How to Remove Mold and Mildew

When the weather is damp, you may find items in your home that have musty odors and mildew stains. Once you find mold and mildew spots, remove them as soon as you can. Old stains are very hard to remove.

To remove mold and mildew stains from fabric:

  1. Brush off all the mold. If you can, take the item outside to do this.

    If you can not take the item outside, use a stiff brush or broom and brush the item over a piece of newspaper. Then, roll up the paper and throw it away.

    If the mildew is on a carpet, vacuum to remove as much as you can. Throw the vacuum cleaner bag away after vacuuming the mold.

  2. Dry-clean materials that can not be washed. Be sure to point out spots to the cleaners.

  3. Wash clothing at once with laundry soap and water. Rinse well, but dry in the sun, not the clothes dryer. Heat from the dryer may make spots harder to remove.

  4. If a stain remains, try to:

    • soak in a laundry pre-soak product such as Axion or Biz.
    • bleach the spots, but first be sure the bleach method you choose will not change the color of the fabric.

      €a non-chlorine bleach that is safe for all fabrics.

      €a lemon juice and salt solution for colored fabric.

      €a mixture of 2 Tablespoons of chlorine bleach in one quart of water. Use hot water if it is safe for the fabric. Never use chlorine bleach on silk or wool, or a fabric that says "no chlorine bleach" on the label.

      €dye the item a darker color if the stain remains. This may cover the stain so you can use the item.

    Bath tubs, shower stalls, tiled floors and bathroom walls often have mildew. Use a brush. Scrub with a mixture of 1/2 to 1 cup of chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water. Wear water-proof gloves to protect your hands.

    An old toothbrush works well on grout. Soak plastic shower curtains in a solution of chlorine bleach and water. Then wash.

    Upholstery, mattresses and rugs should be cleaned using as little water as possible.

    • Brush off mold. Shampoo lightly with an upholstery shampoo, or use a rug shampoo on carpets.

    • Wipe with a damp cloth. Dry in the sun, if possible, or use a fan. Spray with a fungicide spray.
    Luggage and leather shoes should be aired and dried after brushing off mold. Make a mixture of 1 cup denatured alcohol and 1 cup water. Dip a cloth in this mixture and wring it out. Rub mildew spots gently. Dry well. You can also use saddle soap. Dry and air well before storing.

    Remove the odor of mildew as soon as you can. Brush the area. Then wash and dry well. The odor often goes away when the area is dry. You may wish to spray with a fungicide spray.

Prepared by Barbara Dahl, Consumer and Family Economics Educator, University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.

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