Can mold grow in vinegar? (+5 Tips)
In this article, we will answer the question “Can mold grow in vinegar?”, and how to use vinegar to mold or mildew in your home?
Can mold grow in vinegar?
Although hard, it is possible. The quality of vinegar depends on fermentation, production methods, raw materials, and additives used. In addition, the acetic acid content, odor component, and organic acid and free amino acid composition affects the quality of vinegar.
In particular, fruit vinegar contains various sugars since it is produced by fermentation of the liquid-containing fruit juice.
Vinegar contains glucose mostly and also has fructose, sucrose, maltose, and other sugars, which affect its sweetness and it is prone to contamination with molds and toxins derived from the raw materials (1, 2).
Unlike fruit vinegar, regular white vinegar does not contain sugar. Because there are few organic compounds to cause random reactions affecting the quality of white distilled vinegar. (3)
All that said, the main reason it is very hard for mold to grow in vinegar (even in fruit vinegar) is the high concentration of acetic acid and low pH on vinegar. This environment is simply too acidic to favor the growth of mold.
What is vinegar’s effect on mold?
Vinegar (acetic acid) is reported to have an antimicrobial effect on fungi in various applications.
Vinegar vapor application has been demonstrated to prevent the germination of conidia of fruit decay fungi Penicillium expansum, Monilinia fructicola and Botrytis cinerea in strawberries, apples, and stone fruit and Colletotrichum coccodes in tomato fruit. (4)
Household white vinegar typically contains about 5 to 8 percent acetic acid. Acetic acid is a moderately strong acid with a pH of around 2.5 that can disrupt the growth of a wide range of fungi and other microorganisms. (5)
What are the health effects of mold growth?
Fungal contamination of indoor environments has been linked to adverse health effects including headache, allergy, asthma, irritant effects, respiratory problems, mycoses (fungal diseases), and several other non-specific health problems.
Mold not only contaminates the air we breathe but also poses a threat to our food. When mold grows on food, it releases enzymes that facilitate the breakdown of the food, ultimately leading to spoilage.
More than 80 genera of fungi have been associated with symptoms of respiratory tract allergies with Cladosporium, Alternaria, Aspergillus and Penicillium amongst the most common allergenic genera.
Beyond allergenicity, many fungi produce microbial volatile organic compounds and mycotoxins that are believed to irritate the respiratory system. (4)
How does vinegar kill mold?
Vinegar acts by lowering the pH of the cell protoplasm and killing the conidia of the fungi and preventing germination of the spores.
Vinegar was found to have a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on the growth of bacteria and fungi due to its active compounds phenols, acetic acid and alcohols.
Vinegar in water, in an undefined concentration, has been recommended, for damp wiping hard surfaces in the remediation of an indoor fungal contamination. (4)
Where not to use vinegar to remove mold and mildew?
- Do not use vinegar on stone countertops as It tends to etch the surface of marble and limestone.
- Do not use vinegar on wooden surfaces or floors or else It will damage the protective finishing.
- Vinegar impairs the anti-glare function of some electronic screens while also interfering with its touch system.
- Vinegar should never be exposed to metal surfaces like stainless steel, aluminum, and copper as It results in a corrosive reaction.
- Mold on porous surfaces like ceiling tiles and carpets can not be removed using vinegar. (5)
Avoid using vinegar in these 4 ways
- Alkali cleaning products like soap, lye, and bleach should never be mixed with vinegar. The result is the neutralization of both the vinegar and alkali simultaneously.
This neutralization can be harmful as in the case of bleach because It results in the formation of poisonous fumes.
However, this neutralization proves helpful when mixed with baking soda due to the formation of carbon dioxide and water. It helps unclog drains.
- Vinegar should never be mixed with alcohol and strong acid. This reaction will alter the composition of alcohol and vinegar.
- Do not boil vinegar to high temperatures. The concentrated vapors of acetic acid are corrosive and injurious to health.
- Vinegar is not used for cleaning upholstery, stone countertops or tiles, serious drain clogs, or ovens. Vinegar stains upholstery and etch expensive stone counters and tiles.
- Metals like iron, stainless steel, copper, bronze, etc should not come in direct contact with vinegar. (5)
Other FAQs about Vinegar which you may be interested in.
In this article, we answered the question “Can mold grow in vinegar?”, and how to use vinegar to mold or mildew in your home?
- Z.D. Heperkan et al, Unexpectedly high patulin contamination and co-occurrence of ochratoxin A in homemade vinegar, Food Control 148, 2023.
- Minjeong Kang, Jung-Heun Ha, Youngseung Lee, Physicochemical properties, antioxidant activities and sensory characteristics of commercial gape vinegars during long-term storage, Food Sci. Technol, Campinas, 40(4): 909-916, 2020.
- Marlene Geiger, Vinegar Shelf Life and Safety, Iowa State University, Answer Line, 2021.
- Rogawansamy S, Gaskin S, Taylor M, Pisaniello D. An evaluation of antifungal agents for the treatment of fungal contamination in indoor air environments. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2; 12(6): 6319-32. 2015.
- Debra Rose Wilson, Daniel Yetman, Can You Get Rid of Mold Using Vinegar?, Healthline Media LLC. 2020.