Will hypochlorous acid kill mold?

Will hypochlorous acid kill mold?

There are over 100,000 types of mold, from the fuzzy green variety on that sandwich your kid left in their backpack to the blue streaks in an expensive wheel of cheese. While some types of mold are beneficial (think penicillin), others are extremely harmful and can have devastating long-term effects to your health and home.

Because there are so many different types of mold, it's impossible to make a blanket statement about any disinfectant's ability to kill ALL mold. Mold is one of the most difficult microorganisms to eradicate through cleaning. This is largely due to its physical structure. Mold is a fungi comprised of thousands of microscopic spores. Mold is spread when these spores are released into the air, where they can then embed themselves deep within fabrics, organic materials, and even the paint of a wall. As mold spreads, it can release mycotoxins into the air. These toxins are believed to be harmful to human health.

The pervasive nature of mold, combined with the difficulty in distinguishing between different varieties of mold, makes it especially challenging to contain once it has been established in a material. Mold requires water and carbon in order to grow, so one of the most common ways to remediate a mold infestation is to completely dry out the area and remove the organic material the mold could grow on.

The research around hypochlorous acid and mold eradication is primarily focused on agricultural and healthcare applications. While HOCl is lauded as a fungicide and sporicide, this does not mean it is effective against all types of mold. Indeed, hypochlorous acid has not been tested against many mold varieties and has been shown to be ineffective against some varieties.

Based on the current literature, we know the following: In a study of fruit rot fungi on strawberries, researchers found that hypochlorous is effective against Botrytis cinerea and Monilinia fructicola (brown mold) at a minimum of 50 ppm. Concentrations of 40 ppm HOCl achieved a 2-log reduction in Cladosporium cladosporioides (common indoor mold) and Rhodotorula mucilaginosa (orange yeast). An ophthalmology study found that 100 ppm of HOCl could achieve a 99.99% reduction of aspergillus mold varieties, candida albicans, mucor indicus, and fusarium solani within 1 minute. Aspergillus niger, or black mold, is one of the most common forms of mold found within homes. Research shows it can be inactivated at 86 ppm with a 2-minute contact time. A Korean study showed that Mycobacterium and Candida varieties can be inactivated at >40 ppm within 1 minute.

Of course, there are likely other species of mold and yeast that HOCl is highly effective against, but without the scientific research to prove it, we cannot make assumptions. With minor mold infestations, the mold may be treated with a HEPA vacuum and then a thorough round of disinfecting (HOCl could be used at this stage). However, if you are concerned about a mold infestation in your house, we recommend getting a professional opinion before attempting to treat it.

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Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash  


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