Mold growth; it’s a nasty thing. Especially on beautiful solid wood furniture. It all started after Hurricane Sally. Our little town was devastated after this very strong and unexpected hurricane hit. Even though my home did not sustain much damage, my mother and father in law were not so lucky. Needless to say their entire home flooded and all their solid wood furniture ended up sitting in flood water. Long story short, after a few short days most of it ended up with nasty mold on the bottom. This is the story of how we successfully removed mold and prevented mold growth on their beautiful solid wood furniture.
I mentioned that my in laws had mold growth on the bottom of most of their wood furniture. What I didn’t mention is that they had to unexpectedly move out (which meant hiring movers on a whim to take everything to a storage unit) and they did not get to properly clean the things that got wet.
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What is mold?
Web MD states “Mold is a type of fungus. These small organisms can be black, white, orange, green, or purple and live almost anywhere indoors and outside. Molds thrive on moisture and reproduce through lightweight spores that travel through the air.”
If mold isn’t properly removed, it can spread to everything it’s around since it spreads through the air.
It’s important to understand that mold reproduces and spreads through the air.
Why is this important?
Chances are if there is mold growth on one piece of furniture and it’s stuffed in a storage unit with other furniture, within weeks the mold spores have probably spread.
When we opened up the storage unit after a few months this is what we found on the bottom of a few of the big furniture pieces.
You can see exactly where the water line was.
Look at all that mold growth!
So now what?
How to clean mold off wood
- Make sure to wear protective clothing and gloves
- Make sure the surface is dry (and has been dry for at least 2 days)
- It’s best to move everything outside in the sun before you begin to clean
- Mix a 10% bleach to water mixture and pour in a spray bottle
- Spray a generous amount on the surface AND ABOVE the mold
- Let the solution sit on the surface for 10 minutes
- Rub the surface and watch the mold come off
- Once there is no visible sign of mold, let it sit and dry (in the sun is best)
Fema has a great brochure on how to get mold out of furniture and other surfaces.
Let me show you what it looked like when we started to remove the mold and spray the bleach solution.
Mold cleaning solution
I’m using a 10% bleach solution with bleach and water. There are other products on the market that you can buy that are made specifically for killing and preventing mold. Concrobium is one of these solutions. It also comes in a spray form.
This was the back of a very nice solid wood buffet. You can see the part that got wet was a piece of particle board.
We used the bleach solution to clean it and let it sit and dry outside. Unfortunately, after it was cleaned we could still see a few bits of mold (they call this a mold colony) which means that the fungus had buried in the porous wood.
Since it was the backside of the buffet and only particle board, we opted to remove it.
Removing mold from wood tips
- My best tip is this; when in doubt, throw it out.
- It is easier to remove mold from solid wood than porous surfaces like particle board.
- Remember to clean EVERY piece of wood that sat near the mold with a bleach solution (since mold spores spread in the air).
- Check back within a few days after the initial cleaning to make sure there are no signs of new growth.
- If you’ve properly cleaned the surface and the mold keeps growing back, chances are the it has burrowed deep in the wood and the furniture piece needs to be discarded.
How to prevent mold growth on furniture
- Keep furniture in a cool dry area with low humidity
- Continue to check for new mold growth
- Keep the wood clean
If you follow all my tips and solutions on how to kill mold off of furniture, hopefully you’ll be able to salvage those beautiful wood pieces!
Doing these few simple steps should help prevent future mold growth.
We had to throw basically all the fabric furniture away but we were able to save all the solid wood pieces. I hope we don’t have to go through a major hurricane like that for at least another 10 years!
Another tip I have is for those of us (ME) that love to thrift old furniture. Because you don’t necessarily know what condition the piece came from or if it ever had previous mold on it, it’s always best to prime the piece with a mold preventing primer before you paint it. See my favorite primers here.
If you don’t plan to paint it, make sure to clean it really well and inspect the wood for mold.
“Mold preventing primer’s” also help reduce that “stale” smell. See more painting tips and tricks here where I share other painting ideas you might not find elsewhere.
Hope these tips help keep your house healthy and clean!