Black mold loves moisture. Just a little bit on the siding of your house, the window frames, or wooden deck furniture and you are in trouble. "Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any surface, providing moisture is present," according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This health hazard should be removed immediately.
I needed to remove mold from a hand-carved name sign my brother-in-law made for us years ago. He made it because our house can be hard to find. We hung the sign by the front door. The carved whale on the top of the sign suits the Cape Cod design of the house. Over the years, however, a dark mold slowly covered the sign, and we took it down.
How could I remove it? "Mold Resources," an article on the EPA Website, says hard wooden surfaces may be cleaned with detergent and water. Absorbent surfaces, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, must be replaced. Extensive growth, such as basement walls, require professional cleaning.
An InspectAPedia Website article, "How to Clean Mold on Building Framing, Lumber or Plywood Sheathing and Use of Fungicidal Sealants on Wooden Building Materials," contains more cleaning tips. Power washing is recommended for smooth surfaces like decks. Irregular and hard-to-reach surfaces may be cleaned with media blasting – power spray using baking soda or dry ice. Though you may clean surfaces by sanding them, it is not recommended. "This is a slow, labor intensive procedure which is impractical for any large area cleanup."
I went to my local home store for more cleaning information. The store had mold test kits, house wash products, which were mainly bleach, and instant mold and mildew remover, a combination of bleach and lye. The wood cleaning products were available only in large sizes. A staff person recommended bleach diluted with water and his suggestion made me think of shower cleaner.
We had several bottles of spray cleaner on hand and I tested each one. The cleaner with the most bleach worked best. I put on rubber gloves, laid the sign flat, sprayed it, and rubbed it with a kitchen scrubble. I did this twice. Then I rinsed the sign and dried it with old towels. Hours later, when the sign was completely dry, I sanded it smooth and sealed the surface. The shower cleaner was easy to use and it may work for your wood cleaning job.
You may not think you have black mold. However, the EPA, in an article titled "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home," says you should inspect your home for signs of mold, moisture, leaks, and spills. Controlling moisture is key to controlling mold, according to the EPA. If you find any, even a speck in the corner of a window, remove it immediately.
Since I can't control the weather, I know I will have to clean the sign again. But that is years away. For now, the sign is clean, bright, and back where it belongs – by the front door. I love it and so do the neighbors.
Copyright 2009 by Harriet Hodgson