What Causes Mold on Clothes? Your Questions Answered

You’ve picked out your clothes for the day only to realize that what you wanted to wear has what appears to be mold on it. What causes mold on clothes?

The causes of mold on clothes generally are when moisture is allowed to sit on clothing for long periods of time without proper ventilation. Wet clothes sitting in the washing machine and forgetting about them could cause mold on clothes. Sweaty, bundled-up clothes in a gym bag could also cause mold.

What causes mold on clothes?

The biggest challenge people have when it comes to mold on clothes is knowing how to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Many people don’t realize that leaving damp clothes in their closets or hampers can cause mold to form, and this can lead to a lot of clothes becoming ruined.

Mildew (mold in early stage) and molds grow on wood products, ceiling tiles, cardboard, wallpaper, carpets, drywall, fabric, plants, foods, insulation, decaying leaves and other organic materials. Mold growths, or colonies, can start to grow on a damp surface within 24 to 48 hours.


What Causes Mold on Clothes?

Mold is a type of fungus that is often found in damp, dark environments. Mold reproduces by releasing spores into the air, which can then settle on surfaces and begin to grow. Mold typically feeds on organic matter, such as dead leaves or rotting wood. However, mold can also grow on other materials, such as paper, home interiors, and clothing.

There are several scenarios that would cause mold on clothes. Let’s take a look at some of them now:

  • Damp or sweaty clothes left wadded up in a gym bag are a perfect environment for mold.
  • Towels or clothing tossed onto the bathroom floor can cause mold, as the items cannot dry properly.
  • Clothes left sitting in a washing machine are a magnet for mold, acting as a good medium for fungal growth.
  • Poor air circulation in closets and other storage spaces can also lead to an increased risk of mold growth on clothes, as these areas are often exposed to excess humidity and damp air.
  • Allowing wet laundry to air dry in a closed closet contributes to a ripe breeding ground for mold.
  • Some types of fabrics, such as wool or cotton, are more prone to mold growth than others because they absorb moisture easier and provide a richer source of nutrients for fungi to feed on.
  • Damp, soiled clothes left to sit in a laundry hamper will cause mold.
  • If a home is moldy in other areas of the home, clothing will be more likely to also become moldy.

What Does Mold on Clothes Look Like?

Mold can appear as small black or green dots, or as a white, fuzzy substance and is often accompanied by a musty smell. If you notice mold on your clothes, it’s important to take action immediately.

Mold can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems, so it’s important to remove it as soon as possible.

The best way to remove mold from clothes is to wash them in hot water with a cup of bleach. You can also try using a clothes steamer or ironing the affected area.

If the mold stains are resistant to these methods, you may need to discard the affected clothing.

Can Mold be Removed from Clothes?

The good news is that mold can usually be removed from clothing fairly easily. Start by gently scrubbing the affected area with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar. If the mold persists, you may need to use a stronger cleaning solution or even bleach.

An advantage of using vinegar is that it will remove any musty smell from clothes that have been affected by mold.

Be sure to test a small hidden area of the fabric first to ensure that it will not damage the material.

With a little elbow grease, you should be able to remove mold from your clothes and keep your wardrobe looking fresh and clean.

Does Laundry Detergent Kill Mold?

When laundry detergent comes into contact with mold, it can break down the fungi’s cell walls and could conceivably kill the mold.

However, simply using detergent isn’t enough to completely remove mold from fabric – you also need to use hot water and dry the items thoroughly afterward.

Otherwise, the mold will just continue to grow.

How to Get Rid of Mold from Colored Clothes

It’s inevitable; at some point, you’re going to have to deal with mold on your clothing. But what do you do if the mold is on colored clothes that you should not bleach?

The key to removing mold from colored clothes is to act quickly. The longer the mold has to set, the harder it will be to remove. Here are a few tips for getting rid of mold on colored clothes:

  • Start by pre-treating the areas with mold with a stain remover or other cleaner.
  • If possible, wash the clothing in hot water. If the clothing is delicate, be careful with how hot you go.
  • Add a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle. This will help to kill the mold spores.
  • Hang the clothing in direct sunlight to dry. The UV rays from the sun will kill any remaining mold spores.

Sadly, mold is capable of staining clothes, so the sooner you are able to take care of the mold problem, the higher your chances of getting the mold and the stains out of the clothes.

Should You Throw Out Moldy Clothes?

If you discover mold on your clothing, it can be tempting to simply throw the garment away. However, this may not always be the best course of action. In some cases, moldy clothes can be saved with a little effort. It’s important to identify the type of mold present.

If the mold is white or powdery, it is likely that the garment can be salvaged. Simply remove the mold with a brush or vacuum attachment and wash the item as usual.

If the mold is green, black, or fuzzy, however, it is likely that the fabric has been damaged and the garment should be discarded.

Clothes that have been stored in damp or humid environments are especially susceptible to mold growth, so it is important to take care when storing your clothing.

How to Prevent Mold in the Closet

Make sure your closet is well-ventilated. Air circulation helps to keep mold spores from settling and taking root. If possible, open a window or turn on a fan whenever you’re working in the closet. You’ll also want to avoid storing damp or wet items in the closet.

Wet clothes, towels, and shoes are all prime breeding grounds for mold. Allow wet items to air dry thoroughly before putting them away.

If you feel you must hang some of your laundered clothes in your closet, at the very least leave the closet door open to prevent the closet air from encouraging mold. Damp items is are a big reason for mold in closets.

A home in general may have a tendency to grow mold in climates with high humidity. Use a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity in a home. Check for leaky pipes that may be a mold contributor.

Make sure to not store a bunch of things on your closet floor, as moisture can become trapped underneath.

Finally, consider using a dehumidifier in your closet. This will help to keep the air dry and prevent mold from growing.

Does Mold Come Out of Clothes?

The good news is that mold is relatively easy to remove from clothing by taking the following steps:

  • Wash the affected garment in hot water and laundry detergent.
  • If the mold persists, you can soak the garment in a solution of bleach and water.
  • After the garment has soaked for at least 30 minutes, wash it again in hot water and detergent.

You may need to repeat this process several times before the mold is completely gone. With a little effort, you can get your clothes looking and smelling clean and fresh once again.

Clothes Smell Musty After Washing

If you don’t allow your clean clothing to dry completely before putting them away, it can develop mold or mildew. Further, if you don’t use enough detergent, your clothes may not come out as clean as they should, which can also lead to musty odors.

The minerals in hard water can leave a residue on your clothes that can cause them to smell musty. If you’re having this problem, there are a couple of things you can do to fix it.

  • Make sure you’re using enough detergent
  • Allow your clothes to dry completely before storing them
  • Invest in a water softener to remove the minerals from your water

By following these simple tips, you can keep your clothes smelling fresh and clean.

Can Mold on Clothes Spread?

While it is possible for mold spores to be transferred from one article of clothing to another, it is not particularly likely. Mold requires a warm, moist environment in order to grow, so clothing that is stored in a cool, dry place is unlikely to develop mold growth.

In addition, mold spores are relatively fragile and can be easily killed by heat or cold. As a result, the risk of mold spreading from one article of clothing to another is relatively low.

If you have any concerns about mold growth on your clothes, it is always best to err on the side of caution and wash them as soon as possible.

How Fast Does Mold Grow on Clothes?

The rate at which mold grows on clothes depends on several factors, including the type of fabric, the amount of moisture present, and the temperature. Mold can grow on many different surfaces, including clothes. While mold is often associated with damp or wet environments, it can actually grow in a variety of different conditions.

In general, mold prefers dark, humid conditions with a temperature between 77 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Under these conditions, mold can begin to grow within 24 to 48 hours.

However, if the fabric is dry or the temperature is lower, it can take up to a week for mold to appear.

While mold growth can be accelerated by certain environmental factors, it is important to note that all fabrics are susceptible to mold growth under the right conditions.

As a result, it is important to take steps to prevent mold growth on clothes, such as drying them promptly after they get wet and storing them in a cool, dry place.

Can Mold Stain Clothes?

Mold can cause staining on clothes, particularly if the fabric is porous. The mold may leave a discoloration that is difficult to remove. In addition, mold can cause the fabric to weaken, making it more susceptible to tearing.

If you have clothes that have been stained by mold, it is important to treat the stain as soon as possible.

There are a number of commercial stain removers that are effective at removing mold stains. You may also want to try using a mixture of bleach and water.

However, be sure to test this on a small area of the fabric first to make sure it does not damage the material.

If you have a mold problem in your home, it is important to address the issue promptly to prevent further damage to your clothing.

Is Black Mold on Towels Dangerous?

Although black mold is often associated with dirty or cluttered environments, this type of mold can also grow on clean surfaces, such as towels. While black mold is not generally considered to be dangerous, it can cause respiratory problems in some people.

Black mold can also cause staining and discoloration of towels. If you notice black mold on your towels, it is important to remove it promptly.

The best way to remove black mold is to use a mixture of bleach and water. Wet a sponge or cloth with the mixture and scrub the affected area.

You may need to scrub vigorously to remove all of the mold. Once the mold has been removed, rinse the area with clean water and allow the towel to air dry.


Mold can be a serious problem, both for your health and for the condition of your clothes. It is important to take action right away if you think you have mold on your clothes and to prevent it from happening in the first place.

We hope these tips will help you keep your clothes healthy and free of mold!


What is mold, and what causes it?

Mold is a type of fungus that grows in damp or wet environments. It is caused by moisture and certain types of organic materials, such as wood, paper, plants, and food.

What are the health risks associated with mold exposure?

Mold exposure can lead to a number of adverse health effects, including allergic reactions, respiratory problems, skin irritation, and infections.

In some cases, it can even trigger severe illnesses like asthma or pneumonia.

How can mold be prevented and controlled?

To prevent and control mold growth, you should keep your home or workspace well-ventilated at all times. You should also clean up any spills immediately to remove excess moisture from the affected area.

If you notice signs of mold growth in your home or workplace, it’s important to take action right away by contacting a professional cleaning service for help.


Trina Greenfield, Author
SmackDown Media LLC

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those interested in the air quality in and around their homes. Trina writes content about things she’s passionate about, such as safe, in-home air, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.