How to get rid of mold & mildew on clothes

Updated February 21, 2017

Clothes piled in the basement or wet clothes piled in a corner or left in a gym locker may have the musty smell of mould and mildew. Any clothing, which is in damp, dark and humid areas are likely to have mould. Mold is a fungus that causes mildew, a growth found on shower curtains, rugs, drapes, leather, wool, cotton, linen and silk. You can remove mould and mildew with a few products and help from the sun.

Take the clothes outside. Clothes that have mildew caused by mould can spread the spores to other clothes and fabrics. Brush off the mildew outside to avoid spores in the house. Hang the clothes in the sun and air for the day.

Wash the clothes in regular washing powder and borax. Do not put the clothes in the dryer. Hang them outside in the sun and air. For "dry clean only" clothes, take them to the dry cleaner's. You can try spot cleaning the clothes, but you risk creating stains.

Use lemon juice and salt. Moisten the stain with lemon juice. Then spread on table salt. Place the garments in the sun to dry. When the clothes are dry, rinse them thoroughly and hang them to dry again. It is important to avoid drying clothes in the dryer because that will set the stain.

Use chlorine bleach. For bleach safe clothes, mix 2 tbsp of bleach in 1 qt. of water. Sponge the stain or soak the stain for five to fifteen minutes. Rinse the article thoroughly. To stop further bleach action, mix 2 tbsp of vinegar in water and rinse the clothes again. Do not use bleach on silk or wool.

Clean leather. For leather clothing and shoes, wipe the leather with a moistened cloth of rubbing alcohol and water. Mix one part of rubbing alcohol to one part of water.


Store clothes, after washing, in a dry area. Place an open container of silica gel on the floor in the closet to absorb moisture.


Avoid storing clothes in the basement.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinegar
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Table salt
  • Washing powder
  • Lemon juice
  • Borax
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.