The chest of drawers Aunt Mildred left you that's been sitting in your humid garage has now sprouted gray, dustlike splotches. And that shaded wood fence near the sprinklers is growing a black streak. What you're seeing is mold and mildew, nesting in the wood and thriving in the damp environment. All it takes for mold to be attracted to wood is air, temperature, water and a food source -- the wood, said Jeff Morrell of Oregon State University's College of Forestry. Green wood and wet wood are prime candidates for mold, but any wood that gets in the way of mold spores, damp air and high temperatures can be a victim. Cleaning the mold or mildew from the wood and preventing its return is possible, while maintaining the right conditions is the best preventive.

Death to the Mold

If the mold-infected wood is a movable piece of furniture, take it outdoors on a sunny day for mold remediation. Remove shrubs from around a wood fence, allowing sun to penetrate the planks. A wooden deck can stay where it is.

Cleaning Mold from Paneling, Furniture and Cabinetry

Step 1

Wearing the face mask, rubber gloves and eye protection, vacuum the wood with the brush attachment. This removes the spores; be aware that spores will still be floating around in the air.

Step 2

Dampen the cloth in sudsy water, wring it out well and wipe the moldy areas. Don't put the cloth back into the water. Instead, rinse it with a hose or in the sink if you're indoors.

Step 3

Rinse the affected area with the second cloth. Keep that cloth damp, not soaked.

Step 4

Turn on the fan so that air circulates around the wood, but don't point it directly at the wet spots. This could discolor the wood.

Step 5

If the finish looks cloudy or gray, apply mineral oil to the wood for rehydration and let it dry completely.

Step 6

Once it's completely dry, use the paste wax to restore the wood finish and protect it from future infestations.

Cleaning Outdoor Wood Mold

Step 1

Hose down the mold-infected area, using the spray nozzle. Be gentle, as you don't want to spread the spores around more than necessary.

Step 2

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests mixing a mild detergent with water and brushing the mold off the wood. Use the wet-dry vac to suck up any lingering water. Once the surface is dry, use the HEPA vacuum, which filters out very small particles, for a final cleanse.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends using bleach, mixed in a ratio of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach. It reduces the amount of mold and neutralizes the amount of bacteria. Use exterior bleach for the best results, without creating toxicity.

Step 3

Mix 1 cup of b**orax** in a gallon of warm water. Spread the solution over the mold and scrub to remove it. It's natural, doesn't leave fumes and keeps the mold from returning.