Should I Throw Away Moldy Dishes or Wash Them?

Moldy dishes can be a common problem in many households, causing concerns about food safety and hygiene. It’s essential to understand the risks associated with moldy dishes and make an informed decision on whether to keep or discard them. 

In this article, we will delve into the topic and provide insights into mold growth, potential health hazards, and the best course of action to ensure your well-being and peace of mind. So, let’s dive right in!

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Should I Throw Away Moldy Dishes

The Dangers of Moldy Dishes

Mold is a type of fungus that thrives in damp and humid environments. When it comes to moldy dishes, the main concern is the potential health risks associated with consuming food that has come into contact with mold. 

Mold produces allergens, irritants, and sometimes toxic substances called mycotoxins, which can have adverse effects on human health.

Health Risks: Consuming food that has been contaminated with mold can lead to various health issues, such as allergic reactions, respiratory problems, and gastrointestinal discomfort. 

Individuals with existing respiratory conditions or weakened immune systems may be particularly susceptible to these risks.

Spread of Contamination: Mold spores are microscopic and can easily spread to other dishes, utensils, and even kitchen surfaces. Failure to address mold contamination promptly can result in a more extensive problem within your kitchen.

Determining Mold Severity

Before deciding whether to discard moldy dishes, it’s crucial to assess the severity of the mold growth. In some instances, mold may only be superficial and limited to the surface of the dish. 

In such cases, thorough cleaning and disinfecting might be sufficient to remove the mold and ensure the dish is safe to use again. 

However, if the mold has penetrated deep into the material, it becomes challenging to completely eradicate it, rendering the dish potentially unsafe for future use.

Should I Throw Away Moldy Dishes

While it may be tempting to salvage dishes affected by mold, there are certain scenarios where throwing them away is highly recommended:

Porous Dishes: Porous materials, such as wood, bamboo, or ceramic with cracks or chips, are more likely to absorb mold spores. Cleaning these dishes thoroughly may not guarantee complete removal of the mold, making them unsafe to use.

Severe Mold Growth: If the mold growth on the dishes is extensive or has penetrated deep into the material, it becomes extremely difficult to eliminate entirely. In such cases, it is best to discard the dishes to prevent the spread of mold.

How to Clean Moldy Dishes: Effective Methods and Techniques

Now, we will explore various methods and techniques to effectively clean moldy dishes, ensuring that your kitchen remains a healthy environment for meal preparation and dining.

Method 1: Bleach Solution

Using a bleach solution is a common and effective method for cleaning moldy dishes. Here’s how you can do it:

Prepare the Solution: Mix bleach and water in a ratio of 1 to 800. For example, a quarter teaspoon of bleach is sufficient for one quart of water.

Apply the Solution: Spray the bleach solution liberally on the moldy dishes, ensuring complete coverage. Allow the solution to sit on the dishes for a few minutes.

Wipe and Rinse: Using a soft dish towel, wipe off the dishes, removing any visible mold. Next, wash the dishes with warm soapy water to eliminate any lingering traces of the cleaning solution.

Thoroughly Dry: After cleaning, make sure to dry the dishes thoroughly before storing them. Proper drying helps prevent further mold growth.

Method 2: Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

Hydrogen peroxide is an alternative to bleach and can effectively clean moldy dishes. Follow these steps:

Prepare the Solution: Pour 3 percent hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle.

Apply and Wait: Spray the hydrogen peroxide solution on the moldy dishes, ensuring even coverage. Let the solution sit on the dishes for approximately 15 minutes.

Rinse and Clean: After the waiting period, rinse the dishes with warm water and proceed to clean them as usual using your preferred dishwashing method.

Ensure Proper Drying: Allow the dishes to air-dry completely before storing them. This step prevents moisture accumulation, which can contribute to mold growth.

Method 3: Baking Soda Mix

Baking soda is a natural and safe option for cleaning moldy dishes. Here’s how you can use it:

Prepare the Solution: Mix a quarter spoonful of baking soda with water in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle vigorously until the baking soda is completely dissolved.

Apply and Rest: Spray the baking soda solution on the moldy dishes, ensuring thorough coverage. Allow the solution to rest on the dishes for approximately 10 minutes.

Scrub and Clean: Using a scrubbing brush, scrub the dishes gently to remove the mold. Pay attention to areas with stubborn mold growth. After scrubbing, wash the dishes with warm soapy water.

Dry the Dishes: Once the dishes are clean, dry them thoroughly before storing. Proper drying helps prevent moisture retention and subsequent mold formation.

Method 4: White Vinegar

White vinegar is an affordable and effective solution for eliminating mold on dishes. Follow these steps:

Soak or Spray: Pour white vinegar into a bowl and soak the moldy dishes, or use a spray bottle to apply the vinegar directly on the affected areas.

Wash as Usual: After ensuring the mold has been eliminated, wash the dishes as you normally would using your preferred dishwashing soap.

Tackle Stubborn Stains: If you have a more complicated mold build-up on your dishes, let the vinegar soak for an hour. Afterward, use a scrubbing brush to remove any remaining stains or fungus.

Thoroughly Dry: After cleaning, ensure that the dishes are completely dry before storing them. Proper drying prevents moisture accumulation and inhibits mold growth.

Method 5: Borax

Borax, known for its cleaning properties, can effectively remove mold from dishes. Here’s how you can use it:

Prepare the Solution: Pour a cup of Borax into warm water and mix well.

Submerge and Scrub: Place the moldy dishes into the Borax mixture and use a sponge to scrub off the mold.

Wash and Rinse: Take the dishes out of the mixture and wash them with your usual dishwashing soap. Rinse the dishes thoroughly to remove any traces of Borax.

Ensure Proper Drying: After cleaning, make sure the dishes are completely dry before storing them. Proper drying prevents moisture retention and mold growth.

When to Discard Moldy Dishes

While cleaning may be effective for some moldy dishes, certain situations warrant their disposal:

Severe Mold Growth: If the dish exhibits extensive mold growth or a strong musty odor, it is safer to discard it to prevent potential health risks.

Porous Material: Dishes made of porous materials like wood, bamboo, or ceramic with cracks or crevices are more likely to retain mold and should be discarded.

Compromised Integrity: If the dish is damaged, chipped, or cracked, it becomes difficult to clean thoroughly, making it prone to mold growth and unsafe for further use.

Persistent Mold Recurrence: If mold keeps reappearing on the dish despite repeated cleaning and disinfecting attempts, it’s best to replace it with a new one.

Preventing Mold Growth on Dishes

Prevention is always better than dealing with mold-contaminated dishes. Follow these tips to keep your dishes mold-free:

Proper Cleaning and Drying: Wash your dishes promptly after use with hot, soapy water. Thoroughly dry them before storing to minimize moisture accumulation, which can promote mold growth.

Regular Inspections: Regularly check your cabinets, shelves, and dish storage areas for any signs of mold growth. Promptly address any issues to prevent further contamination.

Proper Ventilation: Ensure proper airflow in your kitchen by using exhaust fans and opening windows whenever possible. Good ventilation helps in reducing humidity levels, discouraging mold growth.

Maintaining a Healthy Kitchen Environment

Apart from preventing mold growth on dishes, maintaining a healthy kitchen environment is essential for overall well-being. Consider the following tips:

Control Humidity Levels: Keep your kitchen well-ventilated and use a dehumidifier if necessary to maintain humidity levels below 50%. Lower humidity makes it less conducive for mold to grow.

Regular Cleaning: Regularly clean and disinfect your kitchen surfaces, cabinets, and appliances to eliminate any potential mold spores and prevent their growth.

Proper Food Storage: Store food in airtight containers to prevent moisture accumulation. Check the expiration dates of food items regularly to avoid consuming expired or spoiled products.


In summary, moldy dishes can pose health risks and should be handled with caution. Assess the severity of the mold growth, and if the dish is salvageable, follow proper cleaning and disinfection protocols. 

However, when in doubt or faced with extensive mold growth, it is better to err on the side of caution and discard the dish. By prioritizing your health and practicing good hygiene, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable dining experience for you and your loved ones.

Remember, prevention is better than cure! Regularly inspect and clean your dishes, maintain a dry environment, and store them properly to minimize the risk of mold growth. Stay informed, stay safe!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to use dishes that had mold?

It is generally not safe to use dishes that had mold. Mold can produce toxins that can contaminate the surfaces of dishes, and these toxins can be harmful if ingested. Mold can also penetrate porous materials like ceramics or plastics, making it difficult to completely remove. It is best to discard dishes that have visible mold growth.

Do you have to throw everything away if you have mold?

If you have mold growth on certain items, such as porous materials like wood, carpets, or upholstered furniture, it is often recommended to discard them because mold can be difficult to completely remove from these materials. However, non-porous items like glass or metal can sometimes be salvaged if the mold growth is minimal and can be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

Can cleaning moldy dishes make you sick?

Cleaning moldy dishes can potentially make you sick if proper precautions are not taken. Mold spores and toxins can become airborne during the cleaning process, leading to respiratory issues or allergic reactions if inhaled. It is important to wear gloves, a mask, and work in a well-ventilated area when cleaning moldy dishes. Thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing the dishes using appropriate methods can minimize the risk, but it is still advisable to exercise caution.

Does cooking destroy mold toxins?

Cooking can destroy some types of mold toxins, but it depends on the specific toxin and the temperature and duration of cooking. Some mold toxins are heat-stable and can withstand high temperatures, while others may be more susceptible to degradation. It is important to note that even if mold toxins are destroyed, the presence of mold itself on the dishes indicates potential contamination and should be addressed by proper cleaning and, if necessary, discarding the affected items.

What kills mold on dishes?

To effectively kill mold on dishes, you can follow these steps:
a. Wear gloves and a mask for protection.
b. Scrub the affected dishes with hot water and dishwashing detergent.
c. Rinse the dishes thoroughly.
d. Soak the dishes in a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water for about 10 minutes. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for bleach concentration and usage.
e. Scrub the dishes again and rinse thoroughly.
f. Alternatively, you can use a commercial mold-killing cleaner specifically designed for dishes, following the instructions provided.

How long does it take for mold to form on dishes?

The time it takes for mold to form on dishes can vary depending on several factors, including the environmental conditions and the presence of mold spores. In general, mold can start to grow on food residues or other organic matter within 24 to 48 hours under favorable conditions, such as warmth and moisture. However, it’s important to note that not all molds are visible to the naked eye, and they can grow undetected for longer periods under certain circumstances. Regularly cleaning and drying dishes promptly after use can help prevent mold growth.

Kristen Park - Specialised Content Writer for Caresh Fresh

My name is Kristen Park and I am a senior writer specialising in how-to guides and home cleaning information at Cares Fresh. As a researcher, I take pride in digging deep to find every small detail on a topic and explaining it in a way that is easy for the reader to understand.