As molds grow, they cause considerable damage. They leave a musty odor; they discolor fabrics; and sometimes they eat into them until the fabrics rot and fall to pieces. They also discolor leather, paper and plastic!
Mildew and mold have many similar characteristics, but they are different types of fungi, and are often different in color and texture. They both grow in similar moist, warm environments. Mold is more often found in foods, and mildew in paper, your shower and fabrics. However both can be found anywhere there is warm moisture. Mold is often black, green, red, or blue while mildew is usually gray or white (often a dusting of light dots).
Here is my Top Ten List: How to protect your clothes from fungus!
1) Protect your health first! Do NOT shake out anything that has mildew or mold on it, inside your house. You will just be spreading the spores. Take it outside. Sunshine and fresh air will kill the mildew.
2) Mild dry heat discourages mildew. Use dehumidifiers or leave a light bulb turned on in areas where the fungus is most likely to breed (sorry, it must be an incandescent bulb to create heat)
3) Mildew thrives in plastic. Remove clothing from plastic drycleaning bags immediately! There are other reasons not to store clothing in plastic, but this should be enough!
4) Mildew needs dirt or dust to survive. Check your clothes for spots/stains every time you hang them up. Clean your clothes anytime you do not plan on wearing them for a while.
5) Clothes need to breath. Keep about an inch between your clothes (don't cram them in - that will create wrinkles anyway). Keep your closet door open or ajar to help with air flow. Ceiling fans are a great idea in a closet!
6) NEVER hang clothes in your closet, unless they are completely dry.
7) Stuff your shoes and handbags that you don't wear daily with a little tissue. Check the tissue when you discard it, it could be an early warning signal.
8) Position your closet well! If you are building or renovating a home, avoid using outside walls as closet walls, and avoid putting closets near or in bathrooms.
9) Opt for paint, not wall paper on your closet walls.
10) If you see mildew/mold, act early and quickly! There are many pre-bottled solutions on the market today that help to remove mildew from different surfaces. These solutions have specific instructions and should be followed carefully.
2 more notes:
DRYCLEANING CAN REMOVE MOLD. However, if you put your garments back in a storage area with spores in it, the fungus will return quickly. Drycleaning WILL NOT, however, get rid of mold damage. Often mold damages the color or material. This results in damage after drycleaning (color loss, tears, interfacing issues, etc) that wasn't there before cleaning.
OZONE can be used to eliminate the musty odor of the fungus. Not all cleaners have access to this, or even know about it. Be sure to ask for it if you are cleaning items with a musty smell.