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How Can I Remove Mold Stains from Clothing?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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To remove mold stains from clothing, it's important to catch them as soon as possible. Mold stained clothes should be taken outside to prevent the spores from spreading, and the area where the clothing was stored should be cleaned and dried thoroughly. Leaving stained clothes outside in the heat and sun can help kill the mold. Washing the items in hot or warm water with detergent should remove any stains, although it may be necessary to pretreat the stain and wash the clothing several times. Making sure clothing is thoroughly dried and stored in a well ventilated space can also help prevent stains from forming in the first place.

Mold is a fungus that thrives on organic matter, and it appears in a wide variety of forms. Some molds are deliberately cultivated, to make cheeses and some antibiotics, for example. Other molds are unwanted and adore food, whether on the counter, inside the fridge, or smeared into carpeting and clothing. Molds are not photosynthetic — in fact, many molds are photosensitive and will die in bright light. They can form in a variety of environments, so mold stains, especially on clothing, can pop up with irritating frequency.

Stains can form when clothing is splashed with food or allowed to get wet and left somewhere warm and dark. When food spills occur, it is best to clean them immediately and wash the clothing before mold and the resultant mold stains can form. When laundry is done, make sure that all the clothing is completely dry before being folded away. Keep clothing in a well ventilated space, as well.

If mold stains have already set in, there are a number of steps to follow. Ideally, the mold stains should be caught as soon as possible, before the organism has had a chance to dig in. Bring the mold stained clothing outside and brush it out, to prevent spores from spreading around your home. Clothing that has been stored in proximity to the mold stained clothing should also be taken out and aired, and wiping down the shelf, drawer, or closet where the clothing was kept with a mild bleach solution will kill any spores floating in that environment.

The next step is to leave the clothing in the sun to dry out, because heat and sunlight kill many varieties of mold. Hang the clothing from a clothes line so that it remains well ventilated and the sunlight falls evenly across most of the garment. Mold stains will likely still remain, because fungus discolors fabric.

Presoak the mold stains in cold water, and then wash hot or warm with detergent. Check the garment before putting it in the dryer to make sure that the mold stains are gone, and wash it again if necessary. Drying the garment in the sun to kill any remaining spores is advised. If the mold stains persist, blot the area with a mild bleach solution, if possible, and launder it again. For colored fabrics, use a lemon juice and salt solution and rinse with cold water immediately.

Are Mold Stains on Clothes Dangerous? 

Mold stains on clothes can indeed be dangerous. Mold spores can cause allergic reactions in people that are uncomfortable and harmful, so it’s very important to deal with moldy clothing quickly and to avoid wearing it or handling it more than necessary until it's clean.

The effects of moldy clothing range from skin allergies and rashes to fever. The most common symptoms of mold exposure are respiratory problems like labored breathing and coughing. Over time, mold exposure can take a bad toll on your immune system and cause worsening health. Don't delay dealing with mold in your home when you find it.

Though it typically causes worse effects, black mold isn't the only kind of mold to be wary of; white mold can also be harmful! If you find mold of any kind on your clothing (or in other places in your home), it's important to identify what the cause of the mold is. It could be that your closet doesn't have enough airflow, or it could simply be that wet clothes were left in a pile. It's important to be diligent to take the necessary steps to get the mold out of your clothing as soon as possible.

Can You Wash Mold out of Clothes? 

Using the right products and methods, you can wash mold out of clothes and save the clothes for future use. It won't be enough to just throw them in the washing machine with the detergent you normally use. It takes cleaners that are made strong enough to kill mold to do so, and most cleaners of that kind can handle just about any type of mold.

Bleach 

The most common solution used to clean mold off of clothes (or any surface) is bleach. To use bleach, mix about a half cup each of water and bleach and spray the solution thoroughly on the moldy part of the clothing. Let it rest for about 10 minutes, and then wash it in a washing machine with hot water. You can also add bleach to the wash cycle if it still looks necessary.

Hydrogen Peroxide 

Another product you can use to get rid of mold is hydrogen peroxide. This is a household antiseptic solution that is commonly used to clean small scrapes and cuts. To use hydrogen peroxide on your moldy clothes, douse the moldy area in it and let it sit for about twenty minutes. Then rinse it and wash it in a washing machine with hot water.

One thing to keep in mind when using hydrogen peroxide is that it can also dull your colored clothes. Before using too much of it, try putting just a little bit on the moldy clothing to see how much of an effect it has on the color.

Keep in mind that some products (such as bleach) can also cause irritation if you don't handle them safely. Your own allergies and experience with such products should be a factor in what you choose to use. You should always wear gloves and a mask when cleaning mold out of clothes to minimize your direct contact with it. For the same reason, if you are cleaning the clothes by hand, try to clean them in an open space.

Does Sunlight Kill Mold?

Sunlight is a natural mold deterrent and can kill mold with enough direct exposure. This is because of the nature and strength of the UV rays that the sun emits. However, using direct sunlight alone is not a recommended method of removing mold from clothing.

It is best to utilize a strong cleaning method (like those covered above) first. After the clothes are clean, putting them outside in direct sunlight can be a great way to fortify them against mold returning while also drying them at the same time.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon989070 — On Feb 17, 2015

I have a professional company deal with all my mold related issues. These tips helped me remove mold on my son's clothes easily, when I couldn't find any other way to get rid of it.

By anon930404 — On Feb 04, 2014

What natural ingredients or substance will help me remove mold from a silk pillowcase? I handwashed it several times in hot water and even soaked it in vinegar but it's not coming out. I'm severely allergic to chemicals so can't use bleach. No I can't go to a laundromat and I don't have anyone to help. I need to do it at home (no washing machine). Please advise.

By anon359868 — On Dec 21, 2013

I have a white dress molded with black spots all over. I tried salt and lemon juice, green bar, vanish soaking, washing, etc. Nothing worked. Thanks to all the posts above about the miltons I went to buy a bottle today. I just soaked it for a few hours and the mold and marks are gone. Thanks for the tip. It really worked.

By anon336113 — On May 26, 2013

The mold cloth stain happened to me when I forgot to was my swim wear immediately. The smell was bad and I had to soak it in fabric conditioner for odor removal.

By anon327065 — On Mar 26, 2013

How can I clean mold / mildew from wood in front windows in my caravan? It's also on the curtains.

By anon321889 — On Feb 25, 2013

I had mold spots stained onto a white pram liner and had tried everything to get it clean - washing in normal washing gel, soaking in stain remover then washing, treating with salt and lemon, treating with a bleach solution, all sorts to no avail. Read this set of posts and bought myself some Milton solution. I've soaked it overnight and it's worked! Will wash it out thoroughly but I am very pleased with result!

By anon318628 — On Feb 08, 2013

The only thing that removed the mold stain in my son's shirt was a carbona product.

By anon290757 — On Sep 11, 2012

Milton's is diluted bleach. You can make your own by diluting bleach 1:5 with water (1 part bleach with 4 parts water).

By anon290400 — On Sep 09, 2012

I had a T-shirt which had little black mold spots on it and I thought it was ruined. I soaked the spots with lemon juice concentrate and laid the t-shirt in the sun. Then I washed as usual in the laundry. I couldn't believe my eyes, the spots were gone!

By anon287359 — On Aug 25, 2012

Is there any solution for clothes? Is Milton sterilizer safe on clothes? What about baking soda or washing clothes with borax?

By anon287358 — On Aug 25, 2012

How much lemon juice and water to a 13 FL OZ (384 ML. bottle?

By anon220593 — On Oct 08, 2011

I just bought Milton tablets here in the US on Amazon.com, sold by a UK company for $18.50 with free shipping. While it's ridiculously expensive for what it is, at least I get to try it. Since we don't know what the concentration of hydrogen peroxide is in the product, I just wanted to be on the safe side and use Milton instead of diluting H2O2 myself since I'm using it on my daughter's bright, dark pink onesie. I also had left it in the plastic bag from daycare after she slobbered saliva all over it. Didn't realize mold would grow on it!

Thanks so much to all those who posted positive results with Milton. Btw, Milton is great for sterilizing bottles, nipples, toys, or whatever, in just 15 minutes, so it won't go to waste! No need to even rinse out the Milton from bottles/nipples before use. It's safe enough to use right away (which tells you how dilute the H2O2 must be). And the solution remains active for 24 hours for repeated use.

By anon183505 — On Jun 05, 2011

I tried everything to bring a car seat cover off a baby seat up spotless and to get the black spots off and milton worked great. I'm so happy now.

By anon179998 — On May 25, 2011

I have a bright red silk prom dress which is dry clean only, which was left in the attic after a flood for month which must have got damp, after taking it to dry cleaners, who were scared to death of taking on the challenge, i decided to have a go at cleaning it myself, i have read this forum and have purchased some milton sterilising fluid! i am about to give it a soak, will keep you all informed of how my experience turns out! Wish me luck!

By anon174483 — On May 10, 2011

Had a new white polo shirt develop mold spots in many places. Washing in hot water got about half out. Thought about it for awhile and decided to try soaking it in hydrogen peroxide. All but two spots were gone after a week. I replaced the h2o2 and let it sit another week. The rest of the stains were gone after the second week. I used about half to 3/4 of a quart of h2o2 in a stainless steel mixing bowl, added the shirt getting it soaked. Then put plastic wrap on to to keep it from evaporating and put a couple of magazines on top to block the light. Then put it out of the way. I used the magazines because the h2o2 comes in a brown bottle, so I figured the light might reduce it's efficiency. I have no idea what it might do to colored fabric. Time is your friend. Just remember to check it every so often.

By anon167817 — On Apr 14, 2011

why only the black color garment kept packed inside a polybag inside the container got the fungal issue, where all the other colors, this problem was not observed?

By anon160325 — On Mar 15, 2011

my dresses have mold on them i washed them but the mold is still there. should i use milton? my dresses cost a lot of money, 470 in total. i don't want to throw them out. can anyone help?

By anon154543 — On Feb 21, 2011

Is the Milton solution safe to use on a wool coat? It is dry clean only but has quite a lot of mold patches.

By anon150799 — On Feb 08, 2011

Removing mold stains for lawn furniture that I found that works best is Simple Green. I think you can buy that almost anywhere!

By anon147653 — On Jan 30, 2011

Is Milton's baby sterilising fluid okay to be used on coloured garments?

By anon145809 — On Jan 24, 2011

I need to clean the mold stains off a swag. The camping store recommended vinegar solution but that didn't work very well.

I've just used an oil of cloves solution to kill the spores but the stains still remain.

Has anyone used milton solution for canvas tents or swags?

How can you treat such a bulky item?

By anon142781 — On Jan 14, 2011

For all those that asked, Milton sterilising liquid is usually used to sterilize babies' bottles, teats etc. I don't know if you can get it in the States, but give a similar product a go.

I am going to give this a try as I have a couple of mold stained items.

By anon128432 — On Nov 19, 2010

Is this liquid sold in the U.S. (Washington state in particular)? I would love to have a few bottles as it sounds like amazing stuff and with children it's always a surprise, the things I find!

By anon123264 — On Nov 01, 2010

Where can you buy Milton's sanitizer in the USA. I live in the San Francisco bay area. I would like to use the product on old theatrical costumes which can't be washed and smell of mold. Can I spray the product directly on to the costumes to remove the smell?

By anon117011 — On Oct 08, 2010

Thanks to the Milton suggestion, folks! Like others who've already posted, I had tried a range of products but nothing works to remove the entire stain. I've only been to find Milton tablets, not liquid (in NZ), but they work a treat - soaked overnight and my curtain linings & outdoor umbrella cover all look like new. Amazing!

By anon109971 — On Sep 10, 2010

I have tried the Oil o Cloves trick (available from Woolies in Australia) on two white cushion covers from an outside settee. So far, no real result - and this is after washing them both twice with stain remover in with the powder and pre-wash remover beforehand. I guess it's time to buy Milton!

By anon107410 — On Aug 30, 2010

Our four year old son's car seat, moses basket, etc. were cleaned and put into our attic. When I took it down to prepare for our new arrival, the moses basket and strap of car seat were covered in unsightly mold! We were shocked as they were not cheap. I tried white vinegar and faded them a bit.

As a last resort prior to buying new, I just tried Milton Sterilising fluid. I put 4-5 capfuls in a washing up bowl and soaking worked wonders. All the stains totally gone! and cheap at £1-90 a bottle!

By anon105782 — On Aug 22, 2010

Miltons Baby Sanitizer solution has worked wonders for my curtains. Thank you for the suggestion.

Despite being in Australia and having strong sunshine in the summer months, winter time in the far southern states is cold and damp. The block out lining of my very expensive made to measure curtains were covered in mold and mildew from ground to knee height.

I had tried all sorts of stain removers, I had previously tried bleach on the old curtains to no avail, nothing would shift the mold.

I have heard that oil of cloves will kill the mold, however despite searching I cannot find anywhere that sells or even knows of oil of cloves!

Curtains look like new, and it only took a few hours of soaking in Miltons!

By anon104757 — On Aug 18, 2010

I have never been able to get mold stains out of fabric and this year all the cushion covers on my outdoor daybed and outdoor furniture chairs had mold on it.

I followed the instructions of another comment here and filled up my laundry sink with approx 40-degree celsius water and added two capfuls of Milton Sterilising Solution for every three litres of water and even the heavy mold has disappeared within hours. Thank you.

By anon104467 — On Aug 16, 2010

Impressed with the Milton. Tried it on my daughter's cardigan and it got the last of the staining out -- not a spot left on it. Napisan had already done most of the work though. Big thank you to the person who posted on here originally with the tip!

By anon104211 — On Aug 15, 2010

I used to try and wash the mold stain out, then if it didn't come out ditch the item in the bin - which is every time because mold never comes out.

Just found one of my daughter's knitted cardigans with mold after lying on top of a damp towel at the bottom of the laundry pile. I have rinsed it in hot water and napisan now am going to try the Milton. Fingers crossed.

By anon100446 — On Jul 30, 2010

Milton Sterilizing fluid. I swear by this. It works on colours. I just soaked a buggy cover that was badly covered in mold. It's like magic. It all vanished before my eyes. I will use this on everything. It's very handy for mums with messy tots! And cheap, too.

By anon96062 — On Jul 14, 2010

where can i find this Milton Sterlizing Tablet? I looked at Walmart and Babies R Us. Is this only in the UK?

By anon75450 — On Apr 06, 2010

I have eight full size layout garden chair cushions bought at the end of last season and put into the garage for storage.

They have gone black with mold - any suggestions anyone other than finding a large rubbish bin??

Many thanks for any suggestions. --Kelsea

By anon64286 — On Feb 06, 2010

Does anyone have any ideas to get rid of mold stains on a dry clean only silk dress? Unfortunately mold grew on the inside of my wardrobe and it has discolored the fabric from pink to white! Much appreciated

By anon61574 — On Jan 21, 2010

Thank you. I used the milton sterilising tablet and soaked my t-shirt in it and wow! The mold stains are gone for good. Thank you again for the advice.

By anon55060 — On Dec 04, 2009

Bleach is very aggressive and can damage both the color and the texture of fabrics. If it is just the stain, dilute bicarbonate soda in warm water and either soak the fabric in it or leave it on the stain (sprinkle the soda on it and wet it with a few drops of warm water).

Should your clothes smell really bad, I suggest vinegary water. It will also brighten up the colours and will not smell of vinegar at all.

By anon54161 — On Nov 27, 2009

I have a couple of seat pads for chairs which were unfortunately left out for a few months, so they now have mold on the edges and I would like to know how to get rid of this.

By anon50357 — On Oct 28, 2009

The Milton sterilizer is fantastic! Thanks guys for the helpful tips. I had a calico crinoline (hoop skirt) that i got given to me for work and it had rather large black mold stains on it. i soaked it in hot water with nappy san and detergent, used sard soap, a stain remover spay, and vanish duo and none of these helped at all, so i tried the miltons after all of that and it took them right out with ease. you could even see it start to fade the stain while you watched. i soaked it overnight and by morning they were all pretty much gone and the crinoline was nice and bright! Thanks again. Happy milton soaker!

By anon49502 — On Oct 21, 2009

Oil of cloves will kill the mold spores. Dilute a few drops in water first then spray. Use bicarb of soda/water paste if you need to clean the mold off as well.

By anon49064 — On Oct 17, 2009

Mold is growing in my apartment on my clothes, and shoes. the beds are moist furniture is moist. what do i do?

By anon37908 — On Jul 22, 2009

what is milton and where can i find it and is it powder or liquid? thank you.

By anon35548 — On Jul 06, 2009

I tried all the methods I could find to remove a really old, bad mold stain from a cushion. In the end it was Milton which removed it easily. I added a lot of Milton to warm water, and the cushion did fade to a slightly lighter color but it faded evenly so I wasn't bothered. If you have something and you really don't want the color to change, dilute the Milton lots and leave for a long soak.

By LadyMichiru — On Mar 14, 2009

I own a pink underskirt which was left in the washing machine after washing, while I had a short stint in the hospital.

When I returned, the underskirt had yellow stains on it.

I re-washed it & hung it on the line, but I was also thinking about soaking it in white bleach.

Would this remove the stains permanently ?

Kind Regards,

Princess Michiru

By anon17952 — On Sep 11, 2008

My wife was about to throw away our toddlers new dress as mold had developed when a damp cloth had laid on it for a few weeks.

We tried washing it few times but to no avail. After looking for a few tips on the web (not much help there as sun here in the UK is a rare commodity), I tried 2 cap full of Milton baby Sterilising fluid in about 3 or 4 lt of water and let the dress soak overnight. Next day clean as a whistle, all mold stains gone and no visible loss in color of the dress itself (a very colorful toddlers dress).

Hope this helps anyone else. Cheers, Wallis

By anon14180 — On Jun 11, 2008

FYI, bleach is really only an effective mold killer on hard non-porous surfaces (like countertops and tiles). Borate based cleansers (like Borax) kill mold and also prevent mold from forming.

By anon10312 — On Mar 24, 2008

I have a hand quilted cotton baby blanket that has a white background with primary colored figures on it. It was full of of old, set, mildew stains which I had tried everything to remove then washed and dried the blanket in the dryer. The stains were set, and made unusable this favorite baby blanket I had wanted to make into a remembrance gift for my grown son. With nothing to lose, I sprayed X-14 Mildew Stain Remover with Bleach on the stains and they disappeared without affecting the color.

By bigmetal — On Feb 06, 2008

mold stains are frustrating, and from experience, i've never been able to get them out of clothing. i didn't realize that the spores could spread even after washing--unless it's a small, hidden area, you probably should just throw the item away.

By bobbunit — On Feb 06, 2008

I did that too!

Now im curious.

By mommy — On Oct 30, 2007

my daughter's shirt grew a lot of fungus after it lay forgotten in a plastic bag from daycare. i washed the surface fungus with hot water and handwashing soap in the bathroom, then threw it in the washing machine with the rest of her clothes. i ran the machine twice, with regular detergent, first in cold water, then in warm water. then i dried the entire load in high heat. have i contaminated all of the clothes in the load? do i need to treat the shirt or the other clothes with an anti-mold remedy? if she has worn any of the clothes from that load, is there anything to worry about?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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