Removing Mildew from Clothing

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Home improvement

Mildew is a problem that can occur in any damp environment, such as closet doors, dresser drawers, and garment bags. If left untreated, it can produce a musty odor that is both unpleasant and harmful to our health. There are several ways to remove mildew from clothing, but it may require some effort and time.

One method involves using a lemon and table salt to make a paste that is rubbed into the affected area. Once the paste has dried, the garment can be dried in direct sunlight. This process may need to be repeated until the mildew is gone. Another method involves using a mixture of water and vinegar to soak the garment, while a third method involves using borax to make a solution that is rubbed into the mildewed area and then soaked for several hours.

For tough stains, bleach can be used, but it should be handled with care to avoid damaging the clothing. It is recommended to first rub a small amount of powdered detergent on the affected area, then wash the garment in hot water with chlorine bleach, if the label allows. If not, a solution of oxygen bleach can be used instead.

Health Risks of Mildew

Prolonged exposure to mold and mildew can have serious consequences for your health and wellbeing, causing a range of ailments such as throat irritation, nasal congestion, and skin rashes. It is important to regularly inspect clothing for mildew stains and treat them promptly to avoid any potential health risks associated with prolonged exposure.

Infants, children, pregnant women, immune-compromised patients, the elderly, and those with existing respiratory conditions are at high risk for health issues related to mildew. People with a history of respiratory problems should avoid damp areas, which are breeding grounds for mold and mildew, especially those with chronic lung illnesses like asthma, sleep apnea, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Inhaling large quantities of spores can cause health problems due to mold and mildew. The Institute of Medicine found a possible link between mold exposure and upper respiratory problems in a 2004 study. When exposed to mold spores, people with asthma appeared to suffer from exacerbated symptoms. Even healthy participants exposed to mold and mildew-infested areas experienced coughing and wheezing. The Institute of Medicine also found limited evidence linking mold exposure to respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.

To remove mildew from clothes, extreme heat is often used, but it can cause damage to fibers and fading over time. Mildew thrives in damp, wet places like basements, attics, and closed closets. Therefore, clothing should be kept as clean and dry as possible at all times. Grease or soiled spots on clothes encourage mildew growth, so dirty clothes should not be left on the floor or in the washing machine. Paradichlorobenzene crystals, used most commonly in mothballs, can prevent mildew growth where clothing is stored. To prevent mildew, excess moisture must be eliminated from the home. Mildew grows on cellulose-based materials like cotton, linen, silk, leather, and wool, but synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon are usually resistant to mildew. When a garment is beyond repair, it’s best to throw it away to avoid health issues related to mildew.

FAQs about the Smell of Mildew

Is the smell of mildew dangerous?

Mildew can pose health risks, such as respiratory problems like congestion, wheezing, throat irritation, and headaches, according to FEMA. Exposure to mildew for an extended period can cause severe symptoms.

What does mildew smell like?

The odor of mildew is damp, strong, and musty, similar to the scent of decaying wood or dirty socks. These unpleasant smells arise from microbes that release them as they reproduce and develop.

How can I eliminate mildew?

Combine one part bleach with three parts water. Then, soak a sponge in the mixture and apply it to mildew-infected areas. Always use protective gear, such as face masks and gloves, when handling hazardous bacteria.

Does vinegar eradicate mildew?

Vinegar is safe for humans but toxic to mildew. To kill mildew, dampen a sponge with undiluted vinegar and apply it to the affected area. Allow the solution to sit for several hours before scrubbing it with the sponge.

Can mildew be fatal?

Mildew exposure is rarely fatal for healthy individuals. However, individuals with compromised immune systems and pre-existing health conditions are at risk of severe illness when exposed to mildew.

Additional Information

Related Articles

  • Effortless Shower Cleaning Methods
  • Cleaning the Unwanted Areas
  • Maintaining a Fresh Bathroom
  • Are Mothballs Harmful to Humans?


  • 20 Mule Team Borax. “Product Info.” (April 18, 2012)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Facts about Mold and Dampness.” July 13, 2009. (Apr. 17, 2012)
  • Cornell University. “Paradichlorobenzene (PDB) Chemical Profile 1/85.” (April 26, 2012)
  • Eubank, Wanda. “How to Prevent and Remove Mildew — Home Methods.” University of Missouri Extension. April 1998. (April 16, 2012)
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency. “Dealing With Mold and Mildew in your Flood Damaged Home.” (April 16, 2012)
  • Reader’s Digest. “Mildew Cleaning Solutions.” 2012. (April 16, 2012)
  • Zyrtec. “Indoor Allergies.” (April 16, 2012)|mkwid|s8jACqzd2|pcrid|3733435683


1. What is mildew and how does it get on clothes?

Mildew is a type of fungus that grows in damp, warm, and poorly ventilated areas. It can attach itself to clothes that are left wet for too long, stored in damp areas, or not properly dried after washing. Mildew stains are typically black, gray or green and have a musty odor.

2. Can mildew be removed from clothes?

Yes, mildew can be removed from clothes with the right treatment and cleaning methods. However, it is important to act quickly as mildew can spread and cause permanent damage to the fabric.

3. What are some home remedies for removing mildew from clothes?

Vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide are popular home remedies for removing mildew from clothes. You can soak the affected area in a solution of vinegar and water or sprinkle baking soda on the stain before washing. Hydrogen peroxide can be used to treat tougher stains, but should be diluted with water.

4. Can bleach be used to remove mildew stains?

Bleach can be effective in removing mildew stains, but it should be used with caution as it can cause discoloration or damage to certain fabrics. It is important to read the care label before using bleach and to always dilute it properly.

5. Are there any commercial products available for removing mildew stains?

Yes, there are many commercial products available for removing mildew stains, such as mildew removers, stain removers, and laundry detergents specifically designed for mildew. It is important to follow the instructions on the product label and to test on a small, inconspicuous area before using on the entire garment.

6. How can mildew be prevented from getting on clothes?

To prevent mildew from getting on clothes, it is important to always dry clothes completely before storing them, avoid leaving wet clothes in a pile, and ensure that your laundry area is well ventilated. Clothes should also be stored in a dry, cool, and well-ventilated area to prevent moisture buildup.

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