What Is the Best Way to Clean Mold From Wood?

Image of wood molds, you should know How To Remove Black Mold From WoodWith hazards ranging from health problems such as allergies and respiratory difficulties to the unsightly appearance they cause on wood, mold is a fungus you want to get rid of as fast as possible. Black mold is a type of mold, some species of which are potently toxigenic, i.e., they produce mycotoxins that can lead to serious health issues. While avoiding and preventing the growth of black mold from wood should undoubtedly be your priority, sometimes mold will grow despite your precautions. So, if mold grows on your wood, you will need to know how to remove black mold from wood.

Black mold can be removed from wood using several solutions that are easy to make using everyday material found in the home, such as vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and detergent. The ease of removing the mold will depend on how far the mold has penetrated the wood.

The adaptability and ease of travel of mold spores are two features that make it difficult to control the growth of wood. The spores are airborne and easily dispersed by wind and can get attached and grow in most places with the ideal conditions: the optimum temperature, oxygen, and most importantly, moisture.

Is Mold On Wood Dangerous?

Yes, it is. While the research on the severity of the health risks associated with wood mold has not been conclusive, there is a unanimous agreement among experts that its presence poses a health risk for humans. Exposure to large quantities of mold spores can potentially cause respiratory issues and allergic reactions in some people. These allergic reactions are not seasonal, and they can happen at any time of the year.

Such exposure can cause symptoms such as:

  • Skin irritation
  • Coughing 
  • Sneezing 
  • Eye irritation
  • Constant fatigue
  • Difficulty in breathing

Some mold types produce toxic chemicals known as mycotoxins, which can be present on the mold spores or the small mold fragments in the air. Exposure to some mycotoxins can cause neurological problems in humans, severe health conditions such as cancer, and may cause death in some cases. Large quantities and more prolonged exposure can make these mycotoxins particularly harmful.

Black mold is among the common toxigenic molds found indoors. Different types of toxigenic mold produce certain mycotoxins that will cause specific symptoms.

Another seldom recognized danger of wood mold is what it indicates. While the presence of mold on wood is not a reason to worry about the structural integrity, it is indicative of high levels of moisture that can cause problems. Such moist conditions can lead to the growth of decay fungi in the wood, which can cause severe damage. Rot in wood can also increase the possibility of insect attacks which will only worsen any damage. It can also cause surface damage, such as blistering the plaster and peeling the paint. 

How Do You Identify Mold On Wood?

Perhaps the scariest thing about black mold is that even with the significant hazards it poses, it is not easy to identify. For most people, the first sign that warns them of mold is the musty and earthy smell associated with mold. Mold generally prefers damp places and will typically start from the corner and spread out. If you can see discoloration on the wood surface, accompanied by the smell, that is usually a pretty good indicator of dealing with mold.

Dark spots and discolorations can also get confused with mold. These discolorations on wood can be due to natural wood staining, iron stains, sun exposure, and mineral discolorations. If you can see streaks leading from where you have fasteners in your wood, it is probably just iron stains, while greyed wood can be because of sun exposure. Discoloration on a moist piece of wood and the production of a musty smell is the best mold indicator.

If you are still having a problem confirming the presence of mold on wood, you can invest in a mold testing kit or call in a professional to look at it.

What Causes the Growth Of Mold On Wood?

Molds usually reproduce through the production of large amounts of spores. These spores are airborne and are adaptable to wind dispersal. They, therefore, quickly grow on outdoor wood and can get indoors through areas such as open doors and windows. Mold spores can also attach themselves to clothes and animal fur. 

With the right conditions, such as warmth, moisture, darkness, and time, these spores will produce mold.

Some of the common causes of mold on wood in your home are:

  • FloodingFlood cause growth of mold

After you experience flooding in your home, you will almost inevitably develop mold problems shortly after that. Flooding brings in a significant amount of water, and wood will remain wet for days or even weeks to come. Different mold types require a surface to stay moist for different amounts of time, with some needing only 24 hours before growth begins. To mitigate these effects, you should contact a restoration company immediately after the disaster passes.

  • Poor ventilation

If you do not have an efficient ventilation system, it can cause the development of moist and stagnant air pockets. Any wet surfaces in the home will also dry out slower if the house does not have adequate ventilation. Rooms like bathrooms and kitchens that generate a lot of steam are especially vulnerable to excess moisture that leads to mold growth. To prevent mold on wood indoors, leave the doors and windows open, and use a fan as needed.

  • Leaking pipes

Leaky pipes are a common culprit for the growth of mold. The major problem with leaking pipes is that they are often hidden from view, and a leak could go undetected for weeks. By the time these leaks are detected, mold has usually already started growing. One way to combat this is to check the walls regularly for water stains that may alert you to a leak.

  • Leaks in your roof.

Roof leaks allow water and moisture to build up in your home and cause mold growth. Like leaking pipes, leaky roofs may take some time to identify. Have your roof regularly inspected as a preventive measure and check for any water stains that may be indicative of a leak.

  • Increased humidity

Wood moisture moistureA humidity increase in your home can cause mold to grow on wood. One of the causes of increased humidity is weather changes. Humid weather for several days, as well as rain, can cause mold to start growing on your walls and some furniture. If you live in areas that constantly have high humidity, such as close to significant water problems, you may have recurring issues with mold. You may have to invest in solutions such as a dehumidifier.

Some of the other activities that could be causing an increase in your home’s humidity include drying clothes indoors and showering. To prevent mold growth in your home, it is best to keep the humidity level below 55%. 

  • Wet clothes

While it may seem unlikely, leaving your wet clothes around the house for long periods is a recipe for mold growth. Ways in which wet clothes indoors can cause mold include piling up damp garments for more than a day and drying your clothes indoors. Unless the room is well-ventilated, drying your clothes indoors or even using a dryer could release a lot of moisture into the room, supporting mold growth.

  • Basements 

Basements in the home provide the perfect conditions for mold growth. The combination of poor ventilation and exposure to floods and water leaks creates an ideal environment for mold development.

How Do You Kill Mold On Wood?

To cut down on the risk that mold poses, you should plan to remove it as soon as it is spotted. Before getting down to removing the mold, it is essential to know whether you will need to call in a professional. Experts recommend that you call in a professional mold remover if the mold covers 10 square feet or more of the wood surface. The remover will make an assessment and advise you on whether the wood is salvageable or if it needs removal, and if so, how to dispose of it properly.

Mold growing in crawl spaces or areas with poor ventilation will also require a professional remover. If you have allergies or respiratory complications, it would also be best to call in an expert.

However, if you plan to remove the mold from the wood surface, below is a step-by-step guide on how you can safely remove it from wood.

Step 1: Preparations

When dealing with mold, the first and most crucial step is to ensure your safety. Inhaling or ingesting mold can lead to severe health concerns. Get protective gear to use and observe all the necessary safety precautions.

If you are dealing with moldy walls or furniture indoors, you will also need to keep the areas you are working on cordoned off. Remember that mold spores are airborne, and it is prudent to make sure that they do not spread indiscriminately around the house or to other wooden surfaces. Ensure that you cover up all the air ducts leading into the room with tape and cover the doorway with plastic sheeting.

Step 2: VacuumImage of a vacuum cleaner

After securing the area, the next step is to remove any loose spores on or close to the affected wood. Experts recommend that you use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to ensure you capture as many spores as possible. Vacuum cleaners with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter as part of their filtration can efficiently capture tiny particles such as spores that trigger allergic reactions.

After vacuuming all the visible spores from the wood surface, take the vacuum bag outdoors, make sure the contents are tightly sealed, and dispose of it.

Step 3: Clean the mold off the wood.

Cleaning mold off the wood will kill any mold that is not deep in the wood’s structure. You can use different cleaning solutions ranging from soap and water to bleach depending on the mold penetration into the wood. There are various ways of cleaning mold from wood, as you will see below.

Woodworker using Rigid, the Best Cordless Random Orbital SanderStep 4: Sand down the wood

If some mold persists after trying all the cleaning solutions, you will then need to use a wood sander to sand down the wood surface. While sanding may seem counterintuitive to what you are trying to achieve, sanding down is quite an efficient way to reach any deeper mold in the wood.

Use finer grit sandpaper to rub the affected area until no more signs of mold are visible. After sanding, thoroughly vacuum the surrounding area again to catch any stray spores, and safely dispose of any rags you may have used in the process. After sanding the wood and vacuuming the surrounding area, we recommend letting the wood dry thoroughly and later applying a protective finish to the wood’s surface.

What Is the Best Way to Clean Mold From Wood?

When cleaning mold off wood, there are several solutions you can use depending on their strength, availability, and level of penetration of the mold into the wood’s surface.

Below are some of the best cleaning solutions to use on the mold with the respective procedures to get the best possible results.

  1. Water and detergent 

Perhaps the simplest way of cleaning mold from wood is using water and detergent. This method is an excellent option for cases where you are sure that the mold has not penetrated the wood surface. To use this solution:

  • Prepare a soapy solution with water and detergent.
  • Spray the moldy surface and use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the mold away. You can also dip the brush into soapy water.
  • Dry the wood surface with a towel to minimize the chances of a recurrence. 

If soap and water prove unsuccessful, you can use a baking soda solution.

  1. Baking soda

To use baking soda in cleaning mold, mix the baking soda and water to create a solution that you will spray over the surface covered in mold. Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the mold. Keep spraying the baking soda solution if you feel the area needs extra disinfecting.

  1. Vinegar

Image of a vinegar for deck cleaningWhite vinegar is one of the most popular options when removing mold. The mild acid found in vinegar is excellent for removing mold and preventing future recurrences. When using vinegar, go for the distilled white vinegar, which typically has around 5% acidity. To clean mold with distilled white vinegar:

  • Transfer the white distilled vinegar to a spray bottle for a more straightforward application.
  • Spray it lightly on the moldy wood surface.
  • Let the vinegar air-dry and remain on the surface for at least an hour.
  • Wipe away the mold.
  • If any mold is left, follow up cleaning with a baking soda solution and scrub the surface. Then rinse the area, spray with vinegar again and let it dry.
  • If no more mold stains remain, clean the surface with a wood cleaner and buff it with a soft cloth.
  1. Chlorine bleach

You should use chlorine bleach on mold patches that are particularly tough to remove. Bleach is also a great option to clean mold from exterior wood that you did not seal, such as decks. To clean mold using bleach:

  • Mix a cup of warm water and ½ cup of chlorine bleach to create a solution. If the surface you are working on is more porous, you can add a tablespoon of detergent to the solution.
  • Apply the mixture to the moldy surface with a soft brush.
  • Allow the area to air-dry and then buff over with a soft cloth.
  1. Hydrogen peroxide 

Hydrogen peroxide works to clean mold by breaking down its essential components. Though it is not the best solution for cleaning mold from porous surfaces, here is how you can best use hydrogen peroxide to clean mold.

  • Put 3% hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle.
  • Spray the hydrogen peroxide and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush or a rag to scrub away the mold.
  • Dry the surface with a clean cloth.

How Do You Remove Mold From Wooden Furniture?

Image of outdoor bench, you can protect it using the Best Paint for Outdoor Wood FurnitureApart from being a health risk, mold on your wood produces unsightly discolorations that reduce your wood furniture appeal. Whether the furniture is indoors or outdoors, mold spores are likely to get on them and grow into the mold with the right conditions.

The procedure for removing mold from your wood furniture is generally almost the same as removing mold from other wooden surfaces.

Step 1: Protection

Protective clothing will help keep you safe from the health risks associated with ingesting and inhaling spores. 

Step 2: Take it outdoors.

Unlike wooden fixtures in the house, you can easily carry out most furniture. Removing mold outside will not only eliminate the risk of spores flying from the furniture to other areas in the house, but it will also save you a lot of time and effort by eliminating the need to close off the room and thoroughly vacuum the surrounding area.

Step 3: Clean the mold off

Use any of the solutions above that will be the most effective to clean up the affected areas. It would be best to consider the final finish of the furniture you are cleaning to know which solution works best and which finish you need to handle carefully.

Step 4: Drying

After cleaning off the mold, let the furniture dry completely to minimize the recurrence chances due to leftover moisture.

How To Prevent The Growth Of Mold

While each of the above cleaning methods will undoubtedly be invaluable in removing mold, controlling, and preventing mold growth at all is the best solution. Since moisture is the number one enabler for mold growth, below are some expert tips to help keep the moisture down in different areas around the house to keep your wooden fixtures and furniture from getting moldy.

  1. In the house

  • If your area is constantly humid, invest in a dehumidifier.
  • Try always keeping the humidity below 55%. You can measure the relative humidity in your house using a hygrometer and then set the dehumidifier correctly.
  • Dry any wet surfaces in 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  • Regularly inspect areas that are prone to leakages and see the necessary repairs.
  • Install a proper ventilation system and leave the doors between rooms open to encourage air circulation.
  • Avoid piling wet clothes indoors or hanging them to dry indoors.
  • Add a mold inhibitor to your paint.
  1. In the kitchen

  • Check all possible sources of water for leaks regularly and repair them promptly.
  • If you are doing an activity that produces a lot of moisture, such as cooking, use exhaust fans to move the moisture.
  1. In crawl spaces and the basement

  • Install proper ventilation systems in crawl spaces.
  • Cover the dirt with plastic sheeting to prevent moisture from the ground from coming in.
  • Check your basement floor for leaks and repair them.

Safety Tips When Handling Mold On Wood.

Image of NoCry, Tinted Over, the Best Safety Glasses For Woodworking Yours and the safety of those around you should be your number one priority when handling potentially harmful substances such as mold. Here are some safety tips when handling mold on wood.

  • Isolate the affected area- if you are working indoors, seal off the door to the room with plastic and any air vents. This isolation will prevent spores from traveling to other areas of the house.
  • Wear the appropriate personal protective gear- Mold can prove toxic when ingested or inhaled. Use special respirators, goggles, and gloves to help you prevent contact with the mold.
  • Careful disposal- put any materials affected by mold in a bag, seal it, and carefully dispose of it. These materials include any tags that you may have used to clean surfaces and unsalvageable materials.
  • If the HVAC has mold contamination, avoid running it. 
  • Moisten moldy areas while you work to minimize the number of airborne spores.

Final Thoughts

After discovering that you have mold, you must assess its severity before removing it by yourself. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you do your removal only if the mold covers an area of 10 square feet or less. Otherwise, you should call in a mold remediation company. Still…

You Must Know How to Remove Black Mold from Wood.

Using the solutions listed above and with the proper procedure, you should take care of a mold problem on your wood. If one solution does not work as expected, you can always switch to another and see how it works.

Thank you for reading this article to the end. We hope that it has been informative and addressed any questions you might have had. You are welcome to leave your thoughts, questions, and suggestions in the comment section below.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.