Those who suffer from chronic lung conditions or who struggle with yearly allergy symptoms understand how important it is to remove any potential triggers of these conditions. All too often, the presence of mold in the home contributes to long-term health conditions that never seem to be resolved. Even without serious immune responses, mold growth can have a negative impact on the health and safety of everyone who is subjected to continual exposure to the toxic particles. Mold spores are difficult to contain, but rampant growth can be prevented and addressed by thoroughly checking for mold and cleaning the house with vinegar.
There are some mold or mildew situations that you address using household vinegar. As a cleaning agent, it is an affordable and effective solution against many types of mold. Here’s what you should know about vinegar and killing mold.
Through fermentation, a process that can take from a few months to an entire year to complete, vinegar is derived from acetic acid and several different diluted alcohol products. Wood products like beech, in addition to grapes, rice, or beer, are used to create the different types of vinegar available. There are varieties that can be used for cooking, such as balsamic or rice wine, but for use as a cleaning agent, distilled white vinegar is best. The acid in the vinegar is said to kill at least 82% of known mold species, but it may not always be the best solution for mold removal.
Is Vinegar a Better Alternative to Bleach for Mold Removal?
Black mold is most commonly found on materials with high amounts of cellulose, such as paper, drywall and fiberboard, which is why it often grows on walls. Spores settle onto the surface and get embedded in the minute openings. When exposed to a steady water supply, such as a leaking pipe or foundation leak, they begin to consume the sugars and starch found in the cellulose.
Once the black mold is actively growing, it begins to reproduce and colonize the surface. It takes S. chartarum roughly eight to 12 days to establish itself on a surface. However, once it does, it usually outcompetes any other molds present as long as the water supply is maintained.
Preventing mold from establishing itself is far preferable to having to undertake a mold remediation project. Removing moisture is one of the best ways to prevent an excess of mold growth. Because black mold is common in warm, moist areas, basements, attics and crawl spaces are likely targets.
Many mold species look similar and several can be easily confused for S. chartarum. If there is mold in your home that you suspect might be black mold, have it tested to determine the species definitively. You can then decide on the best course of action for mold removal.
Where Does Mold Come From?
There should be no shame in discovering mold growing in your home. The microscopic spores can be found both inside and outside the home, as there are over 100 different strains that could be present in any particular environment. This fungus grows more rapidly when the conditions around the spores are dark, damp, and filled with organic material. Mold spores are able to grow on surfaces of natural fibers, paper products, building material, dust, soil, or wood. Moisture is the other key necessity for mold to flourish.
Because of the conditions needed for mold growth, there are several areas around the house where you are more likely to find mold growing. Though it is present long before it is visible, a thriving mold colony will not be hard to find. Here are some places to start your search for the toxic fungus.
The long, hot showers you love are equally enjoyable for mold spores. The increased humidity in the bathroom, combined with a lack of proper ventilation, attracts mold spores. The shower curtain is one area you can look for signs of mold, but you may not see the invisible spores that are lurking in your washcloth or loofah. Spores can cling to the showerhead, around the faucet, or in the tile grout.
The sink and toilet are other known culprits for mold growth. If these surfaces are not cleaned thoroughly each week and carefully dried, mold colonies can develop. The bottom of the toothbrush caddie, the soap dish, behind the toilet, and underneath the bathroom sink are also areas that should be given a thorough check. Moisture left on the cleaning supplies or towels that are thrown under the vanity set the stage for growth.
The floor, walls and ceilings can also harbor mold spores. Bathroom rugs get wet after you step out of the shower or by absorbing the moisture in the air. These need to be washed every few days and thoroughly dried to ensure mold doesn’t grow underneath the rug or down in the fibers. Water leaks or improper ventilation can also cause mold to grow on the ceiling or walls.
Mold in the kitchen extends beyond the fuzz that has taken over your storage containers filled with leftovers. From boiling or cooking items on the stove to running hot water when washing dishes, the humidity in the kitchen can remain high. When dirty dishes are allowed to pile up in the sink, the food particles sitting in the drain or slowly making their way through the drain can collect bacteria and initiate mold growth. Underneath the sink is also a potential threat, especially when leaky faucets remain unrepaired.
The refrigerator is a threat to mold growth, beyond what you would normally find in old food containers. The drip tray for the fridge and the water dispenser are good places for mold to take up residence. Food spillage around the stove or in the microwave is also ideal conducive to mold development. Cutting boards and the area behind the stove where food particles fall can also sustain the growth of a colony.
It is unlikely that you spend a lot of time in the basement or attic, potentially prolonging how long mold growth is left unnoticed. These areas are often susceptible to growth because there is poor ventilation, a greater buildup of moisture, and less sunlight. Mold thrives in cold, dark places, and the basement and attic can deliver on this needed condition. It is also more likely that leaks occur in these areas, whether from an old or damaged roof, crumbling seals of basement windows, or from cracks in the home’s foundation.
The garage is also a spot to check for mold colonies. Rainwater dripping off of your car or water leaks coming in from the roof or a poorly sealed garage door increases the amount of moisture in the area. Many use their garage to store cleaning supplies or old household items. Any organic material becomes a host for spores, so it is important to check around storage areas that don’t get cleaned or used often as well as around the doors and windows of the garage.
Will Vinegar Kill Black Mold?
In the fight against mold growth, the presence of black spores can be the most alarming and dangerous. While all mold varieties have the potential to cause serious harm to your health, black mold is the most notorious for causing severe respiratory and immune system concerns. Long-term exposure can lead to shortness of breath, eye irritation, chronic fatigue, muscle cramping, and severe, persistent allergy symptoms. This toxic fungus can thrive in all the areas of your home where moisture and humidity are present, and the tell-tale signs of growth (apart from chronic health conditions) are the visible dark black spores clinging to vents, floor joists, or creeping along the walls.
Vinegar is effective against black mold, so long as you don’t have a severe infestation of the fungus. The serious nature of black mold often requires the assistance of mold remediation specialists if you want to be sure the cleanup is done correctly. Improper cleaning and removal can cause spores to escape from the area and find a new place to settle in and breed. You can, however, use white vinegar to kill black mold spores on both porous and non-porous surfaces.
How Quickly Can Vinegar Kill Mold?
Though it is an effective agent against mold, the application should sit on the contaminated area for at least an hour before being scrubbed or cleaned. Do not dilute the vinegar, as this weakens the effectiveness of the acidity against the fungus. For large infestations, it may take more than one application to completely clean the area.
How Do You Apply Vinegar To Remove Mold?
Even though vinegar is a household solution, you should still wear leak-proof gloves and goggles when working to remove mold. You should also wear a mask or respirator to avoid breathing in mold spores as you clean. Wear clothes that you are able to thoroughly clean or throw away when you are done, as the mold spores can cling to the material and be transported into another area.
So long as you use vinegar that contains at least 20% acetic acid, pouring the solution into a spray bottle and applying it straight to the contaminated area is the best way to remove mold. Spray the infected area thoroughly or soak a clean cloth in the vinegar and wipe any area covered with mold. It takes time for the vinegar to break down the membranes of black mold and other species, so let the vinegar stay on the affected area for at least an hour. The mold will be more easily removed if you follow this step.
Once the vinegar has been soaking on the area for at least an hour, use a brush to scrub at the mold. Choose a brush that is appropriate to the material you are cleaning, making sure you will be able to reach into corners or around curves easily. A brush is the most effective method of breaking down the mold’s membrane. After scrubbing, you will want to wipe down and gently rinse the surface. Use warm water but in moderate amounts. Too much water can recreate a moisture problem that develops into mold.
If there are still signs of mold after you have scrubbed and rinsed the area, follow the process again until all evidence of contamination is gone. To help ensure that moisture left from rinsing the area is neutralized against a re-infestation, prepare a baking soda solution of one teaspoon baking soda and two cups of water. Spray it onto the cleaned surface and then wipe it dry. Baking soda absorbs moisture and prevents the growth of mold. The odor of the vinegar can be bothersome, but the use of fans and proper ventilation will dissipate the smell in just a few hours.
Will Vinegar Remove Mold Stains?
Vinegar is strong enough to remove most mold and mildew species, but you may need to combine a vinegar solution with hydrogen peroxide, borax, or baking soda to lift dark staining. Do not mix the elements directly. Use them separately and in stages to remove deep stains.
For mold infestations that have gotten out of hand and cannot safely be removed by your DIY solutions, bring in an expert mold remediation team. With the right safety protection, equipment, and understanding of how mold grows, you can be sure that removal services will expertly deal with your concerns. Your responsibility is to address the root cause of moisture for long-term prevention.
Hiring a professional mold inspector will give you peace of mind. Being in a position where you are uncertain as to the toxicity of mold in your residence can be extremely stressful.
At moldremediation.io, we pride ourselves on being quick, thorough and effective in how we communicate the mold remediation tests that we perform for our homeowner clients.