White Mold on clothes-What is it and what are the signs of it?
White mold is a fungal growth that resembles white powder or light film that is sheen white. It can live and grow in any environment provided the conditions are right and this is normally in dark, humid or damp conditions.
Mold doesn’t thrive in dry and sunny conditions but more in the winter months.
The color of mold is influenced by humidity levels.
Higher humidity leads to darker colors due to the greater concentrations of condensation. Another is the food source and what the mold is feeding on for example clothes, wood, carpeting and even food.
Even lighting levels can influence the growth and color because direct sunlight kills off mold spores, whereas they thrive in dark cold spaces and cause white mold on clothes left in the basement or in the closet.
The earliest sign of the onset of white mold is a strong, foul smell.
his indicates the presence of mold that normally begins as a mildew which is a thin film of fungal matter. It’s appearance is flaky or powdery.
Is White Mold on Clothes Dangerous?
Yes, white mold on clothes can be very dangerous!
Any mold is toxic and it can easily penetrate materials causing expensive repairs.
It is not just an inconvenience to your clothes but it is extremely toxic to your health when you touch or breath it in. It is a health hazard that can lead to complications.
Sometimes with white clothes you won’t notice if there is white mold because it merges with the color of the fabric.
Of course with darker clothes it is instantly noticeable. When you wear clothes that have white mold you will be inhaling the mold. Sometimes this is a common cause of asthma and may trigger allergic reactions in people who have allergies.
Symptoms may include a runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion, or watery eyes.
You could rub your hands on the white mold when you touch your shirt and begin rubbing your eyes, nostrils or mouth and other parts of the body. Contact with the skin can lead to rashes forming. Symptoms include:
- Dry and scaly skin
- Raw and sensitive skin
- Brown or pinkish
- Small bumps may form and potentially burst.
Of course the severity of your reaction to white mold will depend on how sensitive you are and how much mold you have been exposed to.
Most Common Causes of White Mold Growth on Clothes
White mold requires just the right circumstances to thrive.
Normally it is lack of adequate heating in the house, storing your clothes in dark and damp rooms in the winter months or high moisture and high humidity.
Other reasons are not drying your clothes properly and leaving them damp in the washing machine too long. It is the damp of the clothes and the residual heat from the machine drum that causes white mold.
White mold requires temperature, water and a food source to grow.
Mold grows best between 77 f and 86 f. This is why you should avoid storing damp clothes in warm closets during summer months or in baskets near washing machines and tumble dryers.
Molds thrive in damp, humid and wet conditions. This is why you should keep your home well ventilated and reduce condensation which can often be caused by leaks in pipes.
3. Food source
Wet clothes in areas that are not well ventilated make an attractive host to white mold spores. They travel through the air and are attracted to the damp material and cause white dusty mold on old clothes.
Is It Possible to Remove White Mold From Clothes?
The key is prevention.
Surface mold- that is small, light and patchy in appearance can normally be cleaned.
The difficulty is when the mold spores penetrate and grow between the fibers of the clothes and becomes entrenched. This is why any smell of white mold shouldn’t be ignored.
If the white mold is left too long to fester on clothes then more heavy duty cleaning will be required. Also, it isn’t advisable, due to health reasons, that if you spot white mold spores on clothes to wear them.
How To Get Rid of White Mold From Clothes
The first step is in prevention- washing and drying your clothes kills mildew. Mold and mildew die if they are washed properly and are allowed to completely dry out. You may be worried that there are still spores on your clothes but that’s not really how mold works.
They’ll grow anywhere as long as the conditions are right. The main problem is damp clothes are allowed to sit for too long giving the spores the perfect opportunity to grow.
If it has gotten to this point then it all starts with the preparation. Start with good ventilation to ensure the mold doesn’t grow back because mold thrives in moist conditions.
Bleach is a very common way to get rid of white mold but is very hazardous if handled incorrectly or carelessly.
You need to ensure that you prepare the area by removing unaffected clothes, making sure there are no small children and pets around and ensuring that the windows are opened because fumes from bleach can be very strong.
Gloves- It all starts with heavy duty gloves to protect your hands. Bleach contains sodium hyphochlorite and is also 18% hydrocloric acid. Bleach can oxidize and burn through human tissue.
Goggles- Bleach is very hazardous to the eyes because it can burn through the cornea and iris.
Face mask- Wear a face mask to prevent inhalation of the fumes. Bleach fumes can be very toxic to the linings of the lungs and damage tissue. Prolonged inhalation can lead to respiratory problems.
Depending on the severity of the white mold you can use the strongest option which is bleach or borax ; baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. For non-bleached clothing you can use lemon juice or white vinegar. Hand washing with the above cleaning agents is normally preparation for the washing machine.
Bleach- it is normally advisable to dilute and not pour it directly onto clothes because they can discolor the fabric. Measure a 1/4 cup of bleach (59 ml) to 1 gallon of water. Leave the clothing to soak in the water for 2 hours.
Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide- make a paste and apply it directly to the affected area with a small hand brush. Leave to soak for 1 hour prior to washing. This option can be used to treat white mold on black clothes. It is less hostile to darker colors than bleach.
Borax- Fill a large bowl of hot water and use half a cup of borax and blend together.
Lemon juice or white vinegar- This should be used for more delicate fabrics. Take half a lemon and mix 3 tablespoons of white vinegar and apply directly to the affected area. Leave to soak in hot water.
Washing machine- This is an obvious choice to begin with. Most modern day washing machines have the option of hot water mode. White mold can be killed at water temperatures exceeding 140 f. It is worth bearing in mind that you must always separate the clothing that has white mold on it.
Make sure to select the hot mode, depending on the type of fabric. If it is jeans, pants, towels or sweaters this is fine. For women’s undergarments and white cotton t-shirts it is best to wash by hand. High temperatures can shrink them.
In addition to using detergent, add vinegar, or bleach to the compartments that fill with water.
To ensure you kill the white mold spores wash your clothes on two cycles. Ensure you hang your clothes up outside, or transfer to a tumble dryer to kill the white mold on clothes.
Preventing White Mold On Your Clothes
White mold eats the material it grows on. The mold digests the carbon on the surface breaking it down.
On clothes this can leave it smelling and looking unpleasant. Most times it will leave irreparable damage.
If you have just washed your clothes make sure to dry them and ensure they are fully dry before folding them up and storing them away.
This is the best preventative measure from white mold spores from reaching your clothes.