Mildew can easily grow on clothes and other fabrics in the right conditions. You’ll usually find mildew and mold growing on clothes made from organic fabric like cotton in moist environments. So, it’s not unusual to find mildew on clothes and blankets that are stored in moist basements or on damp towels that are forgotten about after swimming.
The smell of mildew is bad enough, but it can also leave unsightly stains. Although it may be tempting to simply throw out mildewed fabrics, you may not have to.
Try these ways to remove mildew from clothes and other fabrics.
Bleach can be a harsh chemical, but it can also be an effective way to remove mildew from clothes and other fabrics. Since chlorine bleach can remove color from fabrics, this is typically only an option for white fabrics. However, you may have some luck with color-safe bleach on some fabrics. Make sure you read the clothing label to determine whether it’s safe to use bleach, and only use it as directed. Don’t use bleach directly on fabrics, since this can seriously damage them. Instead, use a solution of bleach and water or add a cup to your washing machine.
Many people have had great luck when using Oxyclean to remove mildew from clothes. Try using a paste of Oxyclean and water directly on tough mildew spots. You can also add some Oxyclean to your washing machine when washing mildewed items.
Vinegar is a great all-around stain and odor buster. Mix a solution of one part vinegar with one part water and soak mildewed clothes in it. You can also add a generous splash of vinegar to your washing machine. The vinegar smell will be a little strong when the fabric is still wet, but don’t worry. It will disappear once the fabric is dry, as will the mildew smell.
A strong solution of borax and water can also be used to remove mildew from clothes. Completely dissolve two cups of borax in two quarts of hot water and apply it directly to the mildewed areas. For very tough mildew stains, you might also have to soak the item in a solution of borax and water.
5. Hydrogen Peroxide
If you need to remove mildew from clothes, you may need to reach no farther than your medicine chest. Try blotting hydrogen peroxide directly onto mildewed fabric after it has been washed.
Before you try any of the ways to remove mildew from clothes and fabrics listed above, it’s important to make sure that it won’t damage the fabric. Do a spot test on an inconspicuous area before applying anything or soaking a piece of clothing in any type of solution.
Don’t be too quick to toss a washed mildewed piece of clothing in the dryer as well. Double check to make sure that the stains are completely gone, since the heat from the drier can set the stains, making them impossible to remove later.