What is Black Mold and How to Get Rid of It

What is Black Mold and How to Get Rid of It

Appraisal and Home Inspection
How To
By Dikran Seferian February 09, 2022

What You’ll Need

Tools Materials
Scrub brush with nylon bristles Distilled white vinegar
Sponge Baking soda
Bucket Dishwashing soap
Mop Tea tree oil
Cloths Juice of a lemon
Spray bottle Borax
Rubber gloves Hydrogen peroxide
Safety goggles Grapefruit seed extract
  Chlorine bleach
Estimated time 15 minutes to 2 hours


Mold spores are known to grow practically anywhere you can imagine. One type that is rather unsightly is black mold. Black mold spores naturally tend to grow and multiply upon exposure to humidity as well as moderate temperatures. In our living spaces, humid areas such as bathrooms and basements can be a haven for black mold. The spores may cause respiratory issues and, in severe cases, pneumonia.

Due to the health risk that this nasty fungus poses, getting rid of it as soon as possible is rather crucial. Fortunately, there are several ways you can eliminate black mold quickly and easily. Many of these methods even involve inexpensive home remedies such as using white vinegar or baking soda. Your home can essentially be mold-free in just a few simple steps.

What Is Black Mold?

The dangerous black mold that many of us know is Stachybotrys chartarum. You can most often find it in homes with long exposure to moisture. The mold produces a type of mycotoxin known as trichothecenes. Fortunately, not all black mold is as dangerous as it may seem. Common spores that you may come across in your house can be categorized into three types.

These include allergenic, pathogenic, and toxic. While you can safely get rid of allergenic mold and small colonies of pathogenic mold using household products, toxic mold and larger amounts of the pathogenic type may warrant professional treatment.  

How to Identify Black Mold?

How to Identify Black Mold?

Should you notice any black mold in your living spaces, consider having a mold removal company examine and identify the type of spores you’re dealing with. According to the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection, mold spores that cover ten square feet or more should be professionally removed.

What Does Black Mold Look Like?

Stachybotrys chartarum normally has a black, dark gray, or dark green appearance and a slimy texture. The spores tend to be round and speckled, with darker layers on top of lighter ones.

How Does Black Mold Affect You?

The most common symptoms associated with black mold involve the respiratory system. These symptoms include anything from chronic coughing and sneezing to constant headaches, rashes, and chronic fatigue. In serious cases, exposure to black mold may even lead to pneumonia, although this has yet to be proven.

Getting Rid of Black Mold

It’s always a good idea to take action as soon as you detect black mold on any surface. A small number of spores can grow into a large colony in a matter of days. Consider checking naturally humid areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements for signs of mold on a weekly basis. Should you notice any spores, open the doors and windows to allow for ventilation before moving on to the cleaning process. Make sure to be wearing protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and face masks — especially if the process involves harsh chemicals such as bleach.

There are several methods to get rid of black mold. Should one method not be effective, make sure to thoroughly rinse the area before moving on to the next solution. Mixing certain chemicals may produce potentially hazardous gasses.

Chlorine Bleach Treatment

Also referred to as sodium hypochlorite, chlorine bleach is known to eliminate mold spores and any discoloration caused by them. Do bear in mind, however, that bleach is rather harsh and can damage certain surfaces and fabrics.

To remove black mold from tile and grout surfaces, combine a cup of chlorine bleach with a gallon of water. Soak a sponge or a cleaning cloth in the mixture and apply it to the spores, saturating them. After at least 15 minutes, scrub the affected spots with a nylon-bristle brush and rinse thoroughly with clean water. Stay away from the area until the surface is fully dry and the smell of bleach has subsided.

You can use the same mixture for the exterior siding and concrete. Soak the affected area with plain water first and, using a garden spray, power washer, or a scrub brush, apply the solution onto the black mold. While the surface dries by itself, make sure to rinse any planted areas nearby with plain water as bleach can kill plant life.

If the mold is on porous surfaces such as wood floors or drywall, however, you may want to add a bit of dishwashing detergent to the combination. This allows the solution to adhere to the surface. Using a mop or a sponge, apply the mixture to the spores without over-saturating and allow it to dry.

Hydrogen Peroxide Spray

Chemicals You Can Use to Eliminate Black Mold

Chemicals You Can Use to Eliminate Black Mold

An alternative to bleach that isn’t as harsh and doesn’t produce as many fumes is hydrogen peroxide — although it may cause bleaching on fabrics. However, you may want to wait a little more for this chemical to take effect. Also bear in mind that hydrogen peroxide needs to be fresh in order to effectively eliminate black mold. You can tell that it’s fresh if it fizzes upon contact with organic matter. Without diluting the chemical, spray it onto the spores. Once it begins to fizz or bubble, wait for at least ten minutes and wipe the surface with a sponge, cloth, or a brush.

White Vinegar Solution

White distilled vinegar is an inexpensive and organic solution to getting rid of black mold buildups. Its acidic properties essentially cause the structure of mold to disintegrate. You can safely use the vinegar solution on most porous as well as non-porous surfaces. Fill a spray bottle with undiluted white vinegar and target the moldy area. After giving the solution an hour to do its magic, rinse the area thoroughly with plain water and allow it to air dry. You may want to use a brush to get rid of more stubborn spores after rinsing the area off. Should you notice any remaining discoloration afterward, remove it using hydrogen peroxide or diluted chlorine bleach.

Baking Soda Paste

Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda has a high pH level that makes it effective against black mold. It is also inexpensive and perfectly safe to use.

Mix the baking soda powder with a bit of water until it forms a paste and then apply it directly onto the spores. Wait for at least minutes and scrub the area with a dampened brush. Afterward, rinse the surface with clean water and wipe it dry with a cloth. A similar alternative to baking soda is borax, a natural mineral that is just as effective.

Tip: Consider finishing up by spraying a mixture of two tablespoons of baking soda with two cups of water onto the area. This forms a protective layer that prevents mold from growing again in the future.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil Is Organic and Safe to Use

Tea Tree Oil Is Organic and Safe to Use

Tea tree oil is a natural fungicide that you can use as a cleaning product to get rid of black mold. It is also strong enough to prevent any spores from growing again. Mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil with a cup of water and pour it into a spray bottle. Shake the solution well and apply it to the mold. Allow it to dry for an hour and wipe away using a cloth or an old towel. Although tea tree oil is completely organic and relatively safe to use, you may still want to wear gloves as it may irritate your skin — and to avoid contact with the spores, of course.

Lemon Juice Method

Another organic approach to dealing with black mold involves using lemon juice. While it may not be the strongest solution, it’s perfectly natural and certainly smells nicer than those spores in your bathroom. Simply take the juice from three or four lemons and apply it directly over the moldy area. Allow the juice to sit for at least minutes before wiping it away with a moist cloth. Should the cloth not be enough, consider using a brush to scrub away any stubborn mold. To give the solution a little boost in strength, you could mix the lemon juice with a bit of soap and water.

Grapefruit Seed Extract

How to Get Rid of Mold Using Grapefruit Seed Oil?

How to Get Rid of Mold Using Grapefruit Seed Oil?

Grapefruit seed extract is incredibly useful for its antibacterial as well as therapeutic properties. Its primary compounds, polyphenol, and naringenin give it the ability to sterilize and disinfect surfaces. One of the purposes you can use grapefruit seed extract for is eliminating black mold. In this case, the acidic properties of the extract allow it to penetrate the mold and prevent it from growing back.

Combine ten drops or so of grapefruit seed extract oil with a cup of water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and direct it to the spores. Depending on the size of the colony, allow the solution to sit for ten minutes up to an hour before wiping it away with a piece of cloth.

How to Prevent a Buildup of Black Mold?

What You Can Do to Prevent Black Mold Buildups

What You Can Do to Prevent Black Mold Buildups

Besides getting rid of black mold, you may also want to keep it from returning — or to prevent it from appearing in the first place. There are several preventative measures you can take to keep your home mold-free.

  • Make sure the humidity levels in your living spaces are always under 60 percent,
  • Fix leaks that can dampen surfaces,
  • Set up a dehumidifier or make use of air conditioners,
  • Install moisture barriers in your basement,
  • Regularly clean areas that are prone to black mold.

Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian