Is there anything more frustrating than discovering mould stains on your clothes?

Damp clothes or fabrics can easily be infested with mould. So watch out for those nightmarish yellow/green, brown or black traces. 

As soon as you spot them, it's time to take action!
But how to remove mould from fabric so you don't ruin the colours?

Removing mould from fabrics is a tricky task. Many believe it can invade walls and surfaces only, but it does with textiles as much. If you just encountered mould stains, there's no need to panic: you can still save and preserve your garments.

It's easy to figure out how to remove mould from fabric. Read the label, scrub the mould off, pre-soak your fabric and finally wash your clothes. Fortunately, if you find mould on your clothes, there are steps you can take to sort out this hassle. Here's everything you need to know, step by step.

How mould appears on fabric?

Even though most people think mould only grows on walls, it can appear on other surfaces and fabrics. These include your carpets, curtains, clothes and sofas. Not only is it damaging to textiles, but it can also interact with your skin. It can result in a number of health problems. These include skin irritation and harsh allergies.

Mould appears naturally on food, but it can also appear on damp fabric

How does mould appear on fabric?
In nature, mould is a fungus that helps break down dead trees and leaves. It then allows foliage to flourish in its place. Therefore, it is attracted to damp spaces even in the comfort of your home, if the conditions are just right. It can grow if there's dampness and lack of ventilation. It also attacks fibre-rich material, so it comes as no surprise mould loves fabrics. If your clothes remain wet for an extended period of time, mould will be attracted to them pretty quickly. This can take anything between 24-48 hours.

Keep in mind that if you have recently washed your clothes, it is always best to dry them in a dry corner. For example, dry them close to a radiator. Make sure to ventilate the room as much as possible. Don't leave the clothes remaining in the washing machine for too long and use a dryer if you own one.

How to remove mould from fabric step by step

  1. Read the label
  2. Scrub the mould off
  3. Pre-soak the fabric
  4. Wash your clothes

1. Read the label!

Choose the right remedy according to the fabric you want to clean. Remember, this is why it's key to understand how delicate the washing process has to be.
First of all, make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions on the label about the recommended water temperature for washing. Also take note of how the clothing items should be dried.

2. Scrub the mould off

Choose which mould stain remover you want to apply. You can go for a ready to use mould soap, household soap, white vinegar or bleach.
The latter can kill mould in fabrics. However, it can fade colours. So make sure to read the label and spot-test first. Then, apply the chosen liquid with a soft toothbrush designed for sensitive teeth to brush the mould off the surface. Be gentle and try not to damage the fabric.

3. Pre-soak the fabric

Mould stains are stubborn, which makes pre-soaking your clothes or fabrics a smart move. Do this before washing: add one cup of white vinegar in a bucket. This can do the work without using harsh chemicals.

4. Wash your clothes

Add an anti-mould solution in the washer.
Vinegar (one or two cups) along with regular detergent will be perfect for coloured or printed fabrics. You can also use half a cup of a borax substitute, such as Dri-Pak. Use it in hot water once the washing machine is filled with water. Choose this option only for thicker organic fabrics like cotton and linen. Borax in its pure form is no longer available in the UK. But Borax Substitute is available in most UK supermarkets and online. You can also use Bicarbonate of Soda as a gentler solution.

Bleach is a great mould killer, but it can damage materials and ruin prints and colours. If you know your fabrics are resistant enough, wash them with regular detergent and one cup of bleach.

Tip: if your fabrics have a persistent musty odour, try adding a few drops of essential oil before washing in the washing machine. Lavender is a great option, but orange essential oil is known for being an excellent natural smell killer.

Note: Prevention is better than cure! So once you cleaned your beloved items, make sure mould is not growing in your home. How? By scheduling routine home inspections, checking your ventilation system and using dehumidifiers if necessary.

April 12, 2021 — Artemis Doupa