Mold on Clothes

You have probably heard about mold, but did you know that you can even get mold on clothes? Mold is so much more than an annoyance – it can also be hazardous to your health.

If you see dark specs on your walls, or in the grout lines of your tiles, particularly in the bathroom or the kitchen, you should pay attention to those marks because it is a sign that you have a mold problem.

Though most people think mold only grows on walls, in actuality, mold can appear on several other surfaces, including your clothes and shoes. Mold has the potential to destroy fabric and anything else it comes into contact with.

mold on clothes
Mold on clothes

Mold on clothes can also interact with your skin when they come into contact and cause a variety of health problems from skin irritation to full-blown allergies.

Mold is a problem you should not be overlooking especially if you have mold on your clothes. There are steps you can take to learn about mold on clothes, and how to remedy it. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is mold on clothes?

mold on clothes

Mold is a fungus and an essential component of the eco-system, helping to break down dead trees and leaves, in order for more foliage to flourish in its place. Mold is attracted to damp spaces that naturally occur in nature, but can grow in more unlikely places, like the interiors of homes and apartments and on clothes, if the conditions are just right.

Mold tends to grow in a variety of colours – purple, orange, green, black, or white – on a variety of surfaces depending on the conditions. Mold on clothes is usually the Aspergillus strain, and has a different look and feel to the mold that grows on walls or floors.

Unlike other damp surfaces, mold on clothes often looks white, and sometimes greenish-black. If you have ever seen fungus grow on a piece of bread or cheese, you may be able to recognise when there is mold on your clothes as the appearance is largely similar.

white mold on shoe
White mold on shoe

Why does mold grow on clothes?

Similar to the reasons why mold appears in your home, mold on clothes can grow because of dampness and lack of ventilation. Mold disperses spores and toxins that travel through the air and are attracted to damp materials that are fibre-rich, such as wood, drywall, and fabric.

If your clothes remain wet for an extended period of time, mold will be attracted to it fairly quickly – anywhere between 24-48 hours. Keeping wet or even moist clothes in unventilated areas or closely together becomes a breeding ground to grow mold on clothes.

mold on clothes 01

If you have recently washed your clothes, it is always best to dry the clothes in sunlight as soon as possible. If you do not have a way to dry clothes outside, dry them in the dryer. Do not let the clothes remain in the washing machine in their damp state for too long.

Dampness is only one of the causes for mold on clothes. If your home is too humid, or if the room where your clothes are stored does not have enough ventilation, chances of finding mold on clothes increases significantly.

What kind of mold can grow on clothes?

There are two major types of mold – black mold and white mold. Black mold on clothes is not as commonly seen as white mold on clothes, but there are chances of both occurring under the right circumstances.

black mold on clothes
Black mold on clothes

Black mold, also known as Stachybotrys chartarum, is an extremely toxic mold that grows in homes and produces mycotoxins that are capable of causing health hazards in humans, especially once its spores become airborne. By the time black mold is detected, it is often already a major problem in the home.

Though not as frequently perceived as a threat, white mold is fairly common in homes. It is harder to detect on lighter surfaces and has a propensity for changing colour. White mold also feels flaky, and has a powdery appearance, very similar to mildew, which is an earlier www of mold.

White mold can be injurious to your health, though not to the same extent as black mold. Both black mold and white mold on clothes are dangerous, causing lasting damage to the surfaces they come in contact with, and must be treated as soon as they are recognised.

How to identify mold on clothes?

Mold on clothes can generally be identified by its smell. If you have a mold problem in your house, or specifically on your clothes, you will be able to identify it from its strong musty, earthy odour.

The appearance of white and black mold is often easy to spot by the naked eye because of the discolouration it causes. Mold also has a particular texture that makes it identifiable – it can feel fluffy or slimy to the touch.

mold on clothes 02

But the mold you see may not be the cause of the problem in your home. Visible mold is usually a sign of a longstanding, undetected mold problem. You need to get to the source of the mold growth or the mold will keep reoccurring.

Identifying the original source of the mold in your home is not something you can do yourself. It is important to perform professional air quality testing to remove the mold permanently. Begin the testing process as soon as you suspect a problem.

Can mold on clothes make you ill?

Mold has dangerous health effects that should not be ignored. Though your body’s reactions to mold depend on the amount of mold growing in your home, and the sensitivity of your current state of health, the presence of mold has long-term adverse health effects.

The Aspergillus species of mold on clothes can easily be inhaled by people and has been known to cause respiratory problems, like coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and even fever. For those who are particularly susceptible, like children, the elderly, or asthmatics, the consequences can be serious.

mold on shoes

Other types of mold on clothes can cause skin allergies and rashes, if you are particularly sensitive. You can also suffer from fatigue, headaches, and dizziness caused by mold on clothes.

The long-term effects of having mold on clothes, and in your home, can lead to a weakened immune system and recurring ill-health that could indirectly lead to severe infections like tuberculosis, and thus must be remedied as quickly as possible.

How can you remove mold from clothes?

There are several DIY solutions for removing mold on clothes that can be accomplished with household products. But be aware that these methods only work on localised mold occurrences.

  • The combination of baking soda and vinegar has been known to effectively combat mold on clothes. A teaspoon of baking soda with a cup or two of vinegar removes mold and the musty smell. Add this mixture to your washing cycle or soak the clothes in white vinegar for an hour.
  • Borax is a mold-killing product and one that is easily accessible even if you don’t already have it in your home. Add a half cup of borax to hot water and wait for it to dissolve before pouring it into your washing machine along with your detergent.
  • Alternately, you can use a cup of bleach part way through your washing cycle, but ensure that you check that your clothes do not have a “Do Not Bleach” tag first.

If your mold problem is more widespread, however, these solutions will not be long-lasting. It is highly recommended that you contact a professional mold removal service if you have extensive mold in your home.

How to prevent mold growing on clothes?

Prevention is better than cure and when it concerns as invasive a problem as mold, it is best to do everything you can to prevent the spread, or even the occurrence, of mold. For instance, it is important to conduct routine home inspections to ensure mold is not growing in your home.

Another factor that helps grow mold on clothes is increased humidity and dampness. Check your ventilation systems and dehumidifiers to ensure that the humidity in your home remains below 50%, at the very least.

mold on bag

Ventilation in areas that have a high risk of dampness, such as bathrooms and kitchens, should be monitored. If there isn’t enough ventilation in these areas, the situation should be rectified as soon as possible.

Most importantly, when dealing with mold, address the source of the mold problem instead of the symptoms. Mold on clothes, walls, and other surfaces are often the result of a much larger issue like water damage and high humidity, and must be handled accordingly.


Is mold on clothes harmful?

The answer to the question of whether or not mold is harmful on clothes depends on the type of clothing and the amount of mold that has formed.

A lot of clothing is made out of synthetic fabrics, which cannot support mold growth. These fabrics include nylon, acrylic, and polyester. In this case, the presence of mold will not have any ill effects on your health. However, if you have a garment made out of cotton or wool, then it may be more problematic.

The real danger from moldy clothes comes from breathing in spores from the fungus as well as touching your skin with wet hands. This can lead to health problems such as allergic reactions or rashes or infections for those who are prone to them (which includes asthma).

How fast does mold grow on clothes?

Mold can grow on clothes in as little as 48 hours. The speed at which the mold grows depends on how warm the area is where they’re stored and how much moisture is present in that space. If you notice some mildew developing on your clothes after only a few days, then there’s likely something wrong with either their storage conditions or their cleaning routine.

The growth of mold is dependent on the type of clothes, how much light they get, and how often they’re washed. For example, cotton t-shirts are more prone to mold growth than wool sweaters because cotton is more absorbent and can retain water for longer periods of time. Also, cotton is typically more often worn than wool (as it’s lighter), so it’s more likely that the moisture from sweat will stay on the fabric longer if you wear a cotton t-shirt every day.

Is black mold on towels dangerous?

Black mold on towels is dangerous. The black color of the mold is a sign that it has been feeding on your towels, which can cause health problems if you continue to use them. You should always check your towels carefully before using them because they may have small spots of black mold growing on them already.


To avoid getting mold on clothes, it is best to store them in cool and dry areas where clothes will not be affected by imbalances in humidity or lack of ventilation. Mold has the potential to destroy the surfaces it comes in contact with and, if left unchecked, will eat away at clothes and shoes.

Additionally, mold affects the health of those surrounded by it, causing skin irritation, rashes, and many more problems that have a long-lasting and detrimental impact on your immune system.

Remember that finding mold on clothes is only a symptom of a larger mold issue that is occurring in your home. Mold only becomes visible when it has spread around your home.

To check whether you have a mold problem in your home, get a professional mold inspection done as soon as possible so a team of experts can begin the process of mold removal. To learn everything about mold and its prevention, we are here to help.

To remove mold from your home, call Mold Busters today.

Published: May 19, 2020 Updated: May 24, 2023

John Ward

Written by:

Account Executive
Mold Busters

Fact checked by:

Mold Busters

Michael Golubev