is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to Remove Mold from Paper Artwork

how to remove mold from paper artwork

If you’d be asked to think of an object that is truly worth preserving for a long time, what would it be? Well, if you’re an artist or someone who highly appreciates the beauty of art, you might think of paintings or any artwork found in your house.

Each artwork delivers a unique type of creativity that can captivate every person’s imagination. That is why it is true that every art is a masterpiece.

However, as time passes by, artworks start to deteriorate due to some molds, which is probably every artist and art enthusiast’s nightmare.

Removing molds, especially from paper artworks, is much more crucial because they have thinner surfaces. Meaning, they can barely withstand water and other mold-removing chemicals, unlike canvas and cardboard artworks. As you read on, you’ll learn how you can remove mold from paper artwork and save it from mold spreading.

Why Do Molds Appear in Paper Artwork?

Once a paper, canvas, or cardboard painting is stored in a dark and damp environment for a long time, it can be attacked by molds. Any areas that have a high buildup of moisture attract molds.

That’s why it is always recommended to store or frame your artworks in areas where temperature and humidity are regulated, in that way, mold growth will be prevented.

What You Should Remember Before Removing Mold from Paper Artwork

Eliminating molds from paper artwork is not as easy as removing dust. Before you start getting rid of the mold, you need to research well first and look for the most credible mold removal process. Artworks can be quite sensitive, so the process of removing the mold must be done carefully.

Moreover, molds can be dangerous particularly if you’re in a battle with asthma or some allergies. They can be dangerous to your lungs once they’re inhaled. That’s why it is highly recommended for you to wear a mask while removing molds from a paper artwork and it must be done in an area with proper ventilation.

If the paper artwork you’re dealing with has too many molds, wearing a protective mask will not be enough. It is also recommended for you to wear latex gloves and goggles as the mold spores can be quite irritating to your eyes and skin.

It is also important to identify the type of artwork first before removing its molds so that you’ll know what materials or mixtures you will use.

Artworks that are made with oil can be durable enough to withstand water but they can still react to some mold-removing chemicals.

Watercolor and acrylic-based artworks are some of the most delicate paintings as they can be easily damaged with water, so extra care is a must. Every art medium has different characteristics so they need to be approached distinctively.

How to Get Rid of Mold from Paper Artwork Effectively

why do molds appear in paper artwork

There are several steps you can try when removing molds from a paper artwork:

Lightly soak a cotton swab in water and dab it onto the tiny clusters of mold: This should work in paper artwork that only has small molds. Once the molds come off, try placing the paper artwork under sunlight to dry the paper out. Gently sweep off the remaining mold dust with a small cleaning brush.

Let the mold dry first and slowly remove it using a soft-bristled brush: The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) suggests doing this along with a HEPA-filtered vacuum to help gather the mold dust. This will also help in preventing the mold spores from contaminating the air you’re breathing in.

Lightly soak a cotton swab in a mixture of water and 70% rubbing alcohol and gently dab it onto the molds: This should work in paper artwork that has major mold problems. Before you proceed with this step, try dabbing it first onto the smaller areas of the paper artwork. If it doesn’t affect the art quality, you may continue this process.

Slightly spray a high-quality germicide product onto a cotton swab and gently dab it onto the molds: This should help in lifting out the molds from your paper artwork. Continue spraying germicides to more cotton swabs and dab them gently onto the artwork until the molds disappear. After this, let the paper artwork completely dry out.

When removing molds with water, alcohol, or germicide products, you must be wary of the art quality and the paper quality even more so. Since it’s a paper artwork we’re talking about, too much wetness might tear out the paper, so you always need to be careful when dabbing a wet cotton swab onto the paper.

What to Avoid When Removing Mold from Paper Artwork

Do not ever rub a wet cotton swab onto the paper artwork, or else, molds could spread and the art will be ruined. Gently dabbing a wet cotton swab is always enough to safely clear out the molds.

Do not use vinegar on paper artwork. Some say that vinegar diluted with water is effective in cleaning molds. Well, vinegar is proven to kill molds that grow on walls, tiles, or even fruits. But with paper artwork, vinegar can badly damage the art medium and might easily rip out the paper. Since it has 5-8% of acid, the art could awfully fade out.

Do not ever remove your protective mask. Mold spores can trigger breathing difficulties and are bad for your lungs. Removing molds without wearing a mask can cause serious health issues.


Removing molds from paper artwork can be really challenging because you’re going to consider a lot of things first before executing it. It is not an easy task and it also requires patience. Moreover, it is always important to be extra cautious when doing the steps you’ve read in this article so that you’ll avoid ruining the artwork and tearing out the paper.

Make sure to wear your protective gear as mold spores can badly affect your health. Always remember to be smart and gentle when removing molds, and you’ll save your paper artwork in no time.

Leave a Comment