How to remove mildew on clothes

Clothing that is accidentally stored away damp or kept in a damp location eventually develops mildew. Like any other living organism, mildew needs certain conditions in order to survive. Dampness and warmth not only help mildew develop, they also help mildew spread. If not removed from your clothing, mildew can weaken the fibres and leave ugly stains. In addition to the mildew stains, your clothing will smell musty. Supplies from home help you remove mildew from your clothes.

Take mildewy clothes outdoors. Brush mildew spores off the surface of the clothing outdoors so the spores don't get on other household surfaces.

Wash your clothing in the hottest water allowed for the fabric. Add washing powder and all-fabric bleach to kill and remove mildew stains on the clothes. Hang dry your clothing in the sun to help remove mildew stains and freshen the fabric.

Rub laundry pre-soak stain remover on any remaining mildew stains on white or light-coloured clothing. Leave the stain remover on the stain for 10 minutes.

Mix equal portions of lemon juice and salt in a bowl. Spread the lemon and salt paste onto mildew stains remaining on coloured clothing. Lay the clothing in the sun until the lemon mixture dries, then brush it off.

Flush your clothing in cool water. Launder again, drying your laundry in the sun.


Open windows or run a dehumidifier where clothing and textiles are stored to keep the humidity level regulated and avoid mildew. Add 1 cup vinegar to your wash water to kill mildew and get rid of musty mildew odour on clothes.


Use chlorine bleach to kill mildew only on whites as it will cause permanent bleaching of other fabrics.

Things You'll Need

  • Stiff-bristled scrub brush
  • Washing powder
  • All-fabric bleach
  • Laundry pre-soak stain remover
  • Bowl
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
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About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.