A hand in a pink glove scrubbing mold off a wall with a blue sponge

Getting Rid of Mold on Walls is Easier than Getting Rid of an Ex

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Did you come across some green or sooty looking spots on your wall while cleaning? Or maybe you found orange mold blotches on your painted walls? Although it’s an alarming discovery, it’s possible to safely remove mold from walls using common household cleaners. 

As someone with mold allergies, I encourage you to slip on the rubber gloves, wear long sleeves and pants, and open those windows wide for proper ventilation. If you wear glasses like I do, great, otherwise maybe add some eye protection, too. Removing mold stirs up spores that can cause an awful lot of misery if you’re not careful.

Understanding Different Types of Mold

Naturally, you’re not interested in getting on a first name basis with the different types of mold, but it’s worth noting that not all dark mold is the dangerous “black mold.” That stuff—Stachybotrys chartarum—grows where it’s been wet for a long time, like after a flood. Also, it’s slimy and black. 

Other dark molds that show up in homes are green, blue, even white. They grow where it’s damp, like bathrooms and laundry rooms or kitchens, but they aren’t nearly as dangerous as the slimy stuff.

Removing Mold from Painted Walls

In steamy rooms, humidity clings to paint and practically invites mold to settle in. But here’s some good news: mold on painted walls is usually more superficial than your ex, and probably easier to get rid of. 

If soapy water doesn’t do the job, scrub it with a mixture of 1 tablespoon borax, 1 ounce of white vinegar, and 1 cup of hot water. Reapply the solution lightly and leave it in place for 10 minutes, then wipe the spot dry without rinsing.

The combination of borax and vinegar kill mold spores and help loosen them from your painted wall, so they’re easy to wipe away. Once the spot’s dry, follow the prevention tips further down to keep it from returning.

Pro Tip

Always perform a spot test for colorfastness before using a new cleaning product or technique.

Treating Mold on Washable Wallpaper

To remove mold from washable wallpaper, dab the area with a solution of 2 parts water to 1 part white vinegar. (For example, ½ cup of water and ¼ cup vinegar.) A dash of tea tree oil in a cup of water can also work. 

Focus on dabbing the spot—not rubbing—with a clean section of cloth dampened with your preferred solution. Avoid saturating the area or you’ll damage the wallpaper adhesive—it’s better to work at the area, let it dry, and repeat. 

Non Washable Wallpaper

To get mold off nonwashable wallpaper, like seagrass or silk, you’ll need a dry cleaning chemical sponge. Start by vacuuming the area with a HEPA vacuum’s dust brush attachment. Then press the dry cleaning sponge to the surface, lift, and repeat. Avoid rubbing.

Unfinished Drywall

When mold develops on drywall that hasn’t been primed or painted, it can thread its way inside. Then, even if you get rid of the surface problem with the spray above or a bleach and water solution, it can spread further into the structure where you won’t see it. So, if you find it growing on bare drywall, it’s best to cut out and replace that section.

Did You Know?

Chlorine bleach does more than just bleach mold—it kills it on non-porous surfaces. However, on porous surfaces like drywall, it’s less effective as it doesn’t penetrate deeply enough to kill the root of the mold.

Mold Prevention

You know the saying, prevention is easier than the fix. That goes for dealing with mold on walls, too. Since this stuff grows where there’s an abundance of moisture, your focus should be on controlling humidity and dampness in your home.

Pro Tip

If mold keeps returning to the same spot, it’s time to investigate the reason. Do you need to improve ventilation with a fan? Is there a leak? Water is tricky, and can travel far so check thoroughly.

Wipe up window condensation. In the summer, wipe up condensation or aim a fan at your windows to dry it. In the winter, seal gaps to stop ice and condensation from forming. 

Keep bathrooms dry. Steamy bathrooms lead to mold on your walls. Keep this from happening by running your bathroom exhaust fan for at least 15 minutes after every shower. Leave your shower doors or curtain open so the fan can dry up water in there, too.

Check for leaks. Plumbing gaskets wear out. Connections get knocked around. Leaks can form under sinks and toilets without warning, so check them routinely and repair any problems ASAP.

Monitor home humidity. Pick up a simple hygrometer to monitor your indoor humidity and use a dehumidifier to keep it within the ideal range of 30-50%. Allowing your home’s humidity to get over 60% consistently is like letting your troublesome ex move back in: before long, you’ll be trying to fix the same old problems, including removing mold from your walls.

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22 Comments

  1. I have a small where my bed is the exact length of the room and touches also touches the wall/window on the third side. Unfortunately mold is on the wall behind the headboard. I have painted cement walls and the mold is green. I won’t be able to scrub it because the bed cannot be moved. Can I just spray the solution on the wall above the headboard, let it run down the wall and hope for the best??

    1. Katie Berry says:

      That will most likely damage your headboard and, unless you correct the air circulation issue and improve the insulation of the wall, the mold will simply return.

  2. I have a home on stilts near the bay. Only in the last 6 months has what appears to be mold began to grow in our very tiny hallway off the bathroom. Is this from moisture from the bathroom? Why now?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      It’s hard to answer “why now.” It could be a variety of things, like a warmer season this year or less wind circulating the air, which would let mold and mildew grow.

  3. I have a cinderblock building that we have insulated and finished the walls with Sheetrock. Every year we have a powdery green mildew, I presumed, form on the walls during winter and early spring. We do not have heat or air in the building and only use it during summer trade. What can we do to prevent this from occurring and best way to remove and treat.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Junell,
      The only real way to stop that mildew from forming is with adequate air circulation. Without it, any moisture in the air will collect on the walls and cause mildew and possibly mold, too.

  4. Katie Berry says:

    If it’s that bad, I think you’re smart to go straight to the bleach solution. Good luck!

  5. I live in an apt here in Mexico. The structure here is made of cinder blocks & cement. I notice black stuff is growing on the walls. Even more I’ve been cooking beans in the Crickpot for just a few months (July-January) usually with the windows open but this winter has been cold so the last few months ive cooked with all the windows shut closed. I notice all my walls including the bathroom are soaked. Now with minimal black creeping in various places does this mean that ALL my walls & ceilings need to be washed down. If so Im gonna need some help!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      It could be mold or just plain mildew but, without seeing it, I really don’t know. Either way, it’ll keep spreading unless you clean it. Sorry!

  6. In our RV we have a mould problem on the ceiling of the bathroom mostly in the winter when it is stored… I have tried to keep the vent open and closed.(no difference ) we use Driz.air to absorb moisture. Is the moisture coming from the toilet or/and bath drain? If I use the cleaning methods you suggest could I then paint the ceiling with special paint?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Once you’ve killed the mold you should use a primer designed to fight mold. I don’t know whether there’s a specific one for RVs but I’m sure an RV place could tell you.

  7. I have mold on wood stained doors. Do your 2 methods work for them too?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Yes, but (there’s always a “but”, right?) don’t leave the solution in contact with the wood for too long or it might lighten the wood. It’s better to lightly reapply it several times than risk having a discolored spot from a heavy-handed application. 🙂

  8. Donna might want to try putting damp rid in the closet. I hang it in my closets.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Damp Rid is wonderful. A box of sidewalk chalk works, too!

  9. Wilma Schoenheit says:

    I have mold in a closet next to the air conditioner filter. I’m wondering if it come from the attic and somethings leaking from Ac!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      It could be something from above, or moisture building up inside the closet. You should probably schedule an AC tuneup to have it inspected.

    2. I live in a RV and the clothing closet always has mold and if you lean something against that wall then it gets mold on it. It happens every year. How to stop it.

    3. dehumidifier

  10. Some great info here, a lot of people just don’t realise that condensation is one of the main causes of mould on walls. Prevention is a must, bleach and water help when cleaning but proper ventilation is key when it comes to battling mould issues. Really good article with some helpful tips. Thanks for sharing.

  11. And thanks for the recipe, hopefully it does the trick.

  12. Delores Lyon says:

    Thanks for sharing these different recipes! I just noticed that the corner space between the walls and ceiling of my bathroom are an odd color. The last thing I want is mold damaging my home, so I am going to spend my Saturday getting rid of it. Hopefully these homemade cleaners will do the trick!

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