How to Get Mildew Out of a Shirt

by Holly McGurgan ; Updated September 28, 2017

Mildew, that smelly mold that can ruin your favorite article of clothing, can be tough to remove. Whether you've forgotten clothes in the washer or noticed mildew on a shirt that's been in storage, you'll need to act quickly to remove mildew before it continues to spread. It may take some time to remove all of the mildew from your clothing, but your work will be well worth the effort when you are able to save your favorite shirt from being tossed in the trash.

Remove any mildew surface growth from the shirt with a brush and then place the item in the sun for several hours. Mildew grows best in dark, wet conditions and the sun's heat will prevent mildew from spreading and may get rid of some of the mildew.

Wash the shirt, making sure to rinse well. Dry the shirt in the sun and not in the dryer, as using the dryer may set mildew stains into fabric.

Try the mildest mildew removal option first. A paste of equal parts lemon juice and salt can get rid of milder mildew stains. Put the shirt in the sun for a few hours after treating it, then rinse and wash as usual.

Move on to color safe beach if the lemon/salt mixture doesn't help. Mix 2 tbsp. of bleach with 2 cups of warm water. Work this solution into the stain and let it sit in the sun for a few hours before washing.

Treat the stain with a mixture of chlorine beach and water if your shirt is white. If this method works, it should only take about 15 minutes. Rinse the shirt thoroughly after 15 minutes to prevent holes in your shirt from the bleach.


  • Check stored clothes regularly for mildew, particularly if you live in a humid climate. Prompt treatment is necessary if you hope to completely remove all mildew. Wash clothing before storing. Mildew is more likely to develop if clothes are soiled. Try to find somewhere to dry clothes that have accidentally gotten wet while you are away from home. Even a small spill can lead to mildew if the shirt is crumpled up and not allowed to dry promptly.

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About the Author

Working at a humane society allowed Jill Leviticus to combine her business management experience with her love of animals. Leviticus has a journalism degree from Lock Haven University, has written for Nonprofit Management Report, Volunteer Management Report and Healthy Pet, and has worked in the healthcare field.