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Q: Mold removal ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: Mold removal
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: bravo788-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 20 May 2006 21:00 PDT
Expires: 19 Jun 2006 21:00 PDT
Question ID: 730858
I put some cash in a fire proof home safe. A few months later when I
opened the safe, it smelled horrible and the bills were wet, had black
mold, and smelled.  What can I do to kill/remove the mold and spores.

What can we do ourselves.  We do not want to use an outside service.
Subject: Re: Mold removal
Answered By: sublime1-ga on 20 May 2006 22:37 PDT

First off, if you have a large number of bills and other papers,
you may want to freeze them until you have time to clean them.
Freezing won't kill the mold, but will stop it from growing.

That tip, and others, are from MBK Consulting's page from
a workshop outline on how to remove mold from documents and 
books. They provide consulting and workshops to libraries.
This one is on 'Disaster Prevention and Emergency Planning'

If they are still wet or moist when you start to work with
them, you'll want to dry them thoroughly first.

This page from AntiqueWeb documents techniques used by the
Library of Congress. They recommend air drying outside, in
a covered space (to avoid direct sunlight) as the best way
to dry the documents and remove the odor. You can speed the
process with fans to circulate the air, but don't point the
fans directly at the documents. Also take note of precautions
regarding protecting yourself from mold, including the use
of protective clothing, gloves, and masks.

Once, and only when, the documents are thoroughly dry, use
the dry chemical sponges recommended in the first link to
safely remove the mold. These same sponges are used, dry,
to wipe soot off of smoke-damaged surfaces. You can buy 
them at Jon-Don Inc.:

If some of the bills seem too fragile to be wiped with the
sponges, you can also use a vacuum with the flow reduced
by placing cheesecloth between the hose and the brush 
attachment. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, or, ir you 
must use an ordinary vacuum, do so outside.

See section III.B.2.c 'Cleaning Books and Paper' on this
page from the Solinet website: 

Another exellent summary can be found on the Northeast
Document Conservation Center website, in an article
by Beth Lindblom Patkus:

I think that covers all the bases, but if you have any
questions, just post a Clarification...


Additional information may be found from an exploration of
the links resulting from the Google searches outlined below.

Searches done, via Google:

allintext:mold books paper cleaning

"dry chemical sponge"

Request for Answer Clarification by bravo788-ga on 22 May 2006 21:48 PDT

Thanks for looking into this question for me.  I am not sure if you
are aware or not but money is in fact not made from any paper. 
According the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, it is composed of 25%
linen and 75% cotton.

All the links and info you provided seem to just talk about removing
mold from books,  which is made from pulp products.

So I am not sure if the methods you provided  successfully 
kill/remove mold from money as it is a different medium then what is
talked about.


Clarification of Answer by sublime1-ga on 22 May 2006 23:35 PDT

As noted on this page about the Spurgeon Collection of rare books:

"Old books were printed on paper made from linen or cotton cloth.
 They last longer than today's books printed on paper made from
 wood pulp."

And, from this page from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis:

"Money is printed on high-quality paper made of cotton and linen."

Since the links I provided were from sites who consult for libraries
such as the Library of Congress, whose inventory includes a huge
number of older books, it seems reasonable to me that the techniques
they recommend would apply to the similar paper with which money is
made. If anything, it seems that newer books, for which they use the
same techniques, would be the more fragile and at risk.

Subject: Re: Mold removal
From: stanmartin1952-ga on 20 May 2006 23:28 PDT
Your government will replace the bills free of charge.
Subject: Re: Mold removal
From: redfoxjumps-ga on 21 May 2006 18:07 PDT
Put a dryer packet (desicant ?) in the safe so it does not happen again.

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