Clothes hanging on a washing line.

How to Remove Mould from Fabric

Forgot to empty the washing machine straight away? You may end up with mouldy clothes! These unsightly spots of brown, grey, black, or green can also develop if you leave wet clothes or towels lurking in a heap at the bottom of the laundry basket, or store fabrics in a damp place.

How to Get Rid of Mould on Fabric in 5 Steps

Once you’ve discovered mould on clothes, the treatment depends on how old the mould stains are as well as the type of fabric.

  1. Check garment care labels – As always, follow the manufacturer instructions, especially in regards to the suggested water temperature for your garment, as well as how it should be dried.
  2. Rub in a mould stain remover and/or scrub it off with a toothbrush – Using one of the products suggested below, apply the solution to the mould stain. If the fabric is tough, like cotton or denim, you can try gently scrubbing off the mould with a clean toothbrush and the selected product. But try not to damage the fabric in the process!
  3. Let the stain dry in the sun, or pre-soak it – Again, this depends on the type of fabric. Sunlight is great at removing mould from fabric, but it can also fade colours and damage delicate fabrics. So a white cotton T-shirt can be dried in the sun, but not a colourful nylon shirt. Alternatively, you can pre-soak the stained garment for up to an hour in one of the solutions suggested below.
  4. Hang-dry your clothing in the sun – If the mould stains are still there, you may want to repeat some of the previous steps, but a final hang-dry in the sun will help zap any remaining mould.

Products for Removing Mould from Clothes

Now that you know how to get rid of mould on fabric, choose the most appropriate product below to do the job. Be sure to test it on an inconspicuous part of the fabric first and to take any safety precautions recommended on the product’s label.  

  • Household soap – For old stains, everyday household soap, either liquid or in bar form, can be rubbed in directly and rinsed out with water. Then set out the fabric to dry in the sun.
  • White Distilled Vinegar – An excellent mould-killer, diluted vinegar can be worked directly into the stain – or you can pre-soak the clothing in a bucket of water mixed with one cup of vinegar. You can also add 1-2 cups of vinegar to your washing machine per cycle to kill any mildew odours and brighten your whites.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide – Mix 1 part 20% hydrogen peroxide with 4 parts water to create a solution. This should only be used on organic fabrics (cotton, linen, etc.) that aren’t flame-resistant or don’t have easy-care finishes.
  • Borax – This water-soluble mineral is also a natural mould-killer, which you can buy as a detergent or in powder form. 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 launder the clothes as normal.
  • Bleach – Bleach is effective at killing mould, but it will also fade any colours. So use bleach only on whites or colourfast clothes, as a pre-soak or scrubbed directly onto the mould itself. Always follow the product instructions, wear rubber gloves, and work in a well-ventilated area away from any children, as bleach fumes can be strong! And, remember to store bleach in a secure cupboard out of the reach of children or pets. (Use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.)

If you’ve checked the care labels but are still unsure about what treatment is best for your garment, consult a professional dry cleaner for advice.

Do you have any special tips or tricks for removing mould from fabric? You can also find lots more advice about how to wash clothes here.