How to Prevent and Remove Mildew — Home Methods

Keep things clean

Keep closets, dresser drawers, basements — any place where mildew is likely to grow — as clean as possible. Soil on dirty articles can supply enough food for mildew to start growing when moisture and temperature are right. Greasy films, such as those that form on kitchen walls, also contain many nutrients for mildew-causing molds.

Clean clothing is less likely to mildew than soiled clothing.

Get rid of dampness

Mold spores are present in the air and may settle onto surfaces if there is sufficient moisture.

A damp basement, or any other structure, is often caused by moisture condensation from humid air onto cooler surfaces. Excessive moisture may indicate that repairs or additional insulation are needed. Replace cracked or defective mortar. Some basements are continually wet from water leaking through crevices in the wall. Make sure outside drainage is adequate.

For waterproofing concrete and other masonry walls above ground, apply two coats of cement paint, tinted with mineral coloring if desired. Waterproofed coatings to seal absorbent brick and other outside surfaces may be needed.

Spread a layer of moisture-barrier material over the soil in crawl spaces under houses. You can use heavy roofing paper or polyethylene plastic film. Good ventilation is important. If possible, do not enclose the crawl space. In extreme cases, a fan or blower may be needed to move the humid air from under the building.

If your clothes dryer is equipped with a vent, have it exhausted to the outside to remove moist air.

Dry the air

Air conditioners and dehumidifiers. Cool air holds less moisture than warm air. Properly installed air-conditioning systems remove moisture from the air by taking up warm air, cooling it (which removes the moisture) and circulating the cool, dry air back into the room. In rooms that are not air-conditioned — especially the basement — mechanical dehumidifiers are useful. A humidistat can be attached to the unit to control the humidity. Mechanical dehumidifiers, however, can add heat to a room.

When using air-conditioners or dehumidifiers, keep windows and doors closed.


Get rid of dampness by heating the house for a short time. Then open doors and windows to let out the moisture-laden air. An exhaust fan may be used to force it out. Air in closets and other small areas can be dried by using an electric light continuously (60- to 100-watt bulb). The heat will prevent mildew if the space is not too large.

* Be sure to place the light bulb far enough from clothing and other flammables to avoid the danger of fire.