Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Treating Mouldy Objects - Cleaning - October 18, 2012

October 18, 2012

Carefully cleaning the objects to remove any additional mould spores after hanging outside in the sun involves using a soap such as Orvus (similar to Woolite) mixed with distilled water to wash the objects and then rinsing at least twice with distilled water alone.  Washing and rinsing should remove the rest of the mould spores that could be lurking in the materials of the objects.  Damp wiping with a natural sponge dipped in the soapy solution and squeezed to remove most of the moisture will ensure the object is not overly wet.  Do the same when rinsing but use different sponges: a soap sponge and a rinse sponge.  I was very careful with the one object that had several different coloured materials on the inside by using a separate, smaller sponge for each colour.  Testing for colour fastness showed some removal of the colour when rubbed aggressively in non-obvious location with a Q-tip soaked in distilled water.  Being very gentle with the sponge and using different sponges for each colour showed no colour removal.

One of the hats treated has an inside silk insert that was cleaned and rinsed by dabbing with a damp cotton ball.  Since silk is very fragile a wiping motion may have been harmful to the material.  In this case the silk is sown onto a page from a newspaper so I avoided getting it wet.  Excess moisture has the potential to stain the paper.

The first photograph below shows the damp wiping and rinsing in progress.  You can see some of the white mould concentrations on the hat that were removed in this process.  The second photograph below shows the dabbing of the silk insert.

Damp wiping off mould spores with natural sponge
Dabbing silk insert with a cotton ball

Conservation Tips: 1) It is best to immediately hang up the objects again in the sun to dry them out as soon as possible.  Since moisture can reactivate dormant mould spores it is best to thoroughly dry them out right away.  2) Soaps such as Orvus are used because they are more pure than regular soap meaning they are less likely to react negatively with the materials you are washing.  3) Test for colour fastness before washing.  4) In this case (hats) damp wipe instead of immersing them fully in the soapy solution.  There are some cases where a full immersion is warranted.  5) Use natural sponges because they are less likely to have impurities that might affect the materials you are washing.  6) Always wear gloves and a mask plus clean all the tools, containers, and brushes with bleach right after you are done.   The gloves and sponges were thrown away.

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