How to Get Rid of Mildew Smell in Fabric

Removing mildew from fabric may not remove the mildew smell. Eliminating the smell from fabrics without damaging them may require several treatments with a variety of substances.

A mildew infestation can create a difficult to remove smell in fabrics.
  1. Brush off any loose mold growth on the clothing. Do this outside so that you don't contaminate your house with mold spores. Wear a allergen-rated dust mask and eye protection while handling mildew-contaminated items.

  2. Lay out the clothing or fabric in the sun to dry out. The heat and light from the sun helps kill mildew in fabric without fading the material.

  3. Presoak the fabric items in cold water in the washing machine for an hour. Run the tub through the rinse cycle and spin the load.

  4. Refill the tub with hot water. Add 3/4 cup of white vinegar to the load and run it through a complete cycle.

  5. Rewash the clothing or fabric with regular laundry detergent. Hang the clothing or fabric out in the sun to dry thoroughly.

  6. Sponge any remaining stains with diluted bleach and rewash immediately. If the fabric will be damaged by chlorine bleach, you can use a solution of lemon juice and salt to treat the fabric. Rub it in and wait 10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

  7. Rewash with laundry soap and 3/4 cup vinegar. Again dry the clothing in the sun and spray with a commercial mildicide to prevent recurrence of the mildew. Be sure and follow the instructions on the bottle carefully to prevent damage to the fabric or injury to yourself.

  8. Remove all clothing from the closet or storage place where the mildewed items were kept to prevent a recurrence of the mildew smell. Spray the inside of the storage area with mildicide. Wipe down the inside and dry the area with a fan to remove all moisture.

  9. Sprinkle mildew preventative crystals into the folds of any clothing or fabric you store in the storage area and you should have no further mildew problems.