How to Get Mold and Mildew Out of Polyester Tablecloths

You don't have to get rid of your mildew-stained polyester tablecloths. Learn how to wash and remove mildew and mold from tablecloths and fabric.

Question

Dr. Laundry, how do I remove mildew from my table cloth? It is 52% cotton and 48% polyester. Please help!

Answer

The best products for removing mold and mildew contain sodium hypochlorite, like Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach. To remove mildew from machine washable fabrics, including cotton/polyester blends, presoak them using ¼ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach per gallon of water for 5-10 minutes. After the soak time is complete, pour off the soaking solution and then machine wash the items using a good detergent and ⅓ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach. Air dry the item and check for success.

You didn’t say what color your tablecloth is—if it’s got any color, first confirm that the colored parts of the tablecloth are colorfast to bleach by testing first prior to washing with bleach. To test for colorfastness to bleach, add 2 teaspoons clorox® Disinfecting Bleach to ¼ cup water and apply a drop of this solution to a hidden part of the tablecloth. Wait 1 minute, then rinse and blot dry; no color change means you can safely treat the tablecloth with bleach.

For items with color that don’t pass the bleachability test, try pretreating the stains with Clorox 2® for Colors Stain Remover and Laundry Additive and waiting 10 minutes before machine washing in the hottest water allowed using a good detergent and more Clorox 2®. Since Clorox 2® is a color-safe peroxide based bleach, it is gentler and you can expect to repeat the treatment to get heavier mildew stains all the way out.