Removing mould from windway

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    I have a recently acquired recorder with quite a lot of mould in the windway. I’ve done a bit of searching and found a couple of sites offering advice: Prescott workshop suggests hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar for getting rid of mildew, and Philippe Bolton suggests undecylenic acid or a thymol solution for getting rid of aspergilus fungus.

    I don’t know exactly what the difference between fungus and mildew is (if there is one). What I have looks very much like the picture on the Bolton site (you can see it here here). There isn’t a picture on the Prescott site for comparison.

    I’ve tried all of the above except the undecylenic acid which I couldn’t get hold of locally, though I might order it is necessary.

    Both sets of instructions imply that treating the fungus/mildew as recommended will get rid of it quite quickly, but this has not been my experience. It has certainly reduced, but it has not gone. I’ve been applying the thymol solution quite regularly (being mostly alcohol it dries out pretty quickly) over the last 2 days, scrubbing with a toothbrush, and that was preceded by a couple of days trying the vinegar/hydrogen peroxide, but there is still fungus there.

    Does anyone have any experience of doing this? I am not sure now if, for example, the fungus/mildew is dead, but the wood remains stained rather than infected. If so, maybe the hydrogen peroxide would remove the stain by bleaching it. Attached photo shows the current state of play, after the various cleaning attempts I have made. The Bolton site says to clean the fungus until all roughness has disappeared – this windway is absolutely smooth.

    • This topic was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by Pavane.
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    Dick Mattson

    Okay, it’s been coming up to two weeks since you posted your question and nobody has answered (not at all surprising on this forum, I must say). I’ve been waiting to see if anybody would before venturing an opinion.

    So just now, I looked up undecylenic acid on the May Clinic website. From what I can make out, it is an effective fungus killer, but it is used externally. Personally, I would be extremely hesitant about using it in the windway where it could come in contact with moisture which I would be sucking back up into my mouth.

    Vinegar is also an acid, and as such, should kill off the mildew it comes into contact with. And the hydrogen peroxide is a bleach that should render the (hopefully) dead mildew colorless. Both are safe to get into the mouth in my opinion.

    I’m not familiar with thymol. Wikipedia says that it may be a fungicide. A google search indicates that it is toxic. Based on that, I would hesitate to use it for this application.

    Looking at your attached photo, I suspect that what treatment you have already done has worked on the surface and slightly below. What remains appears to be discoloration and little else. I also suspect that the mildew will not come back.

    However, that can be easily checked by playing the recorder for a week or two, blowing out the condensation and swabbing, letting it dry between playing sessions, and periodically popping the block out to check whether the mildew has come back.

    If it doesn’t return, you have a recorder. If it does return, you have a nice piece of firewood. Alternately, you can pop the block, paint the windway with Kilz, get a lamp kit from your local hardware store, and make an attractive lamp for your music room.

    All the best.


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