How to Get Mold Out of Clothes

How to Get Mold Out of Clothes & Fabrics Effectively

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Finding molds on your clothes feels way too personal. But how does these molds get to grow in your clothing? They can grow on fabric, especially if stored in a damp environment or not allowed to dry completely before being stored. Luckily, there are many ways to remove even the most stubborn stains effectively. However, these techniques vary based on the material. Therefore, if you want to have any chance of saving your garment, you must use the appropriate techniques. In this guide, we will take you through how to get mold out of clothes.

Why Do You Need to Remove Mold on Clothes?

The moldy odor is enough to motivate you to take action. However, when mold spores are present in small quantities, the smell may not be that strong. In this case, it may be tempting to ignore its presence or hesitate on its removal.

1. Maintain the quality of your clothes

These bacteria not only stink and look bad, but they also degrade natural fiber clothing. As a result, colors fade and fabric weakens over time.

2. Prevent health complications

Mold has different effects on different people. While some people have no symptoms, others may have severe allergic reactions, asthma, or other respiratory conditions. Besides, mold is especially irritating to children. According to research, when young children are exposed to fungi, they are prone to developing asthma by seven.

3. Avoid expansion

You may believe that mold growing on your clothes is a localized problem, but it's not. Spores usually travel through the air and, as a result, can spread faster and farther than you might think. Your garments may only serve as the doorway to your home. Therefore, it's important to remove the bacteria when you suspect its presence. Besides, remember that spores can survive and hibernate in sterile environments, such as hot, dry weather. They usually thrive and expand within 24 to 48 hours of the arrival of winter or humidity.

What Are the Signs of Molds in your Home?

i). Stains

Though mold is often black or green, some stains can show an orange or red color. It depends on the nutrient source, age or region of the mold. If you see in the corners or on the ceiling, damp stains start to appear; it's most likely mold.

ii). Cold and allergies

If you have a cold that doesn't disappear, it might be spores irritating your respiratory system. You might also experience running nose, itching eyes and sneezing when wearing clothes.

iii). Skin rash

When you come into direct contact with moldy clothes, your skin may react.

iv). smell

Mold smells bad; there's no denying it. But, with that said, mold could be the source of a new, unidentified odor in your home.

v). Peeling wallpaper

The first sign is discoloration; however, you know you have a problem when wallpaper begins to peel from your walls.

Tips on How to Prevent Mold Growth on Clothes

The easiest technique of removing mold on clothes is by preventing them in the first place. Here are some tips to guide you.

1. Dry Quickly

After washing your clothes, please don't leave them wet. Remove them from the washer as soon as possible and dry them outside or in a dryer. The longer they remain damp, the more likely mold will grow. Remember that mold grows with moisture, and if the clothes are left wet, they will have a breeding area. You can also find molds on sweaty clothes, shoes, or a wet swimming suit that has been stored in a plastic bag. Therefore, take them out as soon as you get home, and if you don't have time to wash them right away, hang them to dry.

2. Maintain low moisture levels

Is moldy clothing a recurring problem in your home, and you aren't sure of the underlying cause? Mold usually thrives when the humidity level exceeds 60%. So, keeping moisture at low levels is critical for prevention.

i). Use a dehumidifier

A dehumidifier is a simple and effective device that you can use to regulate humidity levels in your home. Put the dehumidifier in your basement or closet, where you store your garments to avoid having moldy clothes. Besides, position it near your drying rack if you need to dry your clothes indoors.

ii). Good ventilation

Maintain adequate ventilation in your home and closets. You can do this by opening windows and turning on ceiling fans to allow fresh air to circulate. We also recommend positioning your furniture a few inches away from the wall if possible to allow for better airflow.

Spores are not static; therefore, ensure to keep your carpets clean and dry so that they don't become a breed area. On rain days, ensure you close all windows to keep humidity levels at bay.

iii). Check filters

Examine your HVAC filters. Screens are commonly found in ventilation, cooling, and heating systems. To keep mold and allergens from growing and accumulating, ensure you replace the filter every one to three months.

3. Prevention spraying

To avoid moldy clothes, ensure you spray clothes with a mixture of tea tree oil and water every two days, as described above. Though it will leave a pleasant odor, if spores made their way into your closet, they'd be killed before they spread.

Ways on How to Get Mold out of Clothes

1. Washing techniques

If you regularly use a machine dry cleaner or hand wash to clean your clothes, here are the best ways to remove mold spores.

i). Machine-washing

If the mold growth is not out of hands, washing and drying your clothes may suffice. Fortunately, most fungi species die when exposed to water that's hotter than 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately, most laundry machines have a "hot washing mode" to achieve this temperature.

1. Ensure you separate the infected clothes- since mold spores spread, avoid mixing moldy clothes with clean ones.

2. Set the hottest mode- Cold water won't affect mold; not even water will do. Therefore ensure the temperature are high; however, ensure the water is not extremely hot to damage the fabric.

3. Pour detergent- Your regular detergent is more than enough.

4. Though optional, once the washing machine is filled with water, open it and add bleach, vinegar, or Borax. However, if your laundry machine features a front door, you will need to do this differently. Use the separate receptacle next to the one dedicated to the laundry detergent.

5. Wash- Allow your washing machine to run for two full cycles.

6. Dry your garments- The sun heat is a natural fungi killer. Therefore hang your wet clothes out in the open, in direct sunshine.

7. Drier alternative- Immediately transfer the garments to the dryer after the second cycle.

However, if the smell is still on even after washing your clothes, don't dry because the mold spores are still present. Instead, try soaking the clothes in baking soda or vinegar for about 20 minutes and wash again.

ii). Hand-washing

If you only have one cloth or towel to wash, then a large bucket of hot water is sufficient.

1. Fill water- Pour hot water in a bucket

2. Add laundry detergent- One cup of detergent

3. Mix commercial or natural mold remover- You can use one or a combination of the ingredients

4. Soak- Put the fabric inside and leave it for about 20 minutes

5. Rinse and dry- For effective results, follow the same instructions as per machine wash

For strong mold infections, use hand-washing together with the washer. Allow the mixture to soak through the fabric for about 20 to 60 minutes before starting your laundry machine load. When it comes to dry cleaning, especially if your clothes can only be dry cleaned, we recommend you use a gentle brush to remove mold from clothes as much as possible. Alternatively, put the clothes in a plastic bag and allow a professional to handle them. Ans ensure your dry cleaner knows the issue. It might also help highlight any mold spores you want to remove from your clothes.

2. Commercial methods

If you don't have any ingredients as discussed above, the techniques listed below can effectively clean mold spores.

i). Brush and detergent

Set up your workspace in a well-ventilated environment or outside to employ this procedure. Also, keep in mind that mold spores can move fast to other surfaces or even into your lungs.

1. Brush- When choosing the Brush, ensure soft bristles to prevent damaging the clothes. And if you are cleaning a small patch, use an old toothbrush. Try to remove as many mold stains as you can.

2. Spray- Wait for thirty minutes until the liquid has been absorbed completely

3. Wash- Use a washing machine or hand wash with hot water.

ii). Using bleach

Bleach is known to kill mold allergens effectively and as a stain remover. However, since chlorine bleach only removes mold and mildew from non-porous surfaces, we recommend mixing with Borax for added efficiency.

1. Machine wash- Add one cup of chlorine bleach or other commercial products containing bleach.

2. Handwash- Mix the cup of bleach in a large bucket of hot water. Allow the solution to soak for some hours before rinsing with detergent.

However, this technique is only suitable when removing mold from white clothes. Colored garments can easily discolor or fade.

3. Natural methods

If you prefer keeping your home chemical-free, here are some natural ingredients effective for cleaning mold stains.

i). Borax

Borax is a popular substance commonly used to remove mold from clothes. When Borax comes into contact with hot water, it transforms water molecules into hydrogen peroxide, a natural mold remover. Besides, Borax is not only an effective fungicide, but it is also an insecticide, herbicide, and disinfectant. Moreover, it's multifunctional, and it even removes mold smell. This is useful when trying to remove odorous microorganisms.

Borax doesn't dissolve easily with water and requires some preparation.

1. Mix- In a large laundry basket, mix hot water with half a cup of Borax.

2. Dissolve- Stir the solution slowly until completely it dissolves. You can use plain Borax or a borax-containing detergent.

3. Wash- Soak your items for at least 20 minutes before washing to remove mold stain. If you're using a washing machine, throw the liquid into it and run it through two cycles.

Take note: Borax can irritate the eyes and is dangerous if consumed.

ii). Baking soda and white vinegar

Vinegar is antimicrobial and antifungal. Fortunately, it's an efficient and natural way of removing molds. Besides, baking soda absorbs moisture and removes odors by altering the PH level of the cloth. As a consequence, both substances collaborate to remove mold from your garments.

  • First washing cycle- During the first washing cycle, pour a cup of white vinegar into the washing machine. Do not use any detergent.
  • Second washing cycle-Mix in a half-cup of baking soda.

Don't combine bleach and vinegar because the solution can produce poisonous fumes.

iii). Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil may be one of the most effective fungi and mold removal remedies. However, compared to other cleaning products, the oil may appear to be an expensive investment at first. Nonetheless, a small concentrated bottle is enough for many mold removal sessions.

Besides, the quality of this oil can vary from one brand to the next. As a result, ensure that the essential oil you buy is pure, not synthetic, and free of additives. Otherwise, you risk getting other kinds of oily stains on your moldy garments.

1. Mix-Mix a teaspoon of tea tree oil with a cup of hot water. Put the solution in a spray bottle.

2. Spray-Spray all over the moldy clothing, inside and out, on both sides.

3. Soak- Allow about 10 minutes for the mixture to work its magic before washing.

4. Wash- You can add the remaining bottle into your washer or hand-washing bucket. And if you don't like the smell of tea trees, we recommend replacing it with clove oil, which is also effective.

Take note: The Smell may be overpowering at first; however, it will fade after a few hours. Also, remember to keep the bottle out of reach of children and pets.

iv). Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide has antimicrobial and disinfectant properties. Besides, its use has shown great results in the fight against fungus. Usually, you can use it at a low dilution of about 3% to remove mold from clothes. Then, follow the same procedure as described for essential oils.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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