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Mould on Furniture: Causes, Removal, and Prevention

Castlery   |   Aug 25, 2023

Mould is a common problem that can affect all types of furniture - outdoor lounge chairs, wooden dining tables, and leather sofas. This not only ruins its appearance but also poses potential health risks to inhabitants.

This article helps you understand the causes, effective removal methods, and preventive measures against mould that are essential for maintaining the longevity and aesthetics of your furniture while ensuring a safe living environment.

Causes of mould on furniture

Mould thrives in environments with high humidity and moisture. Furniture can become susceptible to mold growth due to various reasons, including:

  • Dampness and poor ventilation: Furniture placed in poorly ventilated areas or exposed to excessive moisture, such as basements or bathrooms, can provide an ideal breeding ground for mould.
  • Water damage: Furniture exposed to water leaks, spills, or flooding can absorb moisture, encouraging mould growth if not properly dried.
  • High humidity: In regions with high humidity levels, indoor air can become saturated with moisture, promoting mould growth on furniture surfaces.
  • Condensation: When warm air comes into contact with the cool surfaces of furniture, condensation occurs. This creates an environment conducive to mould development.

How to remove mould from furniture

Mould removal techniques may vary depending on the type of furniture and the material it is made from. Here are specific guidelines for dealing with mold on different furniture types:

Wood furniture

Two people sit on a teak dining table and bench. The Rio Teak Dining Table Set features solid teak wood. Picture credits: @reserve_home

Wooden furniture is particularly vulnerable to mould growth, as wood provides an organic food source for mould. But, proper care and protection of wood can prevent it! Here's how to remove mould from wood furniture:

Cleaning

Create a cleaning solution by mixing equal parts of water and white vinegar, or water and mild dish soap.

Before applying the solution to the entire piece of furniture, perform a spot test in an inconspicuous area to check for any adverse reactions. Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the cleaning solution and gently scrub the mouldy areas. Wipe the table in the direction of the wood grain and avoid using abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals even for stubborn stains.

Avoid oversaturating the wood, as excessive moisture can cause further damage.

Rinse and dry

Wipe the cleaned areas with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue. Then, thoroughly dry the furniture using a separate dry cloth.

Sanding (Optional)

If the mould has penetrated deep into the wood or caused stains, you may need to lightly sand the affected areas and then refinish the wooden furniture.

Upholstered furniture

A close up shot of a performance fabric sofa. The Lucas Performance Bouclé Sofa features spill-resistant bouclé fabric which makes maintenance a breeze.

Upholstered furniture, such as most sofas and armchairs, can trap moisture, making them susceptible to mould growth. Here's how to tackle mould on upholstered furniture:

Vacuuming

Start by using a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove any loose mould spores from the surface of the upholstery.

Cleaning

Choose a fabric cleaner suitable for the type of upholstery and follow the instructions to spot-clean the mouldy areas.

Alternatively, you can create a natural cleaning agent with a few household items. One solution is to mix baking soda and water into a paste, and the other is water and vinegar in equal parts.

Drying

After spot-cleaning mouldy areas, use a dry cloth to blot excess moisture and allow the furniture to air dry in a well-ventilated area.

Steam or professional cleaning (Optional)

For more severe mould infestations, consider using a steam cleaner with an upholstery attachment to penetrate deeper into the fabric.

For valuable or delicate upholstered furniture, consider hiring a professional upholstery cleaning service with experience in mould removal to prevent any permanent damage to the furniture.

Leather furniture

A close up shot of a leather sofa with tufted backrests. The Isaac Leather 3 Seater Sofa has tufted backrests for that classic mid-century modern look.

Leather furniture is susceptible to mould if exposed to high humidity or dampness. Here's how to remove mould from leather furniture:

Cleaning

Use a commercial leather cleaner or create a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. Dampen a soft cloth with the cleaning solution and gently wipe the mouldy areas on the leather furniture.

Drying

After cleaning, use a separate dry cloth to absorb excess moisture and allow the leather to air dry. Avoid leaving the leather furniture out in the sun to dry as this can cause the leather to crack.

Apply leather conditioner

Apply a leather conditioner to restore moisture and maintain the leather's quality after cleaning.

Wicker and rattan furniture

A collection of wicker outdoor furniture. The Malta Outdoor Collection features a wicker weave and weather-resistant cushions. Picture credits: @nest.out.west

Wicker and rattan furniture can trap moisture in their weaves, leading to mould growth. Here's how to handle mould on wicker and rattan furniture:

Cleaning

Start by using a dry cloth or brush to gently remove any surface mould from the furniture. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove any debris like leaves or twigs.

Create a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap, and use a soft brush to gently scrub the mould areas.

Drying

Ensure that the furniture is thoroughly dried after cleaning, as moisture can become trapped within the weaves.

Sunlight exposure

Place the furniture in direct sunlight for a few hours, as sunlight can help inhibit mould growth.

Preventive measures

Preventing mould growth on furniture is more effective than dealing with it after it occurs. Here are some preventive steps:

Maintain proper ventilation

Adequate ventilation helps control humidity levels, reduces moisture buildup, and improves air circulation. Ensure good air circulation in your home by using fans, opening windows, or using air purifiers.

Also, consider investing in a high-quality dehumidifier to maintain optimal indoor humidity levels (between 30% to 50%). Place the dehumidifier in areas prone to high humidity, such as bathrooms or laundry rooms.

Opt for mould-resistant furniture

When purchasing furniture, opt for mould-resistant furniture as a proactive approach to prevent mould growth and maintain the longevity of your furniture pieces. Mold-resistant furniture is designed and constructed using materials and finishes that discourage mould growth.

Some materials you can look out for include solid wood, treated wood, or metal.

A fabric armchair with legs that raise it off the ground. The Adams Armchair has slim customisable legs that raise it off the ground. Picture credits: @ellisandhale

Choose furniture designs that allow air to circulate underneath the pieces, reducing the chance of moisture buildup. Furniture with legs or raised bases provides better ventilation, preventing mould growth on the underside.

Regular cleaning

Needless to say, regular cleaning and dusting can help to prevent dirt and moisture buildup. Always use coasters, placemats, and furniture covers to protect your furniture from moisture. Additionally, act fast if there are any spills on your furniture so there’s a lesser chance of mould growth.

Waterproofing

Apply a waterproof sealant or coating to protect vulnerable furniture surfaces from moisture absorption. This is exceptionally important for outdoor furniture as they’re more susceptible to the elements.

Proper mould removal from furniture involves tailored approaches based on the type of furniture and the material it is made from. By following these specific guidelines, you can effectively tackle mould infestations while preserving the beauty and functionality of your furniture for years to come. Remember to always prioritise safety and take preventive measures to minimise the risk of future mould growth.

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