Removing Mold Stains from Clothes and Fabrics

Mold Restoration

Who doesn’t enjoy spending an afternoon, weekend, or vacation at Siesta Key Beach or one of Anna Maria Island’s beautiful shores? After those lovely days at the beach, have you ever discovered your favorite swim trunks or bathing suit wrapped in a damp towel, mistakenly left in a corner or suitcase too long and forgotten too quickly? And were you horrified to find that those items had turned smelly – and worse yet – were dotted with mold spots?

Mold and mildew are always challenging to remove, especially from clothing! Moldy clothes are unpleasant, both on the eyes and on the nose. So it’s crucial to know how to remove that mold from your clothes and/or other fabrics.

Mold stains may not just affect swimwear not properly dried.  Mold may form on clothing from improper storage in a damp place in your home or even from your washing machine or dryer, which can contain mold or mildew.

But there’s hope for Southwest Florida residents and visitors!  If the mold has only left a few spots on your fabrics, you might just be able to remove them, using the right products and techniques!  So PuroClean of Bradenton wants to share a few general tips for removing mold from clothes and fabrics (and more)!

Treating Clothes one step at a time

Of course, first read the label

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions about the suggested water temperature for washing and how the clothing items should be dried.

Scrub to remove the mold stain

Apply a mold stain remover, such as household soap, white vinegar, or bleach, and use a toothbrush to brush off the surface mold. Be gentle and try not to damage the fabric in the process.

Pre-soak the fabric

Since mold stains are hard to remove, you should also pre-soak your stained garment before washing it. Saturate it for one hour in a commercial pre-soak product or a bucket of water with one cup of white vinegar.

Alternatively, you can soak your clothes in a vinegar solution. White vinegar is suitable for disinfecting and cleaning stubborn mold stains like white mold or green mold. First, spray undiluted white vinegar onto the mold-infected areas. To make a vinegar solution, mix equal parts of water and vinegar. Soak your clothes in the solution for 30 minutes before washing them. Make sure never to combine vinegar and bleach.

You can also make a paste of lemon juice and salt to rub on areas that have mold. Leave it for a while, and then wash it off.

Wash your clothes in hot water

Besides being effective at removing bacteria and allergens, hot water also kills mold spores better. Of course, don’t surpass the maximum recommended water temperature to wash your clothing. If you have materials that can’t be washed in the washing machine, take them to the dry cleaner.

Use a mold-killing solution in the washer

how to remove mold from clothes
You may use disinfectant to kill off any remaining mold.

Vinegar — Include one or two cups of vinegar per cycle with your regular laundry detergent to kill moldy smells.  This will also brighten your white fabrics, such as your beautiful beach cover-ups!

Borax — Borax can be used in a regular wash cycle, but only with organic fabrics such as cotton and linen! Dissolve half a cup of borax in hot water, then add it into the washer once it’s filled with water.

Baking soda — We’re all aware of baking soda’s usefulness in deodorizing the refrigerator and freezer.  But did you know that baking soda can help remove unwanted smells from your clothes and beachwear? Simply add a half-cup of baking soda with your regular detergent in the wash cycle.

Bleach — This can help kill mold in fabrics, but use it with caution.  Bleach can fade colors. Always be sure to spot-test first and read your garment label. If it says, “no chlorine bleach,” skip this option! If you know your clothes won’t be damaged, wash them with regular detergent plus a cup of bleach.

After washing your clothes, hang-dry them in the sun

Sunlight has a natural bleaching effect, and in Manatee and Sarasota Counties, we’ve got plenty of sun!  Sunlight also helps to kill mold spores in your fabrics. Also, our balmy breezes, whether at the beach or inland, will improve airflow to your items. Important tip:  When possible, avoid using the dryer at all, since any heat from it can make spots visible – and even more difficult to remove afterward. 

If mold stains persist…

Repeat the process if you’ve followed the above steps and you haven’t removed all of the mold stains. And if those stains just won’t go away, consider dying your favorite garment a darker color, hopefully covering the stain for good. 

Tips for Removing Mold in Washing Machines

If your clothes smell musty right after a wash, mold may be present in your washer. To clean the mold inside the machine, run an empty cycle with hot water and bleach or detergent. 

If that doesn’t work, your washer needs to be carefully disassembled, and any detected mold needs to be washed with hot water and a cleaning product. Check out our full guide on removing mold from washing machines.

Smelly washing machine
Mold can form in the dryer and leave clothes with a foul odor.

How to Get Rid of Mold Smell in the Closet

After you’ve thoroughly washed and eliminated the mold from clothing, the next step is checking your closet. Is the source of the problem lurking there?  Of course, getting to the source of the problem is critical, or your clothing will smell again.

Because closets are solid, enclosed structures (and usually made of wood), the lack of gaps or ventilation vents prohibits drying wet clothing or seriously delays the process. Storing damp or wet clothes in a closet can create a place for mold and musty odors to develop.

Creating opportunities for increased airflow in your closet can help prevent mold growth and prevent odors. Some tips to increase airflow include:

  • Occasionally opening your closet doors. 
  • Using louvered doors – they’re better than solid wood – because they increase ventilation. 
  • Running a small fan directed at your closet. 

For more information, read our guide on removing mold smells from closets.

Contact the PuroClean Professionals for Mold-Clean Up Services!

Now that you’ve learned how to remove mold from clothes, start removing any mold spores in your clothing. Mold makes garments smell musty and can cause serious health problems

Mold can also grow on upholstery and carpet. However, dealing with mold on these items is more challenging and time-consuming. Call PuroClean for mold removal services. We can properly remove mold on upholstery, mattresses, rugs, and carpet.


Last edited on 26th of January 2023