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Best mold test kits 2021

Best mold test kits 2021
(Image credit: Getty)

The best mold test kits are essential if you can see mold spores in your home or you suspect that there’s an issue with damp. These handy kits allow you to swab areas in your home before sending off your samples for professional analysis so you can get on top of the problem. 

If you’re after one of the best black mold test kits, we’ve included some great options that are approved by the American Industrial Hygiene Association and are very easy to use. Treating black mold in your home is not only essential because it looks horrible, but it can also lead to health problems if it spreads. If left to its own devices, mold can devalue your home and cost thousands to fix. 

The good news is that even the top-rated mold detection kits won’t cost you a fortune, and many options in our guide are less than $20. Take note, however, that some kit companies charge you extra for the lab testing part of the process but some return your results in just five days. 

We’ve ranked the best mold test kits for how easy they are to use, any extra fees involved, and how quickly the results are returned. You can find a range of kits to choose from below but for other ways to monitor and tackle the air inside your home, head to our guides on the best air purifiers or the best dehumidifiers

1. Pro-Lab Mold Test: Best mold test kit overall

Best mold test kits: Pro-Lab Mold Test Kit

(Image credit: Pro-Lab)

Pro-Lab Mold Test Kit

Affordable and accurate, this is the best mold test kit overall

Mold testing methods: 4 | Indoor or outdoor use: Indoor and outdoor | Lab fees included: No ($40) | Results: 5 days

Very accurate
Four mold tests 
Results in five days
Extra fee for lab to analyse results

The Pro-Lab Mold Test Kit is one of the most affordable kits and gives you four different testing methods. The first and easiest is the settling plate method, which has you leave a prepared petri dish on a flat surface for an hour before sealing it up and letting the sample incubate for a minimum of two days.

The second method is called visual sampling. This method has you use a swab to collect a mold sample and place it in a petri dish before sending both the swab and the dish off to the lab for analysis. Pro-Lab does charge an additional fee for laboratory analysis ($40), but the results will be accurate. This company is highly qualified and includes certification from the American Industrial Hygiene Association. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with specific sample bags for shipping petri dishes to the lab for analysis. It only takes up to five days to receive results back from the lab, which is quicker than most other companies.

The HVAC method is the most difficult option, but is important. This requires that you attach a petri dish to the vent farthest from the AC or heater and close all the other vents in your home before turning on the system for ten minutes. Once that is done, you seal the dish and let the sample incubate for at least two days. This kit can detect black mold and yeast but cannot identify fungus or bacteria. 

The company's website features DIY instructions, a FAQs page and video tutorials to assist you. You can also contact a representative via phone or email if you have questions.

2. Home Mold Laboratory Viable Mold Test Kit: Easiest to use

Best mold test kits: Home Mold Laboratory Viable Mold Test Kit

(Image credit: Home Mold Laboratory)

Home Mold Laboratory Viable Mold Test Kit

Our runner-up best mold testing kit

Mold testing methods: 3 | Indoor or outdoor use: Indoor | Lab fees included: No ($50) | Results: 8 days

Accredited by the American Industrial Hygiene Association
This kit is very easy to use
Lots of info included
Extra fee for lab to analyse results

The Home Mold Laborator Viable Mold Test Kit provides accurate results. It also happens to be one of the easiest test kits to use, since the supplies are ready to use right out of the box and don't require any preparation. However, bear in mind that because the supplies are prepared ahead of time, these mold test kits have expiration dates, which you will want to keep note of. 

You can use this kit to detect dangerous growth colonies like black mold, but it cannot detect bacteria or fungus. There are three different testing methods you can use. All three testing methods require that you incubate samples for three to seven days to make sure you give time for slow-growing mold and yeast to appear. 

Should you find mold growing within this time frame, you'll want to send a sample to the lab for analysis. This company charges $50 per sample that you submit, which is more than some other companies. Additionally, it can take up to eight days to get a sample back from the lab, which is longer than most other companies.

The easiest sampling method requires that you leave a petri dish in a room for an hour before sealing it up and letting it incubate. The second has you use a swab to determine whether the visible mold that you find in your home is alive or not. The last and most difficult testing method requires that you place a test kit on the air vent farthest away from your central air system. 

You'll then need to shut all of the other vents and have the system run for a few minutes. Once that is done remove the dish and seal it so the sample can incubate.

3. Healthful Home 5-Minute Home Mold Test: Best mold test kit for speed

Best mold test kits: Healthful Home 5-Minute Home Mold Test

(Image credit: Healthful Home)

Healthful Home 5-Minute Home Mold Test

One of the fastest mold test kits, with results in just five minutes

Mold testing methods: 1 | Indoor or outdoor use: Indoor | Lab fees included: Yes | Results: 5 minutes

5 minutes to get results
Quickly identifies black mold
Lab consultation price included
Only one testing method

The Healthful Home 5-Minute Home Mold Test is the perfect test for anyone who needs fast results. As the name states, it only takes five minutes to get results, which is good if you're concerned that you might have black mold growth.

Most other test kits require that you wait two to three days for results. If you want more detailed results, you need to send your sample in to the company's lab. This costs additional money but can give you peace of mind or help you determine what course of action to take. The lab's turnaround time is only five days so you won't have to wait that long for results.

This kit only offers one testing method: Using a swab, you collect samples of mold and place them into two collection trays. Then you release a special liquid onto the sample and your results will show up shortly thereafter. Overall, this testing method is very easy to use and requires little preparation. The kit itself is more expensive than the top three products, but the fee for lab results is average. 

While this kit does cost more to use, it can also help you take action quicker. This company is AIHA certified and offers support via phone and email if you have any questions about your testing experience.

4. EMSL Mold Swab Test Kit: Best lab tests

Best mold test kits: EMSL Test Kit

(Image credit: EMSL)

EMSL Mold Swab Test Kit

If you want lab accuracy on your tests, we recommend the EMSL kit

Excellent lab tests
Free kit upon application
Postage paid
More expensive than some

EMSL has a broad range of testing kits for all kinds of spores, microbes, and other environmental impacts on (and around) your home. The swab mold test kit it makes is among the most accurate you can buy, and we like this one because the emphasis is put squarely on the lab report. 

When you commit to a lab report, you're given the test kit for free, and return postage is already paid. The fee here is $75, which is more expensive than some other mold test kits, but we feel you're getting good value here.

The lab results are very accurate, and each of EMSL's labs are accredited by multiple bodies, including the AIHA. There are a good number of EMSL labs throughout the US, so dependant on your location, you can actually get results in 24-hours if you really need them. That is quicker than any other test kit on this list.

The kits themselves are very easy to set-up and they will grow spores within a few hours once placed correctly. They aren't as good for HVAC testing as our top choice, but handle all other rooms with ease. Overall, highly recommended if you need to know exactly what mold you're dealing with.

5. ImmunoLytics Value Test Kit: Best mold test kit for ease of use

Best mold test kits: ImmunoLytics Value Test Kit

(Image credit: ImmunoLytics)

ImmunoLytics Value Test Kit

This one is simple to use, and good value

Mold testing methods: 1 | Indoor or outdoor use: Indoor | Lab fees included: Yes | Results: 7 days

Free mycology included 
Very easy to use
Not certified by the American Industrial Hygiene Association

A basic mold test kit, like the ImmunoLytics Mold Test Kit, can help determine whether your house has a mold problem. With it, you can test indoor air. The best feature of the ImmunoLytics kit is that full laboratory analysis is included at no extra cost; you’ll also get a report that you can present to mold removal and remediation specialists, which can save you money.

By opening up the included petri dish and leaving it exposed for an hour to the air you want to test, you’ll have successfully collected a sample. The petri dish is ready to use, and you won’t have to add a growth medium. You can start testing the sample immediately with the assembled kit. 

If you want to get a more detailed report, you can submit your sample to the lab for testing, but keep in mind that ImmunoLytics is not certified by the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

6. Mold Armor Do It Yourself: Best mold test kit from a known brand

Best mold test kits: Mold Armor

(Image credit: Mold Armor)

Mold Armor Do It Yourself

A user-friendly mold test kit, but if you want extra lab analysis it'll take three weeks

Mold testing methods: 3 | Indoor or outdoor use: Indoor and outdoor | Lab fees included: No | Results: 48 hours

Easy step-by-step instructions
Indoor and outdoor
Extra fee for lab to analyse results
Mail-in lab results are slow and costly

The Mold Armor Do It Yourself test kit requires very little setup and tests for mold in the air, HVAC systems and surfaces. The tests take at least two days to incubate and mature, or you can send samples to a certified mycology laboratory to help you identify the exact types of mold in your home. 

Laboratory tests cost extra, and it takes three weeks for you to receive a custom report – the longest wait time of all the test kits we reviewed. Mold Armor’s lab is certified monthly by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), so you can rest assured that the results are accurate and thorough.

This kit costs less than $8 and comes with all of the supplies for conducting the three available tests. You get a petri dish, a growth agar and a cotton swab. The instructions suggest testing both indoor and outdoor air, but because the kit comes with only one dish and one growth agar, testing both indoor and outdoor air requires two kits. 

The Mold Armor kit doesn’t identify fungus, yeast or pollen, and you don’t have the option to send a carpet, fabric or wall sample to the lab for analysis.

7. DIY Mold Test: Best mold test kit for affordability

Best mold test kits: Mold Inspection Network DIY Mold Test

(Image credit: Mold Inspection Network)

DIY Mold Test

An affordable mold testing product that includes lab analysis

Mold testing methods: One | Indoor or outdoor use: Indoor and outdoor | Lab fees included: Yes | Results: 7 days

Lab fees included
Not accredited by AIHA
Can’t test air in your home

The DIY Mold Test kit from Mold Inspection Network allows you to test for all different types of mold. Priced at around $30, you’ll find three surface sample tests, a quick start guide (so you know how to use it), and a mold inspection booklet. 

The latter is what the company says sets it apart from the rest of the competition, as it’s like having an inspection in your house without paying the large upfront price. The booklet shows you how to inspect your home properly for any signs of mold or water damage. 

Once you have used the surface sample tests, you simply send them off to a lab to be processed. It will then analyze your samples and produce an illustrated report that you will receive through email within 7 days, so it’s pretty speedy. The DIY Mold Test kit has received brilliant reviews on Amazon. 

From just under 2,000 reviews, it’s scored 4.2 out of 5 stars. Buyers rated the product for the quick turnaround, they said it was easy to use and was a product that they highly recommend. However we marked this test kit down because it’s not accredited by AIHA and it can only be used to test the surfaces in your home. You will have to invest into a different mold test kit if you wish to check the air.

8. First Alert MT1 Mold Detection Kit: Best mold test kit for first step testing  

Best mold test kits: First Alert MT1 Mold Detection Kit

(Image credit: First Alert)

First Alert MT1 Mold Detection Kit

Detects mold on the surfaces of your home or workplace

Mold testing methods: One | Indoor or outdoor use: Indoor and outdoor | Lab fees included: No | Results: 5-7 days

Well-known brand
NIOSH certified lab
Quick turnaround
  Extra $15 for lab analysis

First Alert is a well-known brand that has been providing safety products for your home for around 60 years. So it’s a brand you can trust. And it’s MT1 Mold Detection Kit is no different.

If you purchase this simple, no-fuss testing kit, you get six test taps to use on your surfaces, three polybags, a manual and a preprinted return envelope. Although this kit won’t test whether there is mold in the air, it will get to the bottom of whether there is mold growing on your surfaces.

Costing under $20, this is on the affordable side of test kits. However, you do have to pay an extra $15 per sample you send to the lab for analysis. But despite the additional price, if you do decide to opt for this testing, you can rest assured it will be accurate as it’s conducted by a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) certified lab and you’ll receive your results within 5 – 7 working days.

Do at-home mold testing kits really work? 

At-home mold testing kits really do work, you just have to ensure you’re investing in the best ones. We’re not saying an at-home mold testing kits should replace a professional mold inspector from coming to your home, but they are a brilliant first-step tool in detecting the presence of black mold and other harmful colonies. 

They are also much more affordable than calling in a professional, especially if the initial results show that no mold is present. Another benefit of at-home mold test kits is that you should get your results pretty quickly, usually within a couple of weeks. 

Plus, the most highly ranked test kits in our guide are certified by the American Industrial Hygiene Association and are tested by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-certified labs. 

So you can trust the results. Before using your mold test kit, always read the user's guide. Human error can occur and collection methods differ with each kit – so to get the most reliable results,  you need to make sure you use each kit correctly. 

How to choose the best mold test kit

There are a few key things to consider when selecting a mold test kit. These include the types of supplies that are included and the customer support that's available. Here are the main factors to think about to make sure you choose the best mold test kit for your situation. 

Test supplies

It is important to find a mold test kit that includes all of the equipment necessary to collect complete samples. If a test kit can collect surface samples but does not include swabs or adhesive strips, you’ll have to look elsewhere to buy these items at an added cost. Usually, you can determine the types of tests the kit can perform by looking at the included supplies.

Help and support

Reputable mold test companies include their telephone numbers and email addresses on their websites. In addition to contact information, you might want to select a company that has strong support options, including FAQs and video tutorials. Aside from our top two products, the Pro-Lab Mold Test Kit and the Home Mold Laboratory Viable Mold Test Kit, you can find full customer support with Healthful Home's 5-Minute Mold Test and the Mold Check Whole House Mold Test.

It also is handy if either the kit itself or the website offers a guidebook to tell you how to test for mold and identify what you find.

If you suspect that your home is infested with some form of mold, it is important to identify and deal with the problem as quickly as possible. Home mold test kits give you an excellent tool in the battle against mold and other harmful invaders. 

How much do at-home mold test kits cost?

The cost of mold test kits ranges from about $10 up to $395, with costlier kits typically including more tests and supplies like swabs, test plates and adhesive strips. Other services, such as lab analysis, can add as much as $40 to the total cost.

Best mold test kits: Black mold growing on a white concrete wall

(Image credit: Getty)

Why trust us on mold test kits

We have been reviewing mold test kits for over 11 years. For our most recent evaluation, we spent over 30 hours comparing each kit's testing methods, included supplies, ease of use, prices and certifications. We wanted the number one option to detect black mold and other dangerous growth colonies while still being easy to use. 

Additionally, we wanted our best overall pick to offer fast results and fast lab turnaround times so you could respond quickly to any threats to you and your family's health. The most highly ranked test kits in our lineup are AIHA certified and offer professional staff to help you get support via phone and email.

How we evaluated the best mold test kits for home use

While we didn't test these kits ourselves, we did compare their supplies, testing methods and support features to determine which were the easiest to use. Since mold can greatly impact you and your loved ones' health, we gave more points to kits that require shorter incubation times and have faster lab turnaround. 

We also checked to see what kinds of testing methods each kit offers. Typically, kits that offer more testing methods scored higher in our comparison since they give you more options to work with.

We gave more points to kits that could detect a larger number of growths, including yeast, mold, fungus and bacteria. Kits that let you take HVAC samples and outdoor tests and that allow you to submit physical samples scored higher since they were more inclusive. Scores were also higher for kits that provide professional supplies like petri dishes, swabs, sample bags and adhesive strips. 

Similarly, the amount of support offered by the company influenced our rankings. If there are multiple customer contact options and multiple ways to find answers to questions, including a FAQs page and video tutorials, companies scored higher.

While we didn't score testing kits based on their prices, we did determine whether or not a product's price was warranted. The total cost of a mold testing experience includes the initial price of the kit and the price of the lab analysis. Some products cost very little initially but are expensive if a lab test is needed.

How common is mold in homes?

Unfortunately, mold is very common in homes because it grows in areas with lots of moisture or where there has been flooding. According to advice from the CDC, most building materials are ‘particularly conducive’ for the growth of some molds especially on wet materials like paper, cardboard, ceiling tiles and wood. But other common household materials like paint, wallpaper, carpet, clothes and upholstery also support mold growth.

Mold is particularly prominent around leaks in roofs, pipes or windows. You will most likely spot this nuisance problem in bathrooms, toilets, kitchens and basements. Mold can enter your home in many different ways. Whether this is through cracks and crevices, windows, open doors or via heating and air conditioning systems. It can also attach itself to clothing, shoes and pets and be brought into your home this way. 

What are the most common symptoms of black mold exposure?

Usually dark green or black in appearance, black mold is a type of fungus and refers to several species of mold. Whenever you spot mold, it should be removed as soon as possible. That’s because mold can multiply rapidly and cause a range of different health problems. 

It can cause stronger symptoms in those that have weakened immune systems or those with mold allergies or asthma. That being said, mold affects each of us in different ways, but some of the most common symptoms reported include:

  • Coughing
  • A sore throat
  • Skin rash/s
  • Red or itchy eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma attacks (in those who suffer from asthma)
  • Difficulty breathing (in those who have a chronic respiratory disease)
  • Lung infections (in those with weakened immune system)
Rebecca Spear

Rebecca is a writer and graphic designer who covers photo books, graphic design and small kitchen appliances for Top Ten Reviews. She's also written for TechRadar, Windows Central, Android Central, Reuters Legal Solutions Blog, iMore, and more.