Does Vinegar Kill Mold in Air Conditioner? (Read This First)

By - Ron Singh

Updated -

Air conditioners tend to pull water from the air and, as such, are susceptible to mold growth.

In the same light, Air conditioners are mainly a dangerous place for molds to grow because of their role in our homes.

Various chemicals are used to clean and kill mold in homes, but does vinegar kill mold in air conditioners?

Yes, vinegar kills mold in air conditioners. Because vinegar contains acetic acid, a relatively strong acid that helps prevent the growth of fungi and bacteria. However, the effectiveness of vinegar in killing molds depends on the type of mold and how well you access the surface of mold growth in the air conditioner.

Does Vinegar Kill Mold In Air Conditioners Permanently?

Does Vinegar Kill Mold In Air Conditioner

Yes, vinegar kills mold in air conditioners permanently, especially for a smaller quantity of mold growth.

In addition, the acetic acid in vinegar has a pH value of about 2.5, which gives vinegar both antibacterial and antifungal properties making it effective in killing mold.

Consequently, vinegar works effectively on non-porous and porous surfaces, making it a go-to mold cleaner. 

Air conditioners are delicate appliances and consist of components that can easily get damaged by a harmful chemical solution, such as the evaporator coil, which consists of a perfect environment for mold growth. 

As such, when using vinegar to kill mold in your air conditioner, it is advisable to mix a cup of vinegar with water to prevent causing damage to the fragile parts of the air conditioner.

The location of mold growth on your air conditioner unit will determine whether or not the application of vinegar solution will kill the mold permanently.

To permanently kill mold in an air conditioner unit, the mold must be accessible. Mold growing in an area of your air conditioner unit you can’t access will be challenging to remove.

Also, you may replace such a component entirely to do away with the mold. While vinegar permanently kills mold in air conditioner units, you should remember that vinegar does not work on all types of molds

For example, vinegar is effective at killing Penicillium chrysogenum but not Aspergillus fumigatus, which are common household molds.

So if you encounter a situation where vinegar is not effective in killing the mold in your air conditioner, it is advisable to try another mold cleaner.

What Kind Of Vinegar Kills Mold?

Different kinds of vinegar exist, but distilled white vinegar is the most commonly used in cleaning and killing mold.

White distilled vinegar is common because it has about 5 percent acidity and lacks a coloring agent, hence won’t stain surfaces when used.

In addition, the acidic nature of white vinegar makes it possible for white vinegar to eliminate mineral residues, dirt, and grease and kill bacteria.

White vinegar has an intense odor which may be unpleasant. Still, on the bright side, that is just a small price to pay for a powerful house cleanser that is natural, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and budget-friendly. 

However, adding little drops of essential oils can mask the smell of white vinegar. On the other hand, you can also use apple cider vinegar which has the same cleansing properties as white distilled vinegar.

Distilled white vinegar is different from cleaning vinegar as it has less acidic percentage than cleaning vinegar. Therefore, the cleaning vinegar is more robust than distilled white vinegar.

 When applying vinegar on surfaces, you must ensure the acidic quantity is not excessively high to avoid causing damage to the surface.

That is why it is advisable to use distilled white vinegar with about 95 percent water content. There are various types of vinegar, and all play multiple roles.

The other types of vinegar include the following.

  • Balsamic vinegar 
  • Red wine vinegar
  • White wine vinegar 
  • Rice vinegar
  • Malt vinegar
  • Cane vinegar 
  • Black vinegar 

How Long Does Vinegar Take to Kill Mold?

When you apply vinegar on a moldy surface, you must allow the vinegar to last for about 60 minutes, equivalent to an hour, before you clean up the character.

By implication, when you apply it on a moldy surface, vinegar takes about 60 minutes to kill mold.

Vinegar is a fierce mold killer, and vinegar kills an estimated 82 percent of known molds and helps prevent the probability of later growth of mildew on the surface.

Apply white distilled vinegar to the affected area, ensuring you cover the whole extent of the site using a spray bottle. You can also soak a rag in vinegar and apply it to the affected areas. 

After application, it usually takes an hour for the vinegar to flow into the mold’s membranous regions and start to crush them apart.

Afterward, you can safely use a brush to scrub the mold and clean the surface. When it comes to molds, vinegar is a common choice of cleanser, specifically distilled white vinegar.

Although vinegar does not kill all types of molds, it is necessary to know that it kills black mold, which is a dangerous type of mold.

In addition, vinegar has pros and cons concerning molds; some pros and cons are in the table below.

Vinegar kills 82% of mold species.Vinegar does not kill or remove mycotoxins.
Vinegar is organic and environmentally friendly.Vinegar leaves an intense odor that lasts for a while.
Vinegar is harmless.About 18% of mold species survive the cleaning effect of vinegar.
Vinegar is affordable and easily accessible.Because of vinegar’s high acidity will burn the skin in case of an accident during usage.
Vinegar is effective on porous and non-porous surfaces.

Is Vinegar Or Bleach Better Against Mold In Air Conditioners?

When killing mold in air conditioners, you can use vinegar and bleach, but vinegar is more effective in killing mold in air conditioner units.

The effectiveness of vinegar is because vinegar can penetrate porous surfaces and kill molds underneath the membranes, while bleach kills molds just at the surfaces.

Also, bleach is a harsh chemical and can easily damage surfaces. The chemical structure of bleach prevents it from penetrating porous surfaces and killing molds.

As such, bleach is less active in killing molds when compared to vinegar. Instead, bleach encourages mold growth on surfaces by causing the mold membranes to bore more profoundly into the affected areas to escape bleach effects.

In addition, air conditioners have airtight spaces meaning only vinegar can effectively seep into deeper areas and kill mold. Bleach and vinegar combination has a powerful cleansing effect.

Still, it is advisable never to mix bleach and vinegar because the mixture forms fumes that, when inhaled, cause harm to the respiratory tract and even the skin of your body. 

Also, you must ensure to dilute bleach properly before applying it on surfaces. Add 5 teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water to cut down the concentration.

There are a few steps to follow when cleaning mold with vinegar.

  • When cleaning a moldy air conditioner, you must first turn it off.
  • Wear protective gear, such as non-porous gloves and a mask.
  • Pour vinegar into a spray bottle and spray the affected surfaces.
  • Allow the vinegar to stay for an hour so that the mold can absorb it wholly.
  • If you need to scrub the surface, then you should spray the surface with baking soda solution and use a brush to scrub the surface.
  • Then, use warm water and rinse the surface.
  • Finally, spray the area with vinegar again to ensure you kill all the mold and prevent future growth of mold on the surface.

How Often Should I Use Vinegar on My Air Conditioner?

Because of the crucial role air conditioners play in our homes, it is only necessary to maintain and keep them in good shape properly. Therefore, it is advisable to use vinegar on the air conditioner once a month.

Cleaning your air conditioner with vinegar will eliminate dust, dirt, bacteria, and other things that will further seal your air conditioner unit. Sealing causes air conditioners not to function appropriately.

Specialists suggest vinegar should be used on air conditioners once a month because it will not only remove dirt and other bacteria but also prevent any future growth in cases of molds. 

A plate of dirt on the evaporator coil of an air conditioner unit is one of the most common causes of an awful performance of an air conditioner.

Air conditioner units function to push air through the house, making them a dangerous place for molds to grow.

A constant circulation of air in your home through the air conditioner unit means the spread of mold spores around your home, which is disastrous. 

One of the best ways to stop mold growth in air conditioners is to find the causes. If the cause of the growth is known, fixing the problem won’t be a big deal.

Molds do well in areas of high moisture. Therefore controlling the moisture level in your air conditioner is vital in preventing mold growth.

In addition, it would help if you looked out for a few signs once you suspect mold in your air conditioner.

Some of the signs include the following.

  • A stale smell.
  • Health symptoms whenever you put your air conditioner on.
  • Other visible signs depend on where you install your air conditioner. For example, you can check out the air vent.


Air conditioners play a crucial role in spreading cool air throughout the rooms. When contaminated with mold, it can efficiently circulate mold spores throughout your home, exposing you to health hazards.

Distilled white vinegar is known to clean a moldy air conditioner effectively. Do not hesitate to contact a professional mold cleaner if mold persists in your unit.

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