Water Damage: How to Prevent Mold on Clothes

prevent mold on clothes

Since mold is a frequent side-effect of home water damage, considering ways to prevent mold on clothes is a worthwhile preventive measure. Mold grows indoors when moisture and dormant mold spores come together. Fabrics including clothing—especially those made of natural fibers—support mold growth following water damage. Either direct contact with released water, or the unusually high humidity typically present inside a water-damaged house, may be sufficient to trigger mold growth on clothing.  

How Mold Affects Clothing

  • Staining. Mold contamination may discolor fabrics with dark or purple-colored stains.
  • Odors. Clothing contaminated by mold will have a persistent pungent smell very noticeable to the person wearing the clothes as well as others nearby.
  • Physical symptoms. Individuals with a sensitivity to certain types of mold may experience allergic reactions such as respiratory symptoms or skin rash due to inhaling mold spores from contaminated clothing.

Ways To Prevent Mold On Clothes

  • Clothing affected by water damage should be machine-washed ASAP with laundry soap and bleach at the hottest water setting the fabric is suitable for. Run clothes through two full washing cycles.
  • If clothes cannot be exposed to bleach, add a cup of vinegar to the first wash cycle, instead. Vinegar has anti-microbial properties that help prevent mold on clothes. In the second wash cycle, add half a cup of baking soda to neutralize odors associated with mold.
  • Air-dry outdoors in sunlight, if possible, to prevent mold on clothes. Ultraviolet rays present in sunlight destroy mold.
  • If certain fabrics must be dry cleaned instead of washed, place the clothes in a plastic bag and seal it. Inform the dry cleaner that mold is an issue and point out any specific mold stains you are aware of.  
  • To prevent mold on clothes in seasonal storage, consider the potential for water damage and/or chronic moisture. Certain areas such as the basement or attic may be at greater risk for water damage and/or are chronically damp and contaminated with mold spores. Store clothes in a location with favorable air circulation and relative humidity no higher than 60%.  

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