It happens to most people at one time or another. You’re quietly humming to yourself in the shower, blissfully oblivious to your surroundings, when you tilt your head upwards. That’s when you see it – those telltale black splotches dotting the ceiling. You thought you were showering alone, but it turns out that you’re sharing your morning shower with millions of tiny black spores, hitching a free ride on the bathroom walls.
Long-time readers of Fresh Home Guide will probably notice a trend – we don’t like household mold very much. These sporous home colonizers are notoriously quick to spread, and can cause a whole host of health and wellness problems. Beyond that, mold is a visually unappealing addition to a home, overriding all your hard design work with its ugly, blotted patterns.
In the past, we’ve discussed how to get rid of mold in the shower grouting, how to clean your HVAC ducts of mold and even how to scrub these nasty fungi from your air conditioning coils. But we realized, “have we ever tackled how to get mold off of your walls?”
Walls are one of the most common household mediums for mold. Household walls feature a large surface area and (typically) organic makeup, making them particularly hospitable environments for mold growth. If you want a mold-free home (and we assume you do), it’s imperative to tackle your walls.
In this article, we explore some straightforward ways to rid your walls of mold.
What Is Mold and Why Don’t We Care for It?
If you’re new to our website, or haven’t had the pleasure of reading our other mold-busting articles, let’s first discuss what mold is, and why we don’t care for it in our homes.
Mold is a network of multicellular fungi that grow in warm, moist environments. This network of fungi feeds on organic materials like wood, cardboard, fabric and drywall. If left unaddressed, mold can grow to fully take over an organic environment in favorable circumstances.
“That sounds frustrating from an aesthetic perspective, but mold seems pretty harmless – these fungi keep to themselves, right?” Unfortunately, they do not. Mold has a nasty habit of releasing its seeds – called “spores” – into the air we breathe.
A little mold in the air is fine, provided it’s an innocuous strain. In fact, we breathe in micro-particulates of mold pretty much everywhere we go. But when mold multiplies, and the spores become more prominent, they can be harmful.
Black mold especially has a notorious reputation for making humans sick. However, any type of mold may be harmful to people with allergies, asthma, compromised immune systems or lung sensitivities. In short: it’s always best practice to remove visible mold from your home.
How Does Your Home Get Moldy in the First Place?
Great question! As mentioned, mold loves a warm, moist environment. When temperatures are high, and indoor air is humid, mold feels right at home – in the mood for reproducing. Mold may also grow in areas of leakage or standing water, like leaky pipes, cracked caulking or water-damaged drywall.
Naturally, mold can also enter your home via food. If you leave a brick of cheese in the fridge for too long and it starts growing psychedelic patterns, you have a mold problem! These mold types are slightly different than the ones on your wall, but no less harmful. If you are interested in cleansing your refrigerator of mold, check out our article on how to keep your fridge smelling fresh.
How to Get Rid of Mold on Your Walls and Home
Thankfully, as easy as mold is to grow – it’s equally easy to kill. Low-pH substances, antifungal chemicals and biocides are all fantastic ways to exterminate mold, even if they aren’t a permanent solution.
The first step in any mold-killing expedition is checking whether you actually have a mold problem. Luckily, mold presents itself fairly obviously, through off-odors (musty, sour smells) and visible patches of black, green, grey or brown.
The second step is gathering materials. To get rid of mold on your walls and home, you will need:
- A pair of gloves: We like latex gloves or dish gloves for this job.
- A mask: it’s wise to wear a mask when dealing with aerosolized microorganisms like mold spores. An N95 works best, but any small-particulate mask will do just fine.
- A cloth: We prefer microfiber cloths, but you should use whatever you have lying around. You will either blast your cloth in a hot washing machine afterwards, or throw it out entirely.
- An optional carpet cleaner: After you tackle the walls, you may wish to remove excess mold from your carpets and upholstery. Find the best carpet cleaners for mold at the link.
- A spray bottle: You’ll need to load your cleaning agent into a spray bottle to disperse it effectively.
- And one of the below substances: Finally, you’ll need a cleaning agent. In this section, we list several common cleaning agents that kill mold. Take your pick!
Let’s get down to business. Here’s how to get rid of mold on walls – especially how to get rid of black mold – using easily procurable household substances.
Using Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a popular choice for mold remediation because it acts quickly and decisively without inflicting too much damage to surfaces. An antimicrobial biocide, hydrogen peroxide breaks down mold proteins and DNA, effectively obliterating them from your home.
Experts recommend pouring 3% hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle and spritzing the affected areas. Let the hydrogen peroxide sit for 15 minutes, during which time the chemical will act on the mold. After 15 minutes, wipe the hydrogen peroxide away with a cloth, before wiping twice more – once with a cloth soaked in water, and again with a dry cloth.
It’s essential to remove the dead mold after applying any treatment, since dead mold can still be an allergen.
Using Bleach for Black Mold
Bleach is like hydrogen peroxide on steroids; it’s a fiercer, stronger killing machine. However, some experts caution that using bleach can damage surfaces and create potentially harmful fumes. The EPA discourages using bleach to kill mold, except if you are cleaning black mold for immunocompromised people; everyone else should use an alternative method (outlined in the other sections here).
If you choose to use bleach, wear your protective gear (including eye goggles). Open your windows for ventilation and crank your fans. Dilute a cup of bleach into a gallon of water, and pour the solution into a clean spray bottle (we emphasize that the bottle needs to be clean and clear of any other substance, especially hydrogen peroxide and vinegar). Spray your bleach mixture onto the affected surfaces and let sit for 15 minutes. Wipe away the mold and clean the surface once more with a wet cloth. Allow the surface to air dry, continuing to keep the windows open for another hour or so.
Mixing bleach with other substances (like vinegar or hydrogen peroxide) creates toxic, potentially fatal chemical reactions, so exercise caution. If you are going to use bleach, just use bleach.
Using Vinegar and Baking Soda
Curious how to clean mold off walls without bleach or peroxide? Reach for the natural stuff in your cupboard.
Vinegar and baking soda are the workhorses in your home cleaning arsenal. They are natural, non-toxic and effective at killing microorganisms. As such, they regularly feature in our cleaning articles, like this one on how to get bathroom grout white again. Vinegar acts on mold by creating an inhospitable low-pH environment, killing roughly 82% of mold present (enough to immobilize a mold colony before you enact mold-prevention steps).
Make a paste of two parts baking soda to one-part vinegar and smear the paste onto the affected areas of the wall. Allow the mixture to dry completely. When the mixture is dry, wipe it off with a clean towel before scrubbing any remaining bits with a soft-bristle brush or non-abrasive sponge. Clean the surface twice more – once with a cloth soaked in water, and again with a dry cloth.
We like this method best for light mold penetration, where natural mold remediation is preferable to chemicals. Couple the vinegar-baking soda method with our mold prevention tips below to discourage regrowth.
Some experts swear by using Borax to treat mold on wood. Borax is an alkaline mineral salt that creates an inhospitable environment to mold, similar to vinegar (but with high pH rather than low).
If you’re trying to get mold out of wood walls, like cabin walls, consider using Borax. Mix a tablespoon of Borax with a cup of water and apply to the affected areas. The wood will soak up the alkaline mixture. Wipe away any visible mold from the surface, and run a dehumidifier near the area to ensure that the excess liquid dries, leaving behind only the dehydrated alkaline Borax. The Borax left behind in the wood should eliminate any sub-surface wood mold and discourage mold from regrowing in the wood.
Using a Mold Fogger
Finally, you have what we like to call “the nuclear option,” a mold fogger. Mold foggers spray an entire room with antifungal chemicals to remove mold from all surfaces. It’s most commonly used for large rooms or spaces with severe mold penetration.
If you plan to use a mold fogger, we recommend going through a professional mold removal service.
Home Improvement: How to Prevent Mold from Returning
We discussed how to get rid of mold in house; now, let’s discuss how to get rid of mold permanently. Killing surface mold is only half the battle. The next step is making sure these pesky spores don’t return! In this section, let’s explore a few simple tips to prevent mold from returning.
Set Up Air Purifiers
Air purifiers tackle airborne mold spores through HEPA filters, activated carbon or UV light. Essentially, air purifiers kill or trap existing mold spores in the air, rendering them unable to a) enter our lungs and b) take hold in new areas of the house.
Explore our breakdown of the best air purifiers for large rooms to find a mold-busting air purifier that works for your home and budget.
Use Mold Resistant Paint
If you want to get serious about mold prevention, slap a new coat of paint on it! Mold-resistant paint is a fantastic way to ensure that these fungi never gain a foothold on your walls again.
Research the best mould-resistant paints in your favorite colors before repainting.
Control Your Household Humidity
Controlling household humidity is critical in the battle against mold. Remember, mold loves a warm, moist environment. The ideal relative humidity in your house is between 30% and 50%. Get yourself a hygrometer (which measures humidity) and a dehumidifier to keep your house at the perfect humidity year-round.
If you live in a seasonally dry location, consider a humidifier dehumidifier combo.
Use Large Room Space Heaters
According to eHow, space heaters are effective tools for mold prevention because they have a dehumidifying effect on indoor spaces. For those wet winters, set up large room space heaters around your house to discourage mold growth.
Next time you look up in the shower and see a wall of nasty mold splotches, don’t run for the hills. Instead, snap on a pair of dish gloves, grab the household cleaner of your choice, and tackle these home invaders head-on! Once you’re done killing mold on the walls, prevent mold from returning by controlling household humidity, purifying the air, and using mold resistant paint. Best of luck from all of us here at Fresh Home Guide!