Many people are surprised when they see mould growing on clothes, because they often only associate mould growth with surface areas in the kitchen, bathrooms, and other damp and dark areas around the home.

But mould can grow on clothes and fabrics just easily, and it’s understandable why that’s the case when you look at a few of the key reasons for what causes mould; moisture, oxygen, and food (in this case, cotton). All of these elements are often present in clothing and fabrics.

Before treating any clothing or fabrics for mould, it’s always best to check the label so you can follow the manufacturer instructions, especially in regards to the suggested water temperature and how it should be dried.

Different solutions to remove mould from clothes & fabrics

  • Bleach – probably the most common method to remove mould from clothing is washing them with bleach.

    Adding one cup of bleach to the washing machine when you wash a load of clothing should be effective in removing mould from clothes. Please note, bleach will also fade any colours, so only use it on whites or colourfast clothing.

  • Borax – available as a detergent or in powder form, and is a natural a natural mould-killer. If you get it as a powder, mix half a cup of borax thoroughly with hot water according to instructions. Then add the solution directly into the drum of your washing machine and wash clothes as normal.
  • White Distilled Vinegar – an excellent mould-killer; it can kill around 80% of all mould species.

    Add one or two cups white vinegar to the washing machine when you wash a load. Repeat if needed.

  • Mould Killing Detergent – there are specialist washing detergents that clean and remove mould from your clothes in the wash.
  • Brushing – it’s possible to remove mould from clothes and fabrics without using a solution- you can try brushing the mould off and then washing the clothes as you normally would. After brushing off the mould outside, leave the clothes out in the sun (which will kill the remaining mould).

    Next soak the clothes in cold water. Then wash your clothes as usual, and dry them under the sun after.

Most common reason for mould growth on clothes & fabrics

Washing clothes

If you have clothes that are wet for more than 24 hours then mould can easily start to grow on them. This is common when clothes are left wet for too long after they’ve been washed. Ideally, clothing should be dried immediately, and the best way to do that is outside, under the sun.

Humid rooms

It’s not recommended to dry clothes indoors, because it creates humidity. If you do dry them inside, it’s important to ventilate properly i.e. open windows.

If your home is naturally humid, that is another reason why mould may grow on your clothes. Similarly, this is often why fabric furniture and curtains start to grow mould.

Wet after wear
It’s common for clothes to be wet after they’ve been worn, whether that be because of exercising, or being exposed to moist weather. Either way, clothes that are wet after wearing should be washed quickly, or placed somewhere to dry. Leaving them in a pile won’t allow them to air or dry, which will create an optimal atmosphere for mould growth.

Mould ruins clothes & fabrics

If you detect mould on your clothes it’s important to remove it quickly, because the longer mould is left on clothes the harder it is to remove. Mould will also make fabric smell really bad.

Mould eats the organic material it’s growing on, especially cotton, which means the longer you leave the mould untreated, the more it will become deteriorated.

Dangers of mould on clothes

The health risks of mould can be serious, which includes allergic reactions and breathing difficulties. Bear in mind, clothing & fabric furniture touch our skin and are close to our bodies, so it’s important not to wear clothing or use furniture that has mould growth until it has been treated properly.

Moreover, you do not need to be wearing mouldy clothes or sitting on mouldy furniture to suffer symptoms, because if there is mould on your clothes or furniture, they’ll naturally release mould spores into the atmosphere, which can easily be as damaging.