Mildew Cleaning for Textiles, Leather, Paper and Jewelry

As with other household items that are susceptible to mildew growth, there are some products available commercially which have been designed specifically to treat mildew on textiles, leather, paper, clothing and jewelry.  It is usually sufficient to follow the directions specified on these products, but here are a few handy hints and homemade recipes to help you remove mold and mildew from these more delicate household items.

For textiles there are a number of homemade recipes that you can try before resorting to a chemical solution.  If you need to clean a colored fabric first make sure that the fabric is colorfast.  The easiest way to do this is to rub the colored fabric against a white fabric – if the white fabric gets stained with the color then the colored fabric is not colorfast.  As long as the fabric is colorfast you can then try soaking it in a solution of 1 cup of buttermilk mixed with 1 gallon of cold water.  Leave it to soak overnight and then wash the fabric on a cold cycle in the washing machine using your usual fabric detergent.  Another recipe you can try is mixing together ¼ cup of salt, ¼ cup of lemon juice and 1 pint of warm water.  Rub the paste into the affected area of the fabric and let it sit for half an hour.  Then wash in the washing machine as normal with your usual detergent.  For white fabric the best method of mildew removal for stains is by soaking in bleach mixed with water for about ten minutes, then rinse thoroughly and wash as usual.

For leather goods that have an unpleasant layer of mold growing on them, first brush off as much of the loose mold spores as possible – do this outside to avoid excessive inhalation of the spores. Then wipe away the remaining mildew with a cloth dampened in a solution of 1 cup denatured or rubbing alcohol to 1 cup water.  If further leather cleaning is necessary use regular washing detergent and finally allow the leather item to dry out completely before treating with wax or polish.

If books or paper have been affected by mildew and they are now dry, then simply remove the loose mildew spores with a clean, soft cloth.  It may not be possible to completely get rid of the mildew stains. If the paper is still damp, then you must first dry it out in a well-ventilated place.  You can speed up the drying process by sprinkling cornstarch or talcum powder between the pages of a book.  Then when the book is dry, simply brush off the starch or powder along with the dry mold spores.  If a book has leather bindings then follow the recipe above to wipe off the mold before applying wax to protect the leather.