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Best mold test kits 2020: Home testing for black mold and more

Best mold test kits 2020: Home testing for black mold and more
(Image credit: Getty)

Any of the best mold test kits can give you peace of mind, if you suspect there is black mold - or any other type of harmful spores - growing in your home. Mold thrives in damp, unventilated areas, and can be damaging to both your home and your health, so it's important to check for it if you suspect it has started growing. You'll usually find mold around windows, especially if they're poorly sealed, in unventilated bathrooms, and inside a poorly maintained HVAC unit. However, mold is capable of growing anywhere in a house, apartment, or trailer.

The best mold test kits offer both multiple sample dishes to help you collect potential spores, and will come with (or offer) a full laboratory analysis of whatever you collect. Any AIHA accredited lab will not only test whatever you send but will also be able to recommend a way to treat it, or suggest that you call in a specialist to tackle a more serious issue. While any test kit will likely detect mold that has spread throughout the home by a central air conditioning unit, our top pick - the Pro Lab Mold Test Kit - can also be attached to an AV vent to see if your HVAC is the problem. Not all test kits offer this kind of sample collection.

Mold test kits are relatively inexpensive, and retail via places like Home Depot or Amazon for between $10-50, depending on whether lab testing is included in the price, and how many sample dishes you get. It is important to remove mold from your home, as it can lead to sinus and breathing issues, and will definitely decrease the value of your property. Test kits are an important first step in the treatment process. If you need to take action against mold, we have guides to the best air purifiers and best dehumidifiers to help you manage the air in your home.

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

Pro-Lab Mold Test Kit

(Image credit: Pro-Lab)

1. 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

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: Quickest

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. ImmunoLytics Value Test Kit: Easiest to use

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.

5. Mold Armor Do It Yourself: Great brand

Mold Armor

(Image credit: Mold Armor)

5. 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.

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 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.

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 kits

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.