How to Clean Mold Off Clothing

By: Emilie Sennebogen  | 

Don't just toss moldy clothes; try to salvage them!
Don't just toss moldy clothes; try to salvage them!
Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

Mold in your household is something every homeowner fears, especially when it comes to the highly toxic black mold. If you have mold problems, it usually means you have water coming in somewhere, so the first thing you need to do is address the source of the problem, whether it's a leaky basement or a hole in the roof. As you're fixing the root of the issue you're also going to want to get the mold off of any of the surfaces that it has managed to grow on. This probably means your walls, furniture, and unfortunately, even your clothing.

One of the main ways your clothes might show mold is if they've been kept in storage. Maybe you've put your winter sweaters in boxes in a room of your house where you have an unknown moisture problem. Or perhaps you've accidentally zipped some hanging clothes into a plastic storage bag before they've had a chance to fully dry.

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No matter how it happens, once mold has gotten into your clothes, you officially have a problem. The good is news is that you're not necessarily going to have to throw everything away. With some persistence and quick action, you can rid those clothes of mold so they're safe to wear again.

Tips for Dealing With Mold on Your Clothes

The sun will do wonders for your moldy clothes.
The sun will do wonders for your moldy clothes.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

If you've discovered mold on your clothing, let's hope you found it early. The sooner you can start the cleaning process for mold and mildew, the better. The longer mold stays on your clothes, the harder it is to remove and the smellier it's going to be. Step one in the process is to get the clothes out of the moist environment right away and out into the hot sun (if possible). While your clothes are baking outside, clean up the area where the clothing was stored to make sure you don't have any reoccurrences. The heat will dry the clothes out and help to kill the mold, which we all know is a living fungus.

After your clothes are completely dried, you'll probably still see the areas where mold and mildew have stained them. There are a variety of products you can use at this point to pre-treat your clothes before the wash. If they're whites and you aren't afraid of adding chemicals to your clothes, then bleach can be added. Mix the bleach with water and spray it on the affected areas until it's soaked through. Sodium borate, more commonly known as Borax, or other spray stain removers can also be used for pre-treatment. If you're not into chemicals at all, then try soaking the clothes in a solution of cold water and one cup of white vinegar.

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Once you've pre-treated the clothing, you need to wash and dry them at least two times. Hot water is best for killing mold spores, so if you have a sanitize setting on your washer, then use it. The same things you used for pre-treatment can also be added to your wash, so if you want to throw in some bleach or white vinegar, feel free. After one complete wash and dry, check the affected areas with your eyes and nose. If they pass the sight and sniff tests then you should be OK. If not, give it another wash.

Originally Published: Apr 12, 2012

Clean Mold Off Clothing FAQs

Can mold be removed from clothes?
A solution of water and non-chlorine bleach can help get rid of mold from clothing. You can also use bleach with home soap or detergents like Oxiclean and Clorox to rub off the stains using an old toothbrush.
Does vinegar kill mold?
Yes, white vinegar is suitable for disinfecting and cleaning stubborn mold stains like porous, non-porous and black mold. Simply spray undiluted white vinegar onto the mold-infected areas. You can also make a paste of lemon juice and salt to rub on areas that have mold. Leave it for a while and then wash it off.
Why does mold grow on clothes in closets?
If your closet is near an area with leaky pipes, it can cause humidity in the closet and create mold growth in the closet and on your clothing. This usually happens because the door to the closet is almost always closed, leading to moisture build-up.
How does baking soda help remove mold smell from clothes?
To get rid of moldy smell from your clothes, simply add half a tablespoon of baking soda along with your regular laundry soap to the washing machine. The crystalline white solids of baking soda are really helpful in removing stains and smell from the affected clothes.
How do you identify mold on clothes?
If you notice a musty smell coming from your clothes, that's one of the ways to identify mold on your clothes. Another sign is the appearance of black and white spots or discolored clothes that can be easily seen from the naked eye.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • "Fabric Mold Removal | Remove Black Mold from Clothing | Get Rid of Mildew on Clothes." Moldremovalfacts.com. April 8, 2012. http://moldremovalfacts.com/mold-removal/fabric-mold-removal-remove-black-mold-from-clothing-get-rid-of-mildew-on-clothes/
  • "How to get Mold out of Clothes and Fabric." Blackmold.awardspace.com. April 8, 2012. http://blackmold.awardspace.com/black-mold-clothes.html
  • "Mold In Your Home: Cleaning Options." Dhs.wisconsin.gov. April 8, 2012. http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/hlthhaz/fs/moldclean.htm