Antiques, Mold and Cross Contamination

Eco3 Environmental Uncategorized Antiques, Mold and Cross Contamination

Don’t Bring Them into Your Home!

Unfortunately we see this too often in homes. The home owner or professional interior decorator finds an antique piece of furniture and brings it into the home. Unfortunately most of the time the item is mold-infected, hence introducing mold into a home 

Every antique store I have ever visited has that old-musty smell. Well, there is a reason for that…it’s mold. Often these antique pieces are neglected,  improperly stored in basements, garages or other areas before they are put in the showroom. 

Material Considerations

The most common materials of concern are wood and cloth followed by leather. Often times you will see growth on the wood and leather surfaces, but it’s much harder to detect on/in cloth. The fabric of furniture including the padding were often made from organic material making them susceptible to mold harboring and growth. 


Before you buy an item from an antique shop, have the salesperson help you inspect the item. Look at it from every angle. If it’s furniture, pull out the drawers, look in the cavity, look at the underside of the drawer etc. If you find mold, you have to make a decision on if you feel comfortable buying the piece. 

Cross Contamination

Cross contamination is defined when you take an item infected with mold or mold spores and introduce them into a clean area where these spores now colonize an infect the new area. This is what happens when you introduce an infected antique into your home.

Proper Surface Cleaning

Cleaning mold on porous surfaces such as wood, leather and cloth are difficult and you cannot use bleach. Only EPA registered products designed for mold and use on porous surfaces should be considered. These chemicals should only be used as instructed and you should were appropriate PPE (personal protection equipment) 


Removing mold from cushions or padding may not be possible. You should consider replacing if possible. If the piece is historic, you may want to consult with a mold professional or a conservationist specializing in the restoration of furniture. Mold is microscopic, so being thorough is key. Leaving viable spores behind is not an option as they have the potential to grow over time.


Any time you work around mold you need to protect yourself and your environment. No piece of furniture or antique is worth risking your health. Don’t even bring these items into your home to work on them. 

Below are pictures I have taken over the years of antiques bought from shops and brought into the house. 

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