It’s a Southern Thing!
Ok maybe it’s not just happening in the south but we’ve seen more than our share of it.
Some folks don’t know where it comes from. Others believe the sandman has a second job on the side. Truth is, mildew isn’t just ugly, it’s harmful to furniture and to lots of people. In the picture to the right everything you see white is actually mildew growing rampant. The finish was only 10 years old but it had been used in a house that was not air conditioned and to add insult to injury it was stored for 3 years without opening the desk section. (Uh, that
would be my doing!) The good news is, she looks a lot better now that we’ve reconciled (and refinished... Again).
Unfortunately I don’t have an end all solution for mildew. What I do know is that mildew loves to grow on dirt, dust, and grease. And it loves it when you shut it off in a room with no air circulation and the warm humid air is just right for unchecked growth. We suggest keeping a dehumidifier in a house with no air conditioning. Every once in a while pull the furniture out and clean the back of it, clean the inside whether it looks like it needs it or not. OK I’m a little bit lazy on my own furniture but I can certainly give the orders. Even if your house is air conditioned the furniture still needs some air circulation.
Killing the fungi that causes it all is a totally different story. For badly mildewed furniture there isn’t really a solution short of refinishing . I can tell you that when furniture enters our shop with mildew all over it we do emergency damage control by spraying the entire piece with a mixture of bleach and water. Don’t do this at home. It will ruin any finish but since we are refinishing it anyway then it’s ok for us. Most products that will kill the mildew will damage your finish.
Mildew is so aggressive that it will work it’s way through a finish down to the wood. Also if it has penetrated deep into the wood, I’ve seen it grow back through a new finish from the underside. So treating the wood with bleach and water is the only effective way I’ve found to stop the growth of it. After that, it’s up to you to keep it from coming back.