How to Remove Mildew from Clothes — Mama — s Laundry Talk

How to Remove Mildew from Clothes

I’m sure you’ve never forgotten a wet bib that fell between the car seats, only to find it a week later…and covered in mildew. And I’m positive that you have never left wet towels in your kitchen hamper for days on end only to come back and find them moldy. Right?

These kinds of things happen only at the Hill House, I’m sure.

Mold and mildew can be extremely hard to remove. If you use these tips, you have a fighting chance at removing it from your stained garment. But honestly? There aren’t any products that I am aware of that are made specifically for mold and mildew on fabrics.

So if you’ve incidentally left a garment a little too long in a wet, dark, damp place, here is how you can try to remove the mildew stain. Keep in mind I am not advocating this for garments or towels that smell like mildew – but those items on which you can visibly see mold or mildew.

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Use a Toothbrush to Scrape off Mold

If the item has visible mold on it, you’ll need to scrape off as much of the mold as you can with an old toothbrush.

If the item is a piece of clothing, gently use a toothbrush to scrape it off. You don’t want to disrupt the fibers of the garment permanently. You need to remove as much of the mold as possible so the washing machine can clean deeply into the fibers during the wash cycle.

This is just doing an intense pre-wash, in the hopes of removing the stain completely.

Wash the Item By Itself on a Warm, Normal Setting Using Oxi Clean

Mildew and mold spores can spread all kinds of yuck for us to breathe in. As soon as you notice the mold or mildew, wash the item by itself in the washer.

If you have a front loader, put some old towels or rags that you use for cleaning in the washer also. You want to trick the front loader into using a lot of water, in an effort to remove the mold and mildew.

Make sure you use a ‘warm’ water setting and definitely wash on ‘normal’ (not delicate).

It seems like one would want to use a ‘hot’ water temperature, but trust me: you don’t. Heat tends to set stains and you don’t want to set in a mildew stain.

Let the item air dry

Allow the item to air dry completely. Do not dry it in the dryer. Can you still see the mildew or mold at all? If not, success! If you can still see it, go on to the next step.

Try The Soak

While I’m not aware of any products formulated for the removal of mildew on fabric, Oxi Clean does a pretty good job. But you’ll need to soak your item for a fairly extended period of time.

I inadvertently left a dish cloth in the back corner under my sink and I had to soak it four days before the mildew came out of the fabric. It slightly lifted the color from the fabric since I soaked it so long, but the mildew stain was finally removed.

After you do The Soak, wash as you normally would and hang to dry. Don’t dry it until you’re sure the stain is removed to your satisfaction.

Try Bathroom Mildew Remover

This sounds a little unconventional, however spray a bathroom mildew remover on the stained areas if The Soak doesn’t work.

Now here are some huge caution flags:

— This is going to bleach your garment. Without a doubt, it will cause at the very least some lifting of the color if not all of the color.

— It potentially could eat a hole in your garment also since mildew removers are largely made up of bleach.

The choice to use this type of product is really a last act of desperation. Hopefully, you’re garment is white and it won’t matter.

You can put a small amount on a Q-tip and test the inside seam to see if it will cause the item to fade. If it doesn’t in just a few minutes, you can either spray the mildew remover straight on to the item or dab it on using a Q-tip on cotton ball.

I personally have used mildew remover with great success in the past. After you’ve left the product on about 5 minutes or so, wash on a regular cycle using a ‘warm’ water temperature.

Again, hang the item to dry until you are sure the stain is removed.

Dry the item in direct sunlight

The Sun is a fabulous, free source of bleach! Once you’ve completed The Soak or used the bathroom mildew remover, wash in the washing machine.

If you have access to drying a garment outside, let it get full sun for a couple of hours. Hopefully, it will be the last step you need to take to remove the stain completely.

There are some stains that just can’t be removed, despite how much effort you put into them. Mildew and mold definitely top the list of hard-to-remove stains! If you have specific questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

How to Remove Mold and the Smell from Clothing

Removing Mold from Clothes

If you happen to find mold on the clothing you wear or you suspect that your clothing might facilitate the growth of mold due to a flood then there is no need to worry because they can be saved. If you have mold in your house beyond the clothing, call a Mold Removal Tampa Company.

Mold Abatement Tampa

Time of discovery is the main factor when it comes to removing mold and the smell from clothing.

Quick action and persistence are key when it comes to saving your clothing from damage by mold such that they can be worn again.

Generally, mold thrives in areas that are warm and have high humidity. This means that clothes, floors and walls are good candidates.

How to Remove the Stain and Smell

It should be noted that timing is everything when it comes to removing mold and smell from clothing. The faster you identify clothing affected by mold and contain it, the better the chances of reuse.

This is mainly because mold is very hard to remove once it is growing and thriving. In the presence of humidity, moisture and food, mold can spread rapidly.

Clothes are ideal for the growth of mold but they can be removed using several techniques.

However, remember that the timing is paramount. If mold stays longer on fabric, it is guaranteed to smell worse. In addition, it will experience an accelerated rate of rot as it weakens.

Mold and smell from clothing should be quickly, safely and easily removed.

The main techniques are as follows:


It is a relatively unusual approach to use vinegar when removing mold but it works like a charm.

Just prepare 3/4 cup white vinegar and add it to a load wash. It will help in removing the moldy smell from your clothing.

This process should be religiously repeated until no trace of mold as well as its smell remain. Afterwards, a detergent can be used to thoroughly clean the clothes.

•Brush off

All clothing that have been exposed to mold should be taken outdoors and thoroughly dusted.

Any loose mold can be brushed off. It is mandatory that this is done outdoors to prevent the spread of mold spores indoors.

However, it is best to wear a protective mask as well as gloves when doing this for personal protection.

•Sun dry

The clothing affected by mold should be put out in the sun to dry. The sun’s heat and light will kill off the mold on the clothes.

•Sponge wash with bleach

is is another way how to get mildew out of clothes. 2 tablespoons of bleach and I bucket of water can be used.

It is important to ensure that the bleach product being used will not change the color of clothing fabric.

A good alternative to bleach is salt solution and lemon juice, especially if you intend to treat clothes with colored fabrics.

The tips listed above about how to get mildew out of clothes are not exhaustive as there are many others.


The above insightful information clearly shows that it is possible to remove mold and the smell from clothing but emphasis is on the timing of your removal action, the faster the better.

How to Remove Mold and the Smell from Clothing

If you have found mold on your clothing or there is a potential for mold growth because of a flood, you may be wondering if you can save your clothes or if you need to throw them away. The good news is that (depending on when you found the molded clothing), you may be able to save them. With a little bit of persistence and quick action, you can often rid your precious clothing of damaging mold and make them safe to wear again. Here is what you need to know about mold and how to remove it (and the smell) from your clothing.

Do Items in Your Home Have a Musty Odor or Mildew Stains?

Mold thrives in places of high humidity and warmth. The more damp and warm an area is, the better. This includes walls, floors, personal items, and yes – clothes. So what can be done about it?

The first thing to note is timing. The faster you can find a mold contaminated item, the better. Mold becomes increasingly hard to remove and deal with as it grows and thrives.

Mold can be found in some of the oddest places because it has the ability to thrive almost anywhere as long as it has the following three things:

In the proper conditions, mold can spread quite rapidly.

Mold Grows on Clothing

As mentioned above, clothing is the perfect place for mold growth. If you happen to find mold on an article of clothing – hopefully its been caught quickly – there are a few ways to go about removing it.

Remember timing is of the essence when dealing with mold growth because the longer mold stays on the fabric, the worse it will smell and the more time it has to weaken and eventually rot your clothes.

Here are a couple of ways you can easily, safely, and quickly remove mold that is growing on clothing and get rid of the musty, moldy smell at the same time.


A very unusual approach would be to use vinegar in removing mold stains and its smell. Vinegar is very useful and effective in removing the ‘moldy’ smell from clothes. Add 3/4 cup white vinegar to a load of wash.

The vinegar will remove any moldy smell from clothing. Repeat this process until all traces of mold and its smell are gone. Use detergent afterwards to thoroughly clean your clothes.

What’s so interesting about this process is that vinegar itself is made through fermentation with the help of a certain type of mold.

Old Fashion Cleaning

Brush off loose mold growth

Take all clothing that have mold or have been exposed to mold, outside and one by one, brush off any loose mold growth. By doing this outside you prevent mold spores from spreading inside the house.

Always remember to wear a protective mask and gloves when dealing with mold contamination.

Set out in the sun to dry

After brushing, leave the clothing out in the sun to dry. The heat and sun will kill whatever is left of the mold in your clothes.

Presoak in cold water

Presoak remaining clothes that have stains in cold water, then wash in hot water with detergent. Allow the clothing to dry completely in the sun.

Sponge with bleach

If the stains persist, sponge the contaminated area with diluted chlorine bleach, you can use 2 tbsp. bleach to 1 qt. water. Make sure that the bleach that you use won’t change the color of the fabric.

You can use lemon juice and salt solution as an alternative to bleach if treating colored fabrics. After about 10 minutes, rinse thoroughly.

Launder, rinse and dry

Launder as usual, rinse and allow to dry in the sun. Remember to fully dry the clothes that you have disinfected to make sure that mold doesn’t grow back.

Spray a bit of fungicide spray to completely remove mold odor from your clothes, and ensure that it won’t grow back the next day.

Use of “Mildicides”

“Mildicide” is a new term or name given to products that are used in dealing with mold or mildew contamination.

Remember that if you choose to use a mildicide to remove mold and its odor from your clothes, always read the label for proper techniques. Mildicides are still chemicals and can be harmful to your health if not used properly.

If every item of clothing or fabric in your closet appears to be affected with mold, fog the entire closet with your chosen mildicide.

Do the same for clothing that has been in storage for a long period of time. This will prevent mold or other odors from transferring to your present garments.

Do not remove any clothing in performing this application, especially if the odor eminates strongly. Spray the baseboards corners of the closet when removing garments and clothing.

If a vent is present in the room where you’ll be performing the clean-up, spray into the vent as well.

After fogging, close the door, and allow the mildicide to penetrate the entire room for at least 10 minutes.

Dry the area quickly with a fan or wipe walls and flooring of all remaining moisture.

Here is another post with useful information about mildicides:

What to do with Damaged Clothing

If you cannot remove the smell of mold completely or if your clothing has been visibly damaged by the mold, it is time to throw them away. More than the unpleasant smell, here are a few more reasons to part ways with mold damaged clothing if it cannot be successfully removed.

  • The health risks associated with mold can be dire, and no matter how expensive the clothing was, your health is worth more. Even mild symptoms (itchiness and rash, sneezing) are not worth it.
  • Mold can damage your clothes quickly. Mold starts to digests whatever material it grows on so if you didn’t catch the mold soon enough, your clothing may already be damaged beyond repair.
  • Mold can be released into the air if not completely removed. If you aren’t able to remove the mold from your clothing, you could be potentially releasing mold spores into the air, and those mold spores can create health hazards for you and those around you.

Mold on Other Items

Try these posts for specific items with mold contamination:

Mold is no fun when it gets in your home or on your clothing. If you have found mold on your clothes, follow these tips to remove it quickly and completely. The quicker you act, the more successful your attempts will be. If you cannot remove the mold, get rid of it just to be safe.

Further Recommended Reading

150 thoughts to “How to Remove Mold and the Smell from Clothing”

Hi there,
I recently has some very minor water damage in my house and called in some mold “experts” to tell me what had to be done. Before hiring anyone, which I have yet to do, I decided to do some research and came across your amazing blog. I just wanted to say thanks, and ask you your opinion on my mold situation.

I bought my house in August and when NY had the terrible rain storms in October I started to get some dampness and moistrure in one corner of the basement. Happens to be that my basement has cinder block walls with paneling about 10′ in front of the blocks (no sheet rock or insulation). The water was coming through the joints of the blocks in a crawl space in one corner of the basement. The rest of the basement stayed dry. It has been several months, and the leak keeps getting worse. I had about 10 different companies, ranging from mold “experts” to regular waterproofing contractors come by and give me estimates.

You would get dizzy just from hearing the contradictroy analysis and solutions these guys each came up with. On one extreme, you have the mold “expert” who came in to my basement and before he even looked at the crawl space where the water damage was – he declared my house as a “mold infested house.” He wipped out a binder with pictures and after noticing that my basement is a big playroom for my two toddler boys, he went straight to the picture of an infant with a severe rash “cause” by mold. He went on to tell me that I must rip out all of the paneling in my basement and wirebrush every corner. Next, he would apply 3 coats of different chemicals, bring in the fans, and install a humidex. The toal job would cost me 15k. After 5 minutes, he came down to 11k (because he is not on commission blah blah blah…) and I still said to him he is crazy if he thinks I am paying him 11k to do this. Finally he settled at 8k.

On the other extreme, I had one guy come in a tell me that he would fix the leak by treating the joints in the cinder blocks and than painting the blocks with some kind of material to keep the water out. In addition, he was going to repait my gutters and leaders outside so that no water accumulates near the corners of the house. Regarding the mold, however, he said “I can clean that up for you, but you could save the money by getting yourseld a mask, gloves and some bleach.”

My problem is that I don’t know if I have a serious mold problem. Currently, in the crawl space I actually can see some mold growing on the back of the paneling and on the cinder blocks (is that possible?). We are talking about a very minimal amount – smaller than the size of my hand. After all of my research I think I will be wterproofing the basement and I will take care of the mold myself with some bleech. However, my biggest concern is – what if there is mold behind the paneling where I cannot see? My gut feeling is that there is none – because the basement doesnt smell moldy, nobody has been sick and there was no leakage in any other spot. But I am not sure. I guess my ultimate fear is that I will never know what is behind there and when I find out it may be too late.

What do you think?

My son left a soaking wet sweatshirt in a plastic bag after a boy scout
campout. It has been sitting for almost three weeks. It was really nasty
smelling. I washed it once with no change. Then I found this suggestion
to add vinegar. I ran it once and was glad to find that most of the smell
was gone. I am running it through a second time with a load of wash
and more vinegar. Thanks.

Lest Oil a cap full or two usually seems to work to get out a lot of bad smells. Mold mildew sour smells. Hope that helps

when weather is always damp will the mold smell just come back after i take care of it?

I have a towel that got wet and ended up w/a number of bad black mold stains on it. I threw it in the washing machine, w/a cup of Clorox and the hotest water. Then I threw it in the dryer on the hottest setting for an hour (didn’t know about drying in sun at that time). It came out with the black mold stains still all over it but theoretically it should be clean right?

And that’s what I’m trying to figure out… Did I kill the mold by washing it that way or is it still alive? Can I just sun bleach it now or does it have to be wet again?

I have had a chase lounger in storage only now to find mold on the bottom skirt. How do I remove it? Thanks

Cheryl – Thanks for your question! I’ve posted a reply here : 5 Easy Steps to Remove Mold from Furniture

Joslyn from the MoldBlogger Team

I have a 3 month old who spits up alot and as often as i change her clothes or put bibs on her etc, she is constantly wet by her neck and chest. i let her clothes air dry after removing them from her but before putting therm in the hamper. Recently, however, her clothing started to get moldy up by the neck. I now have one cotton, one terry and one velour stretchy of hers that is nolonger wearable. I tried soaking these outfits in vinegar befor washing but saw no difference. I also tried rubbing some oxixlean solution on befor washing but that did not do it either. Any suggestions? I am looking forward to a response on how to best romove this mold. (and how to prevent mold from growing on other outfits.) Thanks.

Sima – Thank you for your question! I’ve posted a reply here : Remove Mold on Baby Clothes and Bibs

How to Remove Mold & Mildew From Clothes

Things You’ll Need

Chlorine or color-safe bleach

Mold and mildew can grow on clothes left in a damp, dark and humid location. The mold and mildew will have a musty and unpleasant odor. The mold and mildew will continue to thrive until you treat the clothes. Instead of throwing the clothes away, you can salvage them by removing the mold and mildew yourself. Treat the moldy clothing as soon as possible to prevent the fungus from deteriorating the fabric.

Step 1

Place the clothes outside on a flat surface. The mold spores on the clothing can spread around your home and stick to other clothing and fabrics.

Step 2

Brush off the spores with a scrub brush. Wear gloves and a face mask to protect yourself from the harmful spores.

Step 3

Apply lemon juice to the mold stain to dampen the area. Place table salt over the stain, and hang the clothing in the sun to dry.

Step 4

Wash the clothing with either a chlorine bleach or color-safe bleach. Use chlorine bleach for white clothing and a color-safe bleach for all other clothing. Bleach will kill the mold spores. Add the appropriate amount of bleach according to the instructions on the product.

Step 5

Hang the clothing to dry. Avoid placing the clothing in the dryer because it will cause the mold and mildew stains to become permanent. If you still notice the stains, repeat the cleaning process.

Mold on Clothes

Mold can grow on damp clothes and shoes thus causing damage to them. Clothes made from natural fibers such as cotton, linen, ramie, jute, rayon, wool and silk are more susceptible to microbial damage than those made from synthetic fibers. Mold on clothes produce enzymes that breakdown the cellulose or protein to compounds which the mold use as food. Compared to clothes made from plant fibers, those made of protein fibers (such as wool and silk) are less susceptible to attack but they are also damaged by molds capable of breaking down protein.

How to detect growth of mold on clothes
Often, the initial indication of a problem of mold on clothes is a characteristic musty odor in the closet. Careful examination of clothes may reveal stains with clearly visible pigmentations or visible mold growth. Also, observation under a microscope in a laboratory can reveal mold on clothes at the early stages of growth.

Mold on Clothes as A Health Hazard
One of the common questions we receive is whether mold on clothes is a health hazard and whether people should throw away their clothes if there was an outbreak of mold growth in their houses. In most instances it is not necessary to dispose of the clothes especially if the clothes show no visible mold growth and no musty or moldy odor is detected from the clothes. Mold on clothes may be in form of settled spores and these can easily be washed away during laundering. However, health risks must be considered whenever visible mold growth occurs on clothes. If the clothes have visible mold growth and appear to be damaged, the best thing would be to dispose them off. Such clothes should be handled with care since certain species of molds that attack clothes, such as species of Aspergillus, are opportunistic pathogens especially to people with weak immune system. Aspergillus fumigatus, for example, is a common cause of a respiratory problem called invasive aspergillosis. Some molds may not cause infections but can cause strong allergic reactions to sensitive individuals. There is also the risk of mycotoxin poisoning if the clothes are infested by toxigenic molds and are not effectively decontaminated before they are worn.

Badly infested clothes should be isolated by sealing them in polyethylene bags and disposing them immediately or sending them to trained professionals for decontamination.

How To Control Growth of Mold on Clothes
To control growth of mold on clothes we have to control the conditions that promote mold growth. This is by far the most effective method of preventing mold growth on any susceptible material including clothes. It is effective not only for the control of mold but also for control of other microorganisms and agents of damage such as insects. Clothes should be kept in a cool, dry environment with adequate ventilation. Relative humidity should be maintained below 65%. Use of dehumidifiers to reduce dampness is recommended. If the clothes are not frequently used, it is important to regularly check for mold infestation.

If you have a question regarding mold on clothes or any other question on mold or bacteria, please contact us at 905-290-9101 if calling from eastern Canada or 604-435-6555 if calling from western Canada.

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Easy Ways on How to Get Rid of Mold on Clothes —>

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Cooped up in drawers, suitcases, and closets, sometimes clothing requires more than a run through the dry cleaner to get rid of that musty, damp smell. We have compiled several ways of eliminating musty smells safely using non-toxic ingredients that will not discolor your clothes or cause irritation to your skin.

Basic Tips on How to Remove Molds from Clothes

There are many ways of removing mildew and molds from clothing. Here are some of the general solutions that have been proven to work;

  • Check the care tags first

Manufacturers issue instructions on the right method of cleaning a garment, and therefore it is advisable to check the garment care tag first. Check the favorable water temperature to find out the most suitable wash cycle to use on your fabric.

  • Using a toothbrush, scrub away the mold

You can pre-treat the stained area by scrubbing away the stain using a clean toothbrush and any of the solutions below. Remember, you will still need to launder your fabric to kill mold spores.

  • Clean using very hot water

The best way to kill mold spores is by using hot water. With organic fabrics and cotton, you should wash them at quite a high temperature but ensure you don’t damage the fabric. After washing your clothes in hot water, allow them to dry in the sun. If this method doesn’t eliminate the mold on your fabric, you might have to try tougher methods to remove it completely. Here are several options for you;

1. Washing with Bleach

A popular way to remove mold from fabric and clothes is by washing them with bleach. Add a cup of bleach to your washing machine when washing clothes with stains. Ensure you check the directions on the label and also check the care tags on the garment to see if there is a bleach warning. You can do a spot test to confirm if the bleach will damage or discolor your fabric.

2. Using Borax to remove mold from clothes

Put a cup of borax in hot water and ensure it dissolves before putting the solution in the washing machine.

3. Use of Vinegar

Vinegar is another effective way of getting rid of mold from clothing. It can kill close to 82 percent of all mold species. That explains why it remains a popular method of removing mold from fabric. How to remove mold from clothes using vinegar- add two cups of white vinegar to your washing machine while washing moldy fabric. Repeat this process if mold persists.

4. Use a mold killing detergent

There are many washing detergents that have been specially designed to clean clothes with mold. You can use them to clean your clothing as well. The two popular ones are Clorox and Oxiclean.

5. Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning is an effective method of removing mold from clothes. The heat produced during the washing process is capable of killing most of the mold spores.

6. Normal cleaning

You can simply remove mold from your clothes by brushing the mold off and washing them normally. You don’t have to use additional products. Just take your clothes outside and brush off the loose molds. After that, leave them out and let the sun work wonders. After that, soak them in cold water and then wash them with hot water. Let them dry outside in the sun.

7. Using Lemon Juice

You can apply lemon juice on the stained area and sprinkle salt on it for extra effectiveness. Leave your clothes in the sun and rinse them afterward. Launder them as usual.

8. Using soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

You can also use baking soda(click to see different uses of baking soda) and hydrogen peroxide to remove mold stains on your cloth. Follow the directions provided on the product’s label. Here is a general procedure;

  • Make a paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda
  • By using a laundry, brush rub the paste over the stained area. Make sure to run until all the loose mold is removed
  • Launder as usual using a detergent

9. Use Tea Tree Oil

This is one of the most effective and cheapest product for removing mold. You only need a little amount of tea tree oil to remove mold spores. This oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties to kill virtually all types of molds. Add one teaspoon of tea tree oil to one cup of water and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the mold stain. Leave it to sink and do not rinse to prevent molds from returning.

Why does Mold grow on Clothes?

The main cause of mold is confined moisture. If you leave wet clothes folded somewhere for more than 24 hours, mold will start growing on them. That’s why you should dry your clothes immediately after washing. Drying them in the sun is the best option and only pack them when they are completely dry. The same applies to damp clothes. These need to washed as quickly as possible or hang them outside. Do not leave them in a wet pile. Another reason why mold may grow on clothes is when your home has too much humidity. Rooms, where clothes are stored, need to have proper ventilation. Ensure to hang clothes with some spaces between them in a closet. Also, avoid packing them too tightly together in your drawers. This will allow air to circulate in between them.

How to Keep Your Clothes Mold-Free

To prevent clothes from getting moldy;

  • Make sure to empty your washing machine every time a cycle has finished
  • Hang wet clothes on the washing line outside, or clothes rack as soon as you take them out of the laundering machine
  • If your clothes are tumble-dry safe, place them in the tumble dryer
  • Wet swimwear or sweaty clothes should not be piled up. They should be hanged to dry before being placed in the laundry basket


Be sure that your clothes are completely dry before putting them in the drawers and closets. This will limit the amount of moisture in them and prevent mold from forming. Do you have others ways of how to get rid of mold on clothes? You can share with us in the comment box below.

One Reply to “Easy Ways on How to Get Rid of Mold on Clothes”

Nice guide on removing molds on clothes and fabrics. These cleaning ideas are really very much impressive, informative and useful too. Home cleaning websites like Neatspiration today have lots of ideas related to these.

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Hi, I’m Jamie. I have spent quite a lot of time doing research on various home improvement subjects (like cleaning tips, kitchen storage, home Automation). Now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.

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