Mildew Cleaning Solutions

Tricks for making mildew disappear.

from Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things

Ammonia

Ammonia and bleach are equally effective weapons in the battle against mold and mildew. However, each has its own distinct applications, and under no conditions should the two ever be combined. Reach for the ammonia for the following chores, but be sure you use it in a well-ventilated area, and don’t forget to wear rubber gloves:

  • Clean the mildew off unfinished wooden patio furniture and picnic tables with a mixture of 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water. Rinse off thoroughly and use an old terry-cloth towel to absorb excess moisture.
  • To remove mildew from painted outdoor surfaces, use the same combination of ingredients.
  • To remove mildew from wicker furniture, wash it down with a solution of 2 tablespoons ammonia in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water. Use an old toothbrush to get into hard-to-reach twists and turns. Rinse well and let air-dry.See more uses for Ammonia.

Baking Soda

Just because your plastic shower curtain or liner gets dirty or mildewed doesn’t mean you have to throw it away. Try cleaning it in your washing machine with two bath towels on the gentle setting. Add 1/2 cup baking soda to your detergent during the wash cycle and 1/2 cup vinegar during the rinse cycle. Let it drip-dry; don’t put it in the dryer.

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Bleach

Bleach and ammonia are both useful for removing mold and mildew both inside and outside your home. However, the two should never be used together. Bleach is especially suited for the following chores:

  • Wash mildew out of washable fabrics. Wet the mildewed area and rub in some powdered detergent. Then wash the garment in the hottest water set-ting permitted by the clothing manufacturer using 1/2 cup chlorine bleach. If the garment can’t be washed in hot water and bleach, soak it in a solution of 1/4 cup oxygen bleach (labeled “all fabric” or “perborate”) in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) warm water for 30 minutes before washing.
  • Remove mold and mildew from the grout between your bathroom tiles. Mix equal parts of chlorine bleach and water in a spray bottle, and spray it over grout. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush and rinse off. You can also do this just to make your grout look whiter.
  • Get mold and mildew off your shower curtains. Wash them — along with a couple of bath towels (to prevent the plastic curtains from crinkling) — in warm water with 1/2 cup chlorine bleach and 1/4 cup laundry detergent. Let the washer run for a couple of minutes before loading. Put the shower curtain and towels in the dryer on the lowest temperature setting for 10 minutes, then immediately hang-dry.
  • Rid your rubber shower mat of mildew. Soak in a solution of 1/8 cup (3.7 liters) chlorine bleach in 1 gallon water for 3-4 hours. Rinse well.
  • Get mildew and other stains off unpainted cement, patio stones, or stucco. Mix a solution of 1 cup chlorine bleach in 2 gallons (7.5 liters) water. Scrub vigorously with a stiff or wire brush and rinse. If any stains remain, scrub again using 1/2 cup washing soda (this is sodium carbonate, not baking soda) dissolved in 2 gallons (7.5 liters) warm water.
  • Remove mildew from painted surfaces and siding. Make a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach in 2 cups water and apply with a brush to mildewed areas. Let the solution set for 15 minutes, then rinse. Repeat as necessary.See more uses for Bleach.

Borax

To remove mildew from upholstery and other fabrics, soak a sponge in a solution of 1/2 cup borax dissolved in 2 cups hot water, and rub it into the affected areas. Let it soak in for several hours until the stain disappears, then rinse well. To remove mildew from clothing, soak it in a solution of 2 cups borax in 2 quarts (2 liters) water.

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Cotton Balls

There are always hard-to-reach spots in the bathroom, usually around the fixtures, where mildew may breed in the grout between tiles. Forget about becoming a contortionist to return the sparkle to those areas. Soak a few cotton balls in bleach and place them in those difficult spots. Leave them to work their magic for a few hours. When you remove them, you’ll find your job has been done. Finish by rinsing with a warm-water wash.

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Hydrogen Peroxide

The sight and smell of mildew is a bathroom’s enemy. Bring out the tough ammunition: a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide. Don’t water it down, just attack directly by pouring the peroxide on the offending area. Wipe it clean. Mildew surrender.

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Lemons

You unpack the clothes you’ve stored for the season and discover that some of the garments are stained with mildew. To get rid of mildew on clothes, make a paste of lemon juice and salt and rub it on the affected area, then dry the clothes in sunlight. Repeat the process until the stain is gone. This works well for rust stains on clothes too.

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Vinegar

  • When you want to remove mildew stains, reach for white vinegar first. It can be safely used without additional ventilation and can be applied to almost any surface –bathroom fixtures and tile, clothing, furniture, painted surfaces, plastic curtains, and more. To eliminate heavy mildew accumulations, use it full strength. For light stains, dilute it with an equal amount of water. You can also prevent mildew from forming on the bottoms of rugs and carpeting by misting the backs with full-strength white vinegar from a spray bottle.
  • Clean those ugly mildew stains off your plastic shower curtain by putting it and a couple of soiled towels in your washing machine. Add 1/2 cup laundry detergent and 1/2 cup baking soda to the load, and wash it in warm water on your machine’s regular cycle. Add 1 cup white vinegar to the first rinse. Before the machine goes into the spin cycle, remove the curtain and let it hang-dry.See more uses for Vinegar.