How to Clean Mold Off Walls

Mold growing on white wall behind cabinet

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins - 8 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 hr - 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Mold spores are all around us, and all it takes for them to activate is some moisture and warmth. Suddenly, a mold colony begins to grow. The growth can happen anywhere the conditions are optimal on any surface from wood to tile to sheetrock walls. The mold you discover on your walls can be black, green, brown, or white. If the colony is large, it is important to determine which type of mold growth you have before tackling the cleaning job to determine the overall health effects to your and your family:

  • Allergenic molds can be removed safely by using disinfecting products
  • Pathogenic molds can be removed with disinfectants: however, large colonies require professional treatment
  • Toxic molds require professional treatment and disposal of all affected materials

Small colonies of mold, even toxic molds, can be removed with some basic disinfecting supplies you probably have on hand by following safety procedures. However, if the mold growth is extensive, it is a good idea for a professional mold removal company to test and remove the mold. The U.S. Department of Environmental Protection recommends professional removal of mold colonies that cover more than 10 square feet (roughly a three-foot by three-foot patch). Local public health departments offer advice on mold testing and refer you to a mold remediation company.

How Often to Clean Mold off Walls

Mold should be removed as quickly as possible once it is discovered. Even if you don't see mold growth, there are signs of a potential mold problem that can help you prevent the colony from growing out of control:

  • You detect a musty smell in your home. The odor signals a mold problem that needs to be addressed.
  • You have neglected a leaky faucet or roof.
  • A wall that feels soft or damp to the touch may indicate that there is interior mold growth that will soon appear on the surface.
  • There is moisture accumulation that takes a long time to evaporate from walls due to poor ventilation in the house.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Protective gloves
  • Protective eyewear
  • Protective facemask
  • Step ladder
  • Plastic bucket
  • Sponge
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Measuring cups
  • Spray bottle
  • Soft-bristled brush

Materials

  • Chlorine bleach
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Distilled white vinegar

Instructions

  1. Mix the Mold Cleaning Solution

    In a plastic bucket, mix one-part dishwashing liquid, 10 parts bleach, and 20 parts water. To clean a small area of mold, mix a solution of one tablespoon dishwashing liquid, 1/2 cup chlorine bleach, and one cup of warm water in a spray bottle. The dishwashing liquid helps the solution cling to the wall longer to kill the mold spores.

    Tips

    Chlorine bleach is the most effective home-removal product for killing mold spores. However, if the infestation is small, you can use distilled white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to kill the spores.


    • Distilled white vinegar is acidic enough to slowly break down the structure of the mold and kill it. However, dark stains may remain and require additional scrubbing with a household cleaner. Spray the mold with 100 percent distilled white vinegar, wipe away the mold with a microfiber cloth or sponge, and allow the area to air-dry.
    • Hydrogen peroxide will kill mold and lighten stains but it works more slowly than chlorine bleach and may require multiple applications. Spray the mold with three-percent hydrogen peroxide (first-aid grade), wipe the area with a sponge, and all the wall to air-dry.
  2. Protect Yourself

    When removing mold, it is best to wear old clothes that you don't mind being splattered with bleach and that can be washed in hot water to remove any mold spores that might scatter to the surface. Put on a face mask (N-95 is recommended), protective eyewear, and gloves.

  3. Increase the Ventilation in the Room

    To improve ventilation while you are cleaning, open windows or add a circulating fan. If you are working in a bathroom, turn on the bathroom ventilation fan and use the exhaust fan in the kitchen.

  4. Apply the Cleaning Solution

    The cleaning solution can be applied with a spray bottle or a sponge. It's best to clean mold starting at the bottom and working your way up. This keeps the spores from spreading and the stain from streaking on your wall. The surface of the wall should be fully wet but not oversaturated to prevent damage to the drywall. If the mold is near the ceiling, always use a sturdy stepladder or apply the solution with a clean sponge mop.

  5. Air-Dry the Wall

    Do not wipe away the cleaning solution. Allow the wall to air-dry.

  6. Check for Remaining Stains

    Once the wall is completely dry, check the area for any dark stains. If they remain, repeat the steps with a fresh chlorine bleach cleaning solution.

Tips to Prevent Mold Growth on Walls

  • Repair leaky plumbing and roofs promptly.
  • Improve air circulation in the home and reduce moisture with a dehumidifier.
  • Install a moisture barrier in unfinished basements and crawl spaces.
  • Clean mold and mildew-prone rooms weekly (bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens).
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
    1. Mold AllergyAsthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
    1. Kuhn DM, Ghannoum MA. Indoor mold, toxigenic fungi, and stachybotrys chartarum : infectious disease perspectiveClin Microbiol Rev. 2003;16(1):144-172. doi:10.1128/CMR.16.1.144-172.2003
    1. Mold Cleanup in Your HomeU.S. Environmental Protection Agency.