Essential Oils For Mold

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When it comes to mold, one of the most searched topics on the internet is “how to kill mold,” followed by “how to remove black mold.” When you look a little deeper into these searches you quickly find out that a lot of people are wondering about essential oils for mold. Specifically, what is the best essential oil to kill mold.

I want to explore essential oils for mold thoroughly not only since it is a widely searched for topic but also because there is a mountain of misinformation out there. I created Mold Help For You to provide you with well researched, reliable information. As such, I want you to have a clear understanding of the whole essential oils for mold debate so that you can make an educated decision on whether or not to use them.

This article will look at:

  • How essential oils work to protect their plant constituents from mold
  • Why essential oils will not always work for mold
  • When essential oils will work for mold
  • How to use essential oils for mold
  • Which essential oils are the best choices for mold

Before we get to the heart of this article, we need to look at those initial search terms a wee bit closer.

A collage with essential oils for mold

How To Kill Mold

Everyone wants a quick a simple solution when it comes to mold. The fact is, there is no easy way to kill mold. Mold is relentless. So are mycotoxins.

When it comes to killing mold the best approach is to completely and properly remove the moldy materials and THEN treat the rest of your home for airborne mold spores, mold spores in dust around your house, mold spores in your air ducts, mold spores on your clothes, and mold spores that might be lurking in oddball places like your indoor plant soil.

There is NO quick and complete way to kill mold. It really can’t be killed. Mold roots and it roots deep. Every type of mold grows differently. You need to focus on removing mold and then getting rid of the rest of the rogue mold spores. And naturally, what works to remove one color of mold might not work on another color of mold.

Did You Know That Essential Oils Protect Plants From Mold?

Essential oils are aromatic substances present in the specialized cells or glands of certain plants used by them to protect themselves from predators and pests, but also to attract pollinators. In other words, essential oils are part of the immune system of the plant.  These natural oils found inside the plant contain powerful therapeutic properties that help the plant protect itself against mold and bacteria.

Back To Essential Oils For Mold

I had an extreme mold situation in my home. For those of you not familiar with my story, we had NO VISIBLE MOLD. None. Nada. Zip. This is why essential oils as well as vinegar, ammonia, borax, bleach, peroxide or alcohol would NEVER have helped our situation. Here’s why.

When Essential Oils For Mold Won’t Work

In the case of essential oils, the mold has to be visible in order for them to possibly work. They don’t have magic superpowers to infiltrate walls and flooring. Essential oils will only possibly work on non-porous surfaces (which mold is less likely to grow on) or for deactivating airborne mold spores. The few loose studies that have been done on essential oils and airborne mold were not definitive.

Essential oils are useless on porous materials. Even though they can penetrate the material they don’t do so at the level needed to tackle the mold.

The other big issue with essential oils is that there is no conclusive evidence that they can tackle mycotoxins. This is a huge problem if your home or workplace is teaming with them. Mycotoxins can survive after mold is removed.

When Can Essential Oils Be Used For Mold?

Then is a lot of debate about when essential oils can be successfully used to help remove mold. Some sites and companies say that essential oils can handle both new and long standing mold growth. Others say that essential oils work better on more recent mold growth. What they all agree on, mostly, is that the mold needs to be visible.

The other side of the coin is how MUCH mold essential oils can remove at once. I have not found one single evidence based study that proves without a shadow of a doubt that any essential oil can totally eliminate toxic mold in large quantities. And in the case of a highly contaminated home, I think it would take a vat of essential oils to even begin to move the mold out.

I am completely on board with using the right essential oils for a small area of visible mold. I think they can work. I also think that you can use them when you know you have mold spores on something, even if you can’t see mold. For example – if your clothing brushed up against a moldy surface but there isn’t any mold on the clothing or if an item of yours was next to a moldy area. I definitely have a mid-level of confidence in essential oils for airborne mold spores. But beyond that – nope.  Essential oils are useless for mold.

What Is The Best Essential Oils To Kill Mold?

Remember – you can’t use essential oils to kill mold! You CAN use essential oils to remove mold sometimes.

Many essential oils have been studied and have proven themselves to have some ability to reduce the mold spore count as well as remove small areas of surface mold. Let’s take a look at these.

The 7 Best Essential Oils For Mold And Mildew

#1 Cinnamon Essential Oil

Cinnamon sticks

Cinnamon oil has been shown to be one of the strongest oils for use in battling mold. In a test done on four essential oils, cinnamon showed the best inhibitory effect against mold growing on food. Wax papers with a 6% solution of cinnamon oil used on breads constrained mold growth by 96%. Another study by the International Journal of Food Microbiology  showed that a combination of essential oils, including cinnamon oil, suppressed bacterial growth for 60 days. The study suggests that cinnamon oil could be considered an alternative to other food preservatives. Cinnamon bark essential oil was more effective at inhibiting more Aspergillus and Penicillium species than cinnamon leaf essential oil. Cinnamon bark essential oil inhibits Aspergillus species and aflatoxin, aflatoxin-B1, and aflatoxin-G1 production. These toxins are inhibited because the essential oil binds to the DNA of aflatoxins. Also, this essential oil reacts with reactive oxygen species produced by aflatoxins, which has a protective effect on cells. 

This is the Cinnamon essential oil I use and recommend.

#2 Thyme Essential Oil

A bundle of fresh thyme

Thyme essential oil is one of the primary oils suggested for mold believe it or not. Thyme essential oil contains thymol, a compound which holds many fungicidal properties. In another study, the essential oil was effective at killing Aspergillus species. and inhibiting aflatoxin production, and inhibiting mold spore germination. A third study showed thyme essential oil as effective at inhibiting multiple Penicillum species.

This is the Thyme essential oil I use and recommend.

#3 Clove Oil

A small pile of cloves

Clove essential oil is thought to be one of the pioneers in dealing with mold and mildew growth. When you look at the properties that comprise clove essential oils, you’ll find that it is very similar to tea tree essential oil. Besides rendering mold inactive it has been shown to also prevent mold spores from growing.

One study from the Internet Journal of Microbiology found clove oil to be powerful against Aspergillus, a very dangerous mold. In another study, the compound eugenol was effective at inhibiting Fusarium moniliforme, Fusarium oxysporum, Aspergillus species, Mucor species, Trichophyton rubrum and Microsporum gypseum. That carries a lot of weight for me.

This is the Clove essential oil I use and recommend.

#4 Oregano Oil

A sprig of oregano on a wood background

Oregano oil was one of the mold removing oils that was proven to inhibit the production of aflatoxin by aspergillus fungus. Remember when I said essential oils do not touch mycotoxins. Well, oregano oil is the exception. The problem is, it mainly works on aflatoxins found on food, not in buildings.

This is the Oregano Oil I use and recommend.

#5 Tea Tree Oil

A Tea Tree plant with flower

Tea tree oil is a powerful fungicide making it the best known skin antifungal. But does tea tree oil really remove mold? Not in my experience. This is unfortunate seeing that tea tree oil is the most recommended essential oil for mold. Just because something works great for fungus on the body doesn’t mean it can tackle mold.

This study did show that tea tree oil applied as a direct contact solution was found to have an  inhibitory effect on the growth of both A. fumigatus and P. chrysogenum after a seven-day incubation period. But this suggest that tea tree oil not only takes a significant amount of time to work but also more or less prevent additional mold growth and doesn’t do as much to render existing mold spores inactive.  

Any Tea Tree oil will work fine but I prefer this brand.  

#6 Lemon Essential Oil

A lemon on a tree

This is a versatile and strong antifungal. Most citrus oils are able to break down mold spores at a molecular level. A lot of people prefer to use lemon essential oil over other citrus oils because of the pleasant smell. Using lemon essential oil will also prevent mold from forming on surfaces like shower grout and bathtub caulking. 

This is the lemon essential oil I use and recommend.

#7 Peppermint Essential Oil

A bunch of fresh peppermint

This is not my top choice by any stretch but peppermint essential oil resists fungus thanks to it’s methol content. A 2003 research paper actually proved the vapor of peppermint oil killed fungi. All mold needs to do is sniff some peppermint essential oil and it will die. Ha!

But in all seriousness another study published in 2012 showed just a little bit of oil is enough to kill a wide range of fungi. The researchers went on to suggest using peppermint for treating fungal infections was preferred over tea tree oil.

This is the Peppermint essential oil I use and recommend.

Why Synergistic Blends Are The Best Essential Oils For Mold

Synergistic blends of essential oils are more powerful than individual essential oils for mold. This is because the various mold fighting oils bring all their superpowers together to create one powerful blend. I personally recommend using a blend that has the top 3 essential oils for mold in it as this gives you the best chance at mold removal.

Thieves Essential Oil Blend

The most popular essential oil blend for mold, Thieves is a blend of oils such as cinnamon essential oil, eucalyptus, cloves, lemon, and rosemary essential oils. By combining the antifungal properties of these oils, you have a high success-rate of “killing” mold and mildew. This blend gets rid of mold and mildew from the air and is also touted as having some success with porous items as well.

This blend also goes by the name Burglars Blend and its effectiveness comes from the antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties.

You can find Thieves Essential Oil here.

Other blends that are similar to thieves include:

Are There Other Essential Oils For Mold That You Haven’t Listed Above?

Yes, quite a few. But I wouldn’t classify these essential oils as being “for mold.” They have known antifungal properties but that doesn’t make them the best choice for removing mold. However, feel free to research them.

  • Basil
  • Caraway
  • Cedarwood,
  • Citronella
  • Copaiba
  • Cumin
  • Dill
  • Eucalyptus
  • Fennel
  • Geranium
  • Hyssop
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Grass
  • Melissa (Lemon Balm)
  • Manuka
  • Myrrh
  • Patchouli
  • Ravensara
  • Rose Geranium
  • Sage
  • Spikenard
  • Ziziphora

How To Use Essential Oils To Remove Mold

There are two ways to use essential oils to remove mold.

Apply Essential Oils Directly To Surface Mold

There is some argument about how to apply essential oils directly to surface mold. Based on both my research and experimentation I would use the essential oils undiluted or barely diluted.

Pour or spray the essential oil directly on the mold. Using a soft cloth, wipe in a DOWNWARD motion to prevent spores from flying.

Once you clean the mold off the surface, it does not mean you are home free. Remember, mold could have penetrated the surface or become airborne. That is where diffusing essential oils for mold can be helpful.

Diffusing Essential Oils For Mold

There is definitely some debate about the effectiveness of diffusing essential oils in a mold contaminated environment. But my philosophy is that these oils were inside the plant to help protect it from mold, so it should do the same for your air.

One of the best ways to stop mold is to use a Nebulizing Diffuser. The reason a nebulizer is the best choice is because it doesn’t use water which helps the mold to grow and spread much faster. A Nebulizing Diffuser is strong and powerful and will fill a room with undiluted pure essential oils that would work fast to combat the mold and the spreading of mold spores.

This is my top pick for a quality nebulizing diffuser. I also really like this other model which is BPA free.

You will want to diffuse your oil blend for 24 hours, non-stop, in the space(s) where mold was found. If possible, and for best results, leave the room closed and sealed during this intensive diffusing. This will allow maximum penetration and absorption of the essential oil blend.  My suggestion is that you repeat this two or three times depending on how bad the mold infestation was.

A word of caution! If you have pets, especially cats or rabbits, be sure that the essential oil you choose is safe for them.

A Few Of My Sources

  1. http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/26998/PDF
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814617312736
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0964830515301086
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0926669018303649
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643819301562
  6. https://openaccesspub.org/jbbs/article/940
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025292/
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3598923/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17209812
A person wearing a blue glove spraying a DIY mold remover with essential oils

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  1. Debbe Roche says:

    My husband I are both sick, after
    Living in a home diagnosed with the 4 most toxic molds for at least three years. Doctors look at me like I’m overreacting and it is extremely difficult to locate a Dr to diagnose us and begin a treatment regimen. We are moving out of this home today. Any help you could give us would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you, Jennifer

  2. I prefer doTERRA’s OnGUard which has the majority of the oils you’ve researched and of course can be augmented with the others.

  3. Thank you for the article Jennifer. I suffer from mold toxicity. I created my own blend of Thieves Oil with the 5 essential oils as you’ve also mentioned. I got an atomizer/nebulizer that does not require water, like the one without BPA as you mentioned. I used it in my storeroom and at that time, I did not see any visible mold. However after a few weeks, black mold appeared on the ceiling and kept growing. Why is that so? I diffused Thieve’s Oil in the enclosed storeroom, even more than 10 times before I started seeing the mold.

    1. I have to ask the obvious… do you happen to have an active water leak you might not be aware of?

  4. Thanks for this informative article. The window frames in the apartment I am renting contain ingrown mold as does the caulking in the shower. I plan to spray it down with a 4 Thieves solution as moving is not an option right now (we JUST got here). We live in the PNW and the winters are rainy and very moist. No matter how much I wipe down the window sills and how hard I scrub the caulking with vinegar, the mold remains on the caulking and the house smells like mold (especially near the windows). WHAT do you suggest I do?

    1. This sounds like maybe something that was there before you. Normally caulking and grout have to be removed and replaced every so often. Caulking is easy to do. Grout is not. Would you consider removing the caulking, cleaning under that area, and recaulking with a mold proof product?

  5. Any suggestions for essential oil blend for diffuser that do NOT contain eucalyptus, patchouli or lavender (allergies)?

    1. Would you like something that is already blended or do you want to blend your own oils?

  6. Heather Pérez Miranda says:

    Jennifer can you help me figure out if my situation is like yours I believe to be extreme but am unaware of the avenues to take on a budget to help my family through this