Sproutingfam.com is supported by its readers. If you purchase through a link on my site, I may earn a commission. Learn more
Knowing about natural mold killers and how to use them is good to keep your home non-toxic and safe from harmful mold buildup.
The toxins produced by mold are dangerous. The good news is that you can get rid of mold naturally, and make sure it never comes back (mold spores are always there, but you can keep them from flourishing).
Mold is made from fungus. These comprise of small organisms that vary in color and grow via tiny airborne spores. All of us are exposed to mold every single day.
The problem comes when the mold spores start to reproduce. This is when they go from harmless to dangerous. Mold growth releases spores into the air and then you inhale them. This is when health problems arise.
Mold cannot grow without moisture. So the solution is to reduce the moisture in high risk mold growth areas. You can always clean up the mold with these natural mold killers, for example, but if you don’t nip the problem at the bud, the mold issues will persist.
Chemical V.S. Natural Mold Killers
You have two choices when it comes to getting rid of mold in your house.
- You can fight fire with fire, and use toxic substances to clear the mold out.
- Or you can choose to use natural mold killers.
These 10 mold killers consist of mostly natural mold killers. There are 2 generally safe mold killing solutions that are not considered natural mold solutions, but are good mold-killing solutions as long as you handle with care. These are ammonia and bleach. Two chemicals that should never be mixed together, but in their own right do pretty good with mold on hard surfaces.
Those mold-killing chemical death concoctions packaged and sold at retail stores don’t always disclose their full list of ingredients. They can contain harmful chemicals at certain percentages without disclosure. Thus, natural mold killers are a better solution. Another option is to ensure you purchase a mold killer from a company that would reveal their manufacturing process for the product if asked.
Before going into the 10 mold killers, let’s see the health risks associated with mold. Plus, an introduction to Toxic Mold Syndrome.
Mold Is Human Kryptonite
So here’s the deal with mold.
All the mainstream news sites and organizations say that it’s not that bad. That it affects those with sensitivities to it most.
“Toxic mold syndrome” is a legal construct, rather than a medical diagnosis, involving unidentified disease processes, a constellation of disparate symptoms, and reports of illness uncorroborated by a physical examination of the patients or a professional examination of their surroundings. Although “black mold” or “toxic mold” has been identified in litigation as a cause of human illness, there is no established cluster of symptoms or physical findings associated with this alleged disease. There are neither diagnostic criteria nor any valid scientific publications establishing Stachybotrys or other molds as a cause of these diverse symptoms.Poison.org on Toxic Mold Syndrome
Toxic Mold Syndrome: the other side of the story
Countless personal experiences of people overcoming health problems caused from mold that were more than mere asthma or allergy symptoms.
So, who do you believe?
- The major health organizations who say it’s not that big of a deal.
- Or the health experts and doctors who say it is that big of a deal?
The CDC says it effects mainly those hypersensitive to it, but after learning about so many peoples’ personal experiences and learning from health experts out there of the dangers, I side with the caution and believe that mold is bad for everyone, including our precious pets.
Major institutions and organizations that advise on health also say that EMF isn’t bad too. And that blue light is not a concern and that geo-engineering is a positive thing… so yeah, I will stick to the personal experiences and the non-biased doctors that believe that mold can destroy your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Mold is a major cause of concern for me because I live in a humid environment. It can come out of nowhere, fast.
Potential Mold Exposure Health Risks
- Allergic reactions; itchy eyes, sneezing, etc.
- Lung damage: acute and chronic respiratory diseases
- Brain fog
- Weight gain
- Weakens immune system
Dry Living Environments At Risk Too
Think you’re safe from mold?
Even if you live in a dry environment and you don’t think mold can get to you, it can. Mold spores are always waiting for the right conditions to grow.
Mold in dry environments
- You may use humidifiers. These are wonderful. They’re great for treating various little health problems, but they can also harbor mold and bacteria. The solution? If you use a humidifier, ensure you’re mold-free by using a hygrometer, or you can purchase a humidifier that has a humidistat built into it. They say 50% is the maximum humidity level to keep your indoors mold-free.
- You can suffer effects from mold in food too. It’s not just the airborne or wall mold that gets you. Aflatoxin exposure from moldy food is something to watch out for. Aflatoxins, according to Cancer.gov, are “a family of toxins produced by certain fungi that are found on agricultural crops such as corn, peanuts, cottonseed and tree nuts.” Aflatoxins are connected to liver cancer. They’re more prevalent in humid regions. They contaminate crops and find their way into meat and dairy foods if the animals’ feed is contaminated. You can inhale its dust or consume it in food.
Note: If you have a mushroom popping out of your bathroom wall (personal experience when I lived in Pacific Beach, San Diego where it’s very humid near the water), and you start waking up in the morning coughing up green mucous, aka lung butter, you can bet it’s mold spores.
Make a change right away.
Use one of these natural mold killers, get a humidity tester and find the source of the problem.
Natural Cleaning Products Guide
This is a very useful resource that lets you analyze products based on safety ratings. For example, you can break down a mold cleaner’s ingredients by its surfactants, preservatives, and other dangerous ingredients like sodium hypochlorite for example. It then lists the health, environmental and disclosure concerns of the product.
For this example, I am taking a look at the “green” mold removal product that goes by the name of Earthworm Mold and Mildew Treatment. It’s not a good one. Better to use one of the 10 methods listed above if you can. It lists these health concerns:
- Skin Allergies & Irritation
- Development & Reproductive Toxicity
10 Safe Mold Killers That Work
From hydrochloric acid to good old warm water, soap and sun, there ARE ways and techniques to get rid of mold naturally.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) May Be Necessary
It’s worth mentioning that breathing it in while cleaning is a danger for bigger mold problems, so you should wear a face mask (N95 respirator quality) if it’s a problem bigger than a small spray and wipe job. Gloves are good to use too, especially when using ammonia or bleach.
Sometimes the situation is too dire and the only way to fix it without completely renovating is to use the harmful chemicals, or to hire a mold remediation company. But with vigilance and a weekly mold inspection, you can nip big problems at the bud with these 10 mold killers and prevention tips given in this article.
1. Vinegar For Daily Mold Remediation
Vinegar is #1 on this list for a reason. It’s the best solution. You can kill black mold with vinegar, the worst mold, but white distilled vinegar serves as an effective mold killer for all types of mold.
White distilled vinegar and baking soda are my two go-to natural cleaning products. Those and microbial essential oils can do wonders without the health risks and harm that comes from chemical cleaning products.
Vinegar is the safest mold remediation cleaning solution you have.
This is known to work because of its mild acidic acid properties. It’s also anti-bacterial. The smell of it is it’s largest downfall, but the pros far outweigh the cons, and when you clean with white distilled vinegar, you can also dilute in water and any smell left over is a reminder that you’re using a natural cleaning agent, and that smell goes away soon after, so no worries there.
We use apple cider vinegar to clean the seeds for all types of sprouts we grow.
How To Use Vinegar For Mold
You can use a spray bottle, but it’s not necessary. Basically you just have to pour vinegar on the effected mold growth area (or spray if you prefer), let it sit a few minutes, then wipe or scrub it off, depending on the severity of the mold. You can use a damp towel to wipe the effected area, and then let the area dry. It’s probably best to not use a fan because I’ve heard mold spores can spread easier this way. Just let it air dry then use a fan after the fact as a part of the prevention solution.
Before going for the ammonia or bleach, go for vinegar. It’s the best mold killing solution (and the cheapest). And remember, don’t dilute it.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide Solution
Hydrogen peroxide is another wonderful mold killer. This is a good solution for the more troublesome mold growth problems. If simply pouring and wiping vinegar doesn’t work, go for a hydrogen peroxide solution as the next solution for the mold.
Bleach and ammonia are the last two on this list because they’re the last two options you should use if you prefer natural mold killing solutions. Using hydrogen peroxide is a great alternative. It’s safe and non-toxic to you. And it’s not harmful to the environment.
Benefits of using hydrogen peroxide for mold:
- Non-toxic, no toxic residues left over after using
- No smell left over (even though vinegar smell goes away quick)
- A bit stronger than vinegar
- Cheap and easy to find
- Anti fungal, antiviral, anti-bacterial
How To Use Hydrogen Peroxide For Mold
- It’s best for walls and cloth or other materials like this that bleach and ammonia can really do a number on (they say to spot test because of mild bleach qualities)
- Mix as 2 parts water, 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide.
- Use in spray bottle or apply directly, depending on the situation
- Let the hydrogen peroxide mold killer solution to soak in the molded surface for up to 10 minutes before cleaning up the area
- If mold growth is stubborn, it will require some scrubbing.
- Mix it with vinegar and baking soda for an extra powerful natural mold killer.
3. Tea Tree Oil Concoction
Yes the wonder of essential oils. Used for multiple purposes, depending on the type of plant. From aromatherapy using essential oils of herbs that smell good. To additional health benefiting applications, both internally and topically. As for essential Tea Tree oil, it can also be an effective and natural mold killer. It is used for both mold and mildew.
Kill Mold With Tea Tree Oil
- 1 cup of water and 3 teaspoons of Tea Tree oil
- Use in spray bottle, mix before using
- Let it sit for a while then wipe off with cloth
- Some say to leave overnight, but this may embed the oil and mold in further in my opinion
- Make sure to clean the area afterwards. You’ll need to remove all residue after soaking, wiping/scrubbing off the mold with a clean towel.
Regularly spraying the area to prevent future mold growth and then wiping off is a great way to help prevent its return.
Essential Tea Tree oil brings a nice pine scent to the room too.
Tea Tree oil is not just for household fungus growth. Tea tree oil works great for nail fungus as well.
4. Baking Soda: A Safe Mold Killer
Also known sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is an effective mold killer. Alone, it works. But when you combine it with vinegar, it’s that much more effective. Baking soda with water or with water and vinegar are how it’s mainly used. I’m sure there are other mixes that will work.
Perhaps adding in a few drops of citrus seed extract or tea tree oil to this combination would add some more power, but it’s not necessary. Baking soda and water along are enough to take care of light mold problems. If you have distilled vinegar, I would do the water, baking soda, vinegar combination instead. Just spray and wipe it off 10 minutes later.
Let it dry and then take precautions to dehumidify that area or stop whatever caused it to start in the first place.
Organic Gardening Tip: Mold & Plants
When you’re trying to take out a fungus on your plants, you can make a baking soda mix that uses vegetable oil or coconut oil and water.
Here’s a video that shares how to do it:
The oil helps the mixture stick to the leaves and the sodium bicarbonate is alkaline, so it helps create an environment that prevents fungus from spreading. Powdery mildew and blight might grow on your tomatoes or other vegetables, so this is a great solution for organic gardening.
5. Citrus Seed & Grapefruit Seed Extracts
You may already know of the health benefits of grapefruit seed extract. People use it for its antimicrobial properties. It helps with things like bacterial, viral and fungal infections. But it’s also a great household cleaning mold killer. It’s made from the pulp, seeds and white membrane of the grapefruit.
Citrus seed extract and grapefruit seed extract are both effective mold killers. If you are allergic to the smell of vinegar (sarcasm…..), citrus seed extract or grape fruit seed extract are natural mold cleaning ingredients you should use. Also, if you prefer going the essential oil route, and don’t like the smell of tea tree oil, then this is a perfect substitute. Citrus seed extract does not contain a strong smell like tea tree oil.
How To Use It
- Use two cups of water and 20 drops of citrus seed extract.
- Make sure to mix it in the shaker bottle really good right before you spray.
- With this mold killing solution, you’ll want to let it soak into the mold, to the point of almost drying before wiping it clean with a damp cloth.
More antimicrobial uses of citrus & grapefruit seed extract:
- Natural laundry detergent
- Natural carpet cleaner (it kills the pathogenic organisms)
- For humidifiers: prevents algae growth
6. Vodka: One Of The Best Natural Mold Killers
Vodka is a wonderful natural and non-toxic (in low amounts…) fungus and mold killer.
Both vodka and rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) work for the same reasons. And they work for both mold and mildew too. It’s one of the best natural mold killers for this reason.
The alcohol is what makes it a good mold and mildew remover. You don’t want to dilute it. The best part is that you don’t need a fancy vodka or anything. Just buy any generic cheap vodka. In fact, maybe the cheap vodka works better! If you happen to have some moonshine, it might work even better…
How To Use Vodka For Mold
You can use a spray bottle or a cloth dipped in the alcohol. Just spray the mold effected area to kill further growth. Or use a clean cloth or towel and soak it in the alcohol before using it on the mold areas.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar For Mold
So you have a mold problem, you’ve searched online for a natural mold solution, and out of all the natural methods, you just happen to not have any of them at home (you should always have baking soda and distilled vinegar around!).
But what about the apple cider vinegar in the fridge?
Will it be a suitable mold killing replacement for the distilled vinegar?
It works in the exact same way. So to use ACV to get rid of mold, just pour it undiluted on the area or preferably use a spray bottle.
Don’t mind the cup and lime in this picture. I took the picture for an apple cider vinegar/olive oil/lime juice shot I make most mornings. It works better than coffee to get your eyes open on slow mornings, I can tell you that!
Keep In Mind: Vinegar is said to kill up to 80% of the mold spores. That means you’ll want to follow up with a baking soda solution or a hydrogen peroxide solution.
8. Borax Mold Killing Solution
You can mix borax with water and then use that solution to kill the mold. You’ll need to use a rag or the abrasive side of a sponge to scrub the effected areas to lift the mold from the surface. And then after you have done this, you can clean the area off safely and make sure those rags etc. are cleaned and dried properly (preferably out in the sun) and/or use a HEPA filter vacuum to finish off the job after the area cleanup.
A good quality of borax is that it inhibits future growth in that area as long as you do your part to prevent the moisture buildup, it will assist in preventing its return.
Borax is not non-toxic
Borax may be a naturally occurring mineral, but it’s also very toxic. Also known as boric acid, sodium tetraborate, disodium tetraborate or sodium borate, borax are able to disrupt hormones and major exposure can harm the male reproductive system. (source)
Borax is often use in “green” cleaning products, but it’s also used in pest control, for ants, etc. It’s dangerous for kids, so if you have children, you may want to seek other natural mold killers before going the borax route. Additionally, and very sadly, borax is also found in kids’ toys and personal care products. Silly putty and “Gak” (if you remember that wonderful little slimy ball of fun), both use borax to attain that texture. So kids who play with these (or adults, too – I won’t judge), can absorb the chemical into their bodies by touching their mouth or eyes after playing with them.
Borax is safer than ammonia or bleach, but it’s not 100% safe such as other mold killers like the oils or seed extracts.
Homemade Play Dough: You can make homemade play dough with water, flour, salt and oil. We’ll publish how we do it, but you can Google “homemade play dough” and find a bunch of recipes for it.
In the past borax was used in personal care products and cosmetics (check for borates in ingredients), but these have mostly been eliminated from production after learning of the potential dangers and its ability to absorb into the skin. Borax has also been used in homemade laundry detergents, and this is recommended against as well due to the health risks.
Bleach and ammonia are the last two mold killers on this list because of they have the highest health risks of all the mold solutions on this list. They’re not natural mold killers, they pose toxic health risks, but I included them because they’re safer than many of the products out there on the market that include harmful chemicals and surfactants if you use them correctly.
Ammonia is great for non-porous surfaces like your tile or counter. It does not work well for porous cloth materials. And it also does not work well for drywall, which is hard yet still porous.
How To Kill Mold With Ammonia:
- Use a 1 part to 1 part ratio mix with water
- It’s best in a spray bottle
- Spray the moldy area, and let it sit for 10 minutes
- Like the rest of the methods on this list, simply use a clean cloth or if needed, a sponge with an abrasive side that you can use for scrubbing off them old. The ammonia mix however, should be strong enough to not need to scrape or scrub too much once 10 minutes has passed.
- Wipe the area, get rid of the debris, and you’re done.
10. Bleach For Black Mold
Bleach is the last resort option, but it works great. It’s not as dangerous as something that includes toxic surfactants, but you still need to be careful with it.
Toxic surfactants are bad for the environment and can cause health problems including reproductive health and cancer. This is why you need to be careful when buying so-called “natural” or “green” mold and mildew removers. You’re better off grabbing some bleach, and concocting something yourself that you know doesn’t include any extras surfactants.
Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is the main ingredient in many commercial mold removal products.
You’ll need to dilute the bleach by putting one cup of bleach for each gallon of water.
The issue with bleach:
First off, like ammonia, it only works on hard non-porous surfaces. The other natural mold killers on this list have an edge over bleach and ammonia due to that.
Bleach is not 100% effective as some may say. The reason it does not work on drywall is because it cannot penetrate it. The chlorine part of the bleach gets left on the surface. What you’re left with is a halfway effective mold killer because it will come back. And the mold that remains just gets bleached so you can’t see it.
When it comes to health risks and toxicity, bleach has toxic fumes and it also leaves behind toxic residue.
How To Use Bleach To Kill Mold
- Mix 1 part bleach with 10 parts water
- Depending on the situation, use a spray bottle or a bucket.
Remember, only use the bleach mold killing solution on non-porous surfaces. It’s worth repeating. It won’t be effective on non-porous surfaces. It may appear so, but the mold problem will return. Better to use the other natural and safe mold killers on dry wall as their mold removal properties can penetrate the drywall whereas the chlorine bleach will not.
Mold Killing Products: watch out for this
If a product has a “proprietary ingredients” written on their label, this is not being transparent. They’re not listing exactly what’s inside or the amounts of it. Whenever you see this, whether it’s on household green cleaning products or on nutritional health supplements, be cautious about that product.
A few more mold eradicating tips:
Solutions to prevent mold growth according to WebMd.
- Leave doors open for circulation that carries heat to cold surfaces
- Increase air circulation with fans
- Move furniture away from wall corners and get air flow going in there
- Get an HVAC guy over and make sure your heating and cooling system’s ability to remove humidity is working. Have him check your duct system for air leaks and make sure the size is correct and suitable to removing moisture from the air
- Fix leaks, seepage from the outside that may be entering your home
- Dry wet areas right away, within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth
- Keep house warm in cool weather: when temperature drops, air is less able to hold onto moisture. It condenses on cold surfaces which leads to mold growth.
- Keep drip pans for air conditioning clean and drain lines free of blockages.
- Use dehumidifiers and air conditioning in hot humid climates (this is what we do)
- They say to keep indoor humidity below 60%, but I would shoot for 50% or below if possible. Use a hygrometer (inexpensive) to measure relative humidity
- When cooking or cleaning in the kitchen, use “exhaust fans” that push the air outside, not into the attic if you have one of those.
- Check for leaks in kitchen, around refrigerator and appliances: if you have a drip pan on your fridge, empty and clean regularly.
Do not tread lightly when it comes to mold. You should take care of any mold problems in your home, room, apartment, dorm, or office as promptly as possible. Because mold can be so toxic to the human body, you owe it to yourself, friends, pets, and family that come to your home to take care of any mold growth or potential mold risk areas.
The good news is that toxic mold growth and toxic mold syndrome are both very preventable. And luckily, we can kill mold naturally. You can set up living and working areas so that you don’t harbor an environment for mold growth. This would include always having some of these natural mold killer ingredients stocked up.
If you live in a humid environment, make sure to clean dust as it forms, and keep areas that get wet (like bathroom and kitchen area) dry after use. Dehumidifiers work. Air conditioning also sucks up moisture. I like to turn on the AC at night after a shower and leave the bathroom door open. The air conditioning dries out the connected bathroom to our bedroom very fast.
If for some reason you can’t do it, or prefer not to, you should hire a professional mold remediation company. Chances are they won’t use natural means, but it’s worth shopping around for a company who can or just to have it done however they do it.
There are many specialized water damage and mold remediation companies in every city in the U.S. and there should be similar services offered wherever you are in the world. But if all else fails, you have 8 natural mold killers here, and a few other proven methods to kill mold.
Now that you know how bad mold is for your health and how you can solve your mold problems without store-bought disinfectant cleaners or mold cleaning solutions that come with another set of health risks, here are some additional resources to learn much more on the topic:
Educational Videos On Mold & Its Health Effects
- I used to have a video embedded here of Dr. Richard Shoemaker and Dr. Mercola discussing mold dangers, but it was taken down.
- Dr. Josh Axe on symptoms of mold exposure and natural remedies
- The #1 thing to do when handling mold toxicity
- Dr. Andrew Campbell on the effects of mycotoxins on the human body
I hope this blog post gave you some information you didn’t know before. And that these natural mold killers will serve you well. Thanks for coming by our Sprouting Fam blog!