There are tons of mold spores in the air around you right now. Don’t fret; it’s nothing out of the ordinary. These spores are just always in the air, looking for a perfect breeding site. This is where moisture and heat enter the equation.
Under the right conditions, these mold spores will settle and start to grow, especially on wood and walls.
With that said, it is obvious what you need to do – learn what mold is, why they grow on wood, and, more importantly, how to remove mold from wood.
Related: How to Remove Burn Marks from Wood
What Exactly Is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungi that grows in multicellular structures called hyphae. They can appear in several colors, including black, white, purple, orange, or green.
The hyphae on mold are responsible for producing the spores that the mold needs to grow. These mold spores are dispersed into the air when a mold matures. Mold spores are very tiny, small enough that we can’t even see them in the air. However, they can float around the air quite easily because of their very lightweight, looking for suitable spots to grow in.
And suitable to mold spores means moisture and warmth – you can throw in a little darkness in there too. Since wood is a good absorber of moisture, in particular, mold spores that land on them may start growing into the actual mold. This is when you start to notice it, and after a while, the mold develops and releases even more mold spores into the air. As you may imagine, if left unchecked, you may have yourself a huge mold problem.
Aside from wood furniture, mold may also infest floors, walls, carpets, and surfaces in the damp regions of your apartment, like under the kitchen sink, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc.
Types of Mold
There are different types of mold. Some of them can be very harmful to man, others – not so much. Harmful in this sense implies allergenic, pathogenic, or toxigenic. Honestly, though, it doesn’t matter the type of mold in your house; you need to learn how to remove the mold from wood.
1. Black Mold
In terms of potential health hazards to man, black mold species are king. There are many black mold species, but Stachybotrys chartarum is the most identified as black mold. Aside from constituting a greater health threat, these mold species are usually more difficult to eradicate from wood surfaces as they can firmly root themselves.
2. White Mold
Mold species that are white and have a powdery texture fall under the classification of white mold. Mold can occur in different colors, remember? There are a few white species, like penicillium, aspergillus, and Cladosporium. White mold can change its color later or remain white. On a general note, white mold species are not as harmful as their black counterparts.
Mold and mildew are often taken for one another. Many even believe they are the same species, but not quite. Mildew is a specific type of mold and is the most common type found in homes. They are classified into powdery and downy mildew. Unlike many other mold species, mildew is relatively easy to get rid of because they have a flat growth and don’t penetrate wood surfaces.
4. Green Mold
This type of mold is more common on food substances, like bread and some fruits, but they can also infest wood surfaces. Although not as harmful as black mold, green mold still presents health hazards to inhabitants of the house.
Read: How To Remove Permanent Marker From Wood
How to Remove Mold from Wood
Now, to the moment of truth – how to remove mold from wood surfaces. There are various ways you can go about this, and if one measure doesn’t work, you can always take another. On the other hand, if all the steps you try don’t work, seek professional assistance.
Precautions when Killing Mold on Wood
Before you learn how to remove mold from wood, you need first to learn the precautionary measures. This is essential, considering how harmful mold can be to man.
Wear protective clothing before you even start examining the mold, whether or not you are allergic to them. If inhaled in large quantities, mold spores can be very harmful to the lungs and other body organs.
Start by getting a respirator mask. You aren’t going to be using just any mask now, though. Use an N95 or N100 air mask as they will prevent the mold spores from getting into your lungs. Then, you need goggles to protect your eyes as the spores can be pretty itchy and irritable. You should get rubber gloves, given the kind of chemicals you will likely be dealing with.
It will also be best to get an overall to protect your skin, but if you can’t get that, wear old clothes, as you will be dealing with chemicals that may splash and ruin clothes.
Another precaution to take is to undergo the removal process outdoors or in a well-ventilated room. If the infested wood is something you can remove from your house and take outdoors, please do. If not, open all windows, and ensure proper airflow. You don’t need fans, though, as this may just end up blowing the mold spores all around.
The final precaution, or more of a warning now, is that if you discover at any step of the way that the process is overwhelming, you should call it quits and get a professional.
Tools Required in Removing Mold from Wood
- N95 or N100 air mask
- Safety goggles
- Rubber gloves
- Vacuum cleaner
- Soft brush
- Spray bottle
- 100-grit sandpaper
- Soft cloth
Products for Removing Mold from Wood
There are many ways of removing mold from wood, including both natural and chemical agents. Below are some of the products you need to remove mold from wood.
Yes, the same vodka! Who would have thought? But vodka is effective in removing mold from wood surfaces, particularly light mold. An added advantage is vodka has some antimicrobial properties, meaning it will disinfect the affected area too. Alcohol will perform the same as vodka too.
2. Distilled White Vinegar
Vinegar is a natural acid, which, by implication, suggests it is a weak acid. However, it is very effective in killing mold and mold spores. In addition, it is stronger than vodka and alcohol, making it suitable for mold that has penetrated the wood.
A warm solution of detergent is another great agent for removing mold from wood. Detergents are surfactants and can potentiate the action of other agents, like bleach, ensuring a total fungicidal action on the mold-infested wood surfaces.
4. Chlorine Bleach
Bleach is an even stronger disinfectant than alcohol and vinegar. Its strongly basic nature means very few organisms can survive after exposure to it. However, its fumes can be toxic and irritating to man, so extra care should be taken when using bleach. Bleach is typically administered with warm water and soap solution.
Borax is a natural fungicide and will kill mold and its spores. Unlike bleach, it doesn’t give off any toxic fumes, but its solution can damage porous wood. As such, you should only use borax should on non-porous wood.
6. Tea Tree Oil
This oil has potent antifungal activity and is very effective in removing mold spores from wood surfaces. It is also easy to use. The downside to using tea tree oil is its relatively high cost.
7. Hydrogen Peroxide
This chemical is common in many cleaning products because of its strong antimicrobial activity. It will not only kill mold but also disinfect the wood and rid it of other microorganisms.
Steps in Removing Mold from Wood
Step 1: Vacuuming
The very first step in removing mold from wood is vacuuming the affected wood surfaces. A good vacuum with a HEPA filter will clear off mold spores, sand, and other small dirt on the surface of the wood. After the vacuum traps all spores and dirt, empty it outside, preferably to a plastic bag sealed thereafter. Releasing the vacuum content in your house will only see these spores redispersed, and you will be back to square one in a few days.
Step 2: Exposure to Sunlight
If the mold infesting your wood surfaces is light, then all you need may be sunlight. Mold grows best under warm, damp, and dark areas. Exposing the wood to sunlight will remove the dampness, darkness, and warmth the mold needs to develop.
The wood should be taken out after dew has evaporated not to dampen it further and should be taken back in after sunset when the temperature will fall drastically.
Step 3: Spraying the Wood with Vodka
If exposure to sunlight doesn’t work, you should spray the wood surface with chemicals using a spray bottle. There are various chemicals that you can use in washing, but you should start with vodka.
Spray vodka on the wood and allow it to dry. This is an effective way to kill mold and also prevent its regrowth. You should combine sun-drying with vodka-spraying for even better results. Allow the wood to dry before bringing it back in.
Step 4: Scrubbing with Detergent
If the mold is resistant to vinegar and sun-drying, you should take it up a notch with detergent. Get dish soap and mix it with warm water. Using a soft-bristled scrub brush, scrub away the affected areas with soap water. Ensure that the brush you use is gentle to the wood, as some brushes may scratch and deface the wood surface.
After scrubbing, clean off the excess water with a damp cloth. Speaking of which, ensure you don’t saturate the wood with water.
Repeat this process if some mold remains on the wood.
Step 5: Spraying with Distilled White Vinegar
Vinegar is one of the most used chemicals for cleaning mold-infested wood because of its affordability and non-toxic nature. It is a weak natural acid but will kill off most mold species.
Spray it on the affected wood surface using a spray bottle and wipe it with a damp cloth after an hour.
Distilled vinegar can help kill off the detergent-resistant mold. Repeat this process a few more times if necessary.
About 80% of mold species will not survive after this step, and if your wood is mold-free, wipe with a wood cleaner and then wipe with a soft dry cloth.
It’s not only molds!
Read also: Does vinegar remove paint from wood?
Step 6: Washing with Bleach
To the other 20% stubborn mold, you need something stronger, and bleach comes to mind. A bleach and soap mixture is typically reserved for mold that is hard to get off due to deep rooting and penetration of the affected wood. Bleach can exude toxic fumes, so take care when handling it. This cleaning procedure has to be done outdoors or in a properly ventilated room, at the least.
Prepare your bleach mixture by mixing one tablespoon of detergent with a cup of warm water and then half a cup of bleach. Using a soft-bristled scrub brush or sponge, scrub away the wood surface thoroughly in circular motions. Allow the wood to dry under sunlight.
Step 7: Sanding
The probability that you’ll reach this stage is low but not impossible, particularly for mold that has penetrated deep into the surface of the wood. What you need to do is sand down the wood to remove the remaining stubborn mold. After proper sanding, vacuum the wood surface to remove grit. If you’re inexperienced with sanding, you should call a professional.
To ensure the spores don’t return, you should spray the wood with paint after sanding. This will seal the pores in the wood.
After removing mold from wood surfaces, dispose of all the rags, plastic bags, and containers that came in contact with the mold spores. You should also ensure all of your protective gear is properly disinfected before taking them back into your home.
Why Is There Mold Growth on Wood?
Mold spores are everywhere, dispersed in the air, actively seeking the perfect site to colonize. However, mold growth only occurs under the right conditions of temperature and moisture. Around 60-70 Fahrenheit will fit the bill of what the right condition of temperature is. Mold also grows on damp and moist surfaces, meaning dry wood or wood exposed to adequate sunlight will be reasonably resistant to mold growth.
You will have noticed that leaking roofs or floors under bathrooms and kitchens are perfect sites for mold growth.
Dangers of Having Mold on Wood
The most significant danger of having mold on wood is the destruction of the wood after a while. Consider wood furniture, for instance. Most mold species will dig their roots into the wood with time and keep growing, which weakens the wood furniture and eventually leads to it breaking down. Then, mold can, obviously, also discolor and leave wood stains, even after they have been removed.
The detrimental effects of mold can be felt by humans, too, particularly those with respiratory conditions. Infants, the elderly, and people with a compromised immune system are also at a higher risk of the effects of mold.
Some of the effects of mold on humans include sneezing, rash, itching, shortness of breath, asthma attacks, and other respiratory complications.
Detecting Mold on Wood
Humans can easily detect most molds. Seriously, how can you not? They are smelly, they are ugly, and they usually take on a distinct color. What is interesting, though, is that mold starts growing long before humans can detect it. This implies that your piece of furniture or door can be infested with mold, and you wouldn’t suspect a thing until it’s too late.
How then can you detect this kind of mold growth? Let us introduce you to a moisture meter.
Well, this meter doesn’t actually detect mold growth; it only detects moisture content, which can then correlate to mold growth. If the moisture content in the wood is more than 20%, then it’s a valuable sign that the wood may be infested with mold.
When detecting the presence of mold, you should also focus on the damp areas of your home or office. Check kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and the like. Anywhere you feel moisture and heat can be trapped in is a suitable growing spot for mold.
Preventing Mold on Wood Surface
Mold spores are everywhere. So, you can’t exactly remove all mold spores in your house. What you can and should do is prevent mold from growing on wooden surfaces. The following tips and measures will help prevent mold growth on wood surfaces.
1. Use dehumidifiers and hygrometers
These two will help regulate the moisture in your house. A dehumidifier will help in reducing total moisture, and a hygrometer can help measure relative humidity. Ideally, you want a relative humidity below 60%. Getting moisture and humidity levels right is the first step to prevent mold from infesting wood surfaces.
2. Proper ventilation
Airflow is one of the more underrated measures in maintaining perfect living conditions for furniture. Ensure rooms containing your furniture are properly ventilated. You can move your furniture away from wall corners and use fans to promote proper circulation and flow of air.
3. Proper insulation
Insulate wood surfaces that are liable to condensation. This will keep them dry enough to prevent the growth of mold.
4. Fix all drainage problems
This goes without saying, doesn’t it? Bad drainage can lead to wood soaking up water, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of mold infestation. So check your sinks and drainage pipes from time to time to ensure the drainage is perfect.
5. Avoid wet spots
It is common in some houses to have spots where water accumulates, especially after rain or snow. Ensure you clean these spots to prevent water from penetrating the wood and increasing its moisture.
6. Periodic checking of wood
The use of a moisture meter will help tell the moisture level of wood. This should be done periodically, especially if the wood is in areas where it can easily trap moisture.
Related: How to Remove Dried Wood Glue
Final thoughts on How to Remove Mold from Wood
Mold on wood is never a pretty sight. But its dangers go beyond just defacing wood as it could lead to the destruction of the affected wood and a myriad of health challenges to susceptible individuals. Therefore, it is critical for wood health to know how to remove mold from wood.
This article has detailed natural and chemical ways of targeting and removing mold growth. You need to take care when handling some of the chemicals because of their potential toxicity when inhaled. You must always wear protective gear when removing mold from wooden surfaces.
One thing to know, though, is when to call a professional. If the mold growth has done so much damage to the wood that it may collapse when cleaning, you should get a professional to do the work.
While knowing how to remove mold from wood is important, the most foolproof way of tackling mold growth is ensuring it doesn’t grow in the first place. Periodically check your wood and also ensure you keep wood in dry and well-ventilated areas.