Liquid or organisms have been the common enemy of paper. Something similar must be happening for you to be reading how to remove mildew from paper documents.
Over a significant period, we’ve been recording information and knowledge into almost any flat surface. From rocks, stones, animal hides, and paper, the continuous evolution of the mediums we use also paved a unique path for preserving such documents.
Since paper is yet to lose its use going against digital media, it also receives attention for its protection and the information it contains, especially against creatures that feed on it. Paper is decomposable; as such, it is a common destination and favorite of insects and microorganisms.
Steps In Removing Mildew In Paper Documents
Unfortunately for paper, especially the ones containing documents that are not needed daily, they’re already infested or even damaged before we notice. If the paper documents you have with you are housing fungi that produce mildew, here’s what you need to do to kill and remove them safely.
Step #1. Identify and take out paper with mildew
The first item on this process we’re introducing tackles knowing which papers are infested with mildew and segregating them.
Mildew is typically identified from other molds because of its white or grayish-white appearance, so it might be hard to see them on paper. Other than sight, you can take notice of their musty smell, which comes stronger with more mildew present.
Mildew can also feel rough and powdery with touch. However, we wouldn’t recommend you touch them with your bare hands and risk getting allergic reactions.
Once you’ve seen mildew on a piece of paper, you might as well take out the pile where it originated.
You should do segregation of ones with mildew by taking them out, preferably out in the sun(which can kill mildew), to halt the suspension of spores. Take the nearest documents or books to the infested ones, to be sure.
Step #2. Gently brush the mildew and vacuum the residue
After taking out the papers with or you’re suspecting of mildew growth, you can now start cleaning. Grab a soft-bristled brush (or any duster) and brush off the pages, one by one, front and back.
Doing this will make the mildew and its spores fall off, so make sure you wear fitted gloves and a mask to avoid getting sick. It would be best if you’re working in an open area, so the air doesn’t get thickly laid with the mildew and its smell.
After brushing all the documents, use a HEPA vacuum to take all the dusted-off mildew off the paper. You can cover the vacuum with a cloth to avoid tearing the paper.
Step #3. Clean the document with a safe solution
After the vacuum, you may have noticed that some pages sustained stains from the mildew or other sources. You can spot clean these stains by wiping them gently with a clean cloth, but make sure it’s not wet, lest you risk scraping the paper’s surface.
If the stain doesn’t come off after wiping, test out some denature alcohol of hydrogen peroxide with a text that uses the same ink as your document. Check that the mentioned substances don’t dilute, spread, or discolor the ink.
Dampen a clean cloth with the solution you deemed safe and spot-clean your document with it. Never use water on your paper documents.
Step #4. Dry the papers and store them.
After the documents have been cleaned, you can now dry them for storage. You can do this by air drying or for wetter pieces; you can lay it on towels in a low humidity room.
Note that putting it out in the sun or microwaving it can take out too much moisture and make the paper crisp; that is, they can easily break when they get bent. Using such drying techniques will also make the paper wrinkled and deformed.
For a broader view, check this article discussing how to remove mold from paper documents.
How to store paper documents to avoid mildew
After going through such trouble removing the mildew, we’re sure you wouldn’t want to keep doing it every time some troublesome spores get around your papers. Assuming you did well in following our steps presented above, we can say that the documents themselves no longer have mildew or spores that can start them.
The problem then is the room where you’re storing them. Make sure you condition the setting in your storage unit well first before reintroducing the papers you worked hard to clean.
- First, you need to make rounds and ensure no other surfaces are covered with mildew, so they don’t spread to the papers again. Check every cabinet and shelves, as well as the floor.
Here’s an article on how to remove mold from wood floors once you find them there.
- Next, you want to keep the room and its contents dry and at low humidity at all times. This is a significant inhibitor for organisms that need water to survive.
- Lastly, keep the room and its contents clean. Regular dusting and cleaning will keep any sprouting spore off from all your stored items.
There, we’re done listing steps and tips on how to remove mildew from paper documents. As always, if they’re constantly clean (and dry), mildew shouldn’t be a problem on these precious documents.