Most people know that humidity and moisture cause mold to grow. When it grows in your home, both you and your home area at risk. Mold destroys the surfaces in which it lives. It also spreads quickly from room to room, or from object to object. Breathing airborne mold and mold spores poses health risks for you as well.
But, can mold spores live on furniture? What about leather furniture? Yes, mold can make its way into fabrics and wood. Thus, mold spores can settle and live on furniture, even leather. Regardless of the upholstery, all furniture contains batting and stuffing, which is merely another type of fabric.
How Mold Invades Furniture
Mold is essentially a fungus that carries bacteria. The toxins that mold releases are what are called free radicals. Meaning, they contain reactive oxygen radicals that bind to fabrics. Over time, they are released. The larger particles are called spores.
Finer particles exist, and they are less than 1 micron. All mold particles permeate fabrics. The smaller particles are very hard to remove once they make their way into the furniture. Because mold spores bind to all fabric, including clothing, you will very likely see cross-contamination.
Reasons Why Mold Grows on Furniture
The mold contamination may begin in heating and air ducts where moisture has accumulated. Once the moisture stagnates, mold forms. Soon after, it travels throughout your home. It can settle on just about any surface, including your furniture.
In humid conditions, mildew and mold thrive on wood, leather, and upholstered furniture. After a while, the mold begins to spread over the furniture and give off a musty odor. It’s time to clean and stop mold and mildew growth. Spare your furniture as well as protect those living in the home.
First, consider the potential cause for mold growth. Was the furniture recently in storge? Storage environments are often extremely humid. If the furniture has been in your home the whole time, check for the source before trying to clean it.
Cracks or Leaks
Take a look at your ceiling and floorboards. Are there cracks or signs of a leak? Whatever the cause, you must correct that before you can remove mold from any household item.
Sometimes mold grows because the air temperature isn’t uniform. When cold air meets hot, water particles condense on furniture surfaces. If mold spores are present, this added moisture encourages growth.
You may want to call an expert to recommend a solution. Adding a dehumidifier is another option for reducing moisture in the room.
Decide Whether to Toss or Clean
Sometimes, the infested furniture cannot be saved. Upholstery and foam are porous materials, which means they retain mold particles. If your upholstery is showing mold damage, there’s nothing you can do but throw it away. There’s no sense in keeping it around to cause more problems.
Leather and wood are less porous than fabric upholstery. Thus, they will retain their structural integrity longer. If mold growth is superficial, you can clean it. The same applies to any inorganic furniture components like metal and plastic.
How to Remove Mold From Furniture
Cleaning mold from leather furniture releases spores and other contaminants into the air. The safest way to clean your leather furniture, then, is to take it outside. You’ll have the most success on a sunny, dry day.
You should wear gloves, eye protection, and a facemask to avoid allergens while you’re cleaning. Use a stiff, plastic brush to scrape away any surface mold. Next, wipe down the leather with a 1:1 mixture of denatured alcohol and water. Then spray it with a fungicide that’s safe for leather. Let it dry in the sun.
Hard surfaces can take stronger cleaning. Again, wear gloves and face protection. Remove surface mold using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Mix water and detergent (no ammonia) and then scrub the surface.
To protect and wood finished, use a non-abrasive scrubber. Wipe the detergent mixture off. Next, mix 1 gallon of water with 1/4 cup bleach. Spray every surface and leave it there for six hours or more. Finally, move the furniture outside and let dry in the sun.
Problems with Indoor Mold
An overgrowth of mold is visually noticeable and carries an odor. However, potential problems with mold contamination are more severe than those issues. The mold you see is damaging the surface it’s occupying. Further, growing mold causes negative health issues like allergies and infections.
If you have mold growing anywhere in your home, take steps to eradicate it for the sake of your health and property.
Health Effects of Mold
Molds flourishes in damp indoor spaces. If there’s mold in the home, people often experience headaches, respiratory issues, and other symptoms. Below are some of the conditions that mold exposure can cause or aggravate.
Allergies and Asthma
The symptoms associated with asthma and allergies are similar to the symptoms caused by mold. Studies are inconclusive, but many suggest that a diagnosis of asthma or allergies may actually be a reaction to mold in the home.
For many who do receive an accurate diagnosis of either asthma or allergies, it is difficult to determine whether mold exposure is the cause.
Mold exposure also increases your chances of developing bronchitis or a respiratory infection. Note, however, that people with weaker immune systems or a respiratory condition are more likely to develop infections.
Toxic Mold Syndrome
The term “toxic mold syndrome” is more a legal one than a medical term. It’s used to describe unidentified disease processes. It’s also a grouping of symptoms with no definitive cause. Yet, this term is often used to describe the illnesses people experience when they live in a moldy environment.
Sick Building Syndrome
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that “sick building syndrome” is a situation in which people experience acute adverse effects of spending time in the affected building. While doctors can’t name a specific illness in these cases, the symptoms (headache, skin and eye irritation, and throat irritation) are linked to air quality issues.
While you can clean mold off from most furniture, take a moment to assess your situation. Remember, mold spores can live on furniture. You may not be able to remove the mold entirely from the fabric and stuffing. Sometimes, it’s best to start over with new furniture. While that seems drastic, some people find it’s worth it to breathe easier.