How to remove mold from wood

Mold on wood
Mold on wood floors

Mold growing on wood poses more danger than just to your health. With enough time it can easily destabilize the integrity of wooden home structures and roof frameworks, thereby contributing to the weakening of such said structures and resulting in costly repairs. This is why removing mold from wood should be treated with urgency. Here we will reveal why it’s susceptible to mold growth, steps for removing it from both finished and unfinished surfaces and what can be done to prevent it from occurring again.

Topics covered
  • What causes mold on wood?
  • What does mold on wood look like?
  • Safety measures
  • How to remove mold from finished wood
  • How to remove mold from unfinished wood
  • Recommended wood sealers

What causes mold on wood?

Wood is the ideal place for mold growth because of it’s ability to effortlessly absorb and hold significant quantities of water. Furthermore, it is a natural substance with lots of pores and cracks which makes it easy for fungi roots to dig down below the surface area. Inspecting wooden structures in your home and dealing with any problems immediately will go a long way in preventing costly repairs from structural damage.

Water: Water from flooding or even rain on an outside wooden fence is enough to cause mold formation. Keeping wood dry is essential and one of the best ways to do this is to apply a coating of quality sealant which will help prevent the absorption of water. One effective way of checking the amount of water wood has absorbed is with a good quality moisture meter.

Humidity: High levels of humidity is another major contributing factor. Once again, a high quality sealant will greatly reduce the risk of mold on wood in highly humid environments. It’s also advised to keep indoor humidity levels under control and this is clearly evident in places such as attics. A small indoor dehumidifier can make a world of difference.

Irregular cleaning: Regular cleaning of indoor wooden furniture is essential. Most high quality over the counter furniture cleaning products does a good job at preventing mold. However, for best results take a cup of 1/4 white vinegar and mix it with 3/4 olive oil. Evenly apply the solution onto wooden furniture moving along with the grain. Not only will this give off a beautiful lasting polished look but the white vinegar will also kill off mold spores.

What does mold on wood look like?

White mold on wood: White mold is most commonly found growing on wood in both basements and attics and usually appears as small white dots or fluffy spots. It’s not a threat to structural integrity or health in small quantities but it does become a serious problem if it gets out of control.

It’s hard to establish exactly what species white mold is because many types – black and green – may first appear white in the beginning stages.

Black mold on wood: Black mold on wood can appear as black dots or streaks and it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the toxic stachybotrys chartarum species. It does, however, need to be eradicated.

Green mold on wood: Green mold on wood, just like the black variety, can appear as either dots or streaks. It most commonly affects outdoor wood which have been exposed to wetness and shade for long periods of time.

Safety measures:

  • Respirator: Wearing a N-95 respiratory mask is highly recommended. Not only will it protect you from spores during the cleaning process but it will also keep dust and other fine particles out of your lungs when sanding.
  • Gloves: If you will be doing sanding then wear a good pair of gloves because splinters can be painful.
  • Safety glasses: Dust and other debris from sanding can be a major eye irritant so protect yourself with a good pair of wrap around safety glasses.
  • Air circulation: When dealing with mold on indoor furniture always keep the windows open for some fresh air circulation. If at all possible, take whatever you can outside and clean it there.

How to remove mold from finished wood

The mold removal process for finished wood is quick and easy because thanks to the sealant the fungi would not have penetrated the surface.

What you will need: A soft brush, dish washing liquid, white vinegar and a vacuum cleaner (preferably a HEPA filtered vacuum).


First vacuum the affected and surrounding areas to suck up any potential loose spores lying around. In this step a HEPA vacuum cleaner would be ideal but if you do not have one then a regular vacuum will have to do.


Mix some warm water with ordinary dish washing liquid and scrub gently with a soft brush until all the fungi is off.


Apply some white vinegar to the area and let it soak for an hour.


After an hour, lightly scrub it down again. Done!

How to remove mold from unfinished wood

Unfinished wood usually requires additional steps and is a bit more labor intensive because it’s more than likely that the mold roots have penetrated the surface.

What you will need: A soft brush, dish washing liquid, white vinegar, some sanding paper and a vacuum cleaner (preferably a HEPA filtered vacuum).


In the first step we will use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to vacuum around the affected area to suck up any loose spores lying around. A HEPA filtered vacuum is ideally suited for this task but if you do not have one use a regular vacuum cleaner instead.


Gently scrub the affected surface area with dish washing liquid and warm water. In the unlikely event that no more mold is visible consider yourself lucky because that means the fungi hasn’t penetrated the cracks. Simply apply white vinegar, let it soak for an hour and then wash again with dish washing liquid. No additional steps are required. However, if mold is still visible then it means that the roots are sitting inside the cracks. Proceed to step 3.


Gently sand down the affected area with some sanding paper and wash it again with dish washing liquid and warm water. Repeat this process until no more fungi is visible.


When you have reached the root level the mold will no longer be visible. Apply some white vinegar and let it soak for an hour.


Wash again with dish washing liquid and warm water. Done!

Recommended wood sealants

Below we have listed two of the highest quality sealers. Minwax is ideal for indoor applications while Thompsons WaterSeal is specifically made for outdoor applications.

Minwax wood finish penetrating interior wood stain, 1/2 pint

Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Interior Wood Stain

Minwax is America’s leading brand of wood finishing products. The product is oil based and therefore gives off a beautiful long lasting color.

It effectively penetrates all cracks and pores thereby completely sealing everything off from fungal growth and water absorption.

Minwax Wood Finish is available in 28 different colors and is perfect for all types of unfinished indoor wood. Apply one coat to doors, hardwood flooring, cabinets and any type of wooden furniture.

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Thompsons water seal TH.A21711-16 advanced natural wood protector

Thompsons WaterSeal TH.A21711-16 Advanced Natural Wood Protector

Thompsons WaterSeal TH.A21711-16 Advanced Natural Wood Protector is ideal for outdoor applications. It provides wood with a long lasting protective coat which is resistant to mold and mildew, color fading, water absorption and even sun damage.

This product is water based which means that it can easily be cleaned up. Simply apply one coat to outdoor decks, outdoor furniture and fences to preserve their life and integrity.

The product doesn’t give off that dark glossy look either. Instead, everything coated with Thompsons Waterseal maintains its original unfinished look but with a lot of added protection.

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