There's no question that mildew is extremely stubborn, but there are ways to rid your clothing of this pesky fungi and prevent it from coming back. Extreme heat is often used as a way to rid garments of mildew, but drying clothes in direct sunlight or in high heat can cause damage to fibers and lead to fading over time. Always pay attention to labels and follow instructions carefully to ensure the longevity of your clothes.
Mildew thrives in damp, wet places like basements, attics and closed closets -- so strive to keep clothing as clean and dry as possible at all times. Clothing with grease or soiled spots encourages mildew growth, so don't leave dirty clothes on the floor or in the washing machine. Never hang damp or dirty clothes in a wardrobe or closet before thoroughly washing and drying them first.
When they're used in enclosed areas, paradichlorobenzene crystals (used most commonly in moth balls) are known to prevent mildew from growing where clothing is stored, like garment bags or sealed trunks. Therefore, add a few moth balls to these areas as a preventative measure against mold.
One of the biggest ways to prevent mildew is eliminating excess moisture from your home. How well is your home ventilated? Water vapor is constantly released into the air through daily tasks like cooking and bathing, but with good ventilation, the majority of moisture should evaporate. To help air out your home, open windows regularly on warm, dry days, and use fans to circulate the air inside. Open closet and wardrobe doors, and invest in a dehumidifier for rooms that need help with air circulation.
Since mildew can be harmful to your health, when in doubt, throw it out. While no one wants to part with a favorite blouse or lucky pair of athletic shorts, consider your well-being and the serious implications of keeping a piece of mildew-infested clothing. Sometimes no matter how hard you try to remove a stain, mildew persists and won't go away. When a garment is beyond repair, it's best to cut your losses and toss it in the trash.