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naripeddi 08-05-2018 03:07 AM

Fungus/mold on VHS, safe to put in VCR?
2 Attachment(s)
I have two VHS tapes that have fungus/mold visible from the clear plastic window.

Is it safe to put this in VCR and capture the video or I need to clean the tape before putting it in the VCR?

I do not have a spare VCR to use it as cleaner, neither there are cleaning services available in my city.


lordsmurf 08-05-2018 03:29 AM

NO! :mad4:

It is not safe!!!

What will happen is the mold will spew all over the inside of the VCR, ruining it, as well as infecting any future videotape put into it. Mold spores are pervasive, and often toxic. They will leech outside the deck, through every vent hole, and get everywhere in your home.

The only DIY method to mold cleaning is to take the VCR outside, and don't be downwind of it. Wear a face mask. Realize this VCR will be trashed afterwards, and only usable for mold removal. Never again to be used inside, never again for playing tapes. There are guides and other surfaces of the VCR where you'll want to attach cleaning pads with alcohol. You're essentially turning the VCR into a poor man's RTI TapeChek. You'll play the tape to clean.

But it's more complicated than that.
It's tedious.
You'll constantly have to change pads, re-wet with alcohol.
You also do not want to let wet tape touch, or it'll stick. So you play, stop, play, stop, over and over, so the alcohol is dried before being sucked back onto a reel.

By hand would be better, but the risk of getting mold all over yourself is great. And not good.
And then mold usually sticks the tape hard, and you'll want to VCR to basically pull it from the spool.

You'll have to verify every spore and sign of mold is 100% gone before even considering putting it into your good VCR in the home/office.

This is a sloppy process, but can work. The alternative is a lab for about $100+ per tape.

Youtube is full of idiots with bad advice on this topic, so beware. They're screwing themselves (health), their VCRs, and the other tapes in their collection/possession.

I rarely touch mold tapes. Before last year, I outright refused, and my advice was to use SpecBros for it.

I can source crappy VCRs for $9 from Goodwill, but they function well enough for this purpose. Do you have any thrift shops nearby?

naripeddi 08-05-2018 03:47 AM

Ok, I take your advice.

No, VCRs are no longer sold here, impossible to find even second-hand. Let me try.

There is a shop in my area (probably the only one in my city) who used to clean mold for my tapes (not sure what machine they use, but it used to be effective) but now they say the cleaning machine has a motor problem. They promised to repair the machine by end of this month. I will probably wait for them then.

dpalomaki 08-06-2018 06:24 PM

IS there any specific reason to limit the search for services to your city?

Judd_the_budd 08-09-2018 02:32 PM

Mold spores live/exists on almost every surface on the planet. You are exposed to countless billions of them every day. That’s how they got to your tapes in the first place, combined with the fact that they were exposed to moisture for a long enough time to thrive.

But don’t think that mold spores are some alien toxin that will destroy all that come in contact with them. They won’t, and don’t. If you’re highly allergic (like me) an n95 or p100 mask is a good preventative measure.

I don’t know anything about saving vhs tapes w mold, so defer to LS or whomever. I have heard archival recovery of audio tapes in this condition usually involve baking. (And I don’t mean the good kind, although that might help) There’s a big recovery project of Grateful Dead soundboards being undertaken right now.

dpalomaki 08-09-2018 04:06 PM


But donít think that mold spores are some alien toxin that will destroy all that come in contact with them.
As you noted above, with most molds the problem for humans mainly arises with allergies/sensitivities, and for gear it is the damage they can do inside the machine. Playing moldy tape can give a new crop of mold a head start in the machine, and will foul heads, guides, and other parts. It will facilitate propagation/migration to "infect" other tapes. Generally not worth the risk.

If the mold developed on tapes that were stored in your house it is already in the house. (A few may be deadly poisons, but if you have them it may well be too late already.)

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