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How Can I Remove Mold Stains from Clothing?

Drying clothes in sunlight can help kill mold.
Washing clothes in hot water with detergent should help remove mold from clothing.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 19 March 2014
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To remove mold stains from clothing, it's important to catch them as soon as possible. Mold stained clothes should be taken outside to prevent the spores from spreading, and the area where the clothing was stored should be cleaned and dried thoroughly. Leaving stained clothes outside in the heat and sun can help kill the mold. Washing the items in hot or warm water with detergent should remove any stains, although it may be necessary to pretreat the stain and wash the clothing several times. Making sure clothing is thoroughly dried and stored in a well ventilated space can also help prevent stains from forming in the first place.

Mold is a fungus that thrives on organic matter, and it appears in a wide variety of forms. Some molds are deliberately cultivated, to make cheeses and some antibiotics, for example. Other molds are unwanted and adore food, whether on the counter, inside the fridge, or smeared into carpeting and clothing. Molds are not photosynthetic — in fact, many molds are photosensitive and will die in bright light. They can form in a variety of environments, so mold stains, especially on clothing, can pop up with irritating frequency.

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Stains can form when clothing is splashed with food or allowed to get wet and left somewhere warm and dark. When food spills occur, it is best to clean them immediately and wash the clothing before mold and the resultant mold stains can form. When laundry is done, make sure that all the clothing is completely dry before being folded away. Keep clothing in a well ventilated space, as well.

If mold stains have already set in, there are a number of steps to follow. Ideally, the mold stains should be caught as soon as possible, before the organism has had a chance to dig in. Bring the mold stained clothing outside and brush it out, to prevent spores from spreading around your home. Clothing that has been stored in proximity to the mold stained clothing should also be taken out and aired, and wiping down the shelf, drawer, or closet where the clothing was kept with a mild bleach solution will kill any spores floating in that environment.

The next step is to leave the clothing in the sun to dry out, because heat and sunlight kill many varieties of mold. Hang the clothing from a clothes line so that it remains well ventilated and the sunlight falls evenly across most of the garment. Mold stains will likely still remain, because fungus discolors fabric.

Presoak the mold stains in cold water, and then wash hot or warm with detergent. Check the garment before putting it in the dryer to make sure that the mold stains are gone, and wash it again if necessary. Drying the garment in the sun to kill any remaining spores is advised. If the mold stains persist, blot the area with a mild bleach solution, if possible, and launder it again. For colored fabrics, use a lemon juice and salt solution and rinse with cold water immediately.

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Discuss this Article

anon930404
Post 54

What natural ingredients or substance will help me remove mold from a silk pillowcase? I handwashed it several times in hot water and even soaked it in vinegar but it's not coming out. I'm severely allergic to chemicals so can't use bleach. No I can't go to a laundromat and I don't have anyone to help. I need to do it at home (no washing machine). Please advise.

anon359868
Post 53

I have a white dress moulded with black spots all over. I tried salt and lemon juice, green bar, vanish soaking, washing, etc. Nothing worked. Thanks to all the posts above about the miltons I went to buy a bottle today. I just soaked it for a few hours and the mould and marks are gone. Thanks for the tip. It really worked.

anon336113
Post 52

The mold cloth stain happened to me when I forgot to was my swim wear immediately. The smell was bad and I had to soak it in fabric conditioner for odour removal.

anon327065
Post 51

How can I clean mold / mildew from wood in front windows in my caravan? It's also on the curtains.

anon321889
Post 50

I had mould spots stained onto a white pram liner and had tried everything to get it clean - washing in normal washing gel, soaking in stain remover then washing, treating with salt and lemon, treating with a bleach solution, all sorts to no avail. Read this set of posts and bought myself some Milton solution. I've soaked it overnight and it's worked! Will wash it out thoroughly but I am very pleased with result!

anon318628
Post 49

The only thing that removed the mold stain in my son's shirt was a carbona product.

anon290757
Post 47

Milton's is diluted bleach. You can make your own by diluting bleach 1:5 with water (1 part bleach with 4 parts water).

anon290400
Post 45

I had a T-shirt which had little black mold spots on it and I thought it was ruined. I soaked the spots with lemon juice concentrate and laid the t-shirt in the sun. Then I washed as usual in the laundry. I couldn't believe my eyes, the spots were gone!

anon287359
Post 43

Is there any solution for clothes? Is Milton sterilizer safe on clothes? What about baking soda or washing clothes with borax?

anon287358
Post 42

How much lemon juice and water to a 13 FL OZ (384 ML. bottle?

anon220593
Post 40

I just bought Milton tablets here in the US on Amazon.com, sold by a UK company for $18.50 with free shipping. While it's ridiculously expensive for what it is, at least I get to try it. Since we don't know what the concentration of hydrogen peroxide is in the product, I just wanted to be on the safe side and use Milton instead of diluting H2O2 myself since I'm using it on my daughter's bright, dark pink onesie. I also had left it in the plastic bag from daycare after she slobbered saliva all over it. Didn't realize mold would grow on it!

Thanks so much to all those who posted positive results with Milton. Btw, Milton is great for sterilizing bottles, nipples, toys, or whatever, in just 15 minutes, so it won't go to waste! No need to even rinse out the Milton from bottles/nipples before use. It's safe enough to use right away (which tells you how dilute the H2O2 must be). And the solution remains active for 24 hours for repeated use.

anon183505
Post 39

I tried everything to bring a car seat cover off a baby seat up spotless and to get the black spots off and milton worked great. I'm so happy now.

anon179998
Post 38

I have a bright red silk prom dress which is dry clean only, which was left in the attic after a flood for month which must have got damp, after taking it to dry cleaners, who were scared to death of taking on the challenge, i decided to have a go at cleaning it myself, i have read this forum and have purchased some milton sterilising fluid! i am about to give it a soak, will keep you all informed of how my experience turns out! Wish me luck!

anon174483
Post 37

Had a new white polo shirt develop mold spots in many places. Washing in hot water got about half out. Thought about it for awhile and decided to try soaking it in hydrogen peroxide. All but two spots were gone after a week. I replaced the h2o2 and let it sit another week. The rest of the stains were gone after the second week. I used about half to 3/4 of a quart of h2o2 in a stainless steel mixing bowl, added the shirt getting it soaked. Then put plastic wrap on to to keep it from evaporating and put a couple of magazines on top to block the light. Then put it out of the way. I used the magazines because the h2o2 comes in a brown bottle, so I figured the light might reduce it's efficiency. I have no idea what it might do to colored fabric. Time is your friend. Just remember to check it every so often.

anon167817
Post 36

why only the black color garment kept packed inside a polybag inside the container got the fungal issue, where all the other colors, this problem was not observed?

anon160325
Post 35

my dresses have mould on them i washed them but the mould is still there. should i use milton? my dresses cost a lot of money, 470 in total. i don't want to throw them out. can anyone help?

anon154543
Post 34

Is the Milton solution safe to use on a wool coat? It is dry clean only but has quite a lot of mould patches.

anon150799
Post 33

Removing mold stains for lawn furniture that I found that works best is Simple Green. I think you can buy that almost anywhere!

anon147653
Post 32

Is Milton's baby sterilising fluid okay to be used on coloured garments?

anon145809
Post 31

I need to clean the mold stains off a swag. The camping store recommended vinegar solution but that didn't work very well.

I've just used an oil of cloves solution to kill the spores but the stains still remain.

Has anyone used milton solution for canvas tents or swags?

How can you treat such a bulky item?

anon142781
Post 30

For all those that asked, Milton sterilising liquid is usually used to sterilise babies' bottles, teats etc. I don't know if you can get it in the States, but give a similar product a go.

I am going to give this a try as I have a couple of mould stained items.

anon128432
Post 29

Is this liquid sold in the U.S. (Washington state in particular)? I would love to have a few bottles as it sounds like amazing stuff and with children it's always a surprise, the things I find!

anon123264
Post 28

Where can you buy Milton's sanitizer in the USA. I live in the San Francisco bay area. I would like to use the product on old theatrical costumes which can't be washed and smell of mold. Can I spray the product directly on to the costumes to remove the smell?

anon117011
Post 27

Thanks to the Milton suggestion, folks! Like others who've already posted, I had tried a range of products but nothing works to remove the entire stain. I've only been to find Milton tablets, not liquid (in NZ), but they work a treat - soaked overnight and my curtain linings & outdoor umbrella cover all look like new. Amazing!

anon109971
Post 26

I have tried the Oil o Cloves trick (available from Woolies in Australia) on two white cushion covers from an outside settee. So far, no real result - and this is after washing them both twice with stain remover in with the powder and pre-wash remover beforehand. I guess it's time to buy Milton!

anon107410
Post 25

Our four year old son's car seat, moses basket, etc. were cleaned and put into our attic. When I took it down to prepare for our new arrival, the moses basket and strap of car seat were covered in unsightly mould! We were shocked as they were not cheap. I tried white vinegar and faded them a bit.

As a last resort prior to buying new, I just tried Milton Sterilising fluid. I put 4-5 capfuls in a washing up bowl and soaking worked wonders. All the stains totally gone! and cheap at £1-90 a bottle!

anon105782
Post 24

Miltons Baby Sanitizer solution has worked wonders for my curtains. Thank you for the suggestion.

Despite being in Australia and having strong sunshine in the summer months, winter time in the far southern states is cold and damp. The block out lining of my very expensive made to measure curtains were covered in mould and mildew from ground to knee height.

I had tried all sorts of stain removers, I had previously tried bleach on the old curtains to no avail, nothing would shift the mould.

I have heard that oil of cloves will kill the mould, however despite searching I cannot find anywhere that sells or even knows of oil of cloves!

Curtains look like new, and it only took a few hours of soaking in Miltons!

anon104757
Post 23

I have never been able to get mold stains out of fabric and this year all the cushion covers on my outdoor daybed and outdoor furniture chairs had mold on it.

I followed the instructions of another comment here and filled up my laundry sink with approx 40-degree celsius water and added two capfuls of Milton Sterilising Solution for every three litres of water and even the heavy mold has disappeared within hours. Thank you.

anon104467
Post 22

Impressed with the Milton. Tried it on my daughter's cardigan and it got the last of the staining out -- not a spot left on it. Napisan had already done most of the work though. Big thank you to the person who posted on here originally with the tip!

anon104211
Post 21

I used to try and wash the mould stain out, then if it didn't come out ditch the item in the bin - which is every time because mould never comes out.

Just found one of my daughter's knitted cardigans with mould after lying on top of a damp towel at the bottom of the laundry pile. I have rinsed it in hot water and napisan now am going to try the Milton. Fingers crossed.

anon100446
Post 20

Milton Sterilizing fluid. I swear by this. It works on colours. I just soaked a buggy cover that was badly covered in mould. It's like magic. It all vanished before my eyes. I will use this on everything. It's very handy for mums with messy tots! And cheap, too.

anon96062
Post 19

where can i find this Milton Sterlizing Tablet? I looked at Walmart and Babies R Us. Is this only in the UK?

anon75450
Post 18

I have eight full size layout garden chair cushions bought at the end of last season and put into the garage for storage.

They have gone black with mold - any suggestions anyone other than finding a large rubbish bin??

Many thanks for any suggestions. --Kelsea

anon64286
Post 17

Does anyone have any ideas to get rid of mould stains on a dry clean only silk dress? Unfortunately mould grew on the inside of my wardrobe and it has discoloured the fabric from pink to white! Much appreciated

anon61574
Post 16

Thank you. I used the milton sterilising tablet and soaked my t-shirt in it and wow! The mould stains are gone for good. Thank you again for the advice.

anon55060
Post 15

Bleach is very aggressive and can damage both the colour and the texture of fabrics. If it is just the stain, dilute bicarbonate soda in warm water and either soak the fabric in it or leave it on the stain (sprinkle the soda on it and wet it with a few drops of warm water).

Should your clothes smell really bad, I suggest vinegary water. It will also brighten up the colours and will not smell of vinegar at all.

anon54161
Post 14

I have a couple of seat pads for chairs which were unfortunately left out for a few months, so they now have mould on the edges and I would like to know how to get rid of this.

anon50357
Post 13

The Milton sterilizer is fantastic! Thanks guys for the helpful tips. I had a calico crinoline (hoop skirt) that i got given to me for work and it had rather large black mould stains on it. i soaked it in hot water with nappy san and detergent, used sard soap, a stain remover spay, and vanish duo and none of these helped at all, so i tried the miltons after all of that and it took them right out with ease. you could even see it start to fade the stain while you watched. i soaked it overnight and by morning they were all pretty much gone and the crinoline was nice and bright! Thanks again. Happy milton soaker!

anon49502
Post 12

Oil of cloves will kill the mold spores. Dilute a few drops in water first then spray. Use bicarb of soda/water paste if you need to clean the mold off as well.

anon49064
Post 11

Mold is growing in my apartment on my clothes, and shoes. the beds are moist furniture is moist. what do i do?

anon37908
Post 10

what is milton and where can i find it and is it powder or liquid? thank you.

anon35548
Post 9

I tried all the methods I could find to remove a really old, bad mould stain from a cushion. In the end it was Milton which removed it easily. I added a lot of Milton to warm water, and the cushion did fade to a slightly lighter colour but it faded evenly so I wasn't bothered. If you have something and you really don't want the colour to change, dilute the Milton lots and leave for a long soak.

LadyMichiru
Post 8

I own a pink underskirt which was left in the washing machine after washing, while I had a short stint in the hospital.

When I returned, the underskirt had yellow stains on it.

I re-washed it & hung it on the line, but I was also thinking about soaking it in white bleach.

Would this remove the stains permanently ?

Kind Regards,

Princess Michiru

anon17952
Post 7

My wife was about to throw away our toddlers new dress as mold had developed when a damp cloth had laid on it for a few weeks.

We tried washing it few times but to no avail. After looking for a few tips on the web (not much help there as sun here in the UK is a rare commodity), I tried 2 cap full of Milton baby Sterilising fluid in about 3 or 4 lt of water and let the dress soak overnight. Next day clean as a whistle, all mold stains gone and no visible loss in color of the dress itself (a very colorful toddlers dress).

Hope this helps anyone else. Cheers, Wallis

anon14180
Post 6

FYI, bleach is really only an effective mold killer on hard non-porous surfaces (like countertops and tiles). Borate based cleansers (like Borax) kill mold and also prevent mold from forming.

anon10312
Post 5

I have a hand quilted cotton baby blanket that has a white background with primary colored figures on it. It was full of of old, set, mildew stains which I had tried everything to remove then washed and dried the blanket in the dryer. The stains were set, and made unusable this favorite baby blanket I had wanted to make into a remembrance gift for my grown son. With nothing to lose, I sprayed X-14 Mildew Stain Remover with Bleach on the stains and they disappeared without affecting the color.

bigmetal
Post 4

mold stains are frustrating, and from experience, i've never been able to get them out of clothing. i didn't realize that the spores could spread even after washing--unless it's a small, hidden area, you probably should just throw the item away.

bobbunit
Post 3

I did that too!

Now im curious.

mommy
Post 2

my daughter's shirt grew a lot of fungus after it lay forgotten in a plastic bag from daycare. i washed the surface fungus with hot water and handwashing soap in the bathroom, then threw it in the washing machine with the rest of her clothes. i ran the machine twice, with regular detergent, first in cold water, then in warm water. then i dried the entire load in high heat. have i contaminated all of the clothes in the load? do i need to treat the shirt or the other clothes with an anti-mold remedy? if she has worn any of the clothes from that load, is there anything to worry about?

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