How to Clean Mold With Vinegar

Learn why white vinegar removes mold better than bleach.

Vinegar is a bold mold killer. According to ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning, the mild acid in vinegar kills about 82% of known molds and can help prevent future outbreaks. From bed to bath to kitchen, here’s a list of reasons why cleaning with vinegar is a good idea. Not sure how to start? Keep reading to learn how to clean mold with vinegar.

Is Vinegar More Effective Than Bleach?

Vinegar truly is better than cleaning with bleach when it comes to killing mold. The EPA does not recommend using bleach to kill or remove mold, except in special circumstances. In most cases, “a background level of mold spores will remain” after the application of bleach.

“Bleach only kills surface mold, not the membrane underneath,” according to ServiceMaster. “That means the mold will grow back. In fact, recognizing the bleach as a ‘threat,’ the mold will grow back even stronger.” When bleach is used on porous surfaces like drywall or wood, mold membranes will move deeper into the surface to avoid the chemical.

What Kind of Vinegar Should You Use?

First, save the apple cider vinegar for salad dressing. To clean mold, use regular white distilled vinegar, typically sold with 5% acidity. You can also use “cleaning vinegar” with 6% acidity. Both are effective at killing mold. Generic brands are as effective as name brands. You can find cleaning vinegar online and at many home improvement, discount and grocery stores.

How Long Does It Take for Vinegar to Kill Mold?

Depending on the amount of mold, let the vinegar sit on the mold at least 60 minutes before wiping or scrubbing.

How Do You Use Vinegar to Clean Mold?

To safely and effectively clean a small area of mold, follow this demonstration video from TikTok user @carolina.mccauley:

@carolina.mccauleyDIY Mould and Mildew Remover #homehacks #diyhacks #cleaninghacks #cleantok #cleaningdiy♬ Mhm Mhm – Cdot Honcho

To protect yourself from mold and its spores, wear gloves, a mask and goggles. Gloves also prevent any skin irritation from the vinegar.


Step 1: Create a cleaning solution

To a spray bottle, add 2 tablespoons of Borax, 2 cups of warm water (shake to dissolve Borax before adding vinegar), 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 20 drops of tea tree oil.

Step 2: Spray the mixture on moldy spots

Spray the mixture directly onto the moldy surface and let sit for at least one hour.

Step 3: Pour baking soda

After one hour, pour a good amount of baking soda over the area.

Step 4: Scrub the mold away

Scrub vigorously to remove any remnants of mold, wipe up excess baking soda and rinse for a sparkling surface.

Editor’s Tip: You can clean small amounts of mold with vinegar yourself, but be aware of when you should call professionals. Besides a crisis, such as a flooded home, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises hiring professionals when the moldy patch covers about 10 square feet or larger.

Already a pro at cleaning your home with vinegar? You probably didn’t know about these vinegar cleaning hacks for dirty shoes, rusty tools, fly traps and more. Plus, here’s how to clean a moldy dishwasher.

Where Not to Use Vinegar to Kill Mold

Because of vinegar’s acidity, it can damage some surfaces. We don’t recommend using vinegar on natural stone, waxed wood, cast iron or aluminum. Here are more things you shouldn’t clean with vinegar.

Essentials for Cleaning with Vinegar

Research contributed by Hannah Twietmeyer

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman