How to remove mould from fabric in 9 steps

Mould growth releases harmful spores into the air
Mould growth releases harmful spores into the air (Image credit: Getty Images)

It is important to know how to remove mould from fabric, because mould and dirt, if left unattended and unchecked, can cause serious damage to curtains, tapestries, and other furnishings, all while compromising air quality.

Mould growth also releases harmful spores into the air which can pose a significant risk to the respiratory health of occupants, while also creating unpleasant odours and staining materials.

For children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, this can be particularly dangerous so knowing how to carry out mould removal effectively can be an essential bit of knowledge. Here we look at how to remove mould from fabric.

How to remove mould from fabric

Removing mould from fabric primarily differs from removing mould from walls because of the nature of the materials involved. Fabrics are far more delicate and porous than walls, and can be much more susceptible to damage from harsh cleaning agents or vigorous cleaning methods, leaving more gentle alternatives such as wipes more suitable.

Walls, on the other hand, are generally more durable (with some exceptions, of course), and can therefore withstand stronger cleaning methods. If you are having trouble with your kitchen, bathroom, or utility room, look at our guide on how to remove black mould from silicone sealant.

Cleaning expert, Joyce French at HomeHow.co.uk, has provided a step-by-step guide to cleaning mould, with additional comment from Jeremy Freedman, the managing director of Guardpack, a leading sustainable wet wipe and cleaning sachet manufacturer.

1) Check the label 

First of all, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when washing or trying to remove mould from fabric. Check the material’s label for the optimum washing temperature, washing technique, and how to item should be dried.

2) Ensure you’re wearing the correct safety gear

Ideally, you should be wearing gloves, a mask, and eye protection to avoid both direct and airborne exposure to mould spores.

3) Gently brush and vacuum the fabric

Choose an appropriate mould remover, such as white vinegar, bleach, or household soap. Make sure you choose one that is suitable for the fabric you are dealing with.

Apply the mould remover directly to the mould, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then, use a toothbrush to brush off all of the surface mould. Be gentle with it and try not to damage the fabric while you’re scrubbing.

Jeremy Freedman adds that after gently brushing off any loose, surface mould you can use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove any remaining particles. If your mould infestation is relatively minor, a stain removing wipe will often be enough to tackle the issue on its own. Gently wipe from the outside in using a soft wipe to prevent any spreading of the mould. Never rub, as that will only push mould spores deeper into the fabric. Instead, blot the material.

4) Pre-Soak the fabric

Deeper mould stains can be very difficult to remove. With this in mind, you’ll need to pre-soak the fabric before washing it. You can purchase pre-soak products or you can make your own by mixing white vinegar with water in equal parts.

Leave your fabric to soak in a bucket or bathtub with the pre-soak treatment for at least an hour.

5) Wash the fabric in hot water

Hot water can help to remove allergens and bacteria and also helps to kill off the mould spores. Always check the label to ensure you don’t exceed the maximum temperature recommended for washing the fabric.

6) Use a mould-killing solution

Place your fabric in the washing machine and use a mould-killing solution in the wash cycle. There are several things you can add to your wash to help with cleaning the mould.

You can add 200-400ml of white vinegar to the wash cycle in addition to normal detergent to kill the mould and help brighten the fabric.

Baking soda is a natural deodoriser that can help remove the musty mould smells from the fabric. If smells are an issue, add around 200-300g of baking soda to your wash cycle with the normal detergent.

7) Hang the fabric to dry in the sun

Once the wash cycle has finished, you should hang the fabric out to dry in the sun. Sunlight has a natural bleaching effect and can also help to kill any remaining mould spores in the fabric. Also, breezes can help to improve the airflow to the fabric. Avoid using a dryer.

8) Prevent future regrowth

Once mould has been safely removed from the fabric, you should attempt to identify and remediate the source of moisture which caused the mould growth. This could be anything from poor ventilation to leaks.

9) Store the fabric safely 

In order to prevent mould from regrowing on the fabric, ensure its stored or located in a dry, well-ventilated area.

If mould stains persist, you may need to repeat the above steps to remove the stains.

Can mould be washed out of fabric?

You can wash mould out of fabric as long as you use a good detergent. If the mould is fresh, this should work.

However, older mould stains may be more difficult to remove and may require some pre work. For older or more stubborn mould stains, use the steps provided in the above step by step guide to remove the stains from your fabric.

Can you remove black mould spots from fabric?

The steps above can help to remove black mould spots from fabrics. Alternatively, you can treat the spots with bleach.

However, it’s important to note that bleach can cause discolouration and may not be suitable for all fabrics.

Spraying a solution of 50/50 water and vinegar and allowing this to sit on the mould spots before laundering can help to remove the black mould spots.

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.