How to Remove Black Spots From Mold on Shirts

Be sure your shirts are completely dry before putting them in a drawer or closet.
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Mold and mildew can create black spots on shirts that are unsightly and often difficult to remove. The key is to attack these types of stains when you first notice them because they will weaken and rot the fabric if you wait too long. Always read the garment care tag first to be sure your shirt can withstand home laundering and hot water. Otherwise, take the garment to a professional dry cleaner.

Take the shirt outside to prevent spreading the mold through your house. Use a stiff brush to remove the loose spores. If the fabric is delicate, use a soft brush instead.

Dampen the shirt. Rub heavy-duty liquid detergent or a pretreat laundry stain remover into the mold spots.

Wash the shirt in hot water and heavy-duty liquid detergent. If the shirt is white, add chlorine bleach to the hot water. For a colored shirt, use a nonchlorine, all-fabric bleach.

Inspect the shirt closely for mold spots and repeat the steps if spots remain. Do not dry the garment until you're sure the mold has been removed. Once stains are set in by heat, they are often impossible to remove.

If possible, hang the shirt in the sun to dry -- sunlight helps to kill remaining mold spores. Otherwise, hang the shirt inside or use an electric dryer.

  • Chlorine bleach may fade, discolor and weaken fabric. Always test a small, inconspicuous area before using bleach.
  • Never use chlorine bleach on wool, nylon or silk. If in doubt, use nonchlorine bleach, which is less toxic and safer for clothing.
  • Never mix chlorine bleach with ammonia or other cleaning solutions, as mixing the chemicals may cause a dangerous, toxic gas.
  • As a last resort, a thin paste of lemon juice and water may remove the mold stain if your shirt is white or color-safe. Moisten the stain with the mixture, then lay the shirt in the sun to dry. Use lemon juice with care because it may bleach colored fabrics.

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.