How to remove mold from wood

By | July 4, 2016

Removing mold from wood

Mold and mildew thrive in places that have moisture, moderate temperature and lack of adequate ventilation or fresh air. They can grow on a variety of organic and sometimes even inorganic surfaces.

Wood is an organic surface that has the tendency to absorb moisture and consequently it provides a very conducive environment for growth of fungal microbes like mold and mildew. Humid climates make it even more favorable for mold to grow.

Wooden structures exposed to outside environment like rain or wet soil are more prone to develop mold growth. If these structures make up your house, then its very necessary to take care of the wood and prevent mold.

Why you should clean away the mold

Mold is a sign and symptom of decay which is not good in any way. Though in small quantities it does not really pose any risk, but you should ask yourself as to why should there be any decay or dirt in the house.

In large quantities, certain species of mold can be hazardous to human health. They give out toxic gases which if inhaled can cause allergies and other health symptoms. But why let the situation get worse to that extent. The best thing is to get rid of mold at the first sight.

Cleaning away the mold

Cleaning the mold may require some effort. Depending on the size of the affected area you may be able to either do it yourself or have to call a professional.

For most simple places like wooden furniture or a simple wooden structure you can work out yourself. You will need few household items like baking soda, bleach and detergent to clean the mold.

However if the affected area is quite large or is in a place that you cannot reach out to, you better call a professional. For example, if there is a large wooden ceiling that is badly affected by mold, then you may not want to do it yourself.

1. Scrub with soap or home detergent

Just mix some detergent in a small tub of water and prepare a solution. You can also add some baking soda to it to increase the alkalinity of the solution.

Now use a sponge or scrubber to soak the solution and start rubbing the wooden surface where the mold is. You should see the mold coming over to the scrubber instantly.

Keep rubbing till you have scrubbed off all the mold. Instead of detergent you can also use dish soap or dish washing liquid.

Detergent or dish soap are mild cleaning agents that work best if you are dealing with wood that is painted or has some kind of protective coating. On such wooden surface the mold generally remains only on the surface and has not penetrated deep. So cleaning with just detergent or soap will suffice.

Once the mold has been cleaned away, its very important to dry the wood completely. Make sure there is as much ventilation as possible in the room. Turn on the fans to get more air flowing. Alternatively you can use a vacuum blower to blow some hot air onto the wood to dry it quickly.

If the wood is not painted or polished in anyway, and the mold has grown all over in great quantity then you would need a more powerful cleaner like bleach or ammonia.

2. Bleach

If there is a very heavy growth of mold, then you need a more powerful cleaner like chlorine bleach. Chlorine bleach is a very powerful chemical that kills all microscopic organisms like mold and mildew.

Mix liquid chlorine bleach with 2x times water in spray bottle and begin spraying this solution on the mold. As earlier, use a scrubber to rub along the mold.

Bleach gives out a very pungent and toxic smell that you would not want to inhale in excess. If you are working indoors, make sure to ventilate the place by opening all doors and windows. Also use hand gloves and protective respiratory masks.

In case of polished wood, the mold is generally only on the surface and can be cleaned off completely with bleach.

Otherwise if the wood is not varnished or polished, the mold growth could have penetrated deep inside the pores of the wood surface. Bleach may not go deep inside the pores and fibers of the wood to clean out all mold. You may have to use some commercial mold removal product.

3. Ammonia

Ammonia is a strongly alkaline substance and is effective in eliminating mold. Simply mix equal parts of ammonia solution with water and fill in a spray bottle.

Now spray ammonia on the mold area and rub with a scrubber. That should remove the mold. Ammonia is very effective in disinfecting and cleaning. However ammonia has its own pungent smell that you may find very irritating. When using ammonia solution, mask your face with something.

Note – When using ammonia, always remember to keep it away from bleach. Ammonia and bleach react together producing highly toxic chloramine gases.

4. Other commercial mold cleaning products

Apart from the above mentioned remedies, there are various other commercial mold removal products( called mildewcides) available in the market out there. Here are the names of few of them.

Concrobium Mold Control –

Whenever using commercial mold removal products, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

Varnish the wood

After removing the mold and all stains, you may want to consider painting or varnishing the wood to protect it and prevent the mold from re-occurring in future.

There are quite a few options like paste wax, lacquer, varnish, polyurethane etc. These are industry grade chemicals and it is best advised to consult and hire a professional for this task.


If you are dealing with massive amounts of mold and plan to use bleach, then its important to wear protection equipment to avoid inhaling any toxic gases that may be produced during the cleaning process.

Make sure to cover your mouth and nose with a mask or something else. Also get protective goggles is possible. Also make sure to put on hand gloves to avoid any direct contact with mold.

When using ammonia or bleach, always remember never to mix both of them together. Mixing ammonia with bleach produces highly toxic gases.

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