How to clean mold & mildew from fabric

Written by kimbry parker
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How to clean mold & mildew from fabric
The sun is a natural mould and mildew killer. (laundry image by samantha grandy from

If you notice black or green spots on your clothing or fabric, it is likely mould or mildew. Mold and mildew are types of fungi that grow in moist, dark places. Mold and mildew on fabric are not only unsightly, but they can eventually eat away at the fabric. It is important to remove fabric mould and mildew promptly, because it will spread further over the fabric if left untreated.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Scrub brush
  • Spray bottle
  • Vinegar
  • Washing powder
  • Lemon juice
  • Table salt
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Bucket
  • 2 to 3 squirts liquid dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Rags
  • 1 cup denatured alcohol

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    Washable Fabric

  1. 1

    Brush off as much mould and mildew as possible with a dry scrub brush. Do this outdoors if possible to avoid spreading mould spores.

  2. 2

    Fill an empty spray bottle with equal parts white vinegar and water. Saturate the mouldy fabric with the vinegar solution and let it sit for five minutes.

  3. 3

    Fill your washing machine to the smallest load setting using the hottest water allowed for the fabric. Add 1 cup of vinegar to the water and place the mouldy fabric inside. Let it soak for two hours before adding washing powder and washing the fabric as usual.

  4. 4

    Allow the fabric to air-dry in the sun after washing and inspect it for any traces of the mould or mildew.

  5. 5

    Pour lemon juice onto the stain if the mould or mildew persists. Sprinkle table salt onto the lemon juice and rub it in with your fingers. Lay the fabric in the sun to dry.

  6. 6

    Rinse thoroughly with water and wash the fabric as usual in the hottest water allowed for the fabric.

    Non-Washable Fabric and Upholstery

  1. 1

    Brush the fabric with a dry scrub brush to remove loose mould and mildew. Take the fabric outside to brush it off, if possible. If the mould or mildew is on upholstery, run a vacuum cleaner hose over the area to further suck up loose mould and mildew. Discard the vacuum bag promptly.

  2. 2

    Make sure the fabric is as dry as possible. Use rags to absorb moisture, or turn on a fan or electric heater.

  3. 3

    Fill a bucket with 1 gallon of warm water. Add two to three squirts of mild dish soap and use your hands to form thick suds.

  4. 4

    Dip a sponge into the bucket to scoop out the suds. Scrub the stained fabric with the sponge and soap suds, using as little of the actual water as possible. Wipe with a clean, damp rag.

  5. 5

    Alternate scrubbing with the soap suds and wiping the fabric with the damp rag until the mould or mildew is gone. Blot the fabric with a dry rag to remove any moisture.

  6. 6

    Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup denatured alcohol into a bowl if the mildew and mould stains remain. Dip a rag into the solution, wring it out well and scrub the stains until they are gone. Dry the fabric thoroughly with a clean rag.

Tips and warnings

  • Always test the product and method you are using in an inconspicuous area to check for any changes in colour or damage to the fabric.

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