Prevention of Mold
Treatment of Mold
When the discussion of mildew in the games comes up, I asked for solutions
from libraries with (bitter) experiences on the issue. What
follows is a short summary.
Mildew requires these things to grow:
Humidity – generally a relative humidity
of 70%, though some can grow at 40%
Food – the games and books under discussion
in this case
Temperature – between 32 and 97 degrees
F; 79 degrees is optimum
Air Circulation – weak air movement
Light – dark to dim light
Mildew comes in two stages – active and inactive.
Active mold is growing, moist, and very hard to clean from paper.
Inactive mold is, obviously, the opposite, with one caveat – you’ll never
get rid of ALL the mildew.
If your game has been assaulted by mildew, the following
steps are recommended.
Isolate the item. Put it in a plastic bag
and/or move it away from everything else. Otherwise, everything
will become contaminated.
Inactivate the mold. Best done by
freezing or drying; 6 hours or more in a freezer (less than 25 degrees
F) or a location with less than 25% relative humidity. Putting
the item in a slow oven to inactivate the mold will degrade the quality
of the paper – it becomes “aged” and brittle. These methods do
not kill the mold, they simply inactivate it.
Either outdoors or in a VERY well ventilated location,
sweep off the dried mold. A repeatedly recommended solution is
to weight down the paper with a screen, then vacuum the paper with a
wet-dry vacuum. The vacuum should circulate through a solution
containing a fungicide, which includes bleach Lysol, to kill inactive
Supplementally, you may expose the item to ultraviolet
for ½ to 1 hour. More can be harmful to paper with the same results
as baking it for a while.
Clean the shelves/storage area from which the item
came with a good fungicide solution. Vacuum with the previously
mentioned wet-dry vacuum.
Set the contaminated item in an isolated location
which is dry with good air circulation, and observe it for at least
a day, and up to 6 weeks. If it doesn’t redisplay symptoms, return
it to its “spot” and check it daily for about a week.
Know first that the infection is in remission, and
could come back if the environment allows. Know second that everything
(walls, furniture, other games) which was near the infected game is also
probably infected, and will probably show symptoms if the environment allows.
Not perfect, but this helps. You can’t remove
the food. You can, however, affect light, humidity, and temperature.
Light: daily exposures to sunlight
through a window, or other sources of good light (not the 25 watt night
light in the corner) will make it hard for mildew to activate.
Humidity: Unless you live in Arizona,
Libya, or somewhere similar, you should try and dehumidify the storage
area. Try to keep the area below 55% RH, or better, 45%.
Temperature: Obviously, a perfect
situation would be to keep the games in a freezer. Most spouses
and others who use their freezers for food may object. Since the
comfort range for mildew is about the same as for grognards, you’ll
have to live with it.
Air Circulation: Insure that the location
is in the air flow. Mount a fan, remove hanging towels and blankets,
There are professionals who clean mold and mildew for
libraries and archives. Their fees run from expensive to very expensive,
to pay for the skill, insurance, equipment, and time. But of you have
the money, they will probably do a much better job.
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