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How Do I Remove Mold from a Painting?


Question: How Do I Remove Mold from a Painting?
"We have been through a flood and black mold is now everywhere -- airborne and attaching itself to everything including my honey’s beautiful oil paintings. I have heard the vinegar and water will stop the destruction. Has anyone got any advice?" -- Barbara

I don’t know about vinegar working, nor whether it’ll damage the paint, but if you wipe the mold when it’s damp it’s going to smear horribly.

I searched around a bit and found the New Orleans Conservation Guild has advice for both paintings on paper and paintings on canvas.

For works on paper they say: "If there is active mold growing on it a light spray of Lysol [a brand of anti-germ/bacteria cleaner] helps to kill the mold until it can be treated, but bring them in quickly for proper treatment.” Read further details...

For works on canvas they say: “Lightly spray (do not saturate) the canvas, front and back, with Lysol spray (not the liquid). This will help arrest the mold growth, and you may need to repeat this a few times. When the mold is dry and powdery it is now dormant."

You can then brush off the mold (outdoors!) "Remember to wear a mask so as not to inhale the airborne spores, and be sure to remove all the debris from the back and not to allow it to accumulate under the stretcher bars! Do not wipe the mold off.” Read further details...

I read in a few places that you could freeze a painting to stop the mold growing, but also that you run the risk of cracking the paint. My freezer wouldn't be big enough for most of my paintings anyway.

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