Can You Wash Mildew Out of Clothes?

Mildew is a pretty common problem we have at home, but we don’t have to fold our hands and watch it grow without doing anything to stop it. We can absolutely flush mildew using various techniques and products that we have at home. In this article, we’ll go through all of them so you know how to effectively remove mildew from clothing. 

Before that, let’s check out why you have a mildew problem in the first place.

Why you have mildew in the first place

The reason why you have mildew on your clothes is because there was a moisture problem somewhere. It could have either been from the clothes themselves or in the area where you kept them.

Mold and moisture are very big friends. When there’s moisture, and you have a relative humidity there that is a bit high, and also a warmer temperature, then the stage is set for mold to grow. 

One laundry practice that contributes greatly to mildew problems at home, particularly on clothes, is the habit of storing clothes while they’re damp. Remember stacking up clothes in the bin before they dried out fully? Or storing clothes inside plastic clothing wrap when they’re slightly damp?

As the moisture is trapped, heat builds up and conditions are set for mold to grow.

That’s why the best way to prevent mildew growth on your clothes is to eliminate moisture in the first place. when you do this, you wont be having mildew growth anymore.

Now that we know why mildew grow on clothes and how to prevent them from happening, what then can we do to get rid of the problem we already have at hand?

How to remove mildew from clothes

Use bleach

Bleach is a very strong disinfectant and it will help get rid of your mildew problem on clothes. If the clothes are white, then good news, you can use chlorine bleach on them without destroying the fibers as well as the colors.

Using chlorine bleach for mold is easy, soak the clothes in a diluted solution of it for no more than 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the mildew stain or problem, then proceed to launder. 

You can find the instructions on how to dilute bleach on the product packaging.

After bleaching, you’re halfway there already!

Now, you need to wash. For laundry, use the sanitization feature of your washing machine. If the washer doesn’t have a “sanitize” setting, use hot water plus the heaviest and longest cycle possible. Make sure to add in the chlorine bleach about five minutes after washing has begun. 

One additional mention is that you don’t actually have to always use chlorine bleach for white clothes, if all you have is the non chlorine bleach, for example the oxygen bleach, you can use that on colored clothes as well as whites. Just know that it won’t be be as effective as the regular bleach when it comes to destroying mildew and mold growth on your clothes, thus, with bad storage practices, they will grow back!

Baking soda

Baking soda is an excellent mold and mildew remover. But before you are able to get the kind of efficiency and effectiveness required, you must make sure the baking soda is fresh. 

How do you determine that? Simply add one or two drops of white vinegar to a small portion of the baking soda and notice if there is any sizzling. If there is, the baking soda is fresh, and the degree and duration of each sizzle determines how fresh it is. The more aggressive and longer, the better! 

So now that we have determined the freshness of the baking soda, it’s time to apply it to our mildew problem.

There are two ways you can actually apply baking soda on your clothes for mildew treatment. You can make a paste of it, or create a solution and spray directly on the spot.

For the paste, combine equal parts water and baking soda and mix into a paste. Apply the paste to the spot directly and work it in. Let sit for some minutes until it begins to dry, then work it in again. Rinse and observe if the mildew is gone. If not, repeat the steps all over again until you no longer have mildew on the spot. 

If you choose to use a solution, mix two tablespoons of baking soda and two cups of water in a spray bottle that jets out content forcefully as opposed to one that spreads contents lightly.

Shake vigorously to incorporate everything, and then jet out sprays to the affected spot. Work it in with a soft brush and let sit for some time. Rinse in warm water and repeat if necessary. Dry completely. 

If you do not want to go this route, then there’s a way much easier. Add ½ cups of baking soda to the wash cycle and also to the rinse cycle. That should do the trick of getting rid of the mildew from your clothes.

Fabric sanitizer

Fabric sanitizers are products specially formulated to tackle bacteria and other microorganism problems. So you can have great success while using them to tackle mildew problems on your clothes. All fabric sanitizers have their way of usage, and you want to make sure you’re following the procedure to achieve perfect sanitization of the laundry. Popular brands of fabric sanitizers include Lysol, Clorox etc.

Hydrogen peroxide

Another powerful product you can use to get rid of mildew at home is hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is very effective when it comes to killing microbes, and you’ll definitely have great success when it comes to mildew.

To use hydrogen peroxide for this purpose, mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water and put it in a spray bottle. Apply to the spot directly and let sit for some minutes. Launder as usual and your clothes should be free from mildew.

Another alternative you have when it comes to using hydrogen peroxide for clothes is the washer. Pour one cup of it in the bleach dispenser of the washing machine so it gets dispensed automatically during the wash cycle. Whatever you do however, make sure to never pour hydrogen peroxide directly on clothes as it can cause irreparable damage.


Adding half cup of lemon to the wash cycle of your washing machine can also help with mildew, especially when you’re not dealing with a big mildew problem. Because lemon has the strength to destroy clothes, you want to make sure the clothes you’re using them on are either whites or colorfast colored clothes, and then are super sturdy, so no damage is incurred. 

Feel free to repeat the process all over again when you do not have the results that you expect.

White vinegar

White vinegar is an absolute necessity when it comes to removing mildew at home, naturally. White vinegar has been proven through scientific research to be effective against 80% of mold and mildew species.

When you’re dealing with mold stains that are quite spread out, make a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water and soak the clothes in it overnight.

Wash the following day using heavy duty detergent and the heaviest settings the fabric can tolerate. Repeat if necessary until you achieve a perfectly cleaned cloth. 

For little spots, you can spray them with a diluted solution of vinegar and let sit for some time, launder in the washer.

Dry cleaning

When you have a much bigger mildew issue to deal with, the easiest and safest course of action is the dry cleaners. The dry cleaners know perfectly well how to tackle the problem without ruining your clothes, especially when it’s delicate. You also get to protect your health too! 

Help, the mildew is everywhere on my clothes!

When the mildew issue you have is beyond what you can tackle at home, then the best thing to do is to take it to the dry cleaners or get rid of the cloth, as most of the time, clothes that are this much infested cannot be salvageable.

Precautions for handling mold at home

Because mildew can actually trigger complications in people, it is best advised to wear gloves, wear goggles, and also wear nose masks when dealing with them.

Final thoughts

Mildew problems on clothes can be pretty scary. But it is not something that cannot be treated. There are a variety of products that can be used at home to get rid of mildew on clothes. But the most important thing is tackling the real root of the problem. And that is moisture. 

When you’ve tackled the moisture problem, you can then go ahead and remove existing mildew using hydrogen peroxide, bleach, lemon, and even baking soda.