Mold is a problem that can crop up seemingly out of nowhere, though there are common areas where mold tends to recur, such as bathrooms, kitchens, attics, basements, and cellars. These areas are all prone to high levels of moisture and humidity, which promotes the growth of mold spores. While some people may be able to detect the presence of mold by scent or by sight, using a mold test kit is a much more accurate method and can provide users with detailed results so that they know what type of mold they are dealing with and how to treat the issue.
The best mold test kit for a home depends on whether users want to test the air quality or if a surface test is more appropriate. Take a look at the top products below to see examples of the various mold test kits available, then read on for more information about how to select the best mold test kit to test for the presence of mold in a home.
- BEST OVERALL: Mold Inspection Network DIY Mold Test
- RUNNER-UP: Seeml Labs DIY Mold 3 Test Kit (Same Day Results)
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Mold Armor FG500 Do It Yourself Mold Test Kit
- BEST LAB-TESTED: ImmunoLytics DIY Mold Test Kit for Home
- BEST PETRI DISH: Home Health Science MoldCheck DIY Mold Test Kit
- BEST SWAB TEST: Healthful Home 5-Minute Mold Test
- BEST AIR PUMP: My Mold Detective MMD103 Mold Test Kit
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Mold Test Kit
Don’t decide on a mold test kit without first understanding the various types of test kits, and then consider the accuracy of the test, the waiting period for results, and how easy or difficult the test kit is to use. These factors can help users decide on the best mold test kit to verify the presence of mold in a home.
Types of Mold Testing Methods
An in-home mold testing kit can test for mold in the air or on the surface of furniture, floors, or walls. Surface tests consist of swabs and tape strips, while air tests are done with an air pump or a petri dish.
- Swabs are a straightforward method of testing surfaces in the home for the presence of mold. These tests consist of one or more cotton swabs that need to be rolled over the surface to be tested. Swab tests provide results in just a few minutes. Other products require the user to send the test tube to a lab in order to test the sample.
- Tape strips are another type of common surface mold test kit. These tests are typically sent to a lab for analysis, so users will need to wait for results.
- Air pumps are made to sit on a table or countertop to test the air in the home. The pump collects air and mold particles. After testing, the kit must be sent to a lab for results.
- Petri dish tests are treated with a microbial culture to help promote the growth of mold. When mold lands on a dish, it grows quickly, leaving the user with clear results. However, for the most accurate results about the severity of the air quality and the type of mold, it’s recommended to send the sample to a lab for testing.
When conducting a test for the presence of mold, mildew, lead, radon, or any other potentially harmful contaminants in a home, the tests need to be accurate; otherwise, there really isn’t a point. An inaccurate test is about as helpful as guessing. Swabs and tape strips are a good choice that can quickly gather a sample from the floor, walls, or any other surface in the home; however, these tests can be susceptible to contamination and false results if there are other substances on the tested surface.
Petri dishes keep the test isolated from the surface of the table or counter, but if they are left open for too long, airborne contaminants can affect the results. The most accurate test is an air pump because it pulls the air in without having to wait and it never comes in contact with potentially contaminated surfaces in the home. Sending each test to a lab will achieve more accurate results than users would be able to discern at home.
Waiting Period for Results
After testing for mold using a swab or a petri dish test, users may be able to get results in just a few days. The kit can give identification instructions for determining whether mold is growing in the home, but this isn’t the most accurate way to test for mold unless you or someone you know has professional lab experience and explicit knowledge about how to detect and identify mold and mold spores.
Air pump and tape strip mold test kits typically need to be sent to a lab, and even if the DIY user has personal knowledge and expertise, a professional lab likely has better equipment, so it’s best to send swab and petri dish samples away for the most accurate results. However, it can take between 3 days to 4 weeks to be contacted with the outcome of the test, depending on mail delivery options, location of the lab, and processing times.
Ease of Use
The purpose of an at-home mold test kit is to allow the average person to test their home for mold with a simple, intuitive kit that isn’t difficult to use. Typically, a mold test consists of taking a surface or an air sample, then either checking the results yourself or sending the sample to a professional lab for testing, which then mails the results back.
- Swab tests are performed by rolling the cotton swab over the surface of a table, wall, floor, or any other surface to be tested. The swab goes in a test tube and it’s then sent to the lab or checked at home.
- Tape strips need to be applied to the surface that is to be tested. Then, the strip is removed and is applied to the test board. This sample is then sent to the lab and there is a wait period before receiving the results.
- Air pumps require little effort. The pump pulls in air for the specified amount of time, based on the individual product. When the test is done, it is sent to the lab for the results.
- Petri dish tests need to be left out on a table or a counter. The dish collects spores and other particles from the air and then it is treated with a microbial culture to promote mold growth. After sealing the petri dish and allowing the contents to grow for at least 24 hours, the results are either checked at home or the sample is sent to a lab for a more accurate outcome to the test.
Our Top Picks
The list of top products below has been selected based on the type of mold test, the accuracy of the test, and overall quality to help shoppers find the best mold test kit to verify the presence of mold in a home.
This DIY mold test kit comes with three tape-strip mold tests and three sample containers to seal the samples for transportation to the lab where they will be tested. Use the three test strips on surfaces around the home that either are, or are close to, suspected problem areas. After taking a sample from the surface, apply it to the test board then place the entire board in a sample container, ensuring that the sample is properly labeled before sealing the container.
Then, send the samples to the lab and wait for the results. The lab fees are included in the price of the product, except for residents of Texas who will need to pay to have the sample shipped to the lab for testing. When the lab receives and inspects the samples, they will contact the user and provide both a detailed report of their findings and an expert explanation so the user knows what the results mean and how to proceed. Results can take up to 3 weeks after mailing samples.
This Seeml Labs mold test kit includes one swab test and two tape strip tests, giving users the ability to test their home in more than one way with just one test kit. Gently roll the cotton swab on the surface to be tested, then place the swab into the test tube and seal it. The test strips need to be applied to the surface being tested, then removed and placed onto the test board. This traps the collected sample between the board and the strip. Place the board into the sample collection container and seal it.
After testing, the samples should be sent to the lab. There are no lab fees, though users may need to pay to mail the test kit. Once received, the lab can process the results in just 1 day, contacting the user through email with a detailed lab report and expert consultation to help understand the results and the next steps for dealing with a potential mold problem.
Set up the petri dish to take air samples near the home’s ventilation system, or use the swab to get surface samples from common problem areas like the shower tile with this inexpensive Mold Armor mold test kit. The kit is easy to use and takes just 48 hours to see results, so users can take immediate action to keep the family safe from harmful mold instead of waiting on the postal service to deliver samples to a lab for testing.
However, if the idea of relying completely on non-professional assessment seems concerning, the manufacturer does offer the option of sending the sample to a lab for more official testing, though there is an associated fee.
Get professional lab analysis and expert consultation about the results of the test, as well as a full-color laboratory report detailing the exact genus of the mold with this DIY mold test kit. The kit includes five petri dishes, each intended to test the air quality in a room of the house. They can all be used for a widespread test of the home or the user may only need to test one or two rooms, saving the other three petri dishes for retesting.
The mold test kit also includes stickers, labels, and a return shipping box to send the samples for lab testing, though there is an associated lab fee per petri dish. Some users may prefer to do a self-analysis instead of paying the fee. It takes about 4 to 5 days for the mold to develop to the point where a visual self-analysis is possible, and the plates can then be sent for professional testing if the user wants more information about the mold.
This mold test kit doesn’t have an associated lab fee, relying strictly on the user to properly use the petri dish test in the desired area and review the results. The kit comes with 10 petri dishes to be placed around the home. Not all petri dishes need to be used, but by using more petri dishes the results can help to track high mold content back to the source of the growth, like a bathroom or a kitchen.
The kit also comes with a microbial culture to promote mold growth in the petri dishes, taking between 48 hours to 5 days to see the results of each test. After the test is done, use the included investigation guide to determine the outcome of each petri dish and refer to the cleanup guide to help remove mold and clean areas where mold was found.
The Healthful Home mold test kit comes with a test for stachybotrys mold and a test for both aspergillus and penicillium mold. Just use the included all-in-one swab to swab the surface that is being tested, and then bend the bulb of the all-in-one swab to add moisture. Allow the solution to mix with the sample, then place a drop of the solution on the stachybotrys test and a drop on the aspergillus and penicillium test. The results should appear within 5 minutes.
The stachybotrys test will display a single line if an unhealthy amount of mold is detected in the sample, while the aspergillus and penicillium test will display two lines if unhealthy amounts of mold are found. Users also have the option to use the three included standard swabs to take additional samples and send them to the lab for confirmation with the lab request card using the postage-paid mailer.
Don’t wait on a petri dish to slowly collect a sample when the My Mold Detective mold test kit comes with an air sampling pump to take quick, 5-minute air quality samples of both indoor and outdoor locations. Just attach the air sampling pump to one of four sample cassettes and draw in nearby air and mold spores (if present). Collect the sample cassette and pack it into the included mailing envelope to send to the laboratory for testing.
Tests come back in 3 business days after the sample is received by the labs, and they include color-coded lab reports, an analysis of the results, recommendations for treatment, and any additional next steps for the user. However, if the outcome of the test is needed promptly, there are options for expediting the process for a faster turnaround.
FAQs About Mold Test Kits
Keep the home safe from lingering and spreading mold spores by testing and treating mold problems. For more information on mold test kits, like how they work and whether these kits expire, read below to get answers to these questions and several additional commonly asked questions about the best mold test kits.
Q. How does a mold test kit work?
In general, mold test kits collect samples from either the air or a surface in the home. The sample is then checked by the user or sent to a lab for results that will be emailed within a period of 3 days to 4 weeks, depending on several different factors, such as the location of the lab and the mail transit timeline.
Q. Do mold test kits expire?
Most mold test kits don’t have an expiration date; however, it’s advised to use new test kits to reduce the chance of contaminated results because the chemicals in test strips, swabs, and petri dishes can degrade over time.
Q. If mold grew on my settling plate, should I start treating my house for mold?
Settling plates or petri dishes are good for identifying the presence of mold, but not the type or severity of the issue. After using a petri dish mold test and finding mold on the dish, consider getting an on-site assessment from a professional mold removal company before treating for mold.
Q. How do I know if my home is free of mold once repairs have been made?
After cleaning up mold growth and making infrastructure repairs to prevent recurring mold issues, use a home mold test kit to determine if it worked and that the home is now free of mold. If you still aren’t confident after using this method, you may want to have an on-site assessment from a professional mold removal company.