How Can I Remove Mildew on Clothes?

The longer mildew stays on clothes, the more difficult it is to remove it.
Adding baking soda to the washing machine can help remove mildew from clothes.
Hanging clothes in direct sunlight after washing will eliminate any mildew smell.
A mixture of bleach in a full spray bottle may be used to remove mildew from clothing.
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  • Written By: C. Daw
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2014
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To remove mildew on clothes, and the smell that is associated with it, can be a difficult task. The longer that the mildew is allowed to stay on the clothes, the harder it is to get off. Numerous detergents and stain removers can be found on the market that will remove it, but there are various home solutions that will work just as well. Baking soda, vinegar, bleach, and direct sunlight will remove the mildew stains and smells from most clothing without having the expense of specialized cleaners.

Direct sunlight is one of the best solutions when trying to remove mildew on clothes. Mildew is a living spore, similar to mold, that grows in typically hot, humid environments. The sunlight will effectively kill the mildew and the smells because the direct heat will change the humidity level of the clothes. A change in humidity will effectively kill every strain of mildew, and most of the time will eliminate the odor that is caused. This method of mildew removal works well before washing, as well as after washing if the clothes are allowed to dry while hanging.


Vinegar is also a common solution to remove mildew on clothes. When using this home solution, allow the washer to begin filling up with warm water and then add a detergent cap full of vinegar. Allow the clothes to soak in this mixture for an hour and a half before draining the mixture from the washer. Place the temperature selector on cold, add laundry detergent, and wash using a normal cycle.

Baking soda is another great way to remove mildew on clothes. Since the mildew smells are the first sign that the majority of people notice when realizing that a mildew problem is present, baking soda should be used as a final rinsing method. To accomplish this, wash the clothes one more time on a regular cycle with the temperature adjustment set on cold, and add a full cup of baking soda into the machine. If possible, allow the clothes to hang-dry in direct sunlight, which will almost guarantee that all of the mildew smells disappear.

The final way that mildew can be removed from clothing is by using bleach. A mixture of two caps of bleach to a full spray bottle should be sprayed on the infected area. Scrub the spot with a brush to work the solution into the clothes, and then wash in a normal cycle with cold water. If the clothing is colored, then substitute regular bleach for color safe bleach.


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