October 2011

How to deal with Mold, Mildew?

Mold is a kind of fungus that produces mildew which can be easily recognized by its musty smell. Mold is always present in the air. It only needs moisture and a dark warm place to produce mildew. Mildew grows wherever its food source is available. That is why you can find mildew in bathrooms, basements, crawl spaces, and closets. Wood, linen, wool, cotton, leather, and silk are sources of food for mildew. If you let mildew grow, eventually it causes the fabric to rot and fall apart.

The best way to fight mildew is to prevent it from forming. Keep closets as clean as possible. Do not store soiled garments. Soil on garments provides food for mold when a little bit of moisture is present. Generally acrylic and polyester are resistant to mildew. However, soil on these kinds of fabric provides food for mold and the fabric may fall into ruin by mildew.

Do not let clothing stay wet. Dry them even before leaving them in the hamper. Dry washed clothes quickly. Leaving them in the washer for some time may cause them to have the musty smell which is a sign of mildew growth.

Cool air holds less humidity, therefore air-conditioners in the summer help reduce mold. Dehumidifiers are very helpful in basements.

If you find mildew on your clothing, brush it off as soon as you find a spot. It is better if you do it outside as the spores will not land on another item of clothing. Leave the garment in the sun and air it out. If the mildew stain remains, pretreat it by rubbing detergent on the dampened spot. If safe for the garment, launder the item in hot water, bleach, and detergent then air dry in the sun. Chlorine bleach is effective in fighting mildew, but cannot be used on silk, wool, or nylon. For non-washables, take them to dry-cleaners and let them know about the mildew stains.

Use diluted alcohol (one cup rubbing alcohol in one gallon of water) for removing mildew from leather. Then let the item air dry. You can use a fan for circulating air.

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Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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