How to remove black mould: do those old wives' tales really work?

How to remove black mould: do those old wives' tales really work?05/02/2016

By EnviroVent

Black mould has long been the curse of homeowners, appearing not just in bathrooms, but in bedrooms, behind furniture, around windows and even on floors and clothes. Far from just being an aesthetic problem, studies have shown that mould is bad for your health, causing headaches, breathing problems and even triggering asthma. Fighting back against the problem as soon as it rears its head is, therefore, imperative.

Luckily, there's no shortage of mould solutions on the market today, with the average DIY store stocking a wide range of products promising to get rid of the problem. Alongside specialist chemicals, many homeowners also turn to so-called 'old wives' tales', simple, natural and, according to some, extremely effective ways of eliminating mould. But how do these shape up against modern solutions, and can any treatment actually get to the root cause of mould and eliminate the problem for good?

Here we take a look at some old – and some not-so-old – methods of fighting back against black mould. 

Baking soda (and elbow grease)

Baking soda has been used as a natural cure for black mould outbreaks for generations, and many people still swear by it. Certainly this method has a lot going for it. Baking soda has a pH of around 8-8.1, too high for mould to thrive, meaning it serves as a natural disinfectant. Simply add a small spoonful of soda to a full spray bottle of water, shake to dissolve it fully and then spray the solution on to the affected area. All you need to do then is use a sponge or a scrubbing brush to remove the mould spores from the affected surface and finally rinse the area with water, repeat the process and leave to dry.

The one big advantage of using baking soda is that it's relatively mild and contains no harmful chemicals. This means it's harmless to your family and to any household pets, plus there's no risk of the treatment damaging your property. What's more, as well as killing the mould, baking soda also kills off unpleasant odours and it absorbs moisture, so, in theory at least, the problem shouldn't return.

On the downside, while effective for minor outbreaks, baking soda is nowhere near as potent as bleach or other commercial chemical products. For serious outbreaks, then, you may want to reach for something a lot more potent.


One other common old wives' tale is to battle back against black mould with everyday vinegar. Again, there's some solid science behind this tradition. Since vinegar is acidic, with a pH of around 2.5, it works to attack the structure of the mould, breaking it down and eventually killing it.

Using vinegar could not be simpler. All you need to do is spray it directly on to the affected area, or alternatively, spray the vinegar on to a rag and then apply it on the mould this way. Wait for around 15 minutes, do it again and then finish off by wiping the area clean with a damp rag.

Again, the big advantage here is that vinegar is a natural, non-toxic cleaner and so perfectly safe to use in the home. On the downside, however, it can leave a slight (if temporary) odour, plus, more importantly, like baking soda, it can only really be trusted to tackle mild outbreaks. Serious cases of black mould will need something stronger, such as bleach or an off-the-shelf chemical product. Plus, of course, if your home remains damp due to poor ventilation, then the problem will eventually return, no matter how hard you scrub. A whole house ventilation system from Envirovent will ensure that the air in your home is always fresh and filtered, improving your wellbeing and keeping mould at bay.


When faced with a black mould outbreak, a significant proportion of homeowners will automatically reach for the bleach. Such a tactic is understandable. The chlorine in bleach is highly effective in attacking the proteins making up the mould spores, killing them and other microbes. Without doubt, it's a highly effective means of getting rid of unsightly mould outbreaks and removing surrounding stains. 

However, despite long being a household favourite, bleach has some major drawbacks. For starters, it gives off dangerous, toxic fumes, so should be used with extreme caution. Above all, it should never be mixed with ammonia, and children and pets should be kept away during any treatment. As well as being hazardous, bleach can also be relatively ineffective. It's not that useful when it comes to tackling mould on porous surfaces such as wood or drywall, only staying on the surface, unless used in combination with specialist detergents. 

Specialist sprays and cleaners

While the natural remedies featured in the old wives' tales may have their advantages, chiefly being toxic-free, affordable and quick and easy to use, they can only really be trusted to deal with minor mould outbreaks. 

For serious outbreaks, it's time to get to the DIY store and invest in some specialist treatments. Your local store will probably stock a wide range, varying in potency and price. One spray popular with property professionals, such as landlords and letting agencies, is HG Mould Remover Spray, designed to effectively remove stains on almost all surfaces. Unsurprisingly given its potency, caution is advised when using this specialist treatment. Alternatively, basic mould and mildew sprays, for instance those made by major brands such as Dettol, promise to remove mould and remove any black staining outbreaks may leave behind. Such products are especially effective at getting rid of unsightly marks on tile grout and are also good at getting into tight spots and gaps but unless a preventative measure is put in place the mould is likely to return after a period of time.

EnviroVent also provides a mould removal treatment that is manufactured using safer chemicals than most other anti-mould products and is highly effective at preventing future mould growth. Designed by microbiologists, the mould removal treatment, Mould Guard Plus kills microbes within minutes by permeating into the walls of a building, preventing mould problems from returning for up to 90 days which gives the homeowner sufficient time to source a permanent solution.

Formulated from a unique combination of proven biocides and antimicrobial technology, Mould Guard Plus is completely safe to use. It therefore requires no protective clothing and has minimal handling issues. It is environmentally friendly, odourless and fully biodegradeable to EU standards.

Prevention always better than cure

It's always important to remember that, whether you stick with the age-old wisdom and reach for a natural remedy or you invest in a specialist chemical product, you will only ever be reactively tackling an outbreak, rather than getting to the root cause of the problem and eliminating mould from your home for good.

If you really want to make sure the problem goes away – and stays away! – then you need to understand what is causing such outbreaks. In almost all cases, this will be down to poor ventilation. Make sure your home is properly ventilated, then you can keep your home dry throughout the year, eliminating the damp conditions mould needs to thrive.

Remember, mould thrives in damp environments. By investing in a full home ventilation system from EnviroVent, you can keep your home dry and fight back against damp, condensation and black mould.

Comments (3)

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James Bergman Fri, 26th August 2016
I have always used bleach when cleaning up mould, so it is sad to hear that it isn't the best cleaner. Still, it does the job. The real solution is what you said here at the end. Making sure you fix up your house so that the mould doesn't come back.
kathrina lewis Sat, 18th February 2017
Tea tree oil is a natural fungicide that has antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Make sure that the tea tree oil is pure, and has the active ingredients "terpinen 4-ol" (at least 30%) and "cineole" (no more than 10-15%).
Suzanne Thu, 17th August 2017
Bleach will only remove the appearance of mould on the surface as it does not penetrate into the wall. However, the water in the bleach does penetrate through and thus it not only fails to solve the problem - it actually worsens it. Please don't scrub it either you will aggravate the area and potentially get it in the air if it wasn't already. Lastly, even if you don't see mould it may be there. Especially in a rented properties because you can't be sure of the history of the property. Mine was a renovated flat and seemingly beautiful - in fact it's been silently killing me for two years. Please consider the ventilation route. I can't go back and do that now.