Destroy and Prevent Photo Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew on photos is a serious problem. You need to be aware of how to protect your valuable photos from damage and how to remove mold and mildew once your photos become infected.

Here are some tips to deal with black mold and mildew: 

Killing Black Mold Spores and Mildew Removal

There are chemicals that will kill mold spores, however, you cannot use them on photos. Use a solution of Clorox or X-14 to clean frames, slide carousels, scanning equipment, shelves, walls, etc. It is important to clean everything that has been in contact with the spores so that they don’t return later. Inactive mold spores can spread to any item in direct contact and re infect under the right conditions.


If you brush a mold spot and it smears, it’s active. If it’s powdery and dry it’s inactive. Freezing, air drying, and exposure to UV light are all methods that will inactivate mold. But light can also cause fading, so don’t leave photos in direct light for more than an hour.

Once it’s inactive you need to either vacuum it up or wipe it off. Don’t vacuum indoors unless you have a HEPA filter (otherwise you will spread the spores around the room). 

A soft brush or cloth is best for photos. If you use cloth rags to wipe off the mold, change them often and be sure to wash them in hot water and bleach after use.


As an extra precaution, photos that have been infected with mold should be isolated from the rest of your collection. This is necessary so that you don’t infect other photos. Store them in a box (or boxes if it is a large outbreak). 

Prevent further black mold outbreaks

Mold loves a warm, moist environment so don’t give it what it needs. Store your photographs in an area that has air conditioning and use a dehumidifier during warm, humid weather. Make sure your dehumidifier has a hose so the water drains away continuously. 

Basements, attics and garages are not good locations to store photos. Fluctuating temperatures and humidity levels found in these areas are bad for photos even without the threat of mold.

Good luck with your mold removal project!