How to Remove Mold and Mildew From Clothes

Get rid of mold stains on all kinds of clothes, from durable to delicate.

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Mold stains can develop on clothes from exposure to water or improper storage, and they can be tough to remove. With the right product, however, you can get rid of mold stains on all kinds of fabrics — even delicates. Read on for three methods, using different products, to eliminate mold and mildew on clothes.

Durable White or Light-Colored Fabrics

Product: Liquid Chlorine Bleach

Liquid chlorine bleach — what most people think of when they think “bleach” — is an excellent mold eliminator, but it has some drawbacks. It can be quite harsh, and isn’t recommended for delicate fabrics. Bleach should not be used on wool, spandex or silk, either.

Because it also may dull color in fabrics, test any non-white garment for colorfastness before using liquid chlorine bleach. How? Clorox recommends what it calls the “Bleachability Test.” Mix two teaspoons bleach in 1/4 cup water, apply a drop of the solution on an inconspicuous spot, wait one minute, blot with a towel, and see if color loss has occurred.

How to Use It

If bleach is safe to use on a mold-stained fabric, wash the garment using the hottest water temperature it can tolerate (check the care tag for laundering instructions) along with detergent and 3/4 cup bleach. Soak badly mold-stained clothes in 1/4 cup bleach to a gallon of cool water for five to ten minutes prior to laundering.

Durable Fabrics of Any Color

Product: Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleach, like OxiClean or Biokleen Oxygen Bleach Plus, is chemically different from liquid chlorine bleach but also effectively eliminates mold stains from clothes and other fabrics. Oxygen bleach is color-safe but should not be used on wool, silk or leather.

How to Use It

For smaller mold stains, add two tablespoons of oxygen bleach to the washer along with your regular detergent. Pre-treat bigger or more set-in stains by mixing equal parts oxygen bleach and water and applying the paste to the stain prior to laundering as usual.

Delicate Fabrics

Product: Engleside Restoration Fabric Cleaner

With delicate fabrics like lace, linen or silk, avoid liquid chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach, which can be overly harsh and cause irreversible damage. Instead, use a specialty product. Engleside Restoration Fabric Cleaner, a gentle, odor-free stain remover, can be used on most any textile, including delicates like baby clothes or handmade quilts. Restoration costs a bit more than bleach, but it’s the best option when an important item — a family christening gown, wedding dress or vintage quilt — develops mold and needs to be washed.

How to Use It

Mix three scoops in a gallon of warm water and soak the garment for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the item and gently press out excess water. Then mix another three scoops in a gallon of warm water and soak the fabric again for six to eight hours before rinsing thoroughly and allowing to dry.