Skip to content
Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Mildew Stains from Fabric

By Dr. Laundry September 6, 2013

How do I remove mildew stains from colored fabric?

Mildewed textiles need to be treated right. If you are not sure if your item can be bleached, you can do a quick bleachability test to check: add 1 ½ teaspoons of Clorox® Regular-Bleach to ¼ cup water (or 2 teaspoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach added to ¼ cup water); apply a drop to a hidden part of the garment like a hem or inside seam; wait 1 minute then blot with a towel; no color change means it is safe to bleach the item. For these items, the following approach should work:

1. Wash clothes immediately in hot water (or the hottest water recommended on the care label) using detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach.

2. If the problem is really bad, consider soaking the item in a bleach solution made with 3 tablespoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach added to 1 gallon of water. Fully submerge the item for 5 minutes, and then drain the soaking solution. Finish by washing the item in hot water using detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach.

3. If the mildew is heavy, you may need to repeat the treatment for complete success.

For non-bleachable colors (or non-bleachable fabrics like wool, silk, mohair, leather, and spandex that should never be washed with bleach) it may be difficult to remove mildew completely since the best mold and mildew removers are products with sodium hypochlorite like Clorox® Regular-Bleach. Even so, you can try the following:

1. Carefully brush off any obvious spores and then wash in the warmest water recommended on the care label with detergent and an oxygen bleach like Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster.

2. Try a 1 hour presoak with Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster following label instructions.

3. Air dry items in the sun.