Can Money Get Moldy?: Here’s What You Need to Know

Can Money Get Moldy?: Short Answer

The short answer is that money can and will get moldy if the conditions are right, namely if your money gets damp and is in the right conditions for mold to thrive.


What is Mold?

Molds are a large variety of fungal species that thrive in certain conditions such as:-

  • Where the temperature is between 77°F to 86°F (they cannot withstand temperatures below 40°F)
  • Where it is damp
  • Where it is humid
  • Where there is oxygen
  • Where there’s food

Molds are extremely robust and well adapted to exist in many different environments and on many different surfaces.

They can thrive in many conditions even where oxygen is lacking.

Molds can consume and use any organic matter for their food meaning they don’t need a special diet to survive.


Why Does Money Go Moldy?

Mold can thrive on both notes and coins but especially on notes.

Dollar notes are made from cotton fiber which is a perfect material for mold to grow on, as it not only provides a food source but it is extremely absorbent and retains moisture.

Perfect conditions for molds to grow.

If dollar notes are stored inside or in an area where the temperature doesn’t drop too low, then molds can easily thrive.

Molds can also thrive on coins but they are generally much easier to clean than notes as they are obviously much tougher and are able to withstand more forceful cleaning.


Can You Clean Moldy Money and How?

dirty coins

Cleaning Mold off Coins

Metal coins are much easier to clean than notes.

For coins, we recommend placing them in a jar or tub with a cup of vinegar and a tablespoon of salt.

Allow the coins to sit in the solution for a few hours and then remove the coins onto a paper towel.

You can then rub each coin with a cloth or paper towels to make them shiny and clean.

Try an old tooth brush or wire brush if there are any stubborn areas.

Cleaning Mold off Dollar Notes

Notes are more difficult to clean than coins simply because of their absorbent and less robust material.

For notes, we recommend placing them in warm water with soap or baby laundry detergent.

Use a cloth to try and rub the mold off.

Whilst notes are nowhere near as tough as coins, they are still fairly robust so you should still be able to give them a good scrub without damaging them.

However, you should not leave notes soaking too long. We recommend removing them from the water as soon as you’ve removed the mold.

You should then hang them in a warm dry place to dry out.

We recommend avoiding strong detergents like bleach or strong cleaning products as these can spoil the paper.


Cool Money Fact:

At the height of his infamy, crime kingpin Pablo Escobar lost $2.1 billion a year through spoilage. This was usually due to his money getting water damaged, eaten by rats or because he simply misplaced it.


How to Get Rid of the Moldy Smell from Money?

After you have cleaned the mold from your money (as above), we recommend hanging it outside if possible or close to an open window to allow fresh air to get to it.

Obviously, you’ll want to make sure no one tries to steal your money, so we don’t recommend leaving it unaccompanied, especially if its outside.

You can also try an odor eliminator like Febreeze which you can gently spray on your money to remove any moldy stench left after cleaning.


Will the Bank Exchange Moldy Money?

Banks are normally fairly accommodating when it comes to replacing money that is passed its best.

Provided more than half of the note remains then there is a good chance your local bank will replace your moldy money for fresh cash.


Tips for Preventing Money From Going Moldy

If you are storing money in the house or elsewhere, there are a number of things you can do to make sure it does not get moldy:-

  • Store it in a dry area such as cupboard or drawer
  • If your money becomes damp, thoroughly dry it before putting it into storage
  • Store money away from areas of your house that are susceptible to damp like basements, attics and your garage
  • Consider purchasing a dehumidifier if your property suffers from damp
  • Place moisture absorbers like silica gel packs in with the container you are storing your money in

Can Money Get Moldy in a Safe?

Money can still get moldy in a safe, especially if you place damp money in your safe, if the safe itself is damp or you keep your safe in a damp environment.

You can avoid this by keeping your safe in a humid free environment and by ensuring your money is dry before placing it in the safe.

We also recommend using moisture absorbers if there’s any risk your money could be exposed to damp whilst being stored in the safe.


Bottom Line

Money can be very susceptible to mold, especially paper notes.

However, keeping money free from mold is fairly easy to achieve provided you stick to the above tips.

If your money has developed mold then it’s not the end of the world and you should be able to salvage it by cleaning it or simply by taking it to your bank for it to be replaced.

About the author

Oliver graduated from law school in 2008 and has practiced exclusively in the field of civil litigation for the last 10 years. Away from law, he is a self-confessed personal finance geek and digital marketer.

-Chief editor and founder

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