Wood consists of the plant fiber cellulose, which is an optimal food source for fungi. Organic, porous materials are prone to support mold growth when a source of moisture is available.
A structure in which wood is constantly exposed to high humidity or leaking water runs a high risk of developing black mold. Take the following measures to get rid of mildew or black mold on wood while avoiding unnecessary health risks and property damage.
How To Clean Mold Off Wood
When attempting to locate or clean mold on wood, amateurs and professionals should both use appropriate PPE. Whether wood mold is inert, allergenic or toxigenic, be sure to wear all of the following safety equipment:
Additional PPE and containment supplies may be needed depending on the severity of an infestation and whether the mold is toxigenic. A half- or full-face respirator, plastic sheeting and fans for creating a containment environment with negative air pressure may be advisable for cleaning fungus out of more than 10 square feet of a structure or an infestation involving a toxic species and strain of mold.
If you suspect that toxic black mold is growing on wood, make sure that any respiratory equipment you use is rated to protect the wearer from exposure to mold spores, microbial volatile organic compounds and mycotoxins. An N95 or P100 mask is an adequate base level of protection to wear while cleaning mold off of wood.
Check the Condition of Wood
Depending on the extent to which mold has developed, it may be necessary to either tear out or clean and restore wooden furniture, fixtures, flooring or paneling. Property owners and mold inspectors should both wear appropriate PPE for identifying whether moisture and mold are so insinuated in the wood that irreversible rot has occurred. Seal up and dispose of rotten wood and replace the affected articles or materials.
Solid wood that is not permeated by mold growth may be cleaned and restored. While all wood is porous and may be capable of absorbing enough moisture to support the spread of mold colonies, wood that has only recently developed mold or on which mold growth remains superficial can be sanitized, scrubbed or even sanded to eliminate the multicellular filaments or roots called hyphae.
Apply Vinegar Instead of Bleach
Vinegar is the best natural mold killing treatment for the surface and sublayers of porous materials such as wood. Most mold remediation experts recommend diluting distilled white vinegar in a 5% to 6% cleaning vinegar solution in water or spraying onto moldy wood at full strength.
Be aware that full-strength or diluted vinegar may have the potential to damage waxed wood or other delicate finishes. If you are not sure whether to clean mold off of any article made of wood or wooden surface, consult with a mold restoration expert.
Apply a vinegar cleaning solution to materials that tolerate this treatment and then wait a full hour for the substance to sink in before scrubbing and wiping the surface. Reapply diluted or full-strength vinegar as needed before toweling off wood and speeding up drying by running fans or a dehumidifier.
Unlike bleach, vinegar penetrates deep into wood grain to eliminate every trace of mold. Chlorine bleach is only effective for disinfecting surfaces, and the water in this cleaning solution could be absorbed into wood and sustain fungal growth. Wood treated with bleach may also become damaged and discolored while remaining susceptible to mold regrowth.
If vinegar is not a good choice for a particular type of wood or is not available, diluted baking soda, dish soap or the alkaline mineral salt Borax may be good alternatives for killing wood mold. Depending on how deep an infestation goes, it may be necessary to remove the surface layer of wood with 100-grit sandpaper to completely eradicate the hyphae or roots.
After sanding wood, it may be helpful to reapply vinegar or any cleaning solution other than bleach. These substances will sink into the unfinished wood and can clear out any residual roots that could readily renew the growth of mold by remaining intact. Allow treated wood to dry out completely prior to applying an anti-fungal finish or primer and paint that contain Mildewcide.
Vacuum or Scrub Visible Colonies
The most effective and least damaging cleanup methods available depends on whether an article can be taken outside for cleaning or must be treated in the indoor location where a fixture is installed. Vacuuming moldy contents outdoors and then sealing and disposing of the spores that have been removed is one of the best ways to minimize the risk of personal exposure while dislodging colonies.
If a species of mold is not toxic or a toxic species is being removed in a working area with full containment and negative air pressure, using a HEPA-rated vacuum may also be an effective way to reduce indoor concentrations of spores, mVOCs and mycotoxins. Containing mold spores during cleaning calls for professional equipment and expertise and is recommended by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for infestations affecting more than 10 square feet of any structure.
This gentle preliminary measure can increase the effectiveness of subsequent scrubbing and wiping. After vacuuming, apply a gentle wet cleaning solution such as dish detergent diluted in water or diluted or full-strength white distilled vinegar. Encourage the vinegar to penetrate into the wood by waiting at least 60 minutes between application and scrubbing with a firm brush or scouring pad that is then sealed and disposed of along with any other cleaning equipment that is difficult to thoroughly sanitize.
Treat Wood To Prevent Reinfestation
A wood mold infestation may recur in a structure as long as conditions remain conducive to fungus growth. Water damage or high relative humidity levels provide the moisture and wood contains cellulose, which is a rich source of nutriment for mold. While it is crucial to take measures to stop leaks or lower excessive moisture, treating wood can also prevent a problem from recurring.
If a single application of vinegar does not get rid of mold, consider reapplying this treatment at a stronger concentration, up to full 5% or 6% strength. In some cases, Borax, an alkaline mineral salt cleaner, may be a better choice. This substance gets absorbed under the surface of the wood. Once wood treated with Borax or vinegar has completely dried, furniture or building materials are ready to be treated with a mold-resistant finish, primer and paint.
Know When To Seek Professional Help
Building owners with mold infestation affecting more than 10 square feet should contact remediation professionals. Trained experts can implement limited or full containment if necessary to keep spores from spreading and intensifying a mold problem.
Mold infestations that affect a significant portion of a structure may require limited containment. This measure involves sealing off the infestation with a single layer of plastic sheeting with a slit covered by an outside flap to allow for entry and egress. Full containment for toxic mold or large infestations requires the use of double layers of plastic sheeting along with an airlock or decontamination chamber.
Remediation professionals have access to the cleaning equipment, PPE and restoration materials that are necessary to eliminate wood mold from any residential or commercial property. Valuable wood furniture or building materials may particularly benefit from the expert application of cleaning solutions and the use of commercial-grade equipment. This is particularly the case for expensive or rare articles or materials, waxed wood or wood with any other delicate finishes.
Major infestations in which the mycelium or root structure of mold penetrates deep under the surface of wood may lead to rot and ruin. Short of this, proper cleaning and restoration practices for wood furniture and building materials can eliminate wood mold once and for all.
Hiring a professional mold inspector will give you peace of mind. Being in a position where you are uncertain as to the toxicity of mold in your residence can be extremely stressful.
At moldremediation.io, we pride ourselves on being quick, thorough and effective in how we communicate the mold remediation tests that we perform for our homeowner clients.