Mold is not a great thing.
Being exposed to mold can be dangerous to your health and cause long term health issues.
If you see mold starting to appear on your guitar, in the case of your guitar, or even on the strap, it is time to make sure you stop it.
The quicker you treat mold and take the necessary steps to prevent it, the better off you will be.
How to Clean Mold from a Guitar
Before we get into how to prevent mold moving forward, let’s first look at how to clean the existing mold off of your guitar.
Step 1: Assess the Situation
Before you start this process, you need to take a very close look at your guitar.
The mold could be growing in other areas you are not aware of.
If you see this occurring, it is time to assess the entire situation and locate all the areas where mold is growing.
Is mold in the case, is mold on the strap?
Try and look at everything so you can make sure it all gets treated properly.
When you feel like you have a good idea as to where all the mold is, you can move to the next step.
Step 2: Gather Supplies
To clean the mold off the guitar, you will need vinegar, a clean rag, and a clean surface with plenty of ventilation.
Many people think you can use bleach to clean mold, but this is not true.
The bleach will not work to clean the mold, and you will probably be left with the same situation.
Also, bleach is a much more harsh substance than vinegar.
Step 3: Treat the Mold
Take a bit of the vinegar and pour it on the rag.
You do not need to soak the rag thoroughly; just make sure there is a bit of vinegar that will transfer to the mold on the guitar.
You will have to apply some pressure and use the cloth to scrub the mold away.
You should start to see the mold disappear after a bit of scrubbing.
If you catch this mold right from the start, it will be much easier to remove than if it has sat this way for a long time.
If you have a challenging time, you can always add a little more vinegar to the rag and scrub a bit harder.
Once you have the mold mostly removed from the guitar, you can move to the next step.
Step 4: Further Maintenance
When your guitar is mold-free, it is a great feeling.
However, this feeling will not last if you do not take steps to store and manage your guitar correctly.
Mold will grow under certain conditions.
If you are going to take your clean guitar and store it in the same place you just pulled it from, chances are you are going to find it covered in more mold.
After you use your guitar, make sure you are wiping it down and putting it away completely clean.
Step 5: Storage Solutions
When it comes time to store your guitar, you need to be aware of the moisture in the area.
We will get into some other reasons the mold could have started growing on the guitar.
Pay close attention so this is not a situation you will need to deal with frequently.
Why Does My Guitar Have Mold Growing on It?
Now that your guitar is clean, you will need to make sure it stays that way.
Mold can be difficult to prevent, depending on where you live and how you treat your instrument.
Here are a few things you should know about mold and why it probably started growing on your guitar or in your case to begin with.
1. Mold Spores
Mold spores are everywhere.
Even though you don’t see them, they are there.
If given the proper conditions to grow, they will take off.
You must make sure you do not add to the growth and health of the mold spores by creating the perfect conditions for them.
Wherever you go, you will find mold spores.
There will be no way to eliminate them, but you can certainly try and prevent them from attaching to your instrument.
Mold likes organic material.
If you think about your guitar and even the case it is in, you will probably have plenty of organic material the mold can grow on.
Even the strap of your guitar is going to be a place mold may choose to grow some roots.
If not treated and cleaned, it will just continue to feed and grow.
Everyone thinks mold grows in the hot weather.
Although this can be true, there is nothing stopping mold from growing in cold conditions as well.
Some people have found mold in their freezers.
Since mold can grow at any temperature, so you do not need to be concerned if you are storing your guitar at room temperature or leaving it in the garage overnight.
The thing you do need to be concerned about is humidity.
Humidity is one of the leading causes of mold growth.
Mold loves it when things are damp and wet.
If you play your guitar for a long time and your hands are a bit sweaty, there could be some moisture on your guitar when you put it away.
Now close the guitar case with that moisture inside and then put your guitar in the trunk of your car.
The mold is going to love this!
If you live in a state where the humidity is higher than average, you will have to be extra careful not to expose the mold to moisture.
If you are experiencing a lot of damp weather in your area, you may want to get a dehumidifier to use wherever you store your guitar.
Take the guitar out of the case, use the dehumidifier to get the humidity out of the room, and make sure the guitar is not wet at all.
Is Mold Bad for You?
Mold can be very bad for you.
It is not a good idea to let a mold problem with your guitar continue to get worse.
Since you are close to your guitar, then you will have pretty high exposure to the mold.
Some of the issues that can happen include throat irritation, eye irritation, coughing, and wheezing as well.
Mold can make you feel like you have a cold, and more and more exposure is only going to make it worse.
If you have ever stayed in a room or house that had mold, you may feel as though you have a hard time breathing.
Sometimes, if the mold spores are thick, you will feel the effects of them before you even see the damage they are doing to your guitar.
Will Mold Damage the Guitar?
Mold can cause some stains on a guitar.
Even when you can safely remove all of the mold, some lingering stains may remain on the guitar.
Of course, if you can remove the mold very quickly, this should not be an issue.
Some people have noticed that, once their case gets mold, it is challenging to completely remove it and have the case function again.
The case seems to continue to grow the mold and spread it to the guitar.
We recommend trying the vinegar method we recommended and then placing the guitar and the case in a dry environment.
If this continues to cause mold issues on the guitar, then you may want to purchase a new case.
Do I Need to Purchase a New Guitar?
Most of the time, a mold issue is small and can be cleaned up rather quickly.
If you have found an old guitar with an actual mold infestation that has been growing for years, you may not have as much luck.
The mold could have potentially done too much damage, and there is no chance at saving a guitar like this.
For the most part, a mold infestation should never be allowed to get this bad.
Will Mold Die on Its Own?
We gave you the recipe for growing mold.
You know that mold needs the temperature, the humidity, the food, and the organic material.
If you take these things away, will mold go away?
Many people wonder if they just start storing their guitar in a new location will eliminate the pre-existing mold.
The answer is, no.
You will have to treat the mold issue on your guitar, and then start storing and managing the guitar properly.
If you take a guitar that has a mold problem and put it somewhere with low humidity and dry conditions, the spread may stop.
This is a good thing, but the mold that is in place will not go away.
This mold will continue to live until you do something about it.
As unfortunate as it is to have to scrub mold, it is something you may not be able to avoid if it happens to your guitar.
Will Vinegar Help Prevent Mold?
We talked about using vinegar to help remove mold that is already in place, but can it be used to prevent mold completely?
Although vinegar is not a 100% effective solution when it comes to killing all species of mold, it is pretty darn close.
Vinegar works as a preventative in addition to having the ability to remove mold.
You can put vinegar on areas of your guitar where you may have had issues with mold in the past.
The vinegar should work to keep the mold away.
If mold is something you have struggled with, it may make sense to set up a bi-weekly or monthly treatment using the vinegar.
As always, make sure the vinegar is not going to cause any damage to special finishes you may have on your guitar.
We hope our solutions have helped you feel as though you can get your guitar back to its original state.
Don’t panic when you see mold on your guitar as it is probably not caused by anything that you did.
It will take a little bit of work to get things cleaned up, but then you should know enough to keep this from happening again.
Make sure you pay attention to how you put your guitar away each time as well as where you store it.
These are going to be the two main factors when it comes to keeping the guitar mold-free for years to come.
If you are ever worried about doing more damage to the guitar, you should take it to your local music shop.
They will have dealt with this issue in the past, and they will have solutions to help you.