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Bathroom Cleaning

Getting Rid of Mildew

Mildew is an unwelcome visitor to many homes, but you don't have to put up with it! Read on to find out the dos and don'ts for mildew removal.

Key Steps:

  1. Removal: You can buy specialised mildew removers but you can also use white vinegar to effectively remove mildew. Remember to always follow the safety instructions suggested in this article when using any cleaning products.
  2. Prevention: Keep a dehumidifier in the room to remove moisture and prevent mildew spores from growing. Read on for more prevention tips.

Mildew is quite a common complaint within the home, but many people choose to ignore it, thinking it’s just too difficult to remove, and that, if they do remove it, it will just return with a vengeance. What many homeowners fail to realise is that mildew can actually be quite dangerous in large quantities: it can bring on asthma attacks, it can cause sore eyes, it can lead to skin rashes, and it can even create aches and pains all over the body. It’s especially dangerous for young children to be around mildew, so removing it from your home should be a priority. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not at all hard to remove – you just need to know how.

What is Mildew?

  • Mildew is quite similar to mould – like mould, mildew is made up of small fungal hyphae, some of which can be detrimental to our health.
  • Mildew grows on natural materials such as in soils, on plant leaves, within wooden fibres, and even on leather – all it needs to thrive is a warm, damp environment. Unfortunately, some homes are ideal breeding grounds for mildew, especially those with poor ventilation or a bit of a damp problem.
  • Bathrooms are especially susceptible, as they often become hot and steamy – and as mildew is very fast growing, spores can begin to form within 24 hours of excessive moisture in the air, making it tricky to manage.

Mildew: Do’s and Don’ts

Before you start looking into how to remove mildew from walls and other surfaces, it’s vital that you understand a little more about mildew and how it spreads. If you approach mildew with the wrong techniques or equipment, you could end up spreading it around the home, providing more opportunities for it to grow, and creating a greater risk of poor health. Here are some dos and don’ts for dealing with mildew:

  • DO open the windows in your home. Most of the time, the humidity outside will be much less than the humidity inside, so the ventilation will draw some of the moisture out of your home. This also makes it far safer to use mildew removing cleaning products. 
  • DO remove any wet items from the affected area. This could include damp bath towels that have been hung to dry, a wet bath mat on the floor, or even your kids’ bath toys, which may be harbouring some old water. The idea is to remove anything that could encourage the mildew to grow.
  • DON’T use a fan to dry out any damp areas. Fans can encourage the spread of mildew around the home. Instead, we want to be trying to isolate the mildew to make it easier to manage.
  • DON’T attack the mildew without taking precautions. Mildew can contribute to a number of health concerns, so always wear gloves and a mask, open windows, and ensure children are kept well away – disturbing the mildew can cause it to spread further than you may think.

Mildew Removal

Determining how to remove mildew really depends upon the surface you’re dealing with. As discussed, mildew can grow on any natural surface, which includes clothing fabrics, brick walls, and wooden tables, for example. Here are some easy, effective ways to remove mildew from different types of surfaces:

How to Remove Mildew on Walls

Other than targeted mildew or mould removers, one of the most effective ways of removing mildew from walls is to use a mixture of water and chlorine bleach. Simply follow the instructions on the label to ensure you apply your chosen cleaning product safely and effectively, and see your mildew problem disappear!

If you’d prefer to use a milder homemade product, try white vinegar, which can be effective on mildew.

  • Use a vinegar-soaked cloth to wipe the mildew, and you should see it start to lift from the walls.
  • Wipe the walls again with clean water, and then apply another coat of vinegar.
  • Leave this for an hour (or longer if your mildew is very bad) before rinsing with plain water and then cleaning thoroughly with a good commercial cleaning product to get rid of the smell, which can be pretty potent.

Using vinegar can prevent future mildew growth, but you may still see stains. These stains shouldn’t contain any fungi or spores, and a lick of paint will get them covered in no time.

How to Remove Mildew from Wooden Tables

  • Begin by vacuuming any surface mildew from the wooden surface using the hose attachment – just be careful not to disturb the mildew with the hose, which could cause it to spread.
  • Dispose of your vacuum bag immediately – you don’t want those mildew spores breeding in there.
  • Next, create a solution of warm water and a mild laundry detergent. You may also find a liquid detergent, like Surf excel Liquid Detergent, easier to use, as it will dissolve in the water instantly and start getting to work straight away.
  • Dip a cloth into the soapy water, and wipe your table down thoroughly before allowing it to dry.

How to Remove Mildew from Clothing & Fabrics

  • First, rinse your clothing in cold water to remove any mildew sat on the surface of your clothes, before hanging on the washing line outside in the sun. The sun is a key player here – it helps to prevent the further growth of any mildew that’s embedded in the fibres. Mildew breeds best in damp, dark conditions, so the sun is its natural enemy.
  • Once dry, wash your clothes as normal in your washing machine with a good quality detergent appropriate for your fabric – we like the Surf excel range, which can be relied upon to shift stains effectively as well as giving your clothes the necessary deep clean. A normal wash at the highest temperature suitable for your fabric (check the label to determine this) will ensure any remaining fungi is removed, and help sanitise your clothes. Just read the label on your chosen detergent to ensure you use the correct dosage.
  • If your clothing had a heavy coat of mildew, run the washing machine on empty cleaning your clothes to make sure there are no mildew spores hiding in your machine. Add a cup of vinegar to the empty cycle for extra cleanliness.

Preventing Mildew

It’s really easy to minimise the risk of mildew once you know how. Follow these pieces of advice and see if you can prevent mildew growth in your home:

  • Never dry clothes in confined spaces, such as closed bedrooms. When drying clothes indoors, keep as many doors and windows open as possible to ensure a good flow of air through the room.
  • Remember to open a window or switch your ventilation fan on whenever you have a bath, shower, or run a sink full of warm water.
  • Ensure good ventilation when you’re cooking in the kitchen. Opening a window is the best option, but don’t forget about your cooker’s extractor fan.

Top Tip


Mildew is often resilient, and requires powerful cleaning products to remove. That’s why Cleanipedia recommends opting for a specialised mildew remover on hard surfaces, rather than a homemade cleaning product. Whatever solution you decide on for mildew removal, test it first on a small, unnoticeable area of your surface, and follow any instructions on product labels.