Mold is a pervasive problem no matter where it grows in one's home. However, when mold begins to attach itself to items that you use every day, it can become an outright hazard. One of the worst things that mold can attach itself to in your home is that of your clothing and the clothing of your family. Mold-afflicted clothes can actually be a considerable health hazard if left unchecked.
Here we will discuss what causes mold to attach itself to your clothes and how mold can affect the health of your skin. We will then cover how to get rid of any mold that may be on your clothes.
How Does Mold End Up on Clothes?
Putting Clothes Away When Damp
Sometimes when you do a load of laundry and pull the clothes from the dryer a few of the clothes may seem to be just a touch damp. Every now and then a person may make the mistake of thinking they can put those somewhat damp clothes away and that the clothes will air dry on their own. However, if the damp clothes are being put in a drawer or in a closet with no airflow then those clothes will remain damp, facilitating mold growth.
Humidity in the Home
It is a simple fact that some homes are more humid than others. It is typically recommended that a home has safe humidity levels between 30% and 50% humidity. Sometimes a home's humidity extends to its closets. If a closet has excessive humidity then the conditions are perfect for mold to grow as the clothes in the closet provide a perfect place for mold to grow and feed.
Not Drying Clothes in a Timely Manner
People are busier than ever in this day and age. It is understandable how sometimes one can throw a wet towel or some damp clothes into a dirty clothes bin and forget to wash them after a day or so. Unfortunately, that means that there is a day or so’s time for mold to begin building up on clothes. Once the build-up starts, the mold can send its spores out to other areas in your home and latch onto other clothes, especially if your dirty clothes hamper is located in your closet.
How Does Mold on Clothes Affect Your Skin?
When mold begins growing on your clothes you may not notice it at first. This is because mold off and begins as a microscopic form before accumulating into the dark, visible splotches that we most recognize mold as. There are some people who are just naturally allergic to mold and having it so close to their skin can trigger their allergies. If the clothes are emitting spores, then there is a good chance the person wearing the clothes is also inhaling the spores which can trigger allergy-like symptoms.
Mold is a corrosive substance, and when it is on a person's skin it can be a major irritant. It can feel uncomfortable, and quite itchy, making things worse if the person wearing the mold-afflicted clothes starts to scratch.
If a person is wearing mold-afflicted clothes while they have either a minor cut, or they have scratched themselves due to irritation caused by the mold, it can lead to a skin infection that lingers for quite some time. This could lead to a full-blown fungal infection, which comes with its own litany of symptoms and should be addressed by a doctor as soon as possible.
Can Trigger or Worsen Eczema
If the person wearing mold-afflicted clothes already suffers from eczema, then the clothes they are wearing may exacerbate their condition. It may even trigger eczema in a person who, up until this point, did not have it.
Severe Mold Skin Conditions
Unfortunately, the prior mentioned conditions are only minor. There are worse skin conditions that can occur by wearing mold-afflicted clothes.
Mucormycosis is a fungal skin infection caused by moles called mucormycetes. It has the following symptoms:
- Swelling on one side of the face
- Sinus congestion
- Increasingly severe black lesions on upper inside of mouth or nasal bridge
Sporotrichosis is a condition caused by mold that is typically found in dirt and on plants. It typically appears as a bump that can develop anywhere between 1 and 12 weeks after being exposed to the mold. This bump can worsen over time and ranges in colors from red, pink, or purple typically at the site in which the mold first made contact with skin.
Invasive Aspergillosis is a condition that is typically caused when aspergillus mold creates an infection, typically in people who have weakened immune systems. Symptoms are as follows:
- Coughing up blood
- Chest and joint pain
- Headache and eye pain
- Lesions on skin
- Chills and fever
- Shortness of breath
Prevention of Mold on Clothes
The best way to fight the problems that come with mold on clothes is to prevent the mold from being there in the first place. Preventing mold on clothing is easy to do.
Wash Wet Clothing Immediately
It can be tempting to just throw a wet towel onto a pile of dirty clothes after a shower. Or it can be tempting to allow bathing suits and swimming trunks to stay in their own pile separate from other laundry. However, allowing these clothes to sit can be inviting for mold if they are left too long. A good idea is to go ahead and wash any and all wet clothes so that mold does not have the chance to accumulate.
Don't Put Away Damp Clothing
As previously mentioned, sometimes people will put away damp clothing, thinking it will air dry later. Further exploration of the subject shows that that is typically not what happens and that the damp clothes end up inviting mold anyway. If you pull clothes out of the dryer that are even the slightest bit damp, place them back into the dryer to finish drying.
Don't Leave Dirty Clothes in the Closet
There is nothing wrong with having a designated dirty clothes pile or hamper. However, you do not want to have that pile or hamper in the same closet as your clean clothes. The particulates on your dirty clothes are attractive to mold as a source of nutrients, and once they latch onto your dirty clothes, it will not take long before they emit their spores and attach to your clean clothes.
Use a Dehumidifier in the Closet
If your home or closet has a humidity level that exceeds 50% then you need to use a dehumidifier to combat those conditions. Simply place the dehumidifier in your closet at a setting between 30% and 50%. This will help prevent any humidity-caused mold.
Cleaning Mold on Clothes
Simply Washing Clothes Doesn't Remove Mold
You may think that the detergent and hot water from your washing machine is enough to kill the mold on your clothes. This is simply not true. While hot water may be enough to take care of bacteria, mold is a fungus. Washing your clothes may stop your clothes from smelling bad, but it will not remove the mold particles and your typical detergent may not be enough to kill the spores. Ensure that the detergent you use is equipped with mold-killing, antifungal properties.
Common Questions About Clothes With Mold
Should I throw away clothes with mold?
If the mold growth on your clothes has become visible, and extensive, then you may need to throw the clothes away. However, if the mold growth is not extensive, they may be salvaged.
Will washing clothes kill mold?
Washing your clothes will only kill the mold if you use specialized detergents designed to kill mold. Otherwise, washing your clothes will have no effect on the mold itself.
How long does it take for mold to ruin clothes?
A piece of clothing can be afflicted by mold in as little as 8 to 12 hours. Depending on the temperature, mold can begin to ruin clothes between 48 and 72 hours.
What happens if you leave mold on clothes?
The mold will begin to corrode the clothing and ultimately ruin it, emitting more spores into the atmosphere to repeat the process elsewhere.