Throw Away Clothes Worn While Cleaning Mold?

David J. Allen

I spent the better part of 2 ½ years learning about mold and indoor air quality because my child's life depended on it. Now I help others avoid ever having to experience the same thing. The mold industry suffers from conflicting opinions and I do my best to distill loads of data into something practical and useful. I love hearing from and helping readers. • "A house desecrated by mildew, mold, or fungus would be a defiled place to live in, so drastic measures had to be taken." — Leviticus 14:45

While it’s very possible that your clothing may become contaminated while you’re cleaning mold, that doesn’t mean you need to get rid of the clothes. Not all mold removal jobs are the same, and there’s no guarantee that the fungus you’re attempting to clean will spread to what you’re wearing.

The thing is, there’s not usually an easy way to tell whether the clothes have been compromised or not. Mold spores are microscopic, so a visual inspection isn’t likely to provide any definitive answers—at least not before the mold has had time to grow.

So, when you clean mold in your home, the safest course is to always assume that your clothing is contaminated. Instead of throwing that comfortable hoodie in the dumpster, though, you can simply give it a thorough cleaning to remove any mold spores that may be present.

How do you remove mold from your clothing?

After you finish the mold cleaning task, you’ll want to wash the clothes you were wearing as quickly as possible. If spores have indeed spread to the clothing, then letting them linger will make it much more difficult to effectively clean them. In fact, if you let them sit around long enough, you may indeed end up needing to throw them away.

Plus, the mold may spread to other clothing items or surfaces in your home. You also won’t want to just throw the potentially-contaminated clothes in with a regular load of laundry, as that too could cause the fungus to spread.

There are a few different effective methods that you can use to clean mold from clothing, and for the most part, they’re pretty similar. With each method, the first step is to rinse the affected clothes and soak them in a solution. Some people like to use a solution of non-chlorinated bleach and water. Other people prefer to use either Borax or white vinegar instead of bleach. All three are good options that should be able to get the job done. These are the recommended mixes for each solution:

  • Bleach Solution: One bucket of water with two cups of non-chlorinated bleach.
  • Borax Solution: One bucket of water with 1/2 cup of Borax.
  • Vinegar Solution: One bucket of water with one cup of white vinegar.

If you use the Borax or vinegar solution, you’ll want to let the clothes soak for about an hour. If you use bleach, they’ll only need to sit for five or ten minutes. After the clothing has soaked for the appropriate amount of time, your next step will be to scrub the fabric with a soft-bristled brush.

For this step, you should be wearing rubber gloves, goggles, and a face mask to prevent yourself from inhaling the spores. This step is especially important if the clothes have visible mold stains, but it’s a good idea to scrub the fabric all over for a few minutes either way.

After you’ve soaked and scrubbed your contaminated clothing, you’ll want to run it through the laundry using hot water and your standard detergent. If you like, you can add 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda to the wash to help deodorize the clothing. Although it’s fine to simply run the clothes through the dryer, the ideal method would be to let them dry naturally in direct sunlight.

Once the washing and drying are finished, give each clothing item a smell test and visual inspection to ensure that there’s no sign of contamination. Then, to minimize the chances that the fungus comes back, be sure to store the clothing somewhere dry and well-ventilated.

Can you prevent your clothes from getting contaminated in the first place?

If you’re thinking that that sounds like quite a bit of work and wonder if there is a way to prevent the clothing from being contaminated in the first place, the answer is yes.

If you don’t mind spending a bit of money, there are protective, disposable suits that you can purchase to wear over your clothes while working with mold. As long as the suit you’re using is high-quality, you shouldn’t need to worry about the clothes you’re wearing underneath ending up moldy.

Of course, the other way you can prevent your clothes from being contaminated is to let professionals handle the mold removal instead of doing it yourself. If you have a significant infestation in your home, it’s always a wise idea to let the experts take care of it.

If you don’t know the proper way to do the job correctly and safely, you may end up jeopardizing your health and/or accidentally spreading the fungus. When you hire mold remediation professionals, they’ll not only address your mold problem, but they’ll also help you prevent any future outbreaks.

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