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Myth Buster: Bleach and Vinegar Kill Mold

Published on July 22, 2018

The internet and its multiplicity of ideas, thoughts, and DIY instructions mean that there are hundreds of suggestions to follow when it comes to home improvement and maintenance, making every weekend warrior an expert in some field or another. But when it comes to mold removal, one of the stickiest of myths is that bleach and vinegar can be used to safely and thoroughly remove mold.

Unfortunately, bleach and vinegar don’t remove mold effectively enough for positive long term outcomes. As one of the most pervasive mold myths on the internet (and we’ve seen a few), this common tactic frequently ends up with homeowners calling a mold remediation company like MoldTech anyway - often with a bigger problem than what they started with.

What is Mold Anyway?

Before we go into why bleach and vinegar don’t remove mold, we’ll go over some mold basics. Mold is a natural part of the environment - in the outdoors it helps to break down organic materials as a part of natural lifecycles. In our homes, however, mold is an unwelcome guest. It will grow on any organic material as long as it isn’t disturbed, has sufficient moisture, and an even temperature; once it takes hold, it can seriously damage or ruin those items as well as cause discomfort and ill health for occupants and visitors.

Some common symptoms that mold is growing in your home are:

  • itchy, watery eyes
  • running nose
  • sore throat or eyes
  • headache
  • fatigue

Removing mold safely so that it doesn’t return and causes no further damage to your property is important. While bleach and vinegar don’t remove mold, there are plenty of different methods that professional mold remediators use that are just as safe but infinitely more effective.

Does Bleach Remove Mold?

When mold grows in your home, it reproduces by creating spores - airborne particles that can travel to other spaces and rooms in your home to create new colonies. Living or dead, these spores can cause allergies and irritation to even the most robust family member. Once spores create a colony, mold grows and spreads by its roots (which are called mycelia and hyphae). While bleach and vinegar don’t remove mold, it is perfectly sensible to wonder if these two cleaning work-horses would work. So why doesn’t bleach kill mold?

  1. The first myth about bleach that we’re going to bust is that is is an effective sanitizer. While bleach is excellent when it comes to cleaning your stainless steel sink or bathroom fixtures, bleach loses its efficacy when it comes into contact with organic materials - and as we’ve already noted, mold MUST have some organic material present to grow. And if you’ve ever accidentally dripped bleach on your clothes, you know that it can cause a lot of damage and discolouration, which may not be ideal for the mold-affected surface or item.  Additionally, bleach doesn’t work as well when it’s been exposed to light and heat, and loses its strength so quickly that it doesn’t have a lingering effects - despite what your nose may tell you.
  2. Bleach does not address the ‘why’ of mold growth either. Bleach may feel like an effective cleaning agent, but if you don’t address moisture or humidity problems that are the root of a mold problem, no cleaning agent known to humankind will stop it from growing back.
  3. Even though we can get bleach at the grocery store, it’s a pretty dangerous chemical that we should be careful with when bringing into our homes. You should always wear gloves, goggles, and even a respirator when using bleach, since it’s corrosive, releases chlorine gas, and may even form carcinogenic dioxins.

Does Vinegar Remove Mold?

The darling of green cleaners everywhere, vinegar is a mild and safe cleaner to use all over your house - but bleach and vinegar don’t remove mold so why is vinegar still recommended for use when it comes to mold removal?

Household vinegar (the kind you use in your salad) is a mild acid, which is a useful tool when it comes to replacing more dangerous household cleanings products, but it won’t help with mold removal. One common myth we see floating around on the internet is that it kills 82% of mold spores - but we haven’t seen any scientific studies to back up this claim or prove to us that it works.

Like bleach, any efficacy that vinegar has against mold is limited and only surface-deep. One of the common problems that MoldTech technicians find is that many homeowners don’t know that bleach and vinegar don’t remove mold, and so they’ve used one of these products to try and clean it up on their own. The old bathroom or laundry room rag gets used to try and scrub down the affected area, and then it gets ‘cleaned’ and used again elsewhere in the home. Unfortunately, not only do bleach and vinegar not effectively kill the mold spores, but the spores can become attached to the rag, which, when it’s used elsewhere (or left to sit damp under the sink), can actually spread the mold contamination to other rooms. Yikes!

What To Do When You Find Mold

While bleach and vinegar don’t remove mold, there are effective treatments that can help. Professional mold removal is called remediation because what we do is treat the whole problem - instead of just removing surface mold, we make sure to offer suggestions to prevent it from removing (such as identifying leaks and humidity issues), we thoroughly clean and sanitize the area during and after the removal, and we safely contain our work site and remove any contaminated materials so that the mold won’t spread. At MoldTech we test every work site and don’t leave until it tests 100% clear of mold spores, ensuring that you’re left with a safe and clean home, free of mold.  If you have any further questions about why bleach and vinegar don’t remove mold and what to do if you find it growing in your home, give us a call and we’d be happy to help you find a solution that suits your home

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