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Bleach vs. vinegar: what kills mould?

Mould is often considered one of the worst problems a homeowner can encounter. Sydney, in particular, is known for having a humid climate and has a bad reputation when it comes to bathroom mould.

From hospital grade bleach to organic essential oils, everyone has their own solution to removing mould in the bathroom or other areas of your home. However, not all cleaning products are safe or effective when it comes to killing mould and preventing regrowth. So, what is mould and what’s the best way to remove it?


What is mould?


Mould is a naturally occurring fungus similar to yeast or mushrooms. It plays an important part in the greater ecosystem by helping to break down organic matter.


Most of the time, mould spores exist freely in the air and rarely cause problems. However, damp areas that are poorly ventilated, such as a bathroom, are the ideal environment for spores to take hold and flourish.


Health risks


Most people will not experience side effects of mould in the home, and the first thing many homeowners are aware of is visible mould growth. However, mould can cause adverse health reactions and any mould problems must be addressed immediately.

The New South Wales Government states that most reactions to mould exposure can be treated by a GP.

Signs of mould growth

Visible mould is often one of the last signs your home has developed a problem. Often, leaks or other water damage including condensation buildup are not only a sign that repair is needed, but that mould may be taking hold in your bathroom. Other signs to be aware of include:

  • Smell – A damp, decaying or musty smell in a room that has been thoroughly cleaned may suggest leaking water under the floors or behind walls.
  • Damaged walls and ceiling – Peeling paint, sagging ceilings or cracked plaster suggest water buildup and damage. Likewise, a floor that sags or tiles that are lifting can point to mould presence beneath the surface.
  • Slimy surfaces – Before mould becomes visible, the early growth may leave a slimy feel or muddy appearance on tiles and paintwork.

Does bleach kill mould?

For hard bathroom surfaces, bleach is suitable for mould removal.

Sodium hypochlorite, the main ingredient in household bleach, will kill mould. However, bleach does not soak into porous surfaces, and cannot reach the lower membrane (similar to a root system) of the mould to prevent regrowth.

This means that bleach is only suitable to remove surface mould on nonporous surfaces, such as sealed tiles and ceramics (bathtubs and toilets), stainless steel, and glass.

It is recommended that you spray diluted bleach onto mouldy areas and leave it to soak for 5 minutes before scrubbing it lightly with a nylon brush or pot scrubber. A light spray of diluted bleach solution weekly on hard surfaces can help prevent mould growth.

Does vinegar kill bathroom mould?

Vinegar is an effective cleaning product for removing bathroom mould. It can penetrate porous surfaces including wood, plaster and grout to kill mould and prevent regrowth. Vinegar is also suitable for use on hard surfaces and is favoured as a more natural and safer solution for cleaning many areas in the home, including bathrooms.

Vinegar should be diluted with 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water, sprayed on surfaces and left to soak for up to 30 minutes before lightly rubbing it to remove it. A mild dishwashing liquid may also be used to remove stains. Vinegar is also safe to use on clothing, bedding and towels.

Cleaning your bathroom safely

Whenever you’re cleaning with bleach or vinegar, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely and use protective equipment, including gloves.

Always work in a well-ventilated area, and never use bleach and vinegar at the same time. The chemical reaction can result in chlorine gas being released, which can lead to serious health risks when inhaled.

Spot test an inconspicuous place before cleaning to ensure that you will not damage the surface. This is particularly important when using bleach, or if you are planning to use an abrasive scrubber on painted surfaces.

Preventing mould

Mould forms in places that remain damp and have poor ventilation. Improving the air circulation and sunlight available in your home will help reduce the likelihood of mould starting to grow. You can also reduce humidity by ensuring exhaust fans are used and avoiding using clothes horses to dry items indoors. It’s also worth considering investing in indoor plants or a dehumidifier to improve air quality and reduce moisture.

However, if a leaking tap or pipes, worn caulking, blocked drains or damaged guttering is the cause of water damage in your home, ultimately, it will require a professional inspection and repair.

All Day Plumbing is here for you, whether you need to repair a leaking tap or complete a full bathroom renovation. We offer 24-hour emergency plumbing services and have an on-time promise.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about preventing and removing mould in your home, please contact us on 1300 583 587.