Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Mold? A Mold Expert Weighs In

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Are you down the rabbit hole trying to figure out what household cleaning items might work on mold? We can help. We’re Cleaner Guys, a professional mold removal company with more than 20 years of experience. In this episode of our series of articles investigating which household items can work on mold, we’re going to break down whether rubbing alcohol works against mold or not. Read on!

Table of Contents

Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Mold? The Short Answer

No, rubbing alcohol is not good for killing mold. Our resident mold expert, Bob Shupe, explains why: “Rubbing alcohol is basically neutral in pH, which means it lacks any real chemical power.” It’s a good disinfectant since it can kill bacteria, but it is ineffective on fungi like mold. Extremely high and extremely low pH chemicals are what can have a better chance of killing mold, as Bob also pointed out. “Vinegar is low pH, and bleach is high pH — that’s why they’re often used”, he concluded.

On top of this, rubbing alcohol is highly flammable, and therefore should be used with extreme caution or not at all for any sort of cleaning. If you do choose to use it for cleaning, make absolutely certain that no flames or anything that can emit a spark is anywhere near the rubbing alcohol.

Does 70% Isopropyl Alcohol Kill Mold?

What about 70% isopropyl alcohol? Unfortunately, 70% isopropyl alcohol is no more effective on mold than any other concentration of alcohol. It is a useful disinfectant, and can lift dirt and oil from surfaces, but because of its neutral pH (about 6 or 7 on the pH scale), it is not sufficient for killing mold.

Rubbing Alcohol vs Vinegar for Cleaning Mold

Vinegar is more effective than rubbing alcohol for killing mold, however, this is only true for small patches of mold. Vinegar has a very low pH (1 or 2 on the pH scale), which means it is caustic enough to be effective at killing plant and fungal matter like mold. However, vinegar is still not strong enough to be effective against areas of mold covering more than 1 square foot.

Mold roots very deeply into porous materials like wood and drywall. What we here at Cleaner Guys always tell people is that, however much mold you can see, there’s almost certainly more that you can’t see. If the mold you can see covers more than 1 square foot, it has almost certainly spread much further inside the wall cavities. Vinegar simply does not penetrate deeply enough into materials like drywall and wood to effectively kill 100% of the mold when it has spread that far.

Can You Mix Rubbing Alcohol and Vinegar?

DO NOT mix rubbing alcohol and vinegar! While it may be tempting to do so to create a stronger cleaning solution, mixing vinegar and rubbing alcohol together creates chlorine gas, which can cause breathing problems and eye irritation.

Rubbing Alcohol vs Bleach for Cleaning Mold

We here at Cleaner Guys strongly advise against both rubbing alcohol and bleach for mold cleaning. They both emit toxic fumes that can cause dizziness, headaches, skin and eye irritation, and even neurological issues. [1] [2]

While rubbing alcohol is not effective at all on mold, bleach can kill surface layers of mold. However, like vinegar, it is not effective enough to penetrate deeply enough to kill all the mold in a porous material.
Unlike vinegar, however, we do not recommend using bleach on even small patches of mold. This is because unlike vinegar, bleach is also stringent enough that it usually causes irreversible cosmetic damage to whatever surface it is applied to. This is particularly true of wood and drywall, which are the most common locations for mold growth.

Can You Mix Rubbing Alcohol and Bleach?

DO NOT mix rubbing alcohol and bleach! Combined, they create highly toxic chloroform gas, which can seriously harm your organs, and even potentially cause cancer! Read on for good solutions to getting rid of mold.

Cleaning Mold vs Mildew

There is a type of mold that you can successfully clean with vinegar or rubbing alcohol. It’s called mildew. Mildew is often used interchangeably with the term “mold”, and while mildew is a type of mold, it is also distinct.

Mildew is a shallow-rooting mold that usually grows on hard, non-porous surfaces, like tile, plastic, and ceramic. If you ever find mold in your shower, bathtub, or toilet, it’s almost certainly mildew. And because mildew grows only on the surface, and does not root deeply, it is easy to clean with vinegar or rubbing alcohol.

Other types of mold, on the other hand, such as you will find on drywall and wood, roots deeply into porous surfaces, and is only cleanable by vinegar or rubbing alcohol if it is a patch under 1 square foot.

What Do Professionals Use to Kill Mold?

Professional mold removers typically use some type of fungicide solution to kill mold. However, professionals only use fungicides on very small areas of mold, or as a disinfectant to make sure the mold does not return. When the mold covers more than 1 square foot, the method professionals use to get rid of mold is full removal.

While it may sound easy enough to remove whatever materials have mold on them, this should not be attempted by those who aren’t professionals. The proper training, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), cleaning chemicals, and procedures are required to 100% get rid of mold.

Key Takeaways

Rubbing alcohol is not a good cleaning method for mold, because it has a neutral pH, and therefore is not stringent enough to kill fungi thoroughly. Additionally, rubbing alcohol is highly flammable, and hazardous to use as a cleaning solution.
Bleach is also not a good option, because it’s toxic, and so caustic it can damage whatever surface it is used on. Vinegar can be useful in killing very small patches of mold, but becomes ineffective for mold covering more than 1 square foot.
The best method for killing mold is to remove all infested materials completely, which should be done by professional mold removers.

More Resources

Wondering how to choose a trustworthy mold removal company? Read our guide to picking the right company for you here.

Suffering mold in your apartment, and wondering if it’s your responsibility or the landlord’s? Read our guide to dealing with mold in an apartment here.

Did you touch the mold with bare skin? Read our article about what happens when you touch mold with bare skin here.

Photo of a few Cleaner Guys technicians, ready to take care of your mold!

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. No part of this article is medical or legal advice, and may not be used as such. For all serious medical matters, consult your doctor. For all serious legal matters, consult your legal advisor. This article contains Cleaner Guys’ experience and opinions only.

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