An outbreak of mold in your home is unattractive to say the least. But besides being something revolting to look at, mold can be very dangerous to your health. Mold’s favorite surface is wood: including floors, walls, furniture, decking, and cabinets. While mold is growing, it destroys the wood it is living on. Therefore, as soon as you see mold starting to grow, it is important to take immediate action.
Let’s look at how to identify the mold you are dealing with, how to remove it from wood, and how to keep it from coming back in the future.
There are three common mold types that grow on wood. Each one can require different techniques to remove. Because wood is full of tiny holes, it can be tough to get all the mold out. Luckily there are a wide range of products and methods designed to kill mold.
How to Identify Mold on Wood
Mold loves water. Any type of moisture can help mold thrive. Because of its internal structure, wood sucks up water and holds it, making a great surface for mold to thrive on.
There are thousands of species of mold that can live both indoors and outdoors. Most don’t bother humans at all, but some can really be detrimental to your health, especially if you breathe in their spores in enclosed areas of your home. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a mold expert to identify the specific mold type. It is easy to identify the type of mold you have and what immediate action you need to take to remove it.
Different Types of Mold
Green streaks, white fuzz, or black dots? Identifying which of these you can see is usually all you need to see to understand the type of mold you are dealing with. There are big differences between these types of molds, so understanding which one (or ones) you have is critical to treating the problem.
Most black is harmless even if it doesn’t look very good on your walls. However, one of the most harmful types of mold, Stachybotrys chartarum, is also black. This type of mold releases mycotoxins, a type of poison, that can cause breathing problems, headaches, and other health issues. Unless you are a scientist, you probably can’t tell if you have Stachybotrys chartarum or not. So take black mold seriously. Regardless, you will probably want to get rid of black mold on your walls for the sake of appearances, even if it’s not Stachybotrys chartarum.
Black mold requires more water to grow than other types of molds do. It’s common to find it growing in places where it’s damp or where you’ve had water enter your home. Under bathroom or kitchen sinks, in closets with exterior walls, and under leaky roofs are all prime real estate for black mold.
Black mold is also one of the toughest types to get rid of. It puts down roots deep into the surface of the wood it grows on.
White mold can look fluffy, almost like cotton. It generally is not toxic, but can really aggravate allergies and other respiratory problems you or your family may have. White mold does not need as much moisture as black mold, but still likes some access to water. It can grow on numerous surfaces but prefers organic ones like wood and natural fabrics. White mold causes damage as it grows, so getting rid of it quickly is important.
Green is probably the color most associated with mold. It looks soft and fuzzy and is the kind you’ve seen on old bread or rotting fruit. It will also grow on non-food surfaces—including wood—if you have a lot of moisture in your home.
Though not as potentially dangerous as black mold, green mold can also cause respiratory problems and will damage any wooden surface it grows on.
Whatever kind of mold you find growing on wood in your home, it is best to get rid of it as soon as possible and find ways of keeping it from coming back. Read on to find out how to do this!
Mold Removal Products
There are a lot of different products on the market which will allow you to get mold off of wood. Some are even everyday items you may already keep in your home. They range from natural, eco-friendly options, and those that utilize chemicals. The products are tailored for different types of wood. Stained or painted wood makes it harder for mold to put down roots but untreated or unsealed wood is an easy surface for mold to get established.
Vodka: Yes. You read that correctly. Purer types of alcohol like vodka are very good at killing mold on sealed (stained or painted) wood, and it also disinfects.
Borax: When mixed with water, this household cleaning powder can be used to treat non-porous wood. It’s excellent at killing mold and preventing its return. However, because it uses water, it shouldn’t be used on exposed wood as the water could damage the surface.
Distilled white vinegar: Vinegar has been used as a cleaner for thousands of years. It can penetrate unsealed, porous wood and thoroughly kill the mold. It’s gentle on wood and doesn’t leave a stain if wiped up after being applied.
Dishwasher detergent: Liquid dishwasher detergent, combined with warm water, is very effective at removing mold from stained or painted wood.
Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is a very effective antimicrobial agent against fungus, bacteria, and even viruses. It will also attack mold which has penetrated deeply into wood.
Mold Armor: This purpose-made product works fast to kill mold on a surface as well as forms a protective seal, preventing mold from re-establishing itself.
Siamons International Mold Control: This product can be used on various wooden surfaces such as composite or solid wood furniture. It eliminates the mold and then works to remove the moisture mold needs to return.
Sporicidin Mold Stain Cleaner: Even after it is killed, mold can leave behind stains, making it appear like the mold is still there. Especially useful on lighter woods, Sporicidin Mold Stain Cleaner helps remove these stains and return your wood to its original look.
But always avoid bleach! While great on solid surfaces like tile, bleach cannot penetrate wood deeply enough to kill mold. It’s also very harsh on wood and can be toxic if used in closed spaces at high concentrations.
How to Remove Mold from Wood Furniture
If you’re dealing with light mold on wooden furniture that has been painted or stained, it’s likely that the mold is only on the surface. It can be removed by placing the furniture in direct sunlight.
For tougher, more porous surfaces, begin by using your vacuum’s soft brush attachment to suck up loose mold spores. Then use one of the methods below:
If you can move your surface outside, nothing is as easy as fresh air and sunlight in killing mold. Mold loves the dark and high humidity. Direct sunlight and fresh air will kill mold and help remove any associated musty odors. The only work you’ll have to do is moving the furniture out every morning and back inside before sundown. And don’t forget to check the forecast for rain!
Lightly spraying the furniture with distilled white vinegar and water when you place it outside will also speed up the process.
You may not be able to move your furniture outside, or the moldy surface may be in a fixed location. You can then use diluted dishwasher detergent. Mix the detergent with warm water and then scrub the mixture onto the surface with a soft bristle brush.
Once done, wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove the remaining soap. Finally, use a dry rag to thoroughly dry the surface. Repeat the process as needed until the mold is all gone.
Use a spray bottle to spray distilled white vinegar on the affected surface. Let it set for an hour and then wipe with a clean damp cloth.
Spray the vodka on the moldy surface and let sit for 10 minutes. Then scrub any remaining mold with a sponge. The mold isn’t picky so don’t waste your premium vodka—just use the cheap stuff.
Mix a gallon of water with a cup of borax and then apply using a rag. Scrub until you cannot see any mold remaining. Wipe the surface with a clean cloth to remove any extra mixture.
If possible, let the surface dry in the sun or use a fan to dry it out.
Removing Mold from Wood Floors and Ceilings
Mold shows up on your wood floor on the ceiling when it gets a source of moisture. Check for leaks and signs of water damage. You’ll need to fix these first. Then clear out any rugs or furniture. This helps you spot other areas of possible mold and keeps your things from getting exposed to cleaning agents.
A mixture of vinegar, dishwasher detergent, and water sprayed on the moldy surface will help kill the mold. Let it set for 10 minutes and then wipe with a clean cloth to remove any remaining solution.
After the area has dried you can replace any moved furniture or rugs. However, it is a good idea to check the area for a couple of weeks to make sure no more water damage or mold appears.
If this mixture does not work or if it looks as if the mold has penetrated deeply into the surface, hydrogen peroxide or a store-bought chemical product may be necessary. For hydrogen peroxide, apply to the affected area, let the solution soak for a few minutes, and then scrub with a hard bristle brush. If using a store-bought mold killer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
It is always a good idea to wear protective equipment when removing mold. Rubber gloves and a face mask protect you from both mold spores and the chemicals you may be using. When possible, open some windows and turn on a fan to circulate the air in the space.
How to Get Rid of Mold on Wood Decks
Wooden decks are great outdoor spaces for all sorts of activities. But being outside and exposed to water makes them susceptible to mold. A mixture of one-third cup of laundry detergent and a gallon of water applied with a hard brush is an effective way of removing the mold. If the mold has stained the wood, then you’ll need to buy a specialized deck cleaning solution containing oxygenated bleach. Once your deck is clean and dry, it is recommended to reapply a deck sealant to prevent future mold growth.
Tips for Preventing Mold on Wood
Preventing mold growth is often easier than cleaning it and can help avoid irreparable damage that will need replacing.
Keeping water or moisture from building up is the most effective way to keep mold at bay on wood surfaces. Fix any leaks and dry out any wet areas as soon as water is detected. Keeping the humidity of your house under 60 percent will help keep mold levels down. This can be done by using a dehumidifier or simply opening the windows as often as possible to circulate fresh air.
Breaking the Mold
By keeping an eye on potential trouble spots around the house, you can spot mold growth on wood surfaces early. When found, work to get rid of the mold as soon as possible. This will keep it from spreading, lessening the damage and potential health issues.
With the information we have provided above, you have the tools and the know-how to get mold off your wood surfaces when it pops up. But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Remember that preventing moisture build up and repairing water leaks are the best ways of preventing mold growth in the first place.