How to Remove Mold & Mildew From Clothing & Shoes

Store your clothes and shoes in well-ventilated areas or moisture-proof bins if possible.

Photo: Images

It's unfortunate but true -- mold and mildew can grow anywhere there's warmth and moisture. While you might expect to see some mold outside or in a basement, you might be a little more surprised to see mold or mildew on your clothes or shoes. But it can happen anytime clothes or shoes are left in a damp place and not properly dried or aired out. Gross factor aside, there are several things you can do to get rid of the mold from your favorite fashions.



Pour 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar into the washing machine and put the moldy -- machine washable -- clothes in the washer tub.


Run a hot water wash cycle. Repeat the vinegar wash until the clothes have no more mold on them, but don't put the clothes in the dryer just yet.


Pour 4 oz. of all-fabric, color-safe bleach and 1 gallon warm water into a container and put the clothes into the container, if the vinegar method is not working. Let those clothes soak for at least 30 minutes in the diluted bleach mixture before removing.


Run a normal wash cycle with regular laundry detergent once you can't see or smell any mold at all on the clothes or after the clothes have soaked in the diluted bleach awhile. This might take a few wash cycles, so be patient.


Dry the clothes either in a clothes dryer or air dry the items.


Wash items marked "Hand Wash Only" in a sink with 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar, using a soft brush to scrub away the mold. Drain the vinegar from the sink and rinse the item(s) well with water. Follow by hand washing with laundry detergent meant for hand washing delicate items, which can be purchased at most grocery or drug stores. Do not bleach these delicate items or you risk ruining or staining them. Rinse the clothes again and then hang up to air dry.



Use a stiff brush to gently scrub the shoes to remove as much of the mold as possible. You want to do this outside or over a waste bin. Be very careful not to inhale the mold.


Pour some vinegar on a clean cloth and carefully blot the area where the mildew is on the shoes. If the shoes are leather, cloth or may stain easily, be careful not to rub too hard, because you don't want to exchange one stain for another.


Use a mixture of 1 quart warm water and 2 tbsp. bleach and dip a brush or cloth into the bleach mixture if the shoes are patent leather or otherwise won't be stained or harmed by the bleach and the vinegar method is not removing all of the mold. You want to be careful about this, though, because bleach can really stain many cloth or absorbent items. Gently blot the shoes with the bleach mixture.


Set the shoes outside or in a well ventilated area to dry. Repeat as needed until the mold is gone.

Things You'll Need


1.Distilled White vinegar

3.Color-safe laundry bleach

5.Soft brush

7.Clean cloth(s)

2.Measuring cup

4.Laundry detergent

6.Waste bin



Tips & Tricks


Store your clothes in a well ventilated area. If you have to place clothes in storage, use moisture-proof plastic storage bins, hang the clothes if possible and make sure you try to keep any boxes free of moisture or damp places to help keep mold from growing on those clothes and shoes.

Use caution when dealing with mold or mildew. You don't want to inhale it, so work in a well ventilated area and wear protective clothing and gear if you can. The same goes for working with bleach.

If clothes are marked "Dry Clean Only," it is best to take them to a professional dry cleaner to get the mold removed, as using at-home methods to remove the mildew may damage or ruin the clothes.


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