How to clean mould off wood to refresh your garden furniture in time for spring

It’s much easier than you'd think

Outdoor dining area with wooden furniture and built in bench
(Image credit: Future)

From the furniture in your bedroom to the cabinets in your kitchen and even the planters in your garden, wood is everywhere - both inside and outside your home. So, knowing how to clean mould off wood can really help you out. 

Whether you’re looking to refresh your best garden furniture before the summer or you’re in the midst of an upcycling project, you should always do everything you can to get rid of mould for the sake of your house and your health.

But how do you clean mould off wood? We’ve consulted with the experts and have put together the ultimate guide on how to do this. Plus, we've outlined what tools you’ll need to get the job done. 

How to clean mould off wood

A patio with wooden outdoor furniture and gingham seat cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

‘Mould appears on wood as it is a natural source of cellulose - this is a food for mould. Wood exposed to moisture or high humidity then creates the perfect conditions for mould to grow,’ explains cleaning expert Nicola Rodriguez, AKA @essexhousedolly. Thankfully, this is easy to clean as long as you follow the step-by-step process below. 

What you’ll need


White picnic table and benches with blue patterned place settings

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

1. Protect yourself and your home

‘It's important to clean mould off wood as exposure to mould can result in a number of health problems, including respiratory issues to skin rashes. Skin rashes are more likely when it comes to outdoor furniture, as your body and clothes come into contact with the mould on the furnishings,’ explains Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench.

That’s exactly why you should always protect yourself when cleaning anything that has mould on it. 

So, before you start cleaning mould off wood, pop on some long-sleeved clothing and rubber gloves, wear a face mask, and grab some eye goggles if you have some lying around. 

If you can, do this cleaning task outside in your garden. But if you can’t, make sure you cover any surrounding surfaces and furniture with dust sheets or old bedsheets to stop the spread of these mould spores. 

In fact, we’d suggest plugging in one of the best air purifiers to catch the mould spores as soon as they’re agitated. 

2. Vacuum the mould

It may seem strange to vacuum wood, but this is actually one of the best ways to get off any loose mould spores. Ideally, you should use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, as this will successfully catch the mould spores and stop them spreading elsewhere.

Steve suggests, ‘Start by lightly vacuuming the surface of the wood to remove any loose mould, as well as excess dirt and dust. Make sure to empty your vacuum after this to remove any mould spores that have been sucked up. If a vacuum isn't suitable for this, I recommend gently wiping down the loose mould with a cloth.’

When you’ve successfully vacuumed over the surface of the wood, immediately empty the dust canister into the bin. Then, take the bin bag out to your kitchen bin and pop it in your dustbin outside.

Outdoor corner sofa, coloured cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

3. Clean the surface with soapy water

After vacuuming the loose mould spores, you can then get to work on cleaning the mould that remains on the wood. For both treated and untreated wood, you can use a mixture of warm water and washing-up liquid for this step. 

Simply brush this mixture onto the wood with a soft-bristled brush and start scrubbing. Just make sure that you don’t brush too hard during this process, as you don’t want to damage the wood while you’re at it. 

Ideally, you should avoid saturating the wood with water. If you think that the wood is getting too wet, grab your sponge or a microfibre cloth and blot away some of the moisture. 

4. Clean tougher stains with vinegar

If your untreated wood still has some lingering mould stains, there is another step you can add to your process. This involves cleaning with white vinegar

Nicki explains, ‘I would highly recommend using white vinegar for this as once applied, it is an effective way of killing the fungus, which is the source of the mould.’

It’s best to apply this vinegar using a spray bottle to avoid saturating the wood. You can then allow it to work its magic for around an hour before wiping it off with a clean microfibre cloth.

However, it’s best to avoid this step if you’re trying to clean untreated wood. In this instance, it may be better to use bleach or try the soap and water method again.

garden patio with wood bistro table and bar stools

(Image credit: Future PLC)

5. Finally, protect the wood

When you get rid of mould, you should always try your utmost to stop mould coming back. Of course, this can seem impossible if you have a particularly humid house or you don’t protect your garden furniture, but it’s very easily done. 

All you need to do is cover your clean and mould-free wood with a varnish or wood protector. Something like this Everbuild Wood Preserver from Amazon should do the trick.

This is an essential step if you’re cleaning mould off garden furniture, as Steve explains. ‘A mould-resistant paint or varnish can be used to prevent the growth of mould spores. This is particularly important for outdoor furniture that's kept in damp conditions.’ 


How do you get black mould off wood?

Firstly, you need to use a vacuum cleaner to suck up any loose mould spores. When you’ve done that, you can use a soft-bristled scrubbing brush and some warm soapy water to gently wipe away the mould. 

If the wood is untreated, you can then spritz it with white vinegar to get any lingering black mould stains off the wood. If it’s untreated wood, you should avoid white vinegar and opt for a mixture of diluted bleach and water instead. 

What kills mould on wood instantly?

Although warm, soapy water is a great way to clean mould off wood, it’s generally regarded that white vinegar is the best option. Not only will it clean the mould, but it will also kill the mould at the same time. 

Just remember that you shouldn’t use white vinegar on untreated wood. 

Well, there you have it - that’s how to clean mould off wood. Pretty easy, right?

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.