Household mold is very common, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it or clean it up without taking safety precautions. Fortunately, a pair of pantry staples, white vinegar and baking soda, combine to make an effective mold cleaner. Different combinations of vinegar and baking soda can remove mild to moderate mold from hard surfaces, soft surfaces, clothing, and other fabrics. Just keep in mind that you have to address the root cause of the mold to truly solve the problem.
- 8 tbsp (120 g) of baking soda
- 1 c (250 ml) plus 4 tbsp (60 ml) of white vinegar
Delicate or Porous Surfaces
- 2 c (500 ml) of water
- 2 c (500 ml) of white vinegar
- 1 tsp (5 g) of baking soda
Clothing or Fabric
- 4 c (1 L) of white vinegar
- 4 c (1 L) of water
- 16 tbsp (240 g) of baking soda
Carpet or Upholstery
- 3 c (750 ml) of water
- 1 c (250 ml) of white vinegar
- 4 tbsp (60 g) of baking soda
Method 1 Hard Surfaces
- 1 Add 8 tbsp (120 g) of baking soda to a large mixing bowl. No, this won’t seem like much baking soda for such a big bowl. However, once you add the vinegar, the mixture will foam up like a school science fair volcano!
- You can use less baking soda for a smaller job, or more for a bigger one. Once mixed, this amount should be enough to cover around 1 sq ft (930 cm2). The important thing is to mix the baking soda and vinegar in a 2:1 ratio (that is, twice as much baking soda as vinegar).
- This method eventually involves vigorous scrubbing with a gritty paste, which may damage softer materials like wallboard or finished wood. Use this option only for harder materials like tile or masonry.
- 2 Pour in 4 tbsp (60 ml) of white vinegar and let it foam up. The foaming action isn’t particularly useful in getting rid of mold, but it is fun to watch! Wait until the foaming slows down before beginning to stir the mixture—that way it will be less likely to foam over the edges of the bowl.
- If you’re curious about the science behind the foaming, here it is: a pair of reactions actually take place when you combine baking soda and vinegar. The first is an acid-base reaction between the hydrogen in the vinegar and the sodium and bicarbonate in the baking soda. The second is a decomposition reaction, as the carbonic acid created by the first reaction breaks down into water and carbon dioxide.
- 3 Stir the mixture together into a thick paste. A wooden spoon is a good choice here, but pretty much any type of stirring tool will do. You’ll end up with a thick, gritty paste, somewhat like a stickier version of wet sand.
- 4 Smear the paste onto the mold and let it dry for 1 hour. For your safety, put on dishwashing gloves, protective goggles, and an N-95 or equivalent mask. Cover all visible areas of mold with as much of the paste as will stick to it—probably around a 1⁄4–1⁄2 in (0.64–1.27 cm) thick layer. Mix up more of the paste if needed. Once the mold is covered, let the paste dry on the mold.
- Wear protective gear whenever you’re contacting or disturbing the mold in any way.
- 5 Scrub the dried paste with a scouring pad or stiff brush. Don’t be shy here—scrub vigorously! The dried paste will flake off along with the visible mold. If there’s still mold on the surface, repeat the entire process.
- 6 Vacuum or bag up the removed mold and dispose of it right away. You have multiple safe disposal options for the mixture of dried paste and removed mold:
- Put a plastic drop cloth beneath your work area to catch the debris. When you’re done, ball it up carefully, seal it in a thick trash bag with tape, and put it outdoors for trash collection.
- Suck up the debris with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter. If it’s a bagless vacuum, empty the canister into a trash bag outdoors, then clean the inside of the canister by misting it with white vinegar and wiping it.
- If the moldy item is portable, clean it outside, well away from your home or other structures, and don’t worry about the debris.
- 7 Wipe off the cleaned area with damp rags or paper towels. Some of the gritty paste will still be left behind on the surface when you’re done scrubbing. To remove it, dampen a few rags or paper towels with plain water and wipe down the surface.
- Even if you don’t see any mold, continue to play it safe: keep your safety gear on and immediately bag up and dispose of the rags or paper towels.
- 8 Mist the area with vinegar for mold prevention. Add around 1 c (250 ml) of white vinegar to a clean, empty spray bottle, or just fill the entire bottle if you wish. Apply a light mist of vinegar to the surface you just cleaned and allow it to dry without wiping it. You don’t need to soak the surface—a light mist is all you need to help prevent mold!
- If the moldy area is in your shower stall, for example, misting on some vinegar after each shower will help prevent future molding. If the mold is due to a moisture issue like a leaky pipe or poorly-sealed window, however, it’s important to treat the root cause of the mold.
Method 2 Delicate or Porous Surfaces
- 1 Spray the mold with vinegar and let it dry for 1 hour. Fill a clean, empty spray bottle with white vinegar, then put on your protective gear: dishwashing gloves, protective goggles, and an N-95 (or equivalent) mask. Spray the vinegar directly onto the mold until it and the immediate surrounding area are visibly damp. You don’t need to completely saturate the area, but spray on more than just a light misting.
- The potent scent of vinegar will go away fairly quickly, but you can improve the scent by adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil if you wish.
- Don’t skip the protective gear whenever you’re dealing with mold!
- 2 Mix baking soda and warm water together in a spray bottle. The vinegar you sprayed onto the mold will visibly dry within a few minutes, and you can proceed at this point if you’re in a big hurry. However, you’ll get better mold-killing action if you wait the full hour. Near the end of the hour, add 2 c (500 ml) of warm water and 1 tsp (5 g) of baking soda to a second clean, empty spray bottle. Shake the bottle vigorously to combine the mixture.
- Wait until the baking soda has dissolved into the water before using the mixture.
- 3 Spray the baking soda solution onto the pre-treated moldy area. Apply enough of the mixture to dampen the entire surface. Give the bottle a shake after every few sprays to make sure the solution remains well mixed.
- The spray bottle nozzle may clog due to the baking soda in the mixture. If this happens, unscrew and remove the sprayer. Run the sprayer nozzle under hot water, then put the sprayer’s supply straw in a cup of hot water and squeeze the trigger until the clog breaks up.
- 4 Wipe off the baking soda spray with clean, damp cloths. While the baking soda spray is still damp, lightly moisten a few cleaning cloths or heavy-duty paper towels. Wipe firmly to remove the baking soda mixture along with the surface mold. Switch to a clean area of the cloth after each wipe and change cloths as needed.
- Spray on more of the baking soda mixture and wipe it off again if necessary.
- Bag up and dispose of the used cloths right away, or launder them in hot water.
- 5 Spritz on a protective coat of either the vinegar or baking soda spray. Both options help to prevent the formation of new mold in the same area. The baking soda spray will leave behind a light crust when it dries, so opt for the vinegar spray if that’s a concern.
Method 3 Clothing or Fabric
- 1 Soak the item overnight in a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar. Pour warm water and white vinegar into a clean, large bowl or bucket, then submerge the moldy clothing item completely into the liquid. Leave it for at least 8-12 hours, then pull out the item and rinse it under warm water. Keep repeating the process as needed until the mold stain fades substantially (it probably won’t completely disappear until you launder the item).
- Don’t use this method on clothes that are too delicate to put in the washing machine or are labeled “dry clean only.” Call dry cleaners in your area and find one that specializes in removing mold from clothing. They may ask you to bag up and seal the moldy clothing before bringing it in.
- 2 Launder the item in your washing machine with baking soda. Set the water temperature to the highest setting that the fabric can tolerate (check the label). Add 8 tbsp (120 g) of baking soda to the wash cycle, and another 8 tbsp (120 g) to the rinse cycle. Wash moldy item(s) alone, without other clothing in the machine.
- If the item was heavily solid with mold, run the item through a second wash cycle with baking soda.
- Baking soda helps kill mold spores and eliminate moldy odors from clothing.
- 3 Hang the item to dry, in direct sunlight if at all possible. Direct sunlight helps kill off any remaining mold spores, lightens stains, and reduces lingering odors. However, even if it isn’t a sunny day, still hang the formerly-moldy clothing item out to dry. Don’t throw it in the dryer, since any few remaining mold spores might contaminate the machine.
- Putting the item in the dryer will also permanently set any light staining that remains.
Method 4 Carpet or Upholstery
- 1 Suck up all visible surface mold with a vacuum cleaner. If at all possible, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to trap the mold spores. You’ll be using the vacuum again shortly, so set it aside (outdoors if possible) and don’t use it for any other purpose in between.
- If your rug, carpet, or furniture item has significant or widespread molding, DIY cleaning options won’t do the job. Contact a professional cleaner.
- 2 Spray on a mixture of white vinegar and warm water. Add a mixture of 3 parts water and 1 part white vinegar to a clean spray bottle. Dampen—don’t soak—the affected fabric with the mixture and leave it alone for 10 minutes.
- 3 c (750 ml) of water and 1 c (250 ml) of white vinegar should be enough to handle up to 10 sq ft (0.93 m2) of light mold.
- 3 Sprinkle on a coating of baking soda and let it foam up. Use just enough baking soda so that you can no longer see the mold stain through it. The reaction between the baking soda and vinegar will cause a foaming action that will last for a minute or two. Wait until the foaming stops before moving on to the next step. How Dogs Cry For Help: 3 Warning Signs Your Dog Is Crying For Help How Dogs Cry For Help: 3 Warning Signs Your Dog Is Crying For Help Sponsored by DogFoodExpose.com See more
- 4 Vacuum up the baking soda and blot the fabric dry with paper towels. Grab your vacuum cleaner again and suck up all the baking soda once the foaming stops. If there’s still a stain, try repeating the entire process again. Otherwise, press down on the fabric with a wad of paper towels to blot up any remaining dampness.
- If the mold stain is still there after multiple rounds of cleaning, contact a professional cleaner.
- Take the vacuum outdoors and bag up and discard the vacuum bag. If it’s a bagless model, empty the canister outdoors, spritz the interior of the canister with the vinegar and water solution in your spray bottle, and let it air dry.
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