How to Prevent and Remove Mildew in Your Home

When I was a girl, I often heard my mother cry, “No! Don’t put that there! It will mildew.” She could also find mildew with a single sniff. A towel left on the floor would be picked up by the corner, sniffed and my mother would shudder and groan, “Ugh! Mildew!” Growing up in the hot, humid South, I learned a lot about the proper place to hang wet towels and clothing, and how to remove mildew should it appear in the home.

Mildew is made when mold and moisture come together. Mildew will form in dark, damp places. It can start growing from dripping pipes or simply a very humid day. Mildew grows very quickly and will continue to grow unless it is stopped. That is why it is very important to know how to remove mildew.

Knowing how to remove mildew is important but preventing mildew is even more important. If you should have water damage in your home, dry it out as soon as possible. Don’t give mildew a chance to begin. If your home is clean and dry and the ventilation is good, you likely will not have to remove mildew from your home.

To remove mildew from the bathroom, mix one part bleach with eleven parts water. Use a sponge or soft bristled brush to put the bleach and water solution on the mildew infested areas. While soap will remove mildew stains it will not kill mildew. Bleach will work to remove the mildew and keep it from continuing to grow. Rinse the area and use a squeegee on the wet areas. Dry the area completely.

To remove the smell of mildew in a basement, use chlorinated lime (also called bleaching powered) over the floor. My grandmother’s basement never had that musty basement smell thanks to being kept mildew free. Vacuum up the lime after about a day or so. Sweeping is fine, too.

To remove mildew from fabric, start with the item outside. Get the surface mildew off with a stiff brush and leave the item to air out in the sun. The sun will bleach out any mildew stains that may be left on the item. If, heaven forbid, someone in my mother’s home left a wet towel lying around on the floor and my mother smelled even a hint of mildew, that towel was washed in hot water and then dried outside on the clothes line. I think killing the mildew with sunlight bleaching action first and then washing it is better. If possible, wash the item in the hottest water possible and use bleach (color safe bleach for non-white item.)

To remove mildew from leather items, a simple alcohol and water mixture will work. Simply wipe the areas of mildew with a cloth that has been dipped in equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water.

Again, the best way to deal with mildew is by preventing it. Don’t leave wet towels on the floor. Use the ventilation fan when taking showers. Keep the humidity in your home at a low level. Keep pipes and roof leaks from creating a moisture problem by preventing them or fixing them immediately and thoroughly drying out the affected areas.

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