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A small patch of mold deep in the back of your closet may seem like nothing to worry about, but sadly household mold can have harmful effects on your health, not to mention ruin the surface of your wooden furniture. You can remove the appearance of the mold with ease, but what you need to do is kill the mold on the wood and stop it from coming back. The following article will assist you in understanding mold better and how to effectively remove it from wood.
Table of Contents
What Is Mold?
As a type of fungi, there are thousands of varieties of mold that can be found in many different textures and colors. In nature, mold exists to break down natural materials, and it is thanks to fungi and mold that natural waste does not begin to pile up. Mold is happiest in dark, damp areas and while we do need mold, we do not want it in our homes causing poor air quality, ruining our furniture, and giving off bad odors. The only way to avoid this is to remove any mold before it begins to spread.
Types of Household Mold
There are thousands of varieties of mold species; some are toxic and others have been used to save lives. It can be hard to correctly identify mold and you must therefore be very careful when dealing with any mold you find in your household.
Several molds fall under the green mold category, and you would normally find it forming on decomposing food like fruit or bread. You can often identify it by its fuzzy texture. It is not as dangerous as black or white mold, but it is necessary to remove green mold before it begins to spread. Certain green molds contain toxins, while others have antibacterial properties.
White mold is bad for your health and if it is allowed to spread, it can destroy walls or wooden furniture. This is a dusty, string-like mold. Over time, the mold can change color and it tends to grow well on surfaces that are damp such as plants, carpets, and fabrics.
Many molds are black, but the one that is referred to as black mold is the Stachybotrys chartarum. Black mold is the most dangerous type of mold for your health and should be addressed immediately if you locate it in your home. Black mold will root itself into the wood, making it particularly difficult to remove.
Mildew is a certain type of mold, though it is often incorrectly used as another term for mold. Mildew does not penetrate the surface of the wood, so it is relatively easy to clean. Unlike mold, which grows to be fuzzy or slimy, mildew grows flat and is normally white or grey, and can over time turn brown.
Mold, Fungal Spores, and Health
Fungi is able to reproduce as a result of fungal spores, which are basically fungi seeds. Spores become airborne as the mold matures, and it is these spores that are harmful to one’s health. They are particularly toxic to people with a compromised immune system (like those who have asthma or allergies). Even if you do not have any respiratory issues, the mold spores can irritate your lungs, nose, or throat as well as irritate your skin and eyes.
Wood Damage and Mold
The wood’s surface will often become discolored by mold, and sometimes the discoloration can go deep below the surface of the wood. Wood rot is not caused by mold alone but the conditions that caused the mold – dark and damp environments are ideal for decaying fungi to grow. The decaying fungi can seriously damage structures and if unchecked can even lead to whole buildings collapsing.
It is extremely important to remove any mold from wood before it begins to spread. You can consider the presence of mold as an early sign that the environment is suited for decaying fungi to grow.
Mold Enabling Environments
Mold will form where there is excess moisture, such as in leaking roofs, pipes, or floorboards. As long as the surface is damp, mold can thrive, but it particularly likes porous surfaces such as wood, cardboard, or paper.
Bad ventilation can also lead to mold growth as the moisture is unable to evaporate. Thus, mold growth is normally accelerated by high levels of humidity. You need to keep an eye on and manage the humidity in your home, particularly if mold is already a problem. We will provide tips and tricks to handle the humidity in the home later in this article.
How to Remove Mold From Wood Yourself
You can remove mold from wood in several different ways – the method you use all depends on how bad the mold has gotten. If the wood is untreated and unsealed, you may have to sand and scrub the mold away, as it can be very porous. If the mold has not penetrated the surface as yet, you might be lucky and can perhaps remove it with some white vinegar in a spray bottle. What follows are guidelines to clean mold from wood using natural chemicals.
You will require a respirator mask before you begin – either an N95 or N100. This will stop you from inhaling any spores. You should also wear gloves and safety goggles to protect yourself. We advise that you wear full-coverage coveralls or clothing if you are particularly sensitive to mold.
If you can, try to remove the item infested with mold from your home, as this will stop the mold from spreading while you are busy cleaning it from the wood. Wrap the item in a garbage bag before you remove it from the home, as this will stop any spores from dropping off and being spread throughout the house. Make sure the area you are in when you are removing the mold is well ventilated, and try to work outside if you can. If the mold is found on the ceiling or in a cupboard, open all the windows and doors to ensure maximum ventilation.
Before you start removing the mold, vacuum the area of mold on the wood, as this will ensure that any debris and spores are removed. Use a HEPA or water vacuum, as these will stop the spores from ending up back in the air. The contents of the vacuum cleaner should be thrown away outside so that you do not bring the mold back into your home.
The wood is very porous if it is unsealed and untreated, and this when damp provides the ideal environment for mold to grow. If you are looking at removing black mold from wood, it can prove difficult as it roots itself below the surface, and scrubbing with household chemicals may not be sufficient. In this case, you can then sand down the wood to remove the mold.
When sanding, use 100-grit sandpaper on the area of the wood that is affected and try not to dig too deeply into the moldy areas. When you have removed all the mold through sanding, allow the wood to dry completely before using varnish or paint to seal it. Sealing the wood correctly will stop any mold from coming back.
DIY Solutions for Removing Mold from Wood
What follows are some DIY methods to remove mold. If you have 10 square meters of mold or more, it is advised that you rather get a professional to assist in removing the mold instead of attempting to do it yourself. Try to catch mold in its early stages so that it does not develop into decaying fungi, which can do irreversible damage to the structure of your home and the furniture in it.
Vinegar, Vodka, and Sunlight
A small patch of white surface mildew or mold on an item of painted furniture would be an example of light mold. You can remove this by placing the item of furniture outside in the morning sunlight – being outside will not only kill the mold but any bad odors will also be removed.
White vinegar is non-toxic and is a mild natural acid that can kill roughly 80% of molds. It is also inexpensive and widely available. Applying white vinegar to the surface by spraying it on and allowing it to dry will stop mold from growing on the surface, though it may be necessary to repeat this process frequently to ensure results.
To speed up the sunlight method, you can use equal parts of white vinegar and water and lightly apply it to the infested area using a spray bottle. Allow the piece of furniture to air dry and inside bring the piec before sunset; you can always repeat the process the following day. You can also use cheap vodka in place of white vinegar, as alcohol will also kill mold on wood.
Scrubbing Heavy Mold
If the mold has penetrated the surface of the wood, you can then use a soft bristle sponge or brush to scrub the surface, as this will allow the mold to be loosened from the surface. White vinegar, water, and laundry detergent make ideal mold removers for wood. Combine dish detergent or laundry detergent with warm water and add white vinegar all in a bucket.
You can use a soft bristle brush or a sponge to apply the solution to the surface of the wood and then scrub the area. When you have sufficiently scrubbed the area, you can then rinse it before using a clean cloth or towel to wipe it down. You may have to repeat the process until the mold is completely removed.
A natural fungicide, borax when mixed with water does not give off any fumes, but it is toxic if consumed. You can usually buy it at the supermarket. You need to mix one gallon of water with 8 ounces of borax and then, using either a soft-bristled brush or a sponge, apply the mixture and allow it time to dry. Once dry, the solution on the surface will stop any mold from returning and will take the smell away.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has strong antifungal properties which will ensure that all types of mold are killed, making it the most effective mold remover. Tea tree oil is quite pricey, but a little goes a long way. In one cup of water, mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil. You can then apply the solution to the affected areas by using a spray bottle and allowing it time to dry. You could also mix the solution in a small bucket and then, using a brush or a sponge, apply the solution to the relevant areas. Use a clean cloth to wipe away the solution and the mold and, without rinsing, allow it time to dry. This will stop the mold from returning any time soon.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Similar to tea tree oil, grapefruit extract has antifungal properties and effective antibacterial properties. This is thanks to the citric acid in the extract, which kills the fungi and stops them from coming back. Mix one cup of water and 10 drops of extract and then apply the solution as you would apply the tea tree oil solution.
There is also an assortment of products on the market for removing mold from wood as well as other products that will stop the mold from further destroying the wood.
Professional Mold Removal
If mold is continuously developing in your home, we suggest you contact a professional to come and remove it. If your mold covers an area of more than 10 square feet, you should definitely bring in a professional. Mold removal experts use mold remediation equipment and are trained professionals that can use the likes of dehumidifiers and air scrubbers. Shop around before hiring someone – do not be fooled by so-called professionals that have super cheap prices, but their work is not guaranteed.
Try to find a professional based in your area, ask for references, and see if there are reviews from previous customers before hiring someone.
Tips and Tricks for Mold Prevention
You will never be able to keep mold spores out of your home forever, but you can do your best to try to stop mold from developing. The best option is to control your environment by reducing unwanted moisture on surfaces and in the air. By reducing the humidity, you can decrease the likelihood of developing mold. What follows are a few tips and tricks to assist you in controlling the moisture levels in your environment.
- Use a dehumidifier. It can reduce the moisture in the air, which subsequently starves the mold of the moisture it requires to grow.
- Allow air to circulate through the home. Good airflow can reduce the amount of moisture in the air, so try to keep a few windows open whenever possible.
- Install a bathroom extractor fan. This can help to remove any excess moisture from the air. An extractor fan in the kitchen is also an option, as cooking creates a lot of humidity.
- Allow your laundry to dry completely. Do not pack away damp laundry, as this will increase the chance of mildew forming in your cupboards.
- If possible, dry your laundry outside. Drying your laundry inside increases the humidity levels.
- Fix leaking windows, roofs, and pipes as quickly as you can. Neglect over time can result in damage that cannot be repaired.
- Get insulation in flooring and walls properly installed. This will decrease condensation; condensation leads to dampness which causes mold to grow.
- Get a hygrometer. This instrument is an affordable device that can measure humidity. You want to keep the humidity below 60%.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Mold Lead to Structural Damage?
Mold on its own will not result in structural damage, but the environment that mold grows in provides the ideal conditions for decaying fungi, and it is this that can destroy the wood in your home’s structural integrity.
Can Bleach Kill Mold?
Bleach may remove surface mold, but it will not tackle the penetrating mold in a porous surface such as wood, and therefore the root mold will not be killed. Bleach can also lead to your wooden surface being discolored, and the chemical also gives off toxic fumes. Thus, we do not recommend you use it to kill mold on wood. Other natural chemicals are less toxic and will do a better job at killing mold.
When Should I Call a Professional to Remove the Mold?
If you have 10 square feet or more of mold, it is time to call in the professionals. Consult a healthcare professional immediately if you think you have been exposed to toxic mold.
If Wood Has Mold on It, Should I Replace It?
As long as you clean the wood sufficiently and ensure that it remains dry, you will not have to replace it. To keep the mold away from outdoor wood, you will need to treat it or seal it. If, however, rot has set in and the moisture content is excessive, then the wood will have to be replaced.
What Are the Symptoms of Toxic Mold Exposure?
Nasal congestion, irritated eyes and skin, coughing, and tightness in the chest are all symptoms linked to toxic mold exposure. There are other symptoms that include nose bleeds, headaches, pains, and aches.
How Can I Identify Toxic Mold?
Only a professional can correctly identify toxic mold. Rather remove the mold from the surface or the wood where you have found it before it begins to spread.