Little clean princess dresses hung out to dry.

How to Get Rid of Mildew on Fabric

Is your laundry smelling a little musty? Have you found whitish-grey spots that weren’t there before? These are the signs of mildew on clothes: a fungus problem that occurs in damp, warm conditions. The wet laundry left in the machine too long, the sweaty gym wear that spent a bit too much time lurking in the laundry basket: you might not want to snuggle into these clothes, but mildew loves them. 

Don’t worry, though: if you need to know how to remove mildew from fabric, there are more than a few methods to try. Let’s take a look!

How to get rid of mildew on fabric

So you’ve found those musty white spots on your clothes – now what do you do? Firstly, relax: the solution is pretty simple. Here’s how to remove mildew from clothes:

  1. Pick a pre-treatment.

    Your first step is to choose your weapon – there are a few products you can use to help get rid of mildew on clothes:

    White vinegar: This is an effective treatment that’s safe for many fabrics – you can either dilute the vinegar with water and then apply it directly to the stain, or add a cup to a bucket of water and soak the garment for a while.

    Bleach: Bleach is a very powerful mould and mildew-killing agent, but be careful – it can fade colours and damage delicate fabrics. If this is still your preferred option, check the label for safety and dosage guidelines before following the steps below.

    Borax: You can buy borax as a soluble powder or a detergent. Dilute it according to the instructions on the packaging and use it to pre-treat the stain.

    Remember: Test any new products or remedies on a small, hidden area of the fabric, and read both the product and garment care labels to make sure they’re a good match!

  2. Apply the pre-treatment and rub in.

    Using a white cloth, dab your chosen pre-treatment onto the stained areas and rub it in with an old, clean toothbrush. 

  3. Wash at the highest temperature possible.

    Mildew likes a little warmth, but usually can’t survive a very hot wash. Check your garment care label to find out what the maximum wash temperature is, and then pop it in the machine with a high-quality stain-removing detergent, like OMO Auto Washing Liquid.

  4. Line dry.

    Hang it up outdoors if possible – sunlight is a great natural mildew-killer!

Preventing mildew on clothes

Now that you know how to get rid of mildew on fabric, you don’t have to worry too much if it crops up again. But with a few precautions, you can save yourself the effort. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re doing laundry:

  1. Empty your washing machine as soon as possible after the wash cycle has finished.

  2. Hang wet clothes up to dry on a washing line right after you’ve taken them out of the machine, or pop them in the dryer immediately – after checking the care label, of course!

  3. Don’t put wet or damp clothing into your washing basket or laundry hamper right away. Allow wet towels, swimwear or sweaty gym clothing to dry before you put them in your laundry pile.

So your clothes are safe from mildew once again: no more mustiness, no more spots! If other stains are troubling you, don’t worry – our stain removal guides are here to help.

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