Mold is a type of fungus that can cause various problems to your health and severe damage to your property. It is essential to take action as soon as you notice any signs of growth to remove it entirely and prevent any regrowth. This guide will show you how to clean up your mold-infested wood.
Whether you are dealing with mildew or a more severe case of mold, this guide can help you effectively get rid of it. So follow the steps below to get started.
Tools and Materials Needed
Here’s a list of the stuff you will need if you decide to clean up the mold yourself. Some of these may not be required for your particular case if the infestation you’re dealing with is not severe; however, if the situation is terrible, you should use all of these tools and materials mentioned below.
- Old Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt (full covering clothing)
- Protective air mask (not a cloth one, please)
- Rubber gloves
- Safety goggles
- Vacuum with HEPA filter
- Soft-bristled scrub brush (one that you’re ready to throw out)
- Sponge (again, one that’s old and is prepared to be thrown away)
- Measuring cups/spoons
- Spray bottle (any size)
- Soft cloth (a disposable washcloth would do)
- Dishwashing soap/liquid
- Distilled white vinegar
- Wood cleaner (optional)
- Borax (if needed)
- Very Fine Grit Sandpaper (if required)
Step 1: Wear Protective Clothing
Mold spores can be dangerous to your health, so it is essential that you wear proper protective gear before attempting to clean the mold off of your wooden surfaces. This includes your long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, as well as an air mask, goggles, and gloves. Remember to dispose of your clothing appropriately after you’re done with the job, as the spores can linger on fabric.
Step 2: Vacuum the Area
HEPA, which stands for high-efficiency particulate air, is the best kind of vacuum to use when dealing with mold. This is because it filters out tiny mold spores that other vacuums might not be able to catch. Even the slightest particles of allergens can be removed by well-designed vacuums that are HEPA certified.
Use the vacuum attachment to go over the area where the mold is present. Make sure that you vacuum thoroughly and dispose of the contents immediately afterward by either cleaning the vacuum canister or sealing the removable vacuum bag in a plastic one.
Step 3: Clean Mold Off of Wood
The following methods listed below the increase in strength, progressing in order, starting from a mild solution for a minor issue to a strong solution for a more serious problem.
Using Dishwashing Soap and Warm Water
This method is good for small areas of mold growth and in cases where the wood has some protective coating such as a sealant or paint, resulting in only minor discoloration.
Add a few drops of dishwashing soap to some warm water and mix well. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the mold area with this solution, following up by wiping it clean with a wet sponge or cloth.
Dishwashing liquid soap is non-abrasive and will not damage or remove any protective finishes on your wood, yet it can still effectively clean trivial infestations of mold that are new and haven’t penetrated deep into the wood yet.
Using Distilled White Vinegar
This method is good for moderate to slightly severe mold growth. White distilled vinegar is a popular cleaning product that can be used on a variety of surfaces, including wood. The acidic nature of vinegar helps to kill mold and its spores.
To clean mold off of wood with vinegar, mix a solution of one part water to one part vinegar and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture onto the moldy areas and let it stay for at least 60 minutes, depending on the severity of the infestation. Give the combination an appropriate time to kill the mold and break down the spores.
Finally, clean the area with a soft cloth and rinse with water. Now, if you’re confident that the stains and mold are gone, it is suggested to use a nice wood cleaner to help bring back shine and luster. Otherwise, proceed to the next method.
This method is good for severe mold growth, which the vinegar solution couldn’t completely eliminate. Borax is a natural mineral that has disinfectant and anti-fungal properties, making it effective in removing mold.
To clean mold off of wood with borax, create a solution by mixing about 1 Tsp borax with a cup of water. Apply this mixture generously to the moldy areas with a sponge or soft-bristled brush, making sure to work the mixture into any cracks or crevices present. Brush and scrub properly until you can’t see any surface-level mold, and let the borax solution stay for a while without cleaning up the excess so that it seeps deep down into the wood fibers and removes the mold permanently from inside. Let it dry like that. This will kill any current mold and prevent it from returning in the future. You may use a fan or open a window to help the drying process along.
You may notice a white film on the wood after it dries, but this can be removed by simply wiping it clean with a soft, damp cloth.
Step 4: Sand the Area If Necessary
If the mold has penetrated deep into the wood, or you can still see a stain even after trying the methods above, sanding may be necessary. This process will remove any superficial mold on the surface and get into the deeper parts of the wood to eliminate any mold and spores.
Use fine-grit sandpaper to gently sand the area in question. Work slowly and carefully, being sure not to damage the wood any further. Once you have sanded the area, vacuum up any debris and then wipe the wood clean with a damp cloth.
Also Read: How to Remove Mold From Rough Cut Wood
How do you stop mold from growing back?
There are several different methods that you can use to prevent mold growth on wood. These include regular cleaning and inspection of the wood’s surface, using a dehumidifier in damp areas, keeping the area well-ventilated, and regularly maintaining and repairing any sudden leakage issues. Lastly, think and analyze the cause of the mold infestation in the first place so that you can make the necessary changes needed to prevent it from returning in the future.
What’s the difference between mildew and mold?
Mildew is a type of mold that usually appears as a fuzzy, gray, or white growth on the surface of materials like wood. It is typically more superficial than other types of mold and is often caused by moisture or high humidity. Mold, on the other hand, is a broader term that can refer to any type of fungal growth.
Mold can appear in a variety of colors, including black, green, white, and orange, and often penetrates deep into the wood as compared to mildew. It is typically slimy in appearance and is caused by dampness or moisture, as well as poor ventilation.
Both mildew and mold can pose serious health risks due to long exposure, so it is important to take action as soon as possible to remove the growth and prevent it from returning.
While mildew may start white or gray, if left untreated, it may turn black in color, which may perhaps cause some confusion as to if what you’re seeing is mold or dirt; during such a case, you may conduct a simple test to figure things out. Simply rub the mold with a little bit of non-chlorine bleach; if the stain disappears, then it is most likely mildew; if the stain lightens but does not go away, then you’re likely to be dealing with dirt.
What kills mold better than bleach or vinegar?
Vinegar. While both bleach and vinegar are effective at killing mold, vinegar is considered a more natural, safer, and better alternative. Actually, if you use bleach, it will only do its job at a surface level and won’t be able to kill the mold for good.
By comparison, vinegar has been shown to penetrate deeper into the wood and kill mold spores and colonies that may be hidden within. While on the other hand, bleach will allow it to continue to grow inside, which will result in it growing back up to the surface in the future. Additionally, chlorine bleach is too strong and is more likely to damage and stain the wood’s surface.
If you are dealing with mold growth on wood, there are several steps you can take to prevent it from returning. We hope you found the guide above helpful and informative!
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions. Good luck!
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Lawrence D. Reynolds is an experienced carpenter and woodworker who started this site to help others get into this craft by providing advice on choosing tools and materials and sharing How-To guides about woodworking. He has been into Woodworking for over 25 years and enjoys nothing more than sharing his knowledge and helping others learn about this wonderful material.