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In this article, we’re going to take you through how to remove mold from clothes using baking soda and other methods. And it will leave your clothing smelling, looking, and feeling fresh and clean, while also reducing the risk of any harmful mold spores damaging your health.
Mold is a microorganism that can become a serious threat to the health of us and those around us if left untreated and allowed to multiply, particularly within the home or on the clothes that we wear.
Prolonged exposure to mold spores can cause illness, breathing difficulties, and damage to the lungs and airways. To avoid this, there are a few signs to look out for that will indicate to you that there is mold growing on your clothes.
The first sign is likely to be the smell. If your clothes smell musty and generally unclean even after being washed, this is probably due to mold growth. You might also see visible mold stains, which are likely to be black or a shade of green. Or, you might notice that you have a skin rash or reaction after wearing the clothes and find yourself feeling generally unwell.
If you notice any of these signs, you’ll probably want to get rid of the mold spores as quickly as possible. Mold can be stubborn to get rid of once it has begun to grow, but we’re going to talk you through the best ways of doing so.
Let’s start by thinking about what might be the underlying cause of the mold in your clothes.
What is Causing the Mold?
Mold spores can be found almost everywhere you can imagine. In the air we breathe, on the surfaces in our homes, and on our clothes, bed linen, and other soft furnishings. When the spore count remains pretty low, this is usually not too much of an issue. It’s only when the spore count increases to high levels that we begin to notice those unpleasant odors and black marks on clothes and surfaces.
Mold grows in warm, humid environments (think laundry rooms and steamy bathrooms), which is why people frequently find that their clothes have become contaminated. You might have noticed that if wet clothes are left to sit in a washing machine for several hours after the wash cycle is completed, they come out smelling even worse than when they went in! This is because the damp clothes and warm environment acts as a breeding ground for bacteria and mold spores.
The most common causes of mold growth in clothes are:
- Your washing machine not working at full capacity or not reaching temperatures high enough to kill bacteria
- Clothes not being adequately dried immediately after washing
- Clothes being left to sit for long periods of time after becoming damp due to rain or spills
Getting Rid of Mold on Clothes
So, how should you go about getting rid of the mold from your clothes? There are several highly effective approaches you could adopt here.
Each of the methods listed below should give you sparkling clean, fresh-smelling, mold-free clothes using inexpensive ingredients that can all be found within the home or at your local grocery or hardware store.
1. Remove Mold From Clothes Using Baking Soda
Baking soda can be used in a few different ways to get rid of mold.
- For Baking, Cleaning, and Deodorizing
- Free of harsh chemicals and gentle enough to use on many surfaces
- America's no 1 trusted baking soda brand
The first option is to put the affected clothes into a large, clean tub, bucket, or bathtub. Sprinkle in a generous amount of baking soda and give the clothes a good shake around until the baking soda is pretty much covering them. Leave this to soak for up to 8 hours depending on the level of mold growth on the clothes, and then shake them out and give them a rinse before machine or hand washing.
Alternatively, you could use baking soda to spot clean the clothes. Use it in the same way you would a stain treatment. Add baking soda to a small amount of water and mix to form a kind of paste. Then apply this paste to the affected areas and leave to soak in once again. Follow this by washing the clothes by hand or in your washing machine.
Baking soda is a natural antibacterial, odor neutralizing cleaning agent and is extremely affordable and non-toxic. It can be used in all manner of ways around the home for removing bacteria, odors, and stains, so it’s a great product to have on hand.
2. Remove Mold From Clothes Using White Vinegar
White vinegar is also a great anti-bacterial, deodorizing ingredient. Like baking soda, it can be used all over the home, it’s great for cleaning floors and carpets, removing watermarks from shower doors, and sanitizing surfaces.
To use white vinegar to remove mold from your clothes, add equal parts of vinegar and warm water to a clean spray bottle. Give this a quick shake to mix and then spray on to the affected clothes. Let this soak in for several hours and then wash as normal.
It is also a great idea to combine these two methods. Adding a little baking soda to the mixture or starting off by sprinkling the clothes with baking soda and following up with the vinegar spray will maximize the elimination of bacteria and increase your chances of killing any mold that is present.
3. Remove Mold From Clothes Using a Hot Machine Wash
If your clothes can be machine washed, this is an important step in removing the mold spores. You’ll need to wash the clothes on the hottest setting possible, so check your garment’s care label and then adjust your machine settings accordingly. The hotter the water, the more mold will be killed since this creates an inhospitable environment for mold spores and sanitizes the clothing.
You will also need to use an effective laundry detergent here to ensure all mold is killed. There are a number of great chemical-free laundry detergents on the market, always check the ingredients lists to make sure they don’t have any harmful chemicals or toxins within them.
Alternatively, you could again make use of our old favorites: baking soda and white vinegar.
By adding some baking soda into the drum of your washing machine and putting a little white vinegar in the detergent dispenser, you essentially create your own laundry detergent that is completely natural and inexpensive.
4. Dry the Clothes Effectively
This is undoubtedly the most important step in removing mold from your clothes. Mold grows when clothes are left damp, so it is vital that after removing these mold spores, you dry your clothes effectively to prevent the problem from reoccurring.
The best way to dry clothes is outside in the sun, where there is plenty of fresh air and ventilation. Clothes will dry quickly and be left smelling and feeling fresh. If this isn’t possible, using an effective tumble dryer (see our list of dryer sheet alternatives) or a drying rack will also work.
Just be absolutely sure that clothes are not left to sit damp in the dryer for too long, check them regularly, and adjust the timings accordingly to ensure they are thoroughly dried before being removed.
5. Remove Mold From Clothes Using Hydrogen Peroxide
If, after trying out the aforementioned methods, you find that there are still mold stains present on the clothes, you might be able to go in with some diluted hydrogen peroxide to remove these stains and any remaining mold spores.
Before doing this, always check the label on the garment and on the hydrogen peroxide brand you choose to use. Hydrogen peroxide can cause color bleaching, so this might not be the best option on brightly colored or black clothing. Typically, this will only happen when the item is not colorfast, but always check the labels carefully for any care instructions.
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural compound with high-strength antibacterial properties. It will effectively kill mold and remove stains, but you should always wear gloves if handling the product as it can be extremely damaging to the skin, and should always be kept out of the way of any pets or children.
Preventing Mold in the Future
To prevent future growth of mold spores within your clothes, make sure you are washing them regularly and effectively, either by hand or in a washing machine, using hot water and an effective cleaning agent.
Always ensure that clothes are being dried straight after washing and are not left to sit damp for any period of time.
Finally, try to hang your clothes up where possible, rather than folding and storing them away in boxes or drawers. Closets with plenty of hanging space and good ventilation are much less likely to facilitate the growth of mold spores than cramped drawers or closet spaces.
Finding mold on your clothes can be alarming and embarrassing, but it’s a common problem that many people face and is not a sign of inadequate personal hygiene. By having more awareness of how mold grows and how best to avoid and treat it, you can avoid this problem reoccurring and keep your clothes smelling, looking, and feeling fresh, clean, and mold-free. The tips covered in this article will all help you to remove mold from clothes using baking soda, as well as other methods.
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