Wondering how to clean mildew from wood furniture quickly and safely without damaging the wood? Look no further!
Mildew on your wood furniture doesn’t just look bad, it can be detrimental to your furniture and your health if it’s not addressed.
Here’s exactly how to clean mildew from wood furniture.
Allergies and respiratory issues are fairly common to those who come into contact with mold or mildew, so be sure to wear gloves during the cleaning process, and, if necessary, a mask.
Identifying and understanding mildew in the home
Mold and mildew grow and thrive in moist environments, and unfortunately, your wood furniture absorbs and retains moisture like a sponge.
Mildew is identified as a thin, black or white growth produced by mold.
Molds that cause mildew require moisture and specific temperatures in order to grow. They thrive in humid summer weather and are often found in houses without proper ventilation.
Surface mold is more likely to develop on new, unseasoned lumber, but indoor surfaces covered with enamel or oil-resin paint rarely grow mold or mildew. When they do, removal and prevention are quick and easy.
Badly infected wood, however, may need to be replaced, preferably with wood that has been treated or that is naturally mold and decay resistant.
There are a few things to take note of before you go tossing that ebony china cabinet into the fire.
1. Identify the source
Identifying the source of moisture is the best step towards preventing further mold and mildew issues in your home.
Whether you need to hire a plumber or just move your furniture to a more dry location, finding the cause is the first step toward a solution and future prevention.
2. Identify the right solution
There are a lot of commercial products that will tell you how to clean mildew from wood furniture, and they can be great pre-mixed solutions for tackling your mold problems.
But, before you begin, make sure your cleaning solution is appropriate for your wood furniture. We have a great index of cleaning solutions here.
How to remove mildew from wood furniture with a finished or painted surface
If your wood is finished or painted, you should be relying on more mild cleaning solutions because you will likely only need to remove (not kill) the mold (they’re easier on the wood, too).
Some great, mild cleaners include a mixture of household detergent and water, commercial mild mold removal products, diluted vinegar, a baking soda and detergent solution, or a borax solution.
How to remove mildew from wood furniture with an unfinished surface
If the issue has moved below the surface of the wood, which is much more likely on unfinished wood surfaced, you will need a surface penetrating solution to kill the mold.
Surface penetrating solutions include rubbing alcohol, commercial mold killing products, diluted vinegar, borax solution, baking soda solution, or a bleach and detergent solution.
How to clean mildew from wood furniture
Step One: Set Up
Begin by setting up your workspace in a well-ventilated area with all products and tools you will need.
Vacuum the loose spores with your vacuum’s brush attachment.
Step Two: Wash
Wash the area with a cloth soaked with whatever solution you have decided to use based on your furniture and the extent of the mildew infection.
Use a washcloth and scrub gently in circles. You should be able to see the mildew clearing from the surface.
Allow the area to dry before moving on to step three.
Step Three: Disinfect
Disinfect your wood furniture by wiping the mildew infected area with a cloth dipped in diluted alcohol or bleach (10% bleach to water solution) before drying thoroughly using an electric heater and fan. Even a hair dryer will do!
For painted or stained wood, you can use a more mild disinfectant. It is likely that even a simple detergent and warm water solution will do after you have already washed and dried the area.
If your results are not satisfactory, vinegar is a very effective mold killer. Use a spray bottle filled with vinegar and spray the mildew affected area. Allow the vinegar to sit for an hour or so before wiping down the area with a clean and damp cloth.
Step Four: Dry and Keep Dry
We know, we know, but it’s a point that we can’t drive home enough!
Not only does mildew grow and thrive in the wet and damp, but it’s unsafe to combine cleaning solutions, paints, and disinfectants, and you would risk damaging your wood or its finish.
Step Five: Protect and Prevent
If you correctly identified the cause of the issue, that means that moisture shouldn’t be a problem anymore (perhaps you moved that cabinet from a dampened basement, or allowed a flooded piece of furniture to spend a day or two in the sun).
To prevent further damage or recurring issues, keep your wood furniture dry, clean, and disinfected.
Mildew-resistant paints in all colors for wood surfaces are available at paint, hardware, and some department stores. These products are formulated with fungicides to combat mold and mildew growth.
Applying a mildew resistant paint is a great way to seal your efforts and prevent further infections.
If you feel that any mold remains, you might consider sanding your wood furniture’s surface and repeating the above steps before applying a mildew resistant paint.
It may seem contrary to protecting the wood, but sanding is the only way to reach the mold deep within the wood.
Once the wood is clean and smooth and shows no sign of mold, then you can safely apply your stain or finish and your resistant paint.
It’s important to know how to remove mildew from wood furniture properly in order to protect yourself and your belongings from unsightly and potentially dangerous mold.
Now that you know how to clean mildew from wood furniture, make sure that you never have to do it again.
From hiring a plumber to running a dehumidifier at night or even just opening your windows to encourage ventilation, there are plenty of ways to minimize moisture in your home.
If the mildew has grown or spread to any attached pieces of upholstery, it is best to consult a furniture cleaning service.