Home Remedies for Mildew

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Growing in moist, wet places, it’s no wonder that mildew enjoys setting up shop in your bathroom and kitchen. With many products on the market geared towards solving the problem, you may want to save your money and consider home remedies for mildew.

What is Mildew?

Mildew is the term used to describe certain kinds of molds or fungi that typically appear black, gray, white and powdery in appearance. The fungus require moisture and certain temperatures to grow, which is why mildew tends to emerge during humid summer weather, especially in houses and rooms that are closed off to air [1].

Causes and Signs of Mildew

The most common causes of mildew include poor air circulation, little to no lighting, warm places, humid temperatures, body oils left on shower walls and doors, and damp or wet conditions. Typical signs of mildew include a thin, sheet-like growth that gradually coats the entire surface of an affected item. As mildew grows, it creates a musty, sour-like odor.

Difference Between Mildew and Mold

Mildew and mold share similar characteristics, but they are actually different types of fungi. Oftentimes, they appear in different colors and textures. While typically mentioned within the same breath, it is because they both tend to grow in moist, warm places. However, mildew is more often detected in showers, paper, and fabrics. Mold grows on food more often than mildew. Sometimes difficult to tell apart, just remember that mold is generally black, green, red or blue, while mildew is usually gray or white.

Mildew Home Remedies

The sight and smell of mildew is not only offensive to you, but is embarrassing when company comes to visit. To make sure your home is free of growing fungus, the following home remedies for mildew can set you on the right track:

a) Lemon Juice:

When garments and other fabrics show signs of mildew, apply a mix of lemon juice and salt to treat stains. You may also rub a mildewed shower curtain with the juice of a lemon to remove stubborn mildew stains and odors. Afterwards, hang the shower curtain to dry.

b) Proper Clothing Storage:

To avoid the growth of mildew, do not store your fabric items in plastic bags. It is better to place clothing in a pillowcase or wrap in a sheet for an alternative.

c) Rubbing Alcohol:

When mildew appears on leather and upholstery, remove using one cup of rubbing alcohol diluted with one cup of water. Soak a clean cloth or rag in the solution, and blot mildew stains.

d) Dish Detergent:

Revamp rugs stained with mildew by creating a detergent and water mixture that you apply after shaking out the rug outside.

e) Baby Powder:

If you have books stained with mildew, baby powder has a reputation for drying out the pages. First, shake out the book, and then sprinkle a small amount of powder on the pages. After the book has dried, you can remove the baby powder.

f) Bleach:

Remove mildew stains by mixing two tablespoons of liquid chlorine bleach and one quart of warm water. Apply the solution with a sponge or balled-up old T-shirt. Leave the bleach on stained walls, tiles or fabric for 15 minutes before rinsing. Since bleach can stain and discolor certain fabrics, it is important to read labels or spot-test before attempting this mildew home remedy on clothing.

g) Dehumidifier:

The scent that mildew removal leaves behind is often nauseating. Ventilate cleaned areas by installing a dehumidifier to circulate fresh air.

h) Scrub Brush:

Scrub away mildew with a heavy-duty brush to avoid leaving behind traces of debris.

i) Bathroom Fan:

The reason a fan is installed in a bathroom is to pull moisture from the air, which helps prevent the growth of mildew. Bathrooms without fans can benefit from the use of a dehumidifier. You can also open the bathroom window to achieve the same results.

j) Limit Your Hot Showers:

Since hot showers and baths cause the humidity that leads to mildew growth in a bathroom, it is recommended to limit the number of times you indulge in hot baths and showers.

k) Heater and Air Conditioner:

To prevent the damp conditions that encourages the growth of mildew, use a heater or air conditioner to dry out the air. Proper ventilation is also needed to make sure the air has a chance to circulate about the room and house.

l) Turn on the Lights:

When taking a shower or hot bath, turn on the lights before, during and after to prevent the growth of mildew. The fungus does not grow in darkness. It is suggested to leave on the lights for extra 15 minutes after taking a shower.

m) Vinegar:

To remove mildew from a shower track door, pour a blend of two tablespoons white vinegar and one cup of water into the track. Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing off.

n) Baking Soda:

If your shower curtain has undergone a mildew attack, try placing it in your washing machine with two bath towels. Wash on the gentle cycle with ½ cup of baking soda added to the wash. During the rinse cycle, add ½ cup of vinegar. Do not put the shower curtain into the dryer. Instead, allow it to drip dry.

o) Hydrogen Peroxide:

Use 3% hydrogen peroxide to fight the sight and odor of bathroom mildew. Use at full strength – directly pouring the peroxide on mildewed tiles. Wipe clean.

p) Car Paste Wax [2]:

After cleaning bathroom tiles and shower walls, apply a layer of car paste wax. Buff with a clean, dry cloth. This home remedy will keep bathroom mildew away. Reapplication is only required about once every year.

q) Hang Your Linens:

Limit the number of places that mildew can grow in your bathroom by hanging up your wet towels and washcloths.


[1] http://missourifamilies.org/quick/materialqa/material6.htm
[2] Reader’s Digest Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things; pg. 115