SOME STUFF on the WEB to fuel the debate of using bleach:
Mold, Housing and Wood
Coreen Robbins, Ph.D., CIH
Senior Industrial Hygienist
Jeff Morrell, Ph.D.
Oregon State University
This paper was prepared by Coreen Robbins, Ph.D., CIH and Jeff Morrell, Ph.D., at the request of Western Wood Products Association in order to address some common questions about mold and wood. The findings and conclusions contained in the paper represent the work of the authors, not WWPA. WWPA assumes no responsibility for any action or inaction based on the content of this paper, including any liability for damages arising out of failure to remove mold.
Published in 2001, revised January 2006.
Can I clean the mold from the wood?
The decision to clean mold from lumber depends on the amount of mold present and how likely it is to be disturbed. In nearly all cases, mold cleaning should be undertaken only after any moisture problems are resolved.
For any mold clean up that may generate large amounts of dust, basic personal protection equipment such as rubber gloves, eye protection and a high-quality pollen or dust mask should be worn. Clean-up of small spots or areas of mold generally does not require any special protective equipment.
There are a number of products on the market, from commercial mildewcides to common bleach, which are promoted for removing mold from wood. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests using mild detergent and water for most mold clean up. For cleaning wood surfaces, the EPA recommends wet vacuuming the area, wiping or scrubbing the mold with detergent and water and, after drying, vacuuming with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum (EPA, 2001).
The molds seen on lumber are largely a collection of fungal spores on the surface of the wood. As such, wet wiping or scrubbing the lumber will remove the mold.
Simply wiping the wood, however, can release those spores into the surrounding air. A better approach is to gently spray or wet down the mold prior to removal. Once the mold has been wetted, it can be removed by wet-wiping the surfaces with a water and detergent solution, scrubbing if necessary.
If commercial products are used for cleaning mold, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for use. Common bleach also can be used, particularly to clean the discoloration caused by mold fungi. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using a solution of 10 parts water to one part chlorine bleach to clean mold from surfaces (CDC, 2000b). When using bleach and other cleaning chemicals indoors, make sure there is adequate ventilation and wear personal protection equipment outlined previously. Never mix bleach with ammonia.
Removing small amounts of mold from wood is relatively straightforward. Mold removal becomes more complex when there are heavy amounts of growth on a majority of the lumber or if the building has been in service for some time and the mold originated from leaks into the building cavity. In these instances, the mold clean up should be done by a professional cleaning and restoration company. (Back to top