Best Mold Test Kits of 2020

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Categories Cleaning Mold
It’s time to sniff out that mold.

Mold is a naturally occurring fungus, but it can potentially cause harm when indoors. Mold spores can cause allergic reactions and mold itself will cause an unpleasant, musty odor. Some people will experience severe reactions to mold, while others may not be affected at all.

Whether or not you’re affected by mold, having it in your home isn’t ideal. But how do you know if you have mold? One of the things many homeowners choose to do is run a DIY mold test.

These kits are used as a starting point to figure out whether or not mold is present in your home. If mold is detected, further inspection is needed to find the source and determine the genera.


Finding the Best Mold Test Kit

There are multiple choices available on the market, but you must find the right one for you. Here are a few points to keep in mind when searching for the best mold test kit:

  • Outdoors or indoors: It’s important first to determine where you’ll be doing the testing. There are separate test kits for indoor and outdoor use.
  • Lab analysis: After gathering the required samples, most test kits will require you to send them to a lab. Now, it’s good to choose a brand that uses an independent lab. This will ensure that you get accurate results. Even better, you can find several brands that use AIHA-accredited labs.
  • Additional fees: Some test kits might seem affordable, but it’s wise to consider any additional charges. Only a few brands include lab fees in the initial price, whereas others require you to pay extra. It’s also generally the customer who has to pay for postage.
  • User-friendly: When looking at potential test kits, consider how easy it is to use. A detailed instruction manual is also a plus, so you’ll know how to do the test correctly. We highly recommend checking customer reviews to see how they found the results. Some lab results tend to be confusing, so look for one that might use color-coded results or easy-to-read graphs.

Types of Test Kits

There are different types of test kits to choose between. However, it’s essential to consider what you need from the test kit before settling on one. For example, some kits are for visible mold only, while others detect mold spores and particles in the air. Let’s explain a little further.

Air Quality Testing

This type of test kit will attract particles from the air onto a small cassette or petri dish (depending on the brand). The dish is treated with a “microbial culture” that promotes mold growth. As the dish is left open, it will collect mold spores. You’ll then close the lid and mold should form after 24 hours.

Other air testers will use a small pump to collect air and particles. Some require only a few minutes while others need longer (refer to the manual). You can then collect a dish or cassette and send it to a lab for analysis.

These types of test kits tend to be more expensive, but highly effective. You get to know whether or not mold is present in the air. This also makes it possible to eliminate mold spores before they become actively growing mold (1).

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Surface Tests

There are many things hiding in our homes that might look like mold. Mildew is one example of another fungus that’s often confused for mold. Dirt or mud can also resemble mold at times (2).

A surface test generally consists of one or more tape lift samples. To use this, you lift the tape from one side of the sample, then press it gently against the moldy area. You can also use a cotton swab and gently roll it across the area and then on the sticky tape.

You will then have to send your samples to the provided lab. You can expect your results to arrive between two to five business days, depending on the lab and brand. Most brands will provide you with your results via email.

Other surface tests consist of one or more cotton swabs that you roll on the area and then slide into a tube. Inside the tube is a substance that will change color, indicating whether you have mold or not.

How Mold Can Affect Your Health

Mold can be tricky to deal with. We often think that mold will have severe effects on our health, both physically and mentally. However, that’s not always the case. You might experience some symptoms of mold exposure, whereas your spouse may be perfectly fine.

This is because we react differently when exposed. Common symptoms of mold exposure include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Respiratory issues such as coughing and shortness of breath.
  • Irritated mucous membranes.
  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Skin inflammation or irritation.
  • Allergic reactions such as a runny nose, red eyes and sneezing.

The Institute of Medicine found, in 2004, that mold and exposure to dampness can cause upper respiratory tract symptoms. The IOM also found that people who are otherwise healthy can experience coughing and wheezing.

A further study showed that mold exposure could be linked to respiratory illnesses in otherwise healthy children. This makes it even more crucial to get rid of mold if you have children (3).

Importance of Testing for Mold

While mold can cause several health issues or none at all, it’s not something we want growing in our house. It’s important to test for mold not only to determine whether or not you have it, but also to know what type.

There are many types of mold; some are toxic while others are harmless. Doing your own testing with a DIY kit is a good start. Then when your collected samples are analyzed, you’ll know exactly what species of mold you’re dealing with.

Different types of mold require different treatments. Some species are easily removed with vinegar, while others require something stronger such as bleach. Killing the source is crucial as the actively growing mold will otherwise spread throughout your home by creating spores.

Detecting Mold

Mold isn’t always visible, which makes it tricky to determine its presence. Here are a few things to help you detect mold:

Smell

One of the first signs of mold is a musty odor. If you have smelled mold in the past, you’ll probably never forget the scent. Mold outdoors and indoors tend to smell differently, possibly due to humidity levels and moisture.

Indoors, mold generally smells musty or damp, while it’s stale outdoors. It can become quite pungent and unpleasant. You can usually use your nose to sniff your way to the source.

Keep in Mind

Smelling mold is a tell-tale sign that you have active growing molds in your house. This is not something you should take lightly. You must get further testing done to find proper treatment. Covering up with air fresheners isn’t an option.

Water Leaks

If you’ve recently had a water leak in your house, mold is likely going to form. In fact, mold will begin to grow within 24 to 48 hours if the conditions are optimal (4).

You must inspect the area around the leak closely. Do what you can to clean up as much water as possible. If the leak reached a carpet, consider hiring a professional to dry it to avoid mold growth.

Health Symptoms

Even if you aren’t allergic to mold, you could still be dealing with a few health effects brought on by the fungus. The mold that can cause the most harm to humans is Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as black or toxic mold. This species produces mycotoxins, which can cause severe health effects (5).

Visible Mold

If you see mold growing somewhere in your house, there’ll be no doubt that it’s present. But the real question is: how much is there? If you see small traces of mold, try to follow it to find the source. Regardless, though, the entire area will need treatment.


The Best Mold Test Kits of 2020

After examining a variety of mold kit options, our experts have chosen the most effective tests on the market. Each kit was judged on how easy it was to use, effectiveness, price and affordability. Here are the best mold test kits.

1. Home Air Check Active Mold Tests

Best Professional Mold Detector

VOCs, Active Mold, & Formaldehyde Tests - Indoor Air Quality by Home Air Check
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Home Air Check provides you with exact results on whether or not you have active mold growing in your house. It’s a small device that monitors the air quality and collects samples over the course of a few days. The samples are then sent to a certified lab for analysis.

The test will show you a number of harmful substances that could be present in your home. These include volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, chemicals and mold.

Why We Love It

Large Coverage

Most home test kits will only do a room at a time. However, this air monitor will cover up to 2,000 square feet at a time. This means you can collect samples from an entire floor or small house without having to move the device around.

Accurate Results

Once you’ve collected enough samples, they’re sent to a certified lab for analysis. You’ll get to see exactly what’s lurking within your home. If you’ve been struggling with allergies or asthma, this will help you find the source of the trouble.

Analysis Cost Is Included

This device might seem expensive, but that’s because its cost include lab fees. All you have to do is send the samples and the device to the lab. You’ll receive your results within five business days.

Keep In Mind

One Time Use

This air monitor is not yours to keep. After running the test and collecting the required samples, you have to return the device and everything that comes with it.

Additional Specs

Detects Airborne Particles Yes
Results Waiting Time Five business days
Certified Lab Yes
Any Additional Fees None

2. DIY Mold Test by Mold Inspection Network

Best DIY Mold Test Kit

DIY Mold Test, Mold Testing Kit (3 tests). Lab Analysis and Expert Consultation included
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Suspect mold in your house? This DIY mold test kit will be able to tell you whether or not you actually have mold in your home.

The test is easy to do and you receive an instructional booklet to guide you.

Lab fees and report fees are included in the price (unless you’re in Texas).

The Mold Inspection Network also offers expert consultation if needed.

Why We Love It

Easy to Use

Start by inspecting your home. When you find traces of mold, wipe the open side of the sample across the area. Close the tape again and continue to collect samples from around your house.

Once you’ve collected enough, send the samples to the certified lab and wait for your results.

Everything Is Included

All fees are included in the price. This includes lab fees, a detailed report and even an expert consultation. If you choose to get a consultation, you’ll be able to discuss your results with an expert. Your results will be explained in detail and you’ll be able to figure out the best approach to your mold issue.

Easy to Read Results

To help you understand your lab results, you will receive them as an illustrated report. Your results are also confidential, and only you and the lab will know the results.

Keep In Mind

Only for Visible Mold

This test kit won’t detect airborne mold spores. The test is meant to identify species of visible mold.

Additional Specs

Detects Airborne Particles No
Results Waiting Time Not specified
Certified Lab No
Any Additional Fees Yes — shipping to lab and lab fees for Texas residents

3. DIY Mold Test Kit by Seeml Labs

Easiest Mold Test Kit

DIY Mold 3 Test Kit (Same Day Results) Expert Consultation and AIHA-LAP, LLC Accredited Lab Analysis Included
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For an easy mold test, we recommend this simple kit. You get everything you need to successfully collect samples from around your home.

The kit also includes instructions on how to collect the samples.

The samples are sent to an AIHA accredited lab that specializes in mold detection and identification.

All fees are included in the initial price.

Why We Love It

Easy to Use

With this kit, there’s no need to put on a lab coat and read a 10-page manual. You get easy-to-read instructions on how to collect samples and where to look for mold. Simply press the sticky side down onto the moldy surface and then close the tape back up.

All Fees Included

Professional mold testing is expensive as are many other test kits. However, this test kit is affordable. It also helps that you don’t have to make any additional payments for lab results.

Free Consultation

Also included in the price is free expert consultation. During the consultation, your results will be explained in detail to help you understand which mold is growing. They’ll also let you know how to remove it.

Keep In Mind

Won’t Detect Airborne Mold

This test kit is only meant to determine which type of mold you already have growing in your house. It won’t detect airborne mold or spores.

Additional Specs

Detects Airborne Particles No
Results Waiting Time Not specified
Certified Lab Yes
Any Additional Fees None

4. MOLDetect 3 Sample Mold Test

Best Three-Sample Mold Test Kit

MOLDetect - 3 Sample Mold Test Kit W/ AIHA Accredited Lab Analysis
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The MOLDetect test kit is favored by many homeowners — it’s fast and accurate. All tests are done by an AIHA accredited lab, so you can be sure the results are correct.

You get enough test strips to check three locations in your home. It’s easy to collect samples, as all you have to do is open up the tape and press down on the moldy surface. The test will detect both living and dead mold spores.

Why We Love It

Detects Living and Dead Mold

One mistake we often make is thinking only living mold is a health hazard. However, dead mold can actually do just as much harm, especially if you’re allergic. Therefore, detecting living and dead mold is important.

Quick Results

Sitting around, tapping your foot while waiting for results is a drag. Luckily, with the MOLDetect test kit, you’ll receive your results within two to three business days. Quick results also mean you can get to a solution quicker.

Detailed Instructions Are Provided

To help you collect the correct samples, you’ll receive a detailed instruction manual. Although this test kit is designed to confirm or deny visible mold, you can also collect dust particles to see if spores are present.

More still, with the instructions, you’ll also receive a booklet with information about mold. You can learn about inspection, treatment and how to prevent future mold.

Keep In Mind

Only Detects Visible Mold

This kit only determines whether or not what you suspect to be mold is mold. It’s not meant to capture airborne mold spores or particles.

Additional Specs

Detects Airborne Particles No
Results Waiting Time Two to three business days
Certified Lab Yes
Any Additional Fees None

5. My Allergy Detective

Best Mold Test Kit for Allergies

My Allergy Detective 3-Room Allergy Air Test Kit
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If you feel like your allergies could be caused by mold, this device might help.

My Allergy Detector is a device that collects samples from the air and identifies the different allergens present.

You get everything you need to run four tests. After the device has collected enough samples, you send the cassettes to a certified lab where they will be analyzed.

Why We Love It

Detects Allergens

If you’re struggling with allergies when at home, but you’re unsure of what could be causing the reactions, this device can help. This air monitor collects samples that are sent to a lab. You’ll then know exactly what is causing your allergies to act up.

It will detect common household allergens such as dust mites, mold, pet hair, dander, skin cells, insect fragments, pollen and more. After you receive your results, you can take them to your doctor to find a solution.

If mold is detected, the analysis will be tested further to determine what type of mold is present.

Certified Lab

The analysis is done by AIHA Nationally-Accredited Third Party Laboratories. So you can be sure that you’ll receive the correct results.

Easy to Read Results

Unless you’re a scientist or biologist, reading lab results can be rather confusing, to say the least. However, My Allergy Detective provides you with easy-to-read color-coded results.

Quick Results

Waiting for results for weeks can be frustrating. Luckily, My Allergy Detective will give you your lab results in a matter of three business days.

Keep In Mind

Expensive

Lab analysis fees aren’t included, which means you’ll have to pay nearly $50 per sample. This might be worth it if you’re severely affected when at home but don’t know the cause.

Additional Specs

Detects Airborne Particles Yes
Results Waiting Time Within three business days
Certified Lab Yes
Any Additional Fees Yes — lab fees

6. My Mold Detective 3-Room Kit

Best Test Kit for Airborne Mold

My Mold Detective MMD103 Mold Test Kit, 3-Room Kit
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For effective air sampling, this is one of our favorite kits.

This device is similar to the top product on our list, but this will only detect mold.

The set includes three cassettes for indoor sampling and one cassette for outdoors.

You get fast results and the test only lasts five minutes.

Why We Love It

Quick

Having to spend an entire afternoon, running around the house to collect samples can be frustrating and time-consuming. However, with this kit, all you have to do is place each cassette in areas where you might suspect mold. After five minutes, the cassettes should’ve collected enough samples and you can retrieve them.

Accurate Results

Once the test is done, you’ll know exactly what is growing and floating around in your house. The cassettes attract mold spores, so everything will be tested. This is also an effective way to stop mold spores before they settle and become actively growing mold.

Reusable Pump

Unlike the top test kit on our list, this device is yours to keep. When you need to test for molds again, all you have to do is purchase additional cassettes. With this kit, there’s no need to rent any expensive devices.

Keep In Mind

Expensive

Unfortunately, there are quite a lot of additional lab fees, which puts off a lot of potential customers. However, you do get high-quality results. Just be ready for any additional charges.

Additional Specs

Detects Airborne Particles Yes
Results Waiting Time Not specified
Certified Lab Yes
Any Additional Fees Yes — lab fees

7. A-1 Basements Instant Home Mold Test

Best Instant Mold Test Kit

Instant Home Mold Test
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If you’re looking for a reliable and quick way to know whether or not you have mold, this kit is for you.

This test kit will give you instant results, so you can start looking for a solution even quicker.

You get a total of two test swabs that you can wipe on any surface where mold is suspected. It’s a foolproof test meant to determine if what you suspect to be mold really is.

Why We Love It

Quick

If you suspect mold in your bathroom, attic, underneath your carpet or anywhere else in your house, this is a quick solution. Simply swab the area and place the sample in the tube. You’ll get your results in an instant.

Easy to Understand Results

The results are color-coded — green means positive for mold, while any color between blue and grey is negative. You also get mold remediation instructions with the test kit.

Keep In Mind

Further Investigation Is Needed

This test kit will only tell you whether or not you have mold — it won’t tell you if it’s toxic. You have to do further testing and inspection to know which type of mold is present.

Additional Specs

Detects Airborne Particles No
Results Waiting Time One minute
Certified Lab N/A
Any Additional Fees None

Detailed Comparison Chart

Product Best Detects Airborne Particles Results Waiting Time Certified Lab Additional Fees
Home Air Check Active Mold Tests Professional Yes 5 business days Yes None
Mold Inspection Network DIY Mold Test DIY No N/A No Shipping and lab fees (Texas)
Seeml Labs DIY Mold Test Kit Easiest Test No N/A Yes None
MOLDetect 3 Sample Mold Test Three-Sample No 2 – 3 business days Yes None
My Allergy Detective Allergies Yes 3 business days Yes Lab fees
My Mold Detective 3-Room Kit Airborne Mold Yes N/A Yes Lab fees
Instant Home Mold Test Instant Test No 1 min N/A None
Jump to the Full Mold Test Kit Reviews

Mold Testing

Suspect festering growing in your house? A good place to begin is by doing your own DIY test using one of the best mold testing kits. This is an excellent starting point to determine whether or not you have mold present or growing in your house.

There are many types of test kits, mainly air sampling and surface sampling. Both are effective, but a surface sampling will only detect growing or visible mold, not airborne spores.

After running a test, you should consider getting a professional inspection. This will help you determine the exact type of mold, severity, and how to best treat it.

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About the Author

Matthew Sullivan

Matthew is a freelance writer with several years of experience in DIY and HVAC. For as long as he can remember, Matthew has always found great pleasure in taking things apart and learning how to put them back together.
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