Help! We own a 121 yr old Victorian home in Galveston, TX. She survived another hurricane, standing strong once more; however, we have lots of moldy upholstered furniture. We've hauled it up to own other home in Arlington to clean it up... any suggestions??? What about our two leather and nail head smoking chairs. They're covered in mold. What can you do with leather?
DeeDee, this is a really unfortunate situation. As a rule of thumb, mold on hard surfaces can be cleaned. But mold on absorbent surfaces can not.
If mold has soaked into the foam cushions in any of the furniture, the furniture really needs to be thrown away. The problem is that even after the cushions dry out, mold spore remain embedded deep within them. Every time someone plops down on those cushions, those mold spores can be launched into the air, where they can sail off to do more damage elsewhere in your home, or breathed in by your family.
If the furniture is of good quality, you could have it re-upholstered. Regarding those grand old smoking chairs, if the mold is just on the surface of the leather chairs, they might be able to be professionally cleaned. If not, they'll also unfortunately need to be replaced.
I imagine you'll be dealing with more than moldy furniture; you might want to check out our mold tips, as well as pick up one or more good books on the cleaning process. Jeff May is an expert I trust and has written several for John's Hopkins Press.
Tom Kraeutler is the host of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and the Home Improvement Editor for AOL. For more tips, sign up for Tom's free e-newsletter here. Tom's latest book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure, is available in bookstores everywhere and online.