Re: Cleaning Mold from Old Corn Husk Doll


Barbara is absolutely right about ethanol and water and the corn doll being RH sensitive, but if it has been in such a damp atmosphere that it has grown mold over such a large area, I think it may well benefit from drying before treatment is made, and I was also reluctant to suggest an alcohol based treatment without knowing what facilities are available. Most places can manage cleaning with a brush and vacuum in a clean, well-lit area, but may not have facilities for fume extraction. Additionally, I am also cautious about the health of people working with moldy artefacts.

If you decide to dry it out, it would be sensible to proceed with caution, placing the artefact on some crumpled acid-free tissue as a support in a polythene container with a well-fitting lid with enough silica gel desiccant to dry out the interior of the container (not one of the tiny ones you get in a camera). You don’t want to desiccate the object, just dry the mold enough that it shrinks down and becomes powdery. Check it twice a day and treat it as soon as the mold seems dead.

If you prefer the alcohol method, that is fine but do make sure you have a well ventilated area to work in, have lots of cotton wool swabs ready so you can keep cleaning till the mold is all removed, test a discreet area first, as Barbara suggests, and don’t allow the corn husk to become saturated with the solution. The swabs should be barely damp with the solution. Try to roll the tip of the swab to and fro gently using your finger tip and thumb, don’t rub it as it can cause damage or push the mold residue into the surface.
Hope this helps