How to Remove Black Mold/Mildew from Washable Fabrics


David asked: How do I clean black mold off of curtains? These are cotton ones and are sited in a static caravan. Many thanks.

When choosing to clean curtains, check the care tag for cleaning instructions. While some may require dry cleaning, many cotton curtains are machine washable. Use these methods to treat and remove the mold and mildew stains.

You Will Need:

  • Water
  • Stain pretreatment (ex: Shout, Spray ‘n Wash)
  • Lemon juice
  • OxiClean (or oxygen bleach, do NOT use chlorine/household bleach)
  • Laundry detergent
  • Salt
  • Ammonia
  • Spoon

Steps to Remove the Mildew Stains:

  1. Many times, if the cotton curtains are washable, the mildew will be washed away with regular laundering. We recommend to try this first.
  2. If the stains did not come out with regular washing, remove them from the washing machine, but do not dry them.
  3. Lay the moist curtains flat so you can see all the stained areas.
  4. Mix a paste of lemon juice and salt. Lemon juice is an acid that can break down the stain.
  5. Test a small area first to ensure that the color is not affected, as lemon juice can have a bleaching effect on some fabrics.
  6. Spread the paste over the stained areas.
  7. Allow it to set for 15 to 30 minutes.
  8. After the paste has set on the stain, scrape it away and flush the area with water.
  9. Launder again as usual.
  10. For cotton and linen fabrics, oxygen bleach can be used (oxygen bleach is different from chlorine bleach, which is not recommended).
  11. Mix powdered oxygen bleach (do NOT use chlorine bleach), water and a few drops of ammonia.
  12. Test a small area first.
  13. If the test area goes well, and there are no adverse effects, spread the paste over the entire stained area.
  14. Allow it to set for 15 to 30 minutes.
  15. Remove the paste and flush the area with clean water.
  16. Launder the piece as usual.
  17. Check the fabric thoroughly before drying to ensure the stain is completely removed. It works well to allow the piece to air dry the first time to check for stains.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • NEVER mix chlorine bleach with ammonia. The oxygen bleach listed above is different from household chlorene bleach. It is a natural cleaning product that does not contain sodium hypochlorite (the chemical that creates toxic fumes when mixed with ammonia). Check the labels to ensure you have the appropriate product. If you are unsure, do not add the ammonia, simply clean without it.
  • Some cotton curtains and other pieces will be labeled as dry clean only. While most cotton pieces can be safely washed, sometimes they are treated with chemicals to preserve their look or feel and regular washing will remove these chemicals. Dry cleaning will provide the optimum results.
  • Avoid drying curtains in the dryer as they may shrink. It is best to allow them to air dry.
  • Press curtains with a hot iron and steam. Professional pressing will help to smooth them more as the professional machines provide a higher heat and more steam.
  • Oxygen bleach(such as OxiClean) is safe to use on most colored fabrics and will not remove the coloring like chlorine bleach (Clorox). Still, it is wise to always test a small area first.


  1. The lining to some very big, heavy, expensive curtains has become stained with black mold along the lower part by the hem. I have been told to avoid dry cleaning if possible, as it will remove important dressing from the fabric. How can I clean just the lining by hand without removing the linings from the curtains entirely?

  2. I have a fishing hat and I was told it has black mold. I was told to clean it with vinegar and if that doesn’t work to use bleach. I really love the hat, it was given to me, so I don’t want to throw it out.

  3. There are black marks on the bottom of our curtains from the forced hot air from our furnace; what is best to remove those stains?

  4. Larry,
    That sounds like it could be a soot stain. If so, this is the article that you need: How to Clean Soot from Clothing. If it is actually a burn mark, this article can help: How to Remove Burn Marks from Clothing.

  5. Job at hand: the inside of my truck, its red carpet and red leather seats; it’s got mildew all over it. What’s the best thing to use to clean and make sure it doesn’t return?

  6. I removed mold from sheer curtains by using Oxiclean Multi-Purpose-Baby Stain Remover and followed the directions given. My curtains are now mold-free.

  7. Yes, I know from living in the south, Lemon does work. Now I want to try adding the ammonia to our shower curtains before canning them!!!! Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ll let all of you know how it goes!!! It is just old and has old soap and water stains and mildew on it; we got it three years ago when we originally got our apartment and got married…we are almost thinking it’s just time to replace it though!!! Three years is old for one that has hung in an apartment shower!!!! Especially in Henderson, Nevada since it’s ALWAYS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Victoria says:

    Hi, just to let everyone know, I realized I had an old bouncer sitting in the attic from when my nine-year-old was born. It was cream and beige. Anyway, I needed one for my new baby so thought I would use that. Remembering that my sister had let it go mouldy from when she had it for her boys, I put it in the washing machine on a 90 degree wash, but washed it with bleach; Domestos to be precise! (Not too much because foam will emerge from the draw.) Once that finished, I put it straight back on for a 40 degree wash with normal detergent. I then put it in the sun to dry. It’s come out like new! And it was pretty bad! Hope this helps anyone!

  9. Hi, I was given a jacket that is black with a cream color collar and lapel, 100% polyester, and the tag says, “Do not dry clean.” The collar has some black stains on it that make me think it could have been mold and a few small rust stains on the lapel. I really like the jacket, but I cant figure out how to get the stains out; I don’t want to discolor it. I am afraid the sun will fade the black, so I don’t think I should leave it in the sun. Any advice would be appreciated.

  10. Whitney,
    Use white vinegar. Vinegar kills 82% of various types of mold. Mix it with an equal amount of water, pour/spray it on the spots, then wash the jacket as usual. For the rust, this is the article that you need: How to Remove Rust Stains from Fabrics.
    Source: The Maids – 3 Non-Toxic Ways to Clean Mold

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