There are over 100,000 species of mold in existence. Some of them are toxic, while others are not. And while the different types of mold come in different colors, there is really no way to tell whether mold is toxic by just looking at its color.

Conducting a mold test is worth it in order to know whether the mold in your home is toxic. It’s better to know what you are dealing with so you can make an informed decision.

There are some mold testing scams out there so make sure you know what you should pay and who to hire.

Mold or Dirt - How to tell?

The best way to tell whether the ugly marks in your home are caused by mold growth or dirt is to use diluted bleach.

To conduct the test, start by mixing bleach and water in a 1:16 ratio. Place the resulting mixture in a container. Dip a cotton swab in the solution and then rub it against the stains.

If the stains immediately turn white, then you are dealing with a mold growth. It is also a mold growth if after cleaning the area, the stains keep coming back.

In addition to the above test, you can also tesla whether it is dirt or mold by:

  • Noting the smell. Mold has a musty smell. Therefore, if the stains have a distinct earthy or musty smell, then you are likely dealing with mold growth. However, if it doesn’t, chances are that what you are looking at is just dirt.
  • Looking at the color of the stains. Mold can be brown, white, purple, yellow, green, or black. In most cases, dirt is usually brown or black. Therefore, if the stains take on a color that does not resemble the dirt in your place, chances are that it is caused by mold.

When is the right time for mold testing?

The right time for mold testing is when you or your loved ones are experiencing serious health problems or allergies that are typically associated with mold. You should also do so if you are suspecting that you have toxic mold in your home.

Therefore, if you have ruled out any other cause for the health problems or allergic reactions, conducting a mold test should be the next logical step.

Keep in mind that mold exists naturally in the air. And so mold tests are only designed to identify the concentrations of mold spores in your home, and the identity of the species of mold that is attacking your home. Both of these details are only relevant in cases where mold is causing serious health problems.

Otherwise, simply removing and getting rid of the mold as soon as you can see or smell it, is advisable.

Is mold testing worth it

How to avoid mold testing scams?

You can avoid mold testing scams by taking the time to search for and vet mold testing companies in your area. Here are tips that you will find useful in helping you to avoid scammers.

#1. Compare quotes

Shopping around is essential because it will help you to not only get the most affordable price possible but also sniff out scams. Mold testing services that are offering their services at rates that are unreasonably low are likely trying to lure you into a scam.


#2. Check licensing and insurance status

Licensing authorities regulate the conduct of mold testing experts. A licensed contractor is thus less likely to get involved in scams for fear of losing their license. Therefore, limiting your pool of potential mold testing expert hires to the ones that have a valid license will reduce the risks of getting scammed.


#3. Contact and interview the references provided

Scammers tend to provide references that aren’t real or reliable. Therefore, contacting and interviewing the people that they list as references is one of the easiest ways of sniffing out potential scams.


#4. Confirm the credentials of the mold testing service provider

Membership to professional organizations and certification by nationally and internationally recognized organizations is a sign of a genuine mold testing service provider.

Therefore, before hiring a contractor to conduct a mold test in your home, confirming that they actually have recognized certifications and that they belong to reputable professional organizations, is an easy way of avoiding getting scammed.


#5. Insist on a payment schedule

Most scammers are motivated by the idea of getting quick cash. They are thus more likely to insist on upfront payment.

Therefore, insisting on a payment schedule where you pay a tiny fraction of the total cost at the beginning, and then the rest on completion, is an easy way of discouraging them.


#6. Arm yourself with a list of relevant questions

Interviewing a mold testing expert isn’t designed to only be a way of seeking clarification. It can also be a way of testing their knowledge and making sure that they actually know what they are doing.

Ask the representative questions about mold spores, whether they can completely get rid of them, how they will be collecting samples, and how long the whole process will take. And depending on the answers that you get back, you can be able to easily weed out potential scammers.


#7. Make it clear that a third-party expert will be involved

Some mold testing service providers can give fake results so as to ensure that they get hired to remove the mold. By making it clear that you won’t be hiring them for mold removal, you increase the odds of getting a genuine mold testing report.

What affects the cost of mold testing?

The cost of mold testing varies depending on several factors. The following are the ones that have the most impact.

  • The type and number of tests to be conducted. Will it be an air test, a surface test, a tape test, or a combination of the three tests? Are they going to do stain testing, HVAC mold testing, or are they going to use mold cultures? Generally, the more the tests, the more the mold testing will cost.
  • The size of the area to be tested. Generally, the larger the test area, the higher the cost of mold testing.
  • The company conducting the test. Different companies apply different rates depending on their location, the credentials of their staff, and their preferences.
  • Whether you are using the same company for both testing and remediation. In some cases, you can even get free mold testing if you hire one company to test and remove the mold. And even if you don’t, you are likely to get a discounted price.
What affects the cost of mold testing mold inspection

DIY or Hire a professional

It is possible to both test for and remove mold yourself. This is because DIY testing kits have made it easy for homeowners to carry out mold tests. However, there are times when hiring a professional is the best course of action. It all depends on the reason why you are conducting the test and your budget.

Formal reasons for mold testing

If the reason why you are conducting a mold inspection is formal, then hiring a professional is advisable. This is so especially if you need it for insurance purposes or in order to support a real estate deal, then you will need a professionally compiled mold test report.

Suspicion of toxic mold presence

Also, if you suspect that the mold in your house is toxic mold, letting a professional handle the testing is advisable. There is really no reason as to why you should risk exposure to mycotoxins. Furthermore, since you can’t afford to get it wrong, being able to rely on a professional’s expertise will give you peace of mind.

Informal mold testing reasons

However, if the reason for wanting a test is to satisfy a curiosity, then a DIY test will do. It will also be a great option if you are working on a limited budget. Or if you simply want to know if the marks in your home are dirt stains or mold stains.

Mold inspection VS mold testing

Mold testing is limited to collecting mold samples, testing for mold concentrations in a home, and identifying the specific mold species growing in a given space.

A mold inspection, on the other hand, encompasses a wide range of activities that start from identifying the presence of mold, locating where it is growing and the extent of the growth, and recommending the best path for removal. It is usually accompanied by a mold inspection report.

What happens after the testing?

After the testing, you will be given a mold testing report. The report will then inform your decision on how best to kill and remove the mold. However, you may have to first deal with the underlying cause of the mold — moisture problem — before mold remediation starts.

How long does mold testing take?

Mold testing typically takes about an hour and it may take between 24 hours and a week for you to get the results of the test. However, how long it actually takes depends on the number of locations being tested, the length of the queue of the laboratory that the testing company is using, and the overall availability and responsiveness of the mold testing service.


Mold testing is extremely accurate with respect to the identification of mold species growing in a home.

However, with regards to testing for mold concentrations in the air, they typically have a lower degree of accuracy simply because mold spores exist naturally in the environment. As a result, results tend to vary widely depending on seasons, whether or not the windows were left open, and even the mold sample collection techniques that were used.

Yes, you should get a mold inspection when buying a house.

Mold inspections are essential when it comes to identifying whether a house has a moisture problem. And since moisture problems tend to cause extensive damage — including causing mold infestation and property damage– an inspection will help you assess the true value of the home.

There is also the fact that mold remediation costs money. A mold inspection will help you to identify the extent of the mold growth and the expenses that you will need to incur before you can move into the home. This can come in handy in helping you to evaluate your potential return on investment, especially if you are planning on flipping the property.

With an inspection, you will gain more knowledge about the house. This will go a long way towards improving your negotiation position as far as the property’s selling price is concerned.

Yes, most home mold test kits work. This is because even though you will be collecting the samples on your own, the samples are typically taken to actual labs. The tests are then conducted by qualified experts, and so the results are generally genuine and reliable.

You can get your house tested for mold by contacting a mold testing company near your area. They can then come to your home, collect the relevant samples, test them in their laboratories, and then give you the results.

You can also purchase at-home mold test kits online. After receiving the kit, follow the sample collection instructions that came with the kit. After you are done, send it back to the given address and then wait for the results.

If your house is positive for mold, you should contact a mold remediation company to have them kill and remove the mold. However, you can also get rid of the mold on your own by either using undiluted vinegar or mold-killing sprays that are sold online.

FAQ’s Is mold testing

If you are looking for help testing your home for mold, the first place you should go to is It offers a free service that quickly matches you with the top-voted local mold remediation contractors.

Using the website, you can get 3 estimates fast by real certified experts in your area in just 2 minutes. Here is how it works.

  1. You scroll to the top of the page and enter your Zip code.
  2. Answer questions about your mold testing needs
    Your details will be forwarded to three local experts.
  3. You will then receive a price estimate for the job and some friendly advice.

IMPORTANT: There is no obligation to hire. This is a free tool and service to be used at your pleasure.

Benjamin McInerny
Author: Benjamin McInerny - is a qualified arborist with 20 years of industry experience. Ben has a wide knowledge of renovation and DIY projects around the house such as lawns, fencing and painting. Ben shares his skills with DIY and gardening enthusiasts.