How can I clean mold off VHS tapes for free? Anyone have a clue?

Hi. I’m in the process of digitizing my old VHS tapes, as some of them are approaching 25 years old and are in danger of flaking off. Anyone had experience with quickly removing mold without damaging the tape? I have to clean about 50 tapes, so I don’t think paid service is an option. for me

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2 thoughts on “How can I clean mold off VHS tapes for free? Anyone have a clue?”

  1. Once it is damaged it is pretty much gone. There might be stuff for it, but mold is hard to get rid of and I would not touch it and just throw it out and prevent the VCR from getting mold inside that may contaminate other clean type tapes. Sorry, can’t really help you there, but try calling one of those film places which they may help you out. Good Luck.

  2. From Standford archives:

    Do NOT try to remove active mold. Expose the tapes to a dry environment for
    a period of time to drive the mold into dormancy before trying to remove it.
    We use a chamber kept around 20% RH for polyester-base tape. You can tell
    if the mold is dormant when it comes off in a dry powder instead of smearing
    all over the tape when you wipe it.

    Dry-wiping off mold only removes the flowering heads and spores from the
    tape surface. It does not kill the mold in/on the tape.

    Some mold cannot be removed with a simple dry-wipe. Common liquids used are
    distilled water, isopropyl and 111 Tri-chlor. The Tri-chlor is the only one
    that guarantees that the fungus is actually dead but you must be very
    careful as it is a restricted substance and, if you get it on the plastic
    reel or cassette shell- it will melt them.

    If you use liquids to remove the worst sections of mold, only wipe in one
    direction. Testing shows that if you wipe back-and-forth, in both
    directions, you can damage the recording surface.

    My own thoughts….

    After verifying that the mold is dry…run the tape through a tape rewinder (not a vhs machine unless you want to gum it up). This will ‘shake’ alot of the dry mold off and you can tap it out of the cassette. This may give you a clean enough tape to make a copy without having to hand clean the individual tapes.

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