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It may be pretty shocking to hear that mold can grow on any surface, including fabric, but it’s not rare. Mold is a type of fungus that grows in dark, damp places and uses organic material to survive. There are plenty of reasons as to why you would want to get rid of mold- one of them being its health implications. Not only that, but in general as well, mold produces a strong foul smell, and who really wants to wear clothes like that?
Mold thrives in a humid, dark environment, and you can eliminate the smell and developing organism by pulling it out slowly. Fortunately, it’s easy to remove the mold once you know how to do it using both household items and commercial cleaners. This article will help you understand how to tackle mold in the best way possible and provide you with a couple of ways you can prevent it too!
Signs To Recognize Mold
The best way to recognize whether or not your clothes have mold is to look for the pungent smell that accompanies them. However, the foul smell is not the only way to do so, there are three other factors you can take into consideration, and they are as follows;
- Stains– Some spores in the mold may be red or orange in color, although the majority are green or black. The shade of the mold depends on the source of nutrients, its region, and how old it is.
- Skin Rash– Some species of mold can easily cause skin irritation due to their spores. If you start to develop redness, itching or burning on your skin, then you probably need to look out for molds in your garments.
- Allergies– Allergies like runny nose, puffy eyes, and nausea can be a sign of mold toxins. If you have or have had symptoms like these and suspect that mold is the reason, it’s best to remove your clothes immediately for a safe solution.
Why Is It Important To Get Rid Of Mold?
Well, like any other disease-inducing bacteria, mold can be harmful and not just for health implications. If the smell that the mold produces alone does not push you to take serious actions, then here are a couple of reasons why you should!
Avoid Health Infections: like most other bacteria, mold releases toxins that can cause serious health problems if ingested or inhaled. A new study highlighted that fungi and their spores were the primary reason behind most allergies worldwide. Since our bodies aren’t used to it, they trigger an immune response and lead to symptoms like asthma and hay fever. Some species even create mycotoxins which are very harmful to the nervous system and can cause cancer.
Avoid Stubborn Stains: Mold stains are difficult to clean with most detergents, which is why it’s essential to remove them as soon as you find them. If mold spores grow on your clothes for a long time, they will be much harder to eliminate than if you had done so when they initially started to form. Although synthetic fibers don’t rot or grow mold, they do damage clothes made of natural materials. As a consequence, colors fade, and cloth deteriorates with time.
To Prevent Mold Expansion: One of the most important reasons behind getting rid of mold is to prevent it from expanding to your entire home. Molds travel through the air and can move through vents, cable boxes, or other openings. Therefore, if you want to avoid these kinds of situations where they grow at their highest densities, it’s wiser to take care of them before they start spreading throughout your belongings.
Best Ways To Get Mold Out Of Clothes
There are three broad ways you can get mold out of clothes at your home- using commercial cleaners, using natural cleaners, and simply using washing techniques. You can use washing techniques after using either of the cleaners as well.
We have listed down every method in detail so that you can pick which one you’d like to go with without any doubt! So, let’s dive in and look at the best ways to get mold out of clothes.
1. Washing Techniques
The simplest way to get rid of mold is by using washing techniques. Although simply using this method may not yield the best results if you’re tackling old, stubborn, and grown mold stains, it can definitely be considered if you are running out of other options. Here are the three techniques we recommend:
a) Machine Wash
Washing and drying the clothes might be sufficient if the infestation isn’t severe. Most fungus species can be destroyed when exposed to water temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately, most washing machines these days have a “hot washing” option that reaches this temperature. If you are washing your clothes using this method, make sure to follow these steps:
Step 1– Separate the garments that have mold on them from the other clothes and place them in a mesh bag. Do not wash any clothes with mold on separate loads, as it will spread quickly if you mix them up.
Step 2– Use regular detergent for your clothes but make sure to increase the amount by a quarter cup or so. The clothes must be drenched in water, and the detergent is to completely cover them.
Step 3– For effective results, allow the machine to run through two complete cycles without opening the lid in between. Some people even advise adding a handful of salt or baking soda inside, but we think that it’s completely optional based on your preference.
Step 4– You can opt for the usual drying method but hanging the clothes in direct sunlight to let them air dry is a great solution to kill any remaining fungi after wash.
b) Hand Wash
Hand washing clothes is an excellent method to get rid of mold, but it’s applicable for less severe infestations. It is most often used when you have a single garment to clean. Keep in mind that if your fabrics are delicate and you need to be extra careful with them, then this might not be the best option to go with. Here are some important steps to take in order to wash with hands;
Step 1– Mix one teaspoon of baking soda (or detergent) with two cups of lukewarm water in a bucket and place the fabric in it. Make sure it’s not too hot as this might cause damage to your fabrics.
Step 2– Use a soft brush or toothbrush to scrub the green patches away from the fabric gently. Leave it for 20 minutes or so.
Step 3– Once you are satisfied with the results, rinse the fabric in cold water and then let them dry. This will kill any fungi that might have spread to other clothes while washing and prevent their expansion for sure!
c) Dry Clean
This is probably the most effective method to get rid of mold, and it’s applicable for any type of fabric, be it delicate or sturdy. The mold won’t spread throughout your clothes if you use this method, as the fungus will die due to a lack of moisture inside the dryer. Here are some important steps that might help you dry clean effectively;
Step 1– Check if your garment can be dry cleaned by simply reading the tags on it. If your fabric is delicate and expensive, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Step 2– Call the dry cleaner before you take in your clothes so that they can set up all necessary equipment (like their dryer) beforehand.
Step 3– Place your clothes in a plastic bag and let them handle the rest! That’s it, and you’ll have your clothes back like new.
2. Natural Cleaners
Some people like to avoid using chemicals on their clothes due to several reasons, including health implications, and if you’re one of those, then you don’t have to worry. Mold can be treated using natural items as well. Here are some of the ingredients you can use and how!
Borax is a fantastic mold removing agent that turns into hydrogen peroxide, a natural mold remover when it comes in contact with hot water. It is relatively simple to use, has anti-bacterial properties that chase away the pungent smell, and you can make it work by following these simple steps;
Step 1– Mix half a cup of Borax and hot water in a bowl until the former is completely dissolved.
Step 2– You can add a few drops of liquid detergent. Soak your clothes in this solution for about 20 minutes.
Step 3– Wash the clothes as usual and let them dry to check if any mold or smell remains.
b) Baking Soda and Vinegar
Baking soda is a great household item that can be used in cleaning and mold removal. When mixed with vinegar, which is an anti-microbial agent, this combo can remove molds and its pungent smell. Here’s how you can prepare and use this solution;
Step 1– Add half a cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar (make sure to measure them with a measuring cup!) to the washing machine.
Step 2– Avoid adding detergent to this solution. Wash the clothes for two cycles and instantly dry them if no mold remains.
c) Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an anti-microbial agent that acts as a natural fungicide and can be used in the washing machine to kill molds. The oil may appear to be a pricey investment when compared to other cleaning solutions- but only a tiny bottle of this oil can last you for a couple of sessions. Follow these steps to achieve fruitful results;
Step 1– Combine one teaspoon of tea tree oil with one cup of hot water. Place the mixture inside a spray bottle.
Step 2– Spray this mixture on the mold and the cloth, inside and outside, making sure it is covered in all areas.
Step 3– Let the oil sit for 10 minutes before washing it as usual in the machine.
Pro Tip: The purity of this oil can vary significantly from one brand to another. So be sure you’re getting natural oil, not synthetic, and devoid of additives. Otherwise, your clothes may get other types of oily stains.
3. Commercial Cleaners
As natural as the above-mentioned ingredients are, sometimes they’re not enough to get the job done in a timely manner. It is advisable to use a commercial cleaner with anti-fungal properties in such cases. We’ve listed the two ways we find could be helpful in getting rid of mold from clothes!
a) Detergent and Brush
The best commercial cleaner that you can use to get rid of mold is quite readily available in all your households. Mixing detergent with a commercial cleaner of your choice will surely provide you with the desired result. All you have to do is follow these steps;
Pro Tip: Place your workshop outside or in a well-ventilated area while using this method. Spores are extremely mobile and can quickly travel from one surface to another, so keep that in mind while working with them.
Step 1– Choose a soft-bristled brush so that you don’t end up damaging the fabric. If you’re removing mold from a small area, you can even use an old toothbrush instead.
Step 2– Take a bit of commercial detergent and mix it with a stain remover in a spray bottle. Spray this solution generously onto the clothes, especially covering the mold area.
Step 3– let the solution soak the cloth for 30 minutes until the liquid thoroughly penetrates the mold and wash them as usual.
Although bleach is known to destroy colors, this chemical can actually be very helpful in removing mold. Not only that, but it also removes any allergens that may enhance respiratory problems.
When using machine wash: Mix a quarter cup of bleach with one gallon of water and add your clothes to this solution in a washing machine. You can also add a tablespoon of detergent to help break down the mold better. Bleach is extremely strong, so be extra cautious when mixing it with other substances.
Pro Tip: Wearing safety goggles, gloves, and a mask is recommended when using bleach. There is a chance that the mold may splash and irritate your eyes and skin in such events.
When using Hand-wash: Mix six ounces of bleach with one gallon of warm water in a bucket, add your clothes to this solution and soak them for around an hour. Make sure to mix two tablespoons of detergent with helping break down the mold better.
How To Prevent Mold From Forming On Clothes
After going through the pain of removing mold from your favorite shirts and clothes, you must have probably realized that keeping the clothes mold-free is the best way to go. This is actually easier said than done, but a few tricks can help you keep your clothes mold-free for a long time. Here are some of the things we recommend:
1. Dry your clothes quickly after washing them
Mold thrives in moist conditions, so try to use an indoor dryer whenever possible. The faster you dry your clothes after finishing a wash, the better it is. This also goes for wet clothes, like a swimsuit or sweaty clothes- if you don’t have time to wash them, just put them out to dry to avoid mold altogether.
2. Store your clothes properly
Even after keeping your clothing mold-free, there is a chance that you’ll have to store these items. However, storage can be dangerous if not done right. Storing clothes in tightly-packed containers can lead to moisture and humidity, which can result in mold. Instead, store them in open containers. The air circulation will keep your clothes mold-free for a long time.
3. Check HVAC filters
To keep mold problems at bay, it is also important to look into the HVAC filters for your house. Mold thrives in moist environments, so check these filters every once in a while so that you can increase their dryness whenever required.
These necessary prevention steps will help you keep the mold away. However, if by any chance you end up getting mold on your clothes, just use any of the above-mentioned methods and get rid of it quickly and efficiently.