to start circulating the air. Seal off any interior doors by placing an old towel or a strip of foam at the base. If any furniture needs to be moved out of the way, this is the time to do so. Anything that can’t be moved can be protected with a drop cloth or trash bags. Put on your goggles, mask and gloves, and load your cleaning solution into a spray bottle.
  2. Generously spray the entire affected area of the ceiling. It should be very wet, but not necessarily drenched. Aim to cover the whole mold colony as well as a bit of the ceiling around it (roughly 1-2 inches).
  3. Using your brush, scrub gently in small circles all over the mold. Start from the outside and work your way in, making sure to use light pressure. You need to scrub until there is no longer any mold sticking to the ceiling, so this step may take a while or need to be repeated.
  4. When you’re satisfied with your level of scrubbing, allow the cleaner to set for at least one hour. If it appears to dry out at any point, mist lightly over the affected area again.
  5. Using some old rags or paper towels, wipe away any mold and residual cleaner until the whole surface is clear and dry. Immediately wrap these rags in a trash bag and dispose of them. If you can, aim a fan at the ceiling to help it dry. Give the area 1-2 hours to fully dry out. Keep the exterior doors/windows open and the interior doors sealed during this time to continuously ventilate the room. When you’re fully finished cleaning, throw away any of your disposable equipment and wash your cleaning clothes with hot water.

Once you’re finished with the cleanup process and have sanitized or disposed of any mold-contaminated gear, check over the area you cleaned and make sure there are no dark spots, discoloration or odors present. If any of these things are still detectable, there is still mold present in the ceiling. At this point, you may want to consider trying the cleaning process again, or you may wish to go ahead and call in an expert for more help.

What Can I Spray To Prevent Mold?

Vinegar and baking soda liquid spray cleaners both provide a protective barrier against mold growth and recurrence. In addition to this, several other natural remedies, like tea tree oil and hydrogen peroxide, can also help prevent mold from growing back once you’ve cleaned it up.

There are countless mold-prevention sprays available at hardware stores near you that can be used right after the mold cleanup process. Nearly any mold preventative you find should have some kind of anti-fungal ingredient or water-dispelling component that helps keep at-risk surfaces clean, dry and mold-free.

What Do Professionals Use To Kill Bathroom Mold?

As far as the experts go, you can expect your local mold removal service to use commercial-grade cleaners. They may employ mold-specific products or all-purpose chemicals that can handle mold as well as bacteria, viruses and other microbes. If your mold problem is especially widespread, they may even use ‘mold bombs’, which are cleaning solutions that slow-release from an aerosol can to cover a large area. You’re likely to see professionals use cleaners that contain bleach in the bathroom if the mold is growing on nonporous metal or tile, but they may use less harsh products if the mold is growing on the wall or ceiling.

Handling mold can feel like a hassle, but it can be done. When dealing with a mold outbreak in your home, safety should be the number one priority at all times. Any time you’re around mold, especially while treating it, you should be wearing a face mask and protective gloves for your hands. If you start to notice symptoms like coughing, sneezing, chest tightness, watery eyes or a rash after working with mold, stop and take a break. These symptoms are usually temporary reactions that will go away in a day or so, but you should keep an eye on them and hold off on cleaning until you feel well enough to get back into it. If your symptoms persist or worsen, you should stay out of the mold-infested part of the house and speak with your doctor.

If you find that removing mold from your bathroom ceiling is too difficult, it’s always OK to call a professional. Having an expert handle the situation can help keep everyone safer, healthier and more comfortable in the long run.

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