Dealing with mold on clothes can be frustrating, but with the proper techniques and guidance, you can restore your garments to their clean and fresh state.

Here, we will provide step-by-step instructions on how to safely and efficiently remove mold from your clothing, ensuring that they are free from any mold spores and ready to be worn or stored.

From identifying the first signs of mold to using effective cleaning methods, we’ve got you covered. Say goodbye to moldy clothes and hello to a wardrobe that’s fresh and clean!

What Causes Mold on Clothes?

Several causes can lead to mold on clothes. Excessive moisture and humidity create the perfect breeding ground for mold spores to thrive and multiply. Improper storage and inadequate ventilation, such as tightly sealed containers or closets without air circulation, can contribute to mold growth. Swimsuits, in particular, are susceptible to mold due to their exposure to moisture and damp storage conditions.

Dirty or damp laundry provides nutrients for mold to grow, making it essential to thoroughly clean and dry clothes before storing them. Extended periods without washing or drying clothes increase the chances of mold infestation. Mold spores naturally exist in the environment and can settle on clothes, especially in areas with high mold concentrations or water damage.

Controlling humidity levels, ensuring proper ventilation, and allowing clothes to air out and dry before storing them long-term are essential to preventing mold from growing on clothes. Regularly washing and drying clothes, especially after exposure to moisture, also helps prevent mold growth. Additionally, maintaining a clean environment and practicing proper storage techniques can minimize the risk of mold spores developing into a full-blown mold problem on clothes.

Why Is Mold Dangerous?

Mold can pose significant health risks due to its ability to produce allergens and irritants. For many people, these substances can trigger reactions when inhaled or touched. The allergic responses to mold exposure often manifest as hay fever-type symptoms, including sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. However, individuals with asthma may experience more severe reactions.

People who are immune-compromised or have chronic lung disease also face additional risks when exposed to mold. For these individuals, mold spores can potentially lead to lung infections.

How to Prevent Mold in Clothes

Your most potent weapon in the battle against moldy clothing is prevention. Preventing mold from growing in clothes is essential for avoiding any nasty surprises. Following the tips below can help you significantly reduce the risk of mold infestation:

  1. Ensure clothes are completely dry before storing them: Moisture is the primary catalyst for mold growth. Make sure your clothes are thoroughly dry before putting them away.
  2. Store clothes in a well-ventilated area: Proper airflow is the key to preventing mold. When choosing a storage area, go for a well-ventilated spot that allows air to circulate around your clothes. Avoid storing them in tightly sealed containers or closets with poor ventilation, as these environments create a breeding ground for mold.
  3. Use moisture-absorbing products: Consider using moisture-absorbing products in your storage spaces, such as silica gel packets or moisture-absorbing packets. These products can help absorb excess moisture and keep the environment dry, reducing the chances of mold growth.
  4. Clean and dry clothes regularly: Regularly cleaning and drying your clothes is an effective preventive measure. Pay extra attention to damp or soiled items because these are more prone to mold development. Washing clothes with mold-killing additives like vinegar or tea tree oil can further inhibit mold growth.
  5. Use a dehumidifier in high-humidity areas: If you live in an area with consistently high humidity, using a dehumidifier can help regulate moisture levels. Dehumidifiers are particularly helpful in spaces like basements or laundry rooms, where moisture tends to accumulate.

How to Remove Mold From Clothes (Step-by-Step)

A person scrubbing clothes over a tub of soapy water.

If it’s too late, and you’ve already found mold on some of your favorite clothing and garments sitting in storage, the following steps will help you thoroughly clean your clothes and prevent further growth. Read on to learn how to remove mold from clothes step-by-step.

Supplies You Will Need 

The first thing you need to do is gather the supplies you will need. Fortunately, many of these items are likely somewhere in your home right now. To remove harmful mold from your clothing, you will need:

  • White vinegar or borax
  • Baking soda
  • Mild detergent
  • Clean cloth or sponge
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Sunlight or a well-ventilated area

Step 1: Brush and Remove Loose Mold Spores

If you discover mold on a piece of clothing, take action immediately. Start by inspecting nearby clothes for any signs of spores or mold growth. Once identified, gather all the moldy items together. Before you start, ensure your safety by wearing a mask and gloves.

Take the moldy garments to a well-ventilated area and open the windows to improve air circulation. It’s crucial to close any vents to prevent the spread of mold spores throughout the rest of the house.

To get mold out of clothes, use a soft-bristled brush to gently remove loose mold spores from the clothing. Then, prepare a solution by combining hot water and 1 cup of white vinegar in a bucket. Submerge the garments in this mixture and allow them to soak for one hour. Afterward, use the scrub brush to clean the stained areas on the clothing.

Step 2: Wash With Borax or Vinegar

To effectively remove mold from your clothes, you can use either Borax or white vinegar in the washing machine for a thorough cleaning.

Check the instructions on your laundry detergent and set the washing machine to a hot water cycle as directed. Hot water helps kill the mold and ensures a more effective cleaning process.

If you’re using Borax, refer to the instructions on the box and add the appropriate amount to the washing machine with your preferred laundry detergent. The Borax will aid in eliminating mold.

Alternatively, if you prefer to use vinegar, add your moldy clothes, laundry detergent, and 1-2 cups of vinegar (depending on the size of the load) to the washing machine. Vinegar acts as a natural mold-fighting agent.

Finally, start the washing machine and complete the cycle, ensuring the clothes are thoroughly washed and rinsed.

Tip: Add 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda to the load to help deodorize the clothing and eliminate lingering mold smells.

Step 3: Dry Clothes Completely Outside

Whenever possible, opt to dry your just-washed clothes outside. Choose a well-ventilated area that provides good air circulation. Avoid exposing the clothes directly to sunlight if possible, as it can cause fading of fabrics. Instead, find a shaded spot to hang or lay them out. The additional heat from the sun and air will aid in killing off any remaining mold and mildew on the clothes.

In cases where it’s not suitable to dry outside due to cloudy days or cooler seasons, use your dryer with the appropriate settings for your fabrics. Ensure you select the settings that thoroughly dry your clothing without damaging it. Keep in mind that warmer temperatures are more effective in killing mold. 

It is crucial to completely and thoroughly dry the clothes, as any lingering moisture on the garments can create an environment for mold to grow back.

Step 4: Do a Smell Check

Examine your clothes visually to ensure there are no visible signs of mold. Check all areas thoroughly, including seams, folds, and pockets.

Occasionally, mold may persist even after the first wash cycle. If you still notice any signs, repeat the previous cleaning steps as necessary. This may involve prolonging the presoaking time and scrubbing the fabric more vigorously to remove any remaining spores.

If there are no visible signs of mold, try smelling the garment. Pay close attention to any musty or earthy aromas, as they often indicate the presence of mold.

Let ZIPS Take Care of It

A ZIPS Cleaners employee providing outstanding customer service.

When addressing mold in clothes, prevention and swift action are the keys to getting the best results. Using the steps above, you can confidently attack mold head-on. And if you ever run into a stain that just won’t go away, consider getting help from the pros at ZIPS.

At ZIPS, we treat your garments with the utmost care to maximize their longevity and keep you looking your best every day of the year–hold the mold. Find a location near you, and let us take care of it today!