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:
- How do you remove mold stains?
- How do you remove mold from hats?
- How do you remove mold from a life jacket?
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.