Mold Removal

First of all, all Mildew is Mold

Mildew refers to a particular type of mold or fungus.  Mold is a living fungus that can attach itself to organic materials including organic fibers, leather, paper, and a host of other things.  One can frequently smell mold before actually seeing the black or white spots on a host.  Mold will usually not attack synthetic fibers as there is nothing to sustain their life.  However, if the synthetic fiber is soiled with dirt or food then it can also become a host for the mold to grow and thrive.

In the textile cleaning business we will see garments that come from flooded homes through either natural disasters or soaked from firefighting water.  If this should happen during the later spring or summer it then becomes even worse as the temperature will help the mold to grow.

The typical scenario is that a load of garments will come into the call office for salvaging.  First the garments should be inspected for mold removal as some may be beyond saving.  The garments should then be classified as to natural fibers and synthetics, colors and whites or light colored.  Silks, wools and Spandex should be taken from the groups and treated separately.

Next each garments needs to be examined for black or white spots indicating growing mold.  The spots are brushed outside of the building in order to prevent the mold spores from getting into the plant.  After brushing, the washable, or wetcleanable garments or items may be placed into a washer filled with water, three ounces of chlorine bleach and regular or wetcleaning detergent that has been thoroughly mixed before adding the garments.  It must be explained to the customer that there can be some shrinkage of the garments.  If washing the temperature should no be above 100° F.  If wetcleaning keep the temperature below 90° F. and use a wetcleaning cycle with little agitation.

After cleansing the garments may be hung outside in the sunshine to dry or placed in a regular dryer for washing or a RMC dryer for wetcleaning.

For silk, wool and Spandex garments hydrogen peroxide should be used instead of chlorine bleach.  To a full washer load four bottles of drugstore grade peroxide may be added to the water and agitated before adding the garments.  They may soak for a couple of hours before rinsing and drying.  Water temperature should be below 90° F. and minimal agitation used.  A RMC dryer should be used for drying with a residual moisture content of about 20-30%.  The garments then may be placed on shaped hangers to finish drying.

If black or white spots (may also be orange, green or brown) remain then the individual spot may be treated by hand using a cup of warm water and a half teaspoon of chlorine bleach then applied with an eyedropper or Qtip.  If silk, wool or spandex apply hydrogen peroxide full strength to the affected area and allow to sit.  A drop of neutral detergent may be applied to prevent the peroxide from drying out before the bleaching is accomplished.

Drycleaning will also kill mold spores.  It may be more economical to first dryclean all affected garments then either wash or wetclean.  Of course the obvious signs of mold need to be mechanically removed by brushing before placing in the drycleaning machine.