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How to Remove Mildew From Cotton

The porous nature of cotton makes it susceptible to the damaging effects of mildew. As mildew develops and grows, it eats away at cotton fibers, causing clothing and other textiles to weaken. The process of removing mildew from cotton is a simple one and vital to maintaining the condition of your fabric.

Be careful with the water temperature when removing mildew stains from cotton.
  1. Bring your cotton fabrics outdoors and shake them out to remove surface mildew. Stand away from outdoor furniture and other surfaces where you don't want mildew spores to land.

  2. Combine one box of baking soda and warm water in a five-gallon bucket. Stir the mixture until the baking soda is dissolved. Soak the cotton garments and textiles in the baking soda solution overnight to kill mildew and remove stains and odors.

  3. Rinse cotton to flush out mildew spores and stains.
  4. Remove the fabric from the bucket and rinse it with cool water to remove the baking soda solution and mildew. Pour heavy-duty laundry detergent directly on any remaining mildew stains. Rub the fabric together to work in the detergent, then allow the fabric to sit for 10 minutes to loosen stains.

  5. Again rinse the cotton to wash away the detergent and more mildew stains.

  6. Direct sunlight is effective for killing mold and mildew.
  7. Rub a pre-wash stain remover onto any remaining mildew stains. Wash the fabric with heavy-duty laundry detergent and all-fabric bleach to kill the last of the mildew and remove stains and odors. Hang the cotton fabric in the sun to dry.

About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.