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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Mold from Colored Clothes

By Dr. Laundry June 15, 2010

Q. What is the best way to get rid of mold on colored clothes?

A. This is usually a tough one since the best mold/mildew killers are products with sodium hypochlorite, the active in our Clorox® Regular-Bleach and Tilex® Instant Mold & Mildew Remover. This is OK for whites and bleachable colors. If you’re not sure if the colors are safe to bleach, I recommend consumers do the quick Bleachability Test (2 tspn Clorox® Regular-Bleach in 1/4 cup water; apply a drop on a hidden colored area like inside seam, hemline or cuff; wait 1 minute and then blot with towel); no color change means it is safe to use bleach on the item. Any color change could also show you the amount of change in color that likely will occur if you proceed with the liquid bleach usage. You can see a demo on my blog (http://www.drlaundryblog.com) in the video Laundry 101.

Most colors will not be bleachable so less effective treatments have to be used. Here are a couple of ideas:


  • You didn’t say how the problem originated. A common cause is letting damp clothes sit in a washer or basket before drying. As a preventive measure, I would do your next load of whites using hot water and detergent with 3/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach to rid the washer of any residual problems and prevent transfer to other loads.

  • If you can’t use liquid bleach, then carefully brush off any obvious spores; wash in the warmest water recommended on the care label with detergent and an oxygen bleach like our Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster. If there is still some present or lingering odor, try a 1 hour presoak with Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster following label instructions.