How to Remove Mold From a Wooden Ceiling

Poor air circulation leads to mold in the most unlikely places. We show you how to safely treat it.

You would think any wood paneling in an outdoor space would get enough fresh air to keep mold and mildew growth at bay, but that wasn’t the case with the cedar wood ceiling in our outdoor porch. The porch was completely enclosed and covered with heavy blinds, which trapped the reoccurring humidity and (sometimes) moisture. Though there was a fan to help air move about, it wasn’t on all the time. Most of the ceiling became a habitat for black mold spores. The cleaning tips below are useful for any wood surface in your home (even accent walls behind furniture).

How to Clean Mold From a Wooden Ceiling

How to Clean Mold From a Wooden Ceiling

Cleaning mold to improve the condition of an unfinished wood surface.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Mitigating mold is sometimes best left to the pros, and for good reason, but you can tackle smaller issues yourself when the mold is visible and easily accessible.

How to Clean Mold From a Wooden Ceiling

How to Clean Mold From a Wooden Ceiling

Cleaning mold to improve the condition of an unfinished wood surface.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Before You Begin

  • Always wear gloves when you’re scrubbing mold. If you have certain skin sensitivities, wear long sleeves.
  • Wear a respirator mask to prevent inhaling spores and fumes from any chemicals you’re using.
  • Be aware that many cleaning solutions will treat non-porous surfaces. To treat porous surfaces, like wood, you’ll need more than a simple spray down. I’ll talk through the treatment process below. If your paneling is a processed wood, like MDF, you may need to replace it because the surface can’t easily absorb the appropriate cleansers without further damage.
  • Regardless of what type of mold removal solution you use, test it in a small area to be sure it doesn’t damage unfinished wood and see if it effectively mitigates the mold.
  • If the mold is severe, consider consulting with a pro.

Try These Solutions

  1. 1 cup water + 1 tablespoon liquid detergent + 1/2 cup baking soda
  2. 1 cup white vinegar + 1 cup water
  3. powerful mold cleanser found in stores (commonly an ammonium chloride solution)
  4. hydrogen peroxide (3%)

Wear your protective gear (respirator and gloves), and soak an old sponge in your cleanser. Apply it directly to the moldy surface, and let the wood soak up the solution. Apply a generous amount of cleanser, but not so much that it’s dripping from the ceiling.

How to Clean Mold From a Wooden Ceiling

How to Clean Mold From a Wooden Ceiling

Cleaning mold to improve the condition of an unfinished wood surface.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Next, use a scrubber to agitate the surface. A handheld scrub sponge or a bristle brush with a long handle will make the job easier.

If the mold is especially stubborn on unfinished wood, repeat by dampening the wood with a sponge. This time, take sandpaper to the surface to help clear the mold and cleanse down to the mold’s roots. Dampening the wood's surface first helps prevent the spores from becoming airborne.

Allow the solution to dry once so it fully absorbs and kills off the mold at the root, rather than simply treating the surface. The once moldy boards will quickly be mitigated.

How to Clean Mold From a Wooden Ceiling

How to Clean Mold From a Wooden Ceiling

Cleaning mold to improve the condition of an unfinished wood surface.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Keeping the space well-ventilated is the most important practice because poor ventilation and trapped moisture caused the issue in the first place. Room fans, open windows, and air conditioners are all easy ways to keep the wooden ceilings in your home mold- and fungus-free. Consistent cleaning (about two times a year) will also help keep the reoccurrence of mold at bay.

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