Because mold prefers to feed off of cellulose—wallpaper, drywall, wood, any paper-based products—it is quite commonly found on wooden furniture and fixtures around the home. Wood is exceptionally vulnerable to mold because it is made up of a deeply penetrable and fibrous material that easily absorbs moisture. If you don’t know how to clean mold from wood properly, you not only run the risk of leaving remnants of viable mold behind for future growth, but you can also damage the wood itself. Thankfully, there are some options available—and most of you are already stocked up on what’s needed.
Is Mold on Wood Furniture Dangerous?
It’s possible that the mold that has infiltrated your wooden cabinetry, furniture, or even flooring is toxic. Disturbing a toxic mold without proper respiratory safety gear and using improper cleaning materials and tools will only exacerbate the situation—possibly spreading the growth or leaving you and your loved ones with mold sickness.
It is not always easy to identify toxic black mold. The density of growth can make many molds appear black in color to the naked eye. What’s more, black mold is actually dark green, so if its growth is sparse, it will appear more green than black. This is why we always recommend mold remediation specialists—no matter what needs to be cleaned up—because testing for mold types is expensive and takes time.
If your goal is simply to clean a movable wooden piece—like cabinets, doors, decorations, headboards, etc.—and it’s not some irreplaceable family heirloom or antique, then testing before cleaning may not be worth the time or expense. You could save money in the long run by simply replacing the item or fixture. More than likely, however, you are intending to salvage the wood and avoid replacement. This is understandable, especially in today’s economy. It makes replacement even more difficult and costly if the mold is located on wood flooring, wall paneling, or even on the porch and railing.
If you cannot afford testing and are determined to move forward with the risk, please be advised that the information provided here on MoldBlogger is not a replacement for professional mold remediation or medical advice. Should you choose to apply MoldBlogger’s methods for cleaning mold, you are doing so with the full burden of risk and accountability.
That said, if the affected area is no larger than ten square feet and toxic mold is not suspect, you can easily eliminate mold with the methods provided here. Even a non-toxic mold can be spread farther and cause skin and respiratory conditions due to incorrect cleaning methods or a delay in cleaning altogether, which is why it is important that you not only use the right approach, but that you also tackle the project as soon as possible.
How to Clean Mold from Wood
Once again, we ask that you be cautious and allow for testing or call in a specialist before moving forward with these steps if there is a possibility that the mold is toxic. All things considered, these steps do provide some protection from most types of exposure and we have specifically selected safety gear that is generally used against toxic mold, but we prefer and advise that you seek expert cleaners instead of taking the risk yourself. Please use extreme caution and care.
The steps for cleaning mold—specifically non-toxic mold—are as follows:
Step 1: Wear Personal Protective Gear (PPE)
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends N95 respirators, half-mask or full-face piece respirators with 100 level filters (HEPA), or PAPRs with HEPA filters, as well as other PPE, such as gloves made from natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane, or PVC. Regular face masks and fabric-based gloves will not provide protection again microscopic mold spores and mycotoxins.
As for the rest of your body, wear clothing you don’t mind disposing of. You can also purchase a disposable full-body PPE suit for $12 or less from Amazon (see link below).
If you choose a half-mask respirator, be sure to wear goggles and ensure your nose is fully covered by the mask, as well. Airborne mold affects the mucous membranes and can cause extreme eye irritation.
EPA-Approved Mask on Amazon for Cleaning Mold
Box of Disposable Mid-Forearm Nitrile Gloves for Cleaning Mold
Eye Protection Goggles for Cleaning Mold
1 Pair of PVC-Coated Elbow-Length Gloves for Cleaning Mold
Full Body Protection (not including gloves or respiratory mask) for Cleaning Mold
While we make these highly-advisable suggestions, we’re also not ignorant of the fact that most of you will probably opt to just wearing a hoodie, sunglasses/swim goggles, latex gloves, and a regular face mask. While we don’t condone this, we know we cannot force you to abide by the EPA regulations for mold remediation. If this is how you choose to clean the mold, then please dispose of all materials used in the bin outside the home and be sure to shower thoroughly afterward. If the wooden item in question can be moved outside for the cleaning, we strongly suggest you do that, as well.
Step 2: Vacuum the Affected Area
• Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to suck up any loose mold spores on or near the affected portion of the wood.
• Run the vacuum over the area, then take the vacuum outside to dispose of its contents.
• Make sure the vacuumed material is tightly sealed in a plastic bag, so no spores can escape.
• Thoroughly clean the vacuum and any vacuum accessories used with white vinegar or antibacterial soap.
Step 3: Use a Solution that Specifically Kills Mold
As long as the mold has not penetrated too deeply, you can kill it. How to clean mold from wood exactly? You can use Concrobium Mold Control or you can try one of MoldBlogger’s own recipes and techniques:
Borax for Cleaning Mold
DIY: All-Natural Spray for Wood
Removing Mold from Wood with Vinegar
Another option is a very simple distilled white vinegar solution (which studies show can kill up to 80% of mold species):
• Combine equal parts vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle and spritz this solution on the mold.
• Let the solution dry for one hour, then wipe down the surface with a moistened cloth, followed by a dry towel.
Many sites will suggest dish soap, but the problem is that dish soap may remove visible mold and penetrate the wood slightly to reach the roots, but it does not prevent regrowth. It is only effective because mold smears into an oil-like residue and dish soap is formulated to manage oily residues. Regrowth is a strong possibility with mold because it is such a durable substance. The best mold killer for wood is going to be a Borax-based cleaner, a naturally antifungal essential oil cleaner, a vinegar-based cleaner, or even a commercial cleaner such as Concrobium Mold Control.
Whatever cleaning solution you use, be sure to rinse with hot water and spritz the area again with vinegar. This prevents regrowth.
Never use bleach. It does not kill mold—it merely changes its color and leaves it dormant for regrowth later. If the mold on the wood is stubborn, try the Borax option already provided above.
Step 4: If All Else Fails, Sand the Wood!
• Most crafting experts suggest using 100-grit sandpaper to rub out the mold-affected portion, taking care not to sand away too much of the surrounding areas.
• Repeat Step 2 to remove the dust and any loosened mold spores.
• Spritz with white vinegar to prevent future growth and allow to dry.
For more information regarding mold, mold prevention, and mold solutions, please check out the rest of MoldBlogger.com.
Have you ever had to deal with moldy wood? What techniques have you found successful in cleaning mold from wood? Please feel free to share your successes in the comments below.