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How to Remove Mold from Clothes

Moldy sweater or a shirt? That blows. Especially if it’s the one you planned to wear for that friend’s birthday or an upcoming date night.

Yup, we get it, it sucks. But now the only thing we can focus on is determining whether or not your moldy clothes can be kept or not and then, if you can save your clothes, how to remove mold and prevent it from affecting your clothing again.

So, let’s not waste any time. Content table:

  1. Why Mold Grows on Clothes
  2. Can You Preserve Your Clothing
  3. How to Remove Mold from Clothing
  4. How to Prevent Mold from Growing Back on Your Clothes
  5. Conclusion

So, let’s get it!

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Why Mold Grows on Clothes

Many clothing items are made out of cotton. Cotton, as you know, is an organic material containing cellulose, which provides plenty of nutrients that mold can eat and get energy from.

Cellulose is a complex carbohydrate and while it’s contents are not useful to humans or many animals for energy, cellulose serves as a source of nutrition for many types of mold.

These molds produce enzymes, such as cellulases, which can break down the cellulose into simpler sugars like glucose. These sugars can then be used by the mold as an energy source for growth.

This is why we don’t eat cotton while molds do.

Jokes aside, now you know why mold eats cotton. The next thing you have to know is where mold even comes from.

“Mold” that we know of is actually a group of colonies made up of mold spores that landed on a wet surface. These mold spores are usually airborne and don’t present much of a threat.

But when a particular organic area gets wet, these spores land on it and form these colonies, usually of darker colors.

Moisture combined with organic matter equals mold.

This moisture can come from poor ventilation (not uncommon for closets), overused humidifiers, or water damage from leaks or floods.

Can You Preserve Moldy Clothing

This is the typical “it depends” question. Yes, moldy clothing can be saved, but only to an extent.

The enzymes released by mold can break down the fibers of the fabric and weaken it. This can result in fabric becoming brittle, thinning, or even developing holes. If the mold has eaten up most of your fabric, then there’s very little you can do.

Also, mold often produces pigmented substances that can cause very strong stains on clothing. These stains can be challenging to remove, particularly if they have penetrated deep into the fabric.

If you manage to successfully remove mold, you may still be left with holes or bad smells. But it’s still worth a shot because, in many cases, it’s still doable. Here’s how. 

How to Remove Mold from Clothing

Prepare white vinegar for this duty. It’s a great product for killing mold.

You don’t want to use wine or apple vinegar, as those contain sugar, which mold can absorb and use as an energy source.

The first step in the cleaning process is removing visible mold stains. You can use an old toothbrush. Make sure to apply vinegar to all the stains you’re brushing off.

What you can do is mix water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Test a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration before you go all in.

Once you’re done, wash your clothes in hot water as long as the temperature is under the maximum temperature recommended for washing on your item’s label. Add vinegar to your washer in order to kill any mold you couldn’t brush off. 

And that’s it! 

Avoid using a dryer, as heat can set up any remaining mold stains. Instead, air-dry your clothing outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Sunlight also provides natural disinfection properties and helps with odors.

If the process doesn’t work, try again. It may take multiple tries to see results. 

White vinegar will also help mitigate that musty smell produced by mold.

Get a Professional Mold Removal Quote Nationwide!

As soon as you call the number below, you’ll be connected with a professional restoration company in your area. Free, with no advertising or commitment.

How to Prevent Mold from Growing Back on Your Clothes

So, now that you’ve removed mold from your clothes, it’s time to permanently prevent it from coming back.

Ventilate Your Closet

This is where it all began and where it all ends. Ventilating your closet is crucial for maintaining fresh and dry clothing.

Start by thoroughly cleaning and decluttering the space. Remove unnecessary items to create more room for air circulation. Take the time to clean the walls, shelves, and floor of the closet to get rid of dust and any other debris.

Consider using breathable storage containers for items like shoes or accessories. These containers allow air to circulate, preventing moisture buildup. If your closet lacks natural ventilation, installing a ventilation fan can be a practical solution.

Moisture-absorbing products, such as silica gel packets or desiccant bags, can be placed inside the closet to control humidity. Consider using activated charcoal or open boxes of baking soda in the closet to absorb odors and keep the air fresh.

If your closet is really prone to high humidity, a small dehumidifier can help.

And yeah, other than that, leave your doors open and rotate your clothes now and then to ventilate your closet and you should be good. 

Ease Off the Humidifer

If you’re using a humidifier and experienced moldy clothes, perhaps you could use it a bit less than usual from now on.

Test and see if this works for you. There’s no need to get a dehumidifier if you can just turn off your humidifier.

It’s like getting ear plugs when you could just mute your speakers.

Mitigate Any Leaks

This is now where we slowly step into a completely different topic – water damage.

Most readers of this sweet blog won’t be struggling with a leak, because you’d likely know of it already.

Leaks don’t just show their faces through moldy clothes. You’d also be noticing dark spots on your walls, wallpaper peeling off, and perhaps even wall cracks. The moldy clothing would be the least of your worries.

Read our in-depth guide on water mitigation to see how to do this from A to Z.

A wrap up

That sums it up! Hopefully, this post was helpful enough for you to take some action and get rid of mold from your clothing. Need help with more serious mold problems? Use RepairSprout to find a mold removal pro near you today!

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