If you own anything made out of bamboo, you already know how susceptible it is to growing mold and mildew, including the black sooty mold. The thing is, even if the mold and mildew on your bamboo furniture looks small it can spread and continue to grow if it is not dealt with.
Black sooty mold can also cause permanent staining, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. In fact, with products such as dishwashing soap, bleach, and a few others, you can have that mold removed in no time.
Causes of black sooty mold on bamboo
Bamboo items usually get moldy because of the way they are treated before they get to the consumer. In fact, finding mold and mildew on the surface of bamboo canes isn’t all that uncommon.
1. Bamboo is still wet
Bamboo may not completely dry before it’s shipped and can grow mold over this time. Ff it’s shipped in ocean freight containers, it can also be exposed to excessive moisture. It is this moisture that results in those black sooty mold spots you often see on anything made out of bamboo.
2. Bamboo treatment method
The way the bamboo is treated also matters. Some species are treated with a flame torch, called a heat treatment, while thicker species can be treated with a boron solution. When heat is applied to fresh, green bamboo, the moisture content inside of the canes can be quite high.
Boron treatments are air-dried treatments, so they are not as susceptible to mold forming. The heat treatments, however, can increase the odds of the bamboo forming all types of mold and mildew.
3. Warm and humid environments
Other things that can cause mold to grow on bamboo include exposure to environments that are warm and humid, extreme temperature variations in a short period of time, and even very low levels of oxygen.
Bamboo can also develop mold and mildew if it’s exposed to:
- Humid conditions. If the humidity is between 40% and 80%, this can cause different fungi to grow and thrive.
- Carbohydrates. When very fine airborne spores are found in fruit bodies, the bamboo will start to degrade. The starch and carbs that develop feed the mold and mildew, which can eventually show up on the surface of the bamboo.
- Temperature. Keep in mind that most fungi do best at temperatures between 77 degrees and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, so keeping the temperature below those numbers is best.
For the most part, you can remove mildew spots with just a little liquid detergent soap and a sponge. If you clean them as soon as you notice them, it reduces the likelihood of the mildew staining your bamboo, which will make the mildew spot permanent.
How to clean mold and mildew from bamboo
There are several ways you can clean the mold and mildew off of any bamboo items in your home, including this one:
- Take a microfiber cloth and wipe all of the dust and debris off the bamboo
- Soak the cloth in soapy water and wring it out well
- Scrub the entire surface of the bamboo, making sure you scrub in the direction of the wood grain
- If you see mold or mildew spots, scrub them until they become invisible
- Take a clean microfiber cloth and dip it in clean water, then wring it out
- Scrub the entire surface again to remove the residual soap
At this point, you’ll want to check to see if there are any mold or mildew stains remaining. If there are, mix 1 cup of water with 3 tablespoons of bleach and place the mixture in a spray bottle.
Spray the stains then let them sit for 5 minutes. Take a moist microfiber cloth and scrub the stain; again, scrub in the direction of the grain. When the stain disappears, wipe the surface once again with a clean, moist cloth to get rid of any residual soap stains.
In addition to these, you can follow the instructions above but instead of using soapy water, use either vinegar or lemon oil, both of which are known to get rid of mold and mildew. You can use the lemon oil straight, but you’ll need to dilute the vinegar with water if you decide to go with this option.
How to prevent black sooty mold on bamboo
Once your bamboo furniture is free of mold and mildew stains, you can try to prevent them from coming back by applying three coats of a water-based polyurethane, which can be time-consuming but it is worth it because it does a great job of conserving the furniture.
To protect your bamboo furniture check out this spray from Amazon.
It’s also a good idea to clean the furniture with turpentine and let it completely dry out first. Otherwise, mold and mildew might develop underneath the polyurethane finish.
Keep in mind that when it comes to mold and mildew, bamboo can suffer with many different types. These include surface molds, stain fungi, and decay fungi. The latter is the most serious type of damage to bamboo, mainly because it affects the overall strength of the bamboo and can make it easier for the bamboo to eventually deteriorate.
Black sooty mold and other fungi can easily grow on bamboo, mainly because there are lots of chances for the bamboo to become moist and wet from the time it is harvested until the time the final product gets to the consumer.
This is why it is important to thoroughly clean, dry, and repair the mold on your bamboo items so that they don’t get worse. If it gets too bad, it can ruin the bamboo and cause you to have to get rid of it.
Fortunately, you can usually remove and stop the growth of mold and mildew even if you already see spots on the bamboo, and you can do this through natural methods or with a variety of commercial products that are easily found on the market. If you see sooty mold spots on your items made out of bamboo, don’t panic. Usually, it isn’t too late to do something about it.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.