How to Make Your Own Mold and Mildew Remover

before and after of bathroom tile

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Overview
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Store-bought mold and mildew removers aren't good for your lungs or your pocketbook. Skip those toxic cleaners and make your own highly effective tub and tile cleaner using the simple ingredient of white distilled vinegar. This solution will kill the mold, but it won't remove the mold stains. Just add a little elbow grease and a household cleaner to get rid of the stains.

Why Does Vinegar Work?

White distilled vinegar is the most common and cheapest available and often contains 5 percent acetic acid. It is the vinegar's high acidity that helps kill mold and mildew. It also inhibits future growth and can loosen rust and lime mineral deposits on your bathroom fixtures. At the same time, the vinegar cleaner will deodorize the bathroom. The smell of vinegar dissipates as soon as it dries.

Safety Considerations

While this spray works wonders on mold and mildew, it is also an excellent all-purpose cleaner. It can be used to clean many surfaces in your home but the acid in the vinegar can pit, etch, or dull some materials like marble, limestone, granite, and hardwood by eating away at finishes. Always test a spot before using and watch that the vinegar doesn't touch the surround of your tub or nearby flooring possibly made from any of these materials.

Do not use straight vinegar without water to clean surfaces, as it is acidic and can eat away at porous grout. Keep out of the reach of children and pets. As with any cleaner, avoid all contact with the eyes and prolonged contact with the skin.

Warning

Do not reuse empty cleaner bottles for your mix. Buy a new bottle to use for your vinegar spray.


What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Spray bottle
  • Hard-bristled brush
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
  • Safety glasses (optional)

Materials

  • Water
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Essential oils (optional)
  • Plastic bags

Instructions

vinegar and water spray

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

  1. Mix Ingredients

    Combine 1 part water and 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle, and shake to mix.

  2. Add Essential Oils

    If the smell of vinegar is too strong, add 10 to 30 drops of your favorite essential oil into the spray bottle. Some essential oils that mix well with vinegar include eucalyptus, citrus oils, and a blend of lavender and lemon. When blending oils, use 10 to 15 drops of each fragrance. Mix thoroughly.

    Warning

    While mixing or cleaning with vinegar (or any cleaner), make sure your bathroom is well ventilated by opening a window (except if it's windy outside because it can blow around spores indoors) or turning on the overhead bath fan.

  3. Apply to Surfaces

    Consider protecting your skin by wearing rubber gloves and eye protection while cleaning with vinegar to avoid any splashing of the solution.

    Spray the solution and saturate the moldy surface. Or dampen a sponge or paper towels and wipe it onto the surface. Wipe clean.

    For very moldy surfaces, let the solution sit for up to an hour to soak into the mold and mildew. Wipe down the area with a sponge or paper towels.

  4. Brush Grout

    If the grout in your bathroom has visible mold and mildew, let the solution sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Then scrub the solution in with a hard-bristle brush. Be mindful you don't damage or chip the grout while doing this.

    Repeat this step if necessary.

  5. Bag and Toss Sponge or Paper Towels

    Discard sponge, paper towels, and brush in a plastic bag. Tie the bag tightly and toss. Doing so will prevent mold spores from contaminating the rest of the house and reproducing.

When to Call a Professional

Sometimes mold and mildew cannot be removed from your bathroom and the source of extreme dampness causing the problem, such as a rotting subfloor or wallboard, needs to be replaced.

If you have mold on the caulk that surrounds your tub, sink, faucet, or toilet, you can remove the moldy caulk, sterilize with vinegar, then add mildew-resistant caulk yourself or have a professional handle the job. Moldy caulk, or a strong musty odor of mold, could be a symptom of a larger problem in your bathroom, and it may be best to call in a cleaning professional who knows how to remove and remediate mold and mildew.