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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing mildew from textiles

By Dr. Laundry January 14, 2013

How do I remove mildew from clothes?

Mildewed textiles need to be treated right away to help keep the problem from getting worse. You didn’t say what color your clothing is or if any of the items are bleachable. If you are not sure, you can do a quick bleachability test to check: add 1+1/2 teaspoons new Concentrated Clorox® Regular-Bleach 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 approaches should work:


  • At a minimum I would wash clothes immediately in hot water (or the hottest water recommended on the care label) using detergent and 1/2 cup Concentrated Clorox® Regular-Bleach.

  • If the problem is really bad, consider doing a bleach soak (use 3 tablespoons bleach per gallon of cool water; soak 5-10 minutes), then wash in hot water with detergent and 1/2 cup Concentrated Clorox® Regular-Bleach.

  • 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 not be washed with bleach) it may be difficult to remove mildew completely since the best mold and mildew removers are products with sodium hypochlorite. Even so, you can try the following: