Ask LH: Is It Possible To Remove Mould From Painted Canvas?

Dear Lifehacker, I have a picture printed onto canvas behind a glass frame on the wall of our outdoor area. The problem is that the glass gets condensation which has caused the picture to become slightly mouldy. How do I get rid of this mould without damaging my canvas print? And how do I stop it from happening again? Thanks, Mouldstopper

Dear Mouldstopper,

Mould can be extremely tricky to get out of paintings and ink prints. Normally reliable solutions such as vinegar can cause ugly smears that will completely ruin the picture. Whatever DIY repair method you plump for, the key is to work very slowly and with extreme caution.

When it comes to canvas prints, you should be able to treat the mould yourself using a light, bleach-free disinfectant spray such as Lysol Mold & Mildew Remover. This is made from benzalkonium chloride, which is effective at eliminating surface bacteria without causing damage to the surface beneath. The aim here is to kill the mould first and remove it later — don't start wiping while the canvas is still wet.

Once the mould has been sprayed a few times, it should start to become dry and crumbly. You can then carefully brush it off, preferably with either a soft-bristled tooth brush or dry paint brush. (You can add some warm, soapy water to the brush if some sections of the mould are being stubborn — just be careful not to saturate the canvas surface.)

Naturally, you should be careful not to inhale mould spores while cleaning. This can cause everything from sinus congestion to serious respiratory problems, depending on the type of mould and the level of exposure. To be on the safe side, wear a face mask. If you require additional advice on mould removal, Home Guides has published an extensive guide on the subject.

As to preventing further mould buildups, the first step is to do a thorough job killing the mould that's already there — this includes the back of the canvas and perimeter of the frame. If you leave any mould behind, it won't take long to creep back into the mopped up areas.

After that, it mainly comes down to atmospheric and lighting conditions. If your picture is situated in a damp, dim environment it's going to be a lot more susceptible to mould. One option is to reposition the frame into direct sunlight; although this admittedly may cause the picture to fade quicker. If any readers have additional tips in this area, please let Mouldstopper know in the comments section below. Good luck!

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Oil of cloves is an excellent solution which kills the mould. However I'm not too sure how it would react with the paint/ink. Make sure you test on an inconspicious patch/section first.

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