Cleaning Moldy & Mildewed Items
Berkeley Parents Network >
Household Management >
Cleaning Moldy & Mildewed Items
Our 4-yr-old stopped using night time pull-ups a few months ago, upon her
vehement request. We take her sleepy to go pee when we go to bed, and we have a
washable waterproof bed pad which seems to catch occasional night-time pees in
her bed. If a little pee has got on the sheet or mattress pad, into the laundry it
Her other mother has a much more sensitive sense of smell than me, and remarks
that she can detect a faint smell of mildew around our daughter's bed (I cannot). We
are speculating that perhaps the odd pee leak has found its way down to the
mattress and might have caused some mildew.
If we air out the mattress on a sunny day, is there some non-toxic product you
might recommend that we could spray on her upper mattress in case this
hypothesis is right?
(I'm also considering getting one of those zip-all-around-the-whole-mattress
plastic covers to forestall future problems once alleged mildew is treated.)
Probably time for a new mattress? If not I have a couple
thoughts. You could mix up some bleach and water in a garden
sprayer and mist it down thoroughly leaving it outside to air
out a few days. This may cause discoloration and a long term
bleach smell. You can also try buying a dust mite cover (if it
doesn't breath)and seal the mattress inside the cover hoping to
seal in the smell as well, or a plastic bag to seal out air and
choke the mildew out without air. Use a vacuum to suck out as
much air as possible. You might also inject some gas other than
air in which mold can't survive (like Co2 from a fire
extinguisher) or freon. I believe mold needs darkness, water,
and air. Cut off one of those and it dies. Maybe just putting
it out in the sun a few days or tie it on the roof of your car
for a week flipping it every other day. Another thought is to
buy an air mattress to put on top of the mattress as a topper
(or a foam topper) to keep you isolated from the mildew if it
is sealed in a bag or cover below. I love my air mattress on
top my $1500 mattress!
I went hot tubbing at a friends and now my favorite top has a strong mildew
smell that I have not been able to get rid of even after multiple washes and
spraying w/ mildew remover... What do you folks suggest? I know there has to
be a way. I tried airing it out in the sun, but I don't have a sunny place to hang
for long (just a couple of hours depending on the weather).
You should boil it if the fabric can take it. I had some wash clothes that smelled like
mildew because they had been wet too long and washing them in hot water and drying
them in the dryer didn't work. Boiling killed the mildew. Also, I read that plain white
vinegar works if you add it to your wash. I tried it and that seemed to work for one
stubborn towel that was really thick and was too big to boil. I noticed the mildew
came back and I don't know if that is because the vinegar didn't really work or if the
towel is just to thick to dry between uses.
try putting it in the microwave (that is, if there's no metal
eyelets or anything in it). that's supposed to kill mildew. good
eyuw, hot tubbing
I have a box of older newspapers and magazines that I've been
keeping for historical value and some now have mold/mildew on
them. Can I stop this from spreading, and if so, how? Or, is
there a business that can do this?
Maybe try collecting those little silica containers that come
with everything from shoes to vitamins, and keep those in an
airtight container with the paper goods. You might also consider
checking in with librarians (eg at UC Berkeley's historical
I have been living in a small house for 8 months (renting) and
now have a very moldy mattress. I am wondering about some
1. Everything I have read says mold in furniture/porous things
cannot be cleaned out and the stuff has to be thrown away - is
it really true? It is about 65% covered with round growths -
some very black - all on the bottom.
What about moldy clothes and books? - throw them away too?
2. I read that mold can be very toxic - am I potentially in a
dangerous situation? Is it urgent that I get rid of the
mattress and other things?
3. Legal/Financial responsibilities. Is there any chance that
my landlord is required to replace my damaged mattress? Would
his insurance cover it?
4. Is it my fault? Over the winter I sometimes had the heat on
high - no thermostat on the heating unit - and the windows got
very steamy then. Now, even with some windows cracked open, the
windows still steam up a bit.
A few other details - I don't think we are emitting an abnormal
amount of moisture. There is usually only me and my 2 young
children living here.
The house is old and drafty -so I don't think it is too
airtight and might let some moisture out. The walls are wet
around my bed, bookcases, and shelves all on one side of the
The owner lives in a house 10 feet away and used to live in
this one - I would think he knows about the moisture, he walks
by my steamed up windows and water stained curtains several
times a day. But, if he did not know - would that mean that he
would not have to replace the mattress?
If anyone has some experience or knowledge about this either
the mold part and/or the landlord/tenant part - I'd love to
hear about it.
I was in this position several years ago and I would say to
definitely get rid of the mattress-- when I finally realized
there was mold on our boxspring and threw it away, I found that I
stopped having headaches every morning and the weird smell went
away. We were not able to file a claim either on our renters'
insurance or our landlords' insurance and were told that our
landlord was not responsible for damages, even though it was
thought to have been caused by a leak in the pipe under the
house. Perhaps we could have fought this, but we really didn't
feel it was caused by any negligence on our landlords' part, so
we just paid for the damage. On the plus side, we had a great
landlord who was very diligent about trying to fix the problem
and bought us a dehumidifier and even replaced our windows when
the problem didn't seem to be fixed entirely by repairing the
leaky pipe. I would recommend buying a dehumidifier-- they're
sort of a pain, but not too expensive and so much better than mold!
Many years ago our mattress became moldy but it was apparently
from how we set up the bed. The mattress was on a piece of
plywood that had been raised about a foot above the floor. It
couldn't ''breathe'' and both the plywood and mattress became
quite moldy. I learned you must place a mattress on well spaced
slats, not a solid piece of wood.
I left my daughter's beautiful, but wet, dress in the hamper for
too long, and now it has mildew. Does anybody know any way to
clean her dress (without bleach) in oreder to remove the mildew?
I have no idea if this will work for mildew stains, but it was a
miracle cure for fruit juice (blackberry) and wine stains, so
it's worth a try:
Mix approximately equal parts dishwashing liquid (I use Dawn) and
hydrogen peroxide (the regular kind from the drugstore). Spread
on the spots, wait a while (check every 10 minutes or so), and
wash out. It doesn't seem to bleach like straight hydrogen
peroxide, but of course, try it on an inconspicuous part of the
Try Biz (the powdered variety) - dissolve a scoopful in hot
water and let it soak - go ahead and soak for SEVERAL days if
necessary. That did the job for me on some really top-notch
mildew stains (on the very first baby clothes I bought after I
found out I was pregnant... so you know I was determined to get
out those stains!). If that doesn't work, try Oxi Clean. I
have less experience with that, but hear it works well for
mildew. Just be sure not to run anything through the dryer
until you're done - the heat of the dryer will set in stains.
Kind of a nasty question -- I recently found mildew in the
plastic tubing for my Pump In Style. I will replace it with
fishtank tubing, that's not the problem. What I'm wondering is,
does anyone have any thoughts about how to keep it from
happening again? I have had real trouble getting water out of
the tubes, which I'm sure is why I've got mildew (eeyuch).
Hi there! I had the exact same problem with the Pump In Style
tubing and this is what you do: After you finished pumping,
detach the suction cups off of the tubes and keep the motor
running with just the tubes on. The motor will basically suck
fresh air into the tube and that will dry off any condensation
left inside the tubes. It works like wonders!
When this happened to us we called Medela. They said that we
could boil the tubing to make it usable again and shake it out
to get out as much water as we could. Then, run the pump with
just the tubing to run air through it to dry it out. If you do
this second part occasionally it should keep them dry and
prevent future problems.
I had the same problem, so Im very interested to hear the reason
I ordered new tubing from www.bosombuddies.com ($4.50 +
shipping--look under ''spare parts'') After that I got in the habit
of running the pump for 2-3 minutes with just the tubes on it
while I cleaned up. This cleared any accumulated moisture, and I
never had the problem again.
To let the tubes ''dry out'', after pumping, I leave my pump on,
with tubes in place, while I'm cleaning the attachments and
dealing with the milk. The air that sucks into the tubes
eliminates all of the condensation. This has worked well for me.
I'm on my second child with the same breast pump and I haven't
had to replace the tubes.
I use an eyedropper with rubbing alcohol into each opening of the
pump tubing, then hang dry. Also - Medela now makes a microwave
steralization kit with directions for tubing. I used the
microwave kit while on vacation - very handy! -Wendy Bell
I used my blow dryer on low setting. Seemed to work fine.
A rep from one of the breastpump companies gives this suggestion
gor cleaning tubing: pour a bit of rubbing alcohol into the
tubing and then swing the tubing around to flush out the
I had the same problem. Now I just leave the pump going for a
few minutes after disconnecting the tubes from the sheilds -- it
circulates some air thru the tubes and dries out the
Here are the methods I have used for successfully getting rid of
moisture and water in the tubing.
1. For the condensation that builds up during use - After you
are done pumping open the suction up to the lowest and flip the
speed up the the highest and run the pump with the horns
disconected. For me, doing this whild I was packing up was long
enough to get rid of the condensation.
2. For water in the tubes if you decide to wash out your old
ones instead of tossing them - Hold your tubes at one and an
swirl them around like a lasso... the water will move down to
the ends and be flung out.
You can get mildew out of the tubes through washing with a
bleach solution. You can also boil them for a few minutes to
sterilize them. If you bought your pump new, you might not want
to use fish tank tubing... Medela is pretty fussy about fixing
pump parts if non-Medela parts are used with it. They say it
voids the warranty. New tubes are pretty inexpensive. You can
get them at local stores or buy them on line.
My leaking garage left us with (now dry, but) moldy smelling
suitcases. Has anyone dealt with recovering objects after
flooding? Can suitcases be drycleaned? Where?
Any advice for wet guitar cases, furniture, small appliances
(in short, everything that can't be tossed in the wash) also
All wet in Oakland
Anything that has actual mold on it you may wish to toss, unless
you can clean it with a bleach solution and then soap and water.
We need advice on how to clean our mattress, which we put
on the floor to co-sleep with our baby. She has moved into
her room, and when we picked up the mattress we found mold
on the bottom. Is it possible to clean the mold off? Does
anyone know any professional mattress cleaners? I don't
want to get the outside cover dry cleaned because of the
chemicals, and it is a fairly expensive mattress that we
can't afford to replace right now. Any advice would be
In response to this query, as discouraging as it
sounds, the only answer I can give you is you just can't.
Mold is very dangerous and some species common in
they bay area are toxic even when dead. It is a
potentially serious hazard, espcecially to your young
child, and the best thing you can do is get rid of it right
I was just wondering if anyone knows of a way to get mildew/mold
(whichever it technically is) out of cloth. I managed to ruin
half of my cloth diapers by letting them ''presoak'' for too
long. I've tried vinegar and water and ammonia and water and
neither worked. Also, would using ammonia be too harsh since
it's a diaper and will be next to baby's sensitive skin? Or
would all the ammonia wash out in the laundering process?
Please help! This is even a stumper for my mom! (And I thought
she knew everthing!) Thanks!
Oxyclean. It's amazing stuff. It even gets mildew out of
brightly colored clothes without making them fade. You might
have to use a lot and soak them for a while, but the mildew will
come completely out. I regret all the things I ruined with
bleach before I found Oxyclean!
I think I remember once having that problem with my diapers when
they soaked too long as well. Since it's not sunny out, it's
hard to let them dry in the hot sunshine. Aside from that, I
have bleached my diapers a few times (also after a bad diaper
rash that was yeast related). I am a big believer that vinegar
is great at a maintenance level, but for big jobs, I always
resort to bleach (or another strong equivalent). There is also
the guarantee that nothing will live through that. After
bleaching (gently), I wash more than once before using them (I
smell to make sure that the bleach is gone). We have had no
issues with our daughter's skin reacting to the daipers. The
diapers have also held up just fine to the abuse (we have been
using the same ones for 2 years now). As for soaking, we only
soaked in the beginning, and have found that it is far easier to
use a ''dry'' pail. We do the diapers about once every 4 days and
they clean up fine (sometimes there are stains, but they fade).
For smell control I sprinkle in some Borax occasionally.
Washing things in bleach will take mildew out.
I'm using a couple types of diaper covers: Biobottoms, which are wool, and
Litewraps which are rubberized polyester or something. I can't figure out
how to store them before washing them so that they don't get mildewed. I've
tried putting them in a dry dirty diaper cover box without rinsing them, but
there is still enough moisture that they get mildewed after two
or three days while waiting to get washed. I've tried filling the diaper cover
box with a non-chlorine bleach solution and soaking the covers before I wash
them -- it didn't get rid of the mildew that was already there, and it turned
the wool ones yellow. I really hope the answer isn't that I have to do the
wash more frequently.
we store our diaper covers in a small dry diaper pail. we do wash
them about 3 times a week. we don't soak them. try not rinsing them
out. just wash off the poop from the sections that are poopy and try
to get the excess water out before putting them in the pail. if the
wool ones are really wet i drape them over the top of the pail to dry
out some before putting them in the pail. (actually, if they just had
urine on them, sometimes after a day of airing out, they smell fine
and don't need to be washed anyway.) hope this helps.
Rinse the dirty diaper wraps in the toilet. Then put them in an open
bucket of cold water. It helps to fill the bucket with the non-toxic
stain remover Mother's Helper or Mother's Miracle (there are others
out there, I know -- it's the kind with enzymes and a very light
fragrance). You can also use this bucket as a way to pre-rinse the
clothing that soiled with spit-up, poop, etc. Once you have a small
laundry load and depending on your tolerance for having this bucket
around, throw out the water from the bucket into the toilet, wash the
contents with hot water, and line dry. You may have to do laundry
more often. Unfortunately, it goes with the diaper wrap turf -- at
least when the baby's very young and soilding the wraps a lot. As the
baby gets older, you can reduce the number of laundry loads.
I have the Gerber EZ covers and the cotton covers which have one
laminated side. I've never had a mildew problem with diaper covers.
I did have that problem with breast milk spit up though. The towels
and receiving blankets used to clean spit ups would be covered in mold
after a couple of days in the hamper. So I let the towels air dry
before tossing them in the hamper. It worked. I'm not exactly sure
how you use the cloth diapers, some people do not use pins or use
snappi claws to hold the diaper in place. If you just fold the diaper
and let the cover hold it in place, the cover is probably catching a
lot more pee and poop then it has to. So, if you are not pinning the
cloth, I suggest you trying doing that, or maybe change the type of
covers you use. The Gerber EZ covers are inexpensive and very
We used to soak them covered in water. But there would be a slight
mildewy smell pretty often, especially if they were not COMPLETELY
covered. Our best routine was to rinse them out, then put them in the
diaper pail, completely covered with a solution of water and BORAX
(you can get it at the drug store in the cleaning supplies section).
This seemed to reduce the mildew to a minimum. Be forewarned, though
that the borax is pretty hard on clothes--I found it wore our clothes
prematurely when I tried to use it exclusively instead of a
My ad selling wool Biobottoms in "excellent condition" was apparently
the reason for this request. Reading through the responses I see that
there are a couple of things we did that probably made a difference.
1. We never re-used a cover immediately. If a diaper had only been
peed-on we hung it next to the changing table and used a clean--or
dry--one. Every couple of days we washed all of them--usually based
on getting poopy stuff washed asap.
2. We washed all covers and diapers every couple of days--but there
were never enough for a full load. According to the cover washing
dogma from Biobottoms, the agitation is less effective if the covers
don't rub against something. So we always added heavy things--bath
towels or bath mats.
3. We used Tide liquid. According to Proctor and Gamble, powder is
better on dirt and liquid is better on grease. Breastmilk makes
greasy (not dirty) poops. Also, after many questions on my part, I
gleaned that using Tide (vs. Dreft--the P&G "baby" product) would be
just as safe on a newborn's skin.
4. We also added Borax as a fake anti-bacterial (because we don't use
bleach)--and we did a double-rinse (not to get bleach out but to get
stray poop off). Did I say we have this awesome programmable hit the
buttons and don't come until morning washer?
5. But here's the best laundry tip: according to Consumer Reports,
Tide is great laundry detergent. The one way to boost its cleaning
power is not additives--like Biz-- but to leave your clothes in the
washer with the Tide for a long time--as long as overnight.
6. The best cleaner I have ever seen for already mildewed clothes is
soda ash (lots of brand names).
this page was last updated: Apr 10, 2009
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network