Mold is a fungus that can thrive on any surface as long as the conditions are optimal. Just like any living organism, its most basic requirements for survival are food, moisture, and oxygen. All of these are available in abundance in clothes when they are not dried in time.
It can be frustrating to find your favorite clothes have mold – but fortunately, you won’t have to part with them just yet. Here are some tips on how to remove mold from your clothes.
What Causes Mold on Clothes?
Several factors contribute to microbial growth on clothes. Mold needs darkness and warmth to thrive. Dark, humid areas are ideal for microbial growth. This is why you’ll start noticing odd smells if you leave a pile of damp, dirty clothes inside the laundry room for too long. It’s always recommended to consistently ventilate closets and create a cooler environment to prevent microbial growth.
What are the Signs of Mold in Clothes?
The foul odors emitted by your clothes after a few days are a clear indicator of microbial growth on the fabric. But aside from the smell, there are also other signs that you can watch out for that indicate the presence of spores:
- Stains. Mold will always appear as black or green spots on the fabric. However, some spores may appear red or orange, depending on their region, age, or main nutrient source.
- Frequent Allergies. Mold spores act as allergens and can trigger an immune response when inhaled. When exposed to clothes affected by mold, it’s common to experience a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, cough, itchy or watery eyes, sinusitis, and postnasal drip.
- Skin Rashes. In some cases, the allergic response manifests as skin rashes upon direct contact with moldy clothes.
Removing Mold From Clothes
Mold infestations on your clothes can appear unsightly and can be a potential threat to your health and home environment. While it’s best to prevent mold from growing on your clothes in the first place, sometimes washed laundry can pile up or clothes aren’t exposed to enough sun. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to get your clothing items mold-free:
Pre-Treat All Moldy Clothes
When you see mold on your clothes, the first course of action should be to inspect all other garments and look for signs of microbial growth. Then, gather all the moldy clothes and lay them out under the sun if they are still damp to begin the removal process.
Next, grab a bucket and mix water with ½ cup borax or 1 cup white vinegar. Presoak the moldy clothes in this solution for at least an hour. Afterward, use a brush to scrub the mold stains on the fabric. Make sure to scrub hard enough that ample force is applied, but not too hard that it would damage the fabric.
Machine-Wash Moldy Clothes
The next step is to machine wash the clothes with laundry detergent and hot water. Heat helps kill mold and other microorganisms, but be careful not to exceed the recommended wash temperature to avoid damaging the fabric.
Add one of the following materials to aid in the mold removal process:
- Borax. Upon contact with water, borax reacts with water to create hydrogen peroxide, a natural mold killer.
- Vinegar. Has antifungal and antimicrobial properties that help in the removal of mold.
- Hydrogen Peroxide. A natural antimicrobial agent and disinfectant, which helps kill mold fast.
- Baking Soda. Modifies the pH of water and can help in the removal of odors.
Run your clothes under two complete cycles before drying. For clothes that cannot be machine-washed, have them dry-cleaned instead.
Dry Clothes Completely Under Direct Sunlight
After washing your clothes, hang them out to dry under direct sunlight if possible. Ultraviolet rays, as well as the additional heat from the sun, will kill off any remaining mold or mildew in the fabric. Otherwise, use the recommended dryer settings for your clothes. But make sure they are completely dry before storing them in your closet to prevent mold from growing back.
Inspect Clothes Again For Signs of Mold
Once your clothes have sufficiently dried, inspect the fabric and look for signs of microbial growth. See if there are still visible signs of mold. If none are found, smell the material for odors related to mold. It may be necessary to repeat the first three steps if mold persists.
Keep Clothes in a Clean, Dry, & Well-Ventilated Area
Once you’ve verified that your clothes are now mold-free, you can fold them up and store them in an area that is completely dry and has sufficient airflow. This is a critical step to ensure that your clothes remain mold-free in the future.
Prevent Further Contamination by Addressing Sources of Mold
Eliminate the conditions that encourage microbial growth on your beloved clothing by implementing some preventative measures:
- Break the habit of leaving damp clothes in the laundry for long periods. Wash damp clothes immediately, or at least ensure they’re sufficiently dry before throwing them into the hamper.
- For items that are stored in closets, be sure to allow sufficient airflow into the closet and avoid packing away damp clothing.
- Lastly, ensure your washed clothes receive adequate sun and airflow where possible.
But in other cases, microbial growth could signify something wrong with your plumbing or other areas within your home. Therefore, it’s recommended to have your home inspected by professional mold remediation services in Chicago North Shore to locate leaky pipes, clogged drains, roof leaks, or steam sources and address them before they get out of hand and do more damage.
Restoration 1 Mold Remediation Experts
Mold spores are everywhere, which means mold could grow on your clothes when you forget to wash them or hang them after doing your laundry. Fortunately, your home and clothes can be mold-free with the help of professional mold remediation services in Chicago, North Shore. Detecting the causes of mold is crucial in preventing microbial growth before it becomes an infestation. Get in touch with the friendly professionals at Restoration 1 for mold remediation services in Chicago, North Shore.