Notice dark brown rings on your pillows, or a musty, damp odor? Those are indications of mold and mildew growth! While mold and mildew stains don't exactly pose any harmful health hazards to you or your family, their spores are common allergens that can cause allergic rhinitis and dermatitis, especially as you use the pillow to sleep on every night.
Some types of mold like the infamous toxic black mold, stachybotrys chartarum, release mycotoxins that can cause headaches, fatigue, and mold poisoning when inhaled. Black mold is not uncommon on pillows, surprisingly on newly-washed pillows that were kept while still damp. Remove mold from pillows as soon as you spot them.
What Are the Causes of Mild and Mildew on Pillows?
There are many ways mold spores can get into your pillows. Mold and mildew require a moist or damp location with plenty of organic material to feed off of in order to grow their colonies, and cotton pillows left in humid weather are prime areas for mold growth.
Homeowners typically find moldy pillows from the pillows they stored in damp closets, but your bedroom, living room, and den pillows can get mold just as easily. Sweat, drool, and other fluids provide mold and mildew spores with ample enough moisture to grow. Pillows left on patios and outdoor areas are also susceptible to mold, especially after rain and snow.
Mold spores are everywhere, and they are opportunistic. They require very little moisture to start their colonies, and can eat away at your pillows when not treated immediately. Memory foam pillows made with organic material become much more brittle when infested with mold, and mildew growth can cause dark brown stains on fabrics as well.
How to Remove Mold and Mildew from Pillows
The best way to remove mildew stains is to wash your pillows. However, not all pillows are washable, so we'll present three different ways you can kill mold spores, and save your pillows from decaying! We'll include recipes for DIY mold-killing and stain removing solutions you can try to remove those pesky brown spots.
Washable pillows include cotton, down, and fiber-filled pillows that can be tossed in the washing machine to clear them of mold growth. Toss your moldy pillow into the filled washing machine, and add a cup of vinegar, and 1/2 a cup of baking soda into the mix. Vinegar and baking soda should kill any remaining mold from the pillows.
When possible, run your machine on its hottest setting to ensure that you kill off any mold, and lift dried mold stains from the pillows at the same time. Let the machine run its cycle, then toss your machine-washed pillows in the dryer to squeeze out the excess moisture. Place the pillows in direct sunlight to dry completely, and your pillows should be mold-free!
Memory foam pillows, solid pillows, and gel pillows are not machine washable as the materials can disintegrate during the wash cycle. You can, however, hand wash the pillows using a gentle detergent. Use an old toothbrush or a soft-bristled scrubber to work away at stained areas, and carefully remove any mold spots. Use hot water to rinse, if possible.
To remove stains on your pillows or pillow cases, sprinkle a tablespoon of sea or table salt on half a lemon, and use the lemon juice to scrub the stains away. The lemon juice should kill the mold and lift the stains, while the salt provides a gentle abrasive to scrub out the spots. Scrub gently to prevent damage to your pillows, and rinse the pillows afterwards. Let them dry completely.
Washing White Pillows
White pillows have the advantage of being bleached clean, which gets rid of mold and mildew stains, and sanitizes the pillow at the same time. Removing mold and mildew stains from white pillows starts with washing them as you normally would, then using bleach to treat mold spots.
To clear the mold from these types of pillows, use a bleach solution made with 1/2 a cup of pure chlorine bleach mixed with a gallon of clean water. Place the mixture in a spray bottle, and generously spray the entire pillow. Blot the area with a damp cloth, and let the bleach solution dry completely. This should remove the stains as well as any mildew spores remaining.
Mold growing on your pillows may indicate that they are growing elsewhere in your home as well. Consider a full spring cleaning to prevent mold from growing back, especially if you're dealing with black mold. Introduce fresh air into your home by opening windows and using exhaust fans to ventilate your space. This will remove the humidity in the air, and keep your fabrics dry.
For a full, top-to-bottom cleaning service, Luce Home offers spring cleaning, deep cleaning, and everyday general cleaning that will keep your space pristine and mold-free! Cleaning is the best way to prevent mold growth in your home, especially in areas you don't usually notice.
For more home cleaning tips and tricks, visit our blog section!