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How Can I Remove Mildew on Clothes?

To remove mildew from clothes, start by brushing off any loose spores. Soak the garments in a mixture of hot water and vinegar, then launder as usual with a robust detergent. For persistent stains, apply a paste of lemon juice and salt before washing. Curious about preventing mildew in the first place? Discover more in our comprehensive guide to fabric care.
C. Daw
C. Daw

To remove mildew on clothes, and the smell that is associated with it, can be a difficult task. The longer that the mildew is allowed to stay on the clothes, the harder it is to get off. Numerous detergents and stain removers can be found on the market that will remove it, but there are various home solutions that will work just as well. Baking soda, vinegar, bleach, and direct sunlight will remove the mildew stains and smells from most clothing without having the expense of specialized cleaners.

Direct sunlight is one of the best solutions when trying to remove mildew on clothes. Mildew is a living spore, similar to mold, that grows in typically hot, humid environments. The sunlight will effectively kill the mildew and the smells because the direct heat will change the humidity level of the clothes. A change in humidity will effectively kill every strain of mildew, and most of the time will eliminate the odor that is caused. This method of mildew removal works well before washing, as well as after washing if the clothes are allowed to dry while hanging.

The longer mildew stays on clothes, the more difficult it is to remove it.
The longer mildew stays on clothes, the more difficult it is to remove it.

Vinegar is also a common solution to remove mildew on clothes. When using this home solution, allow the washer to begin filling up with warm water and then add a detergent cap full of vinegar. Allow the clothes to soak in this mixture for an hour and a half before draining the mixture from the washer. Place the temperature selector on cold, add laundry detergent, and wash using a normal cycle.

Hanging clothes in direct sunlight after washing will eliminate any mildew smell.
Hanging clothes in direct sunlight after washing will eliminate any mildew smell.

Baking soda is another great way to remove mildew on clothes. Since the mildew smells are the first sign that the majority of people notice when realizing that a mildew problem is present, baking soda should be used as a final rinsing method. To accomplish this, wash the clothes one more time on a regular cycle with the temperature adjustment set on cold, and add a full cup of baking soda into the machine. If possible, allow the clothes to hang-dry in direct sunlight, which will almost guarantee that all of the mildew smells disappear.

Adding baking soda to the washing machine can help remove mildew from clothes.
Adding baking soda to the washing machine can help remove mildew from clothes.

The final way that mildew can be removed from clothing is by using bleach. A mixture of two caps of bleach to a full spray bottle should be sprayed on the infected area. Scrub the spot with a brush to work the solution into the clothes, and then wash in a normal cycle with cold water. If the clothing is colored, then substitute regular bleach for color safe bleach.

A mixture of bleach in a full spray bottle may be used to remove mildew from clothing.
A mixture of bleach in a full spray bottle may be used to remove mildew from clothing.

When dealing with the challenging task of removing mildew on clothes, you might find the convenience of detergent sheets to be a valuable solution. These sheets offer a simple yet effective way to combat mildew stains and odors. While home remedies like baking soda, vinegar, bleach, and sunlight can be effective, using the best detergent sheets can streamline the process and provide consistent results.

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Discussion Comments

Sporkasia

@Feryll - Try buying some of the small closet dehumidifiers. You can buy the small ones that simply sit on a shelf or on the floor, or you can buy the ones that are bags attached to hangers, and you can hang them like you hang a shirt or a pair of pants. These dehumidifiers have little balls or pellets that absorb moisture. The moisture then collects in the bottom of the container.

I like these because I can see just how much moisture they are removing from the air as the water collects in the container. And using them is much simpler than using an electric dehumidifier, and removing the moisture is much simpler than removing mildew or mold from your clothing.

Feryll

Up until I moved into my new house, I hadn't had any issues with mold or mildew in any of the places where I lived. I have walked into plenty of old or closed up houses and had that mildew smell almost overpower me, but I had no first hand experience with it.

Anyway, I was getting dressed one day and I walked into my closet to get a pair of pants. I picked a pair I hadn't worn in a couple of months. Once I got them on, I noticed a couple of little black spots that wouldn't just brush off.

When I looked more closely, I saw a good bit of mildew growing on one of the front pockets of the pants. I was planning to throw them away until I found a second pair of pants in the same condition. My wardrobe isn't big enough that I can afford to discard two pairs of nice pants without making an effort to save them.

Now that I have read this article and have a few tips for removing mildew from clothing, I also need to find a way to avoid the mildew in the first place.

Animandel

I should have known that vinegar would be a way to remove mildew and mildew smells from clothes. whenever you have a question about cleaning or health remedies the answer is vinegar 90 percent of the time, or at least this seems to be the case.

I tried washing the mildew out of a set of curtains, but after several washes the smell remained. I will definitely try the vinegar and then maybe hang the curtains outside on a line to dry in the sun.

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    • The longer mildew stays on clothes, the more difficult it is to remove it.
      By: adisa
      The longer mildew stays on clothes, the more difficult it is to remove it.
    • Hanging clothes in direct sunlight after washing will eliminate any mildew smell.
      By: Janis Smits
      Hanging clothes in direct sunlight after washing will eliminate any mildew smell.
    • Adding baking soda to the washing machine can help remove mildew from clothes.
      By: mady70
      Adding baking soda to the washing machine can help remove mildew from clothes.
    • A mixture of bleach in a full spray bottle may be used to remove mildew from clothing.
      By: mikebraune
      A mixture of bleach in a full spray bottle may be used to remove mildew from clothing.