Mold-Busters: How to Get Rid of Mold on Pillows Proven Methods

No one wants to find mold on their pillows, and discovering those dark, unsightly spots can be quite a shock. In addition, mold and mildew look unpleasant and can cause health issues, particularly for those with allergies and respiratory conditions.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore how to get rid of mold on pillows using various methods and how to prevent mold growth in the first place.

Recognizing Mold and Mildew on Pillows

Before we get into the cleaning process, knowing what you’re dealing with is essential. Mold and mildew are both fungi that thrive in damp environments. They may appear as dark brown or black spots on your pillows, accompanied by a musty odor.

Some mold types, such as Stachybotrys chartarum (toxic black mold), release mycotoxins that can cause headaches, fatigue, and mold poisoning when inhaled. This is why removing mold from pillows is crucial as soon as you spot it.

Causes of Mold and Mildew on Pillows

Understanding the causes of mold and mildew on pillows can help prevent their growth and protect your health. Mold spores are everywhere and can easily find their way into your pillows, especially when the following conditions are met:

  • Dampness: Mold and mildew need moisture to grow. Sweat, drool, and other fluids can provide sufficient moisture for mold to thrive, especially if pillows are not properly dried after washing or exposure to rain and snow.
  • Organic material: Pillows made from organic materials, such as cotton and memory foam, provide an ideal food source for mold and mildew.
  • Humid environments: High humidity levels in your home can create a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. This is particularly true for pillows stored in damp closets or exposed to outdoor elements.

Preparing Your Pillows for Cleaning

Before diving into the cleaning methods, preparing your pillows for the process is essential. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Check the care label: Look for washing instructions on the pillow’s care label. This will tell you whether the pillow is machine-washable or needs to be hand-washed.
  2. Remove the pillowcase: Take off the pillowcase and wash it separately according to the care instructions.
  3. Vacuum the pillow: Use a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment to remove loose mold spores and debris.

How to Get Rid of Mold on Washable Pillows

If your pillows are made from cotton, down, or fiber-filled materials, they can be cleaned in the washing machine. Follow these steps to remove mold from washable pillows:

  1. Load the washing machine: Place the moldy pillow in the washing machine.
  2. Add cleaning agents: Add one cup of white vinegar and half a cup of baking soda to the washing machine. These natural ingredients help to kill mold spores and remove stains.
  3. Set the washing cycle: Choose the hottest setting recommended on the care label and run the washing cycle.
  4. Dry the pillows: Once the washing cycle is complete, place the pillows in the dryer in a low-heat setting. You can also place them in direct sunlight to ensure they are thoroughly dried.

How to Get Rid of Mold on Non-Washable Pillows

Memory foam, solid, and gel pillows are not machine-washable, as the materials can disintegrate during the wash cycle. However, you can still remove mold from these pillows by hand-washing them. Here’s how:

  1. Prepare a cleaning solution: Mix a gentle detergent with warm water in a large basin or sink.
  2. Scrub the pillow: Use an old toothbrush or a soft-bristled scrubber to scrub the stained areas and remove mold spots gently. Be careful not to damage the pillow’s material.
  3. Rinse the pillow: Use hot water to rinse the pillow, if possible.
  4. Dry the pillow: Allow the pillow to air-dry completely, preferably in direct sunlight.

Removing Mold Stains with Lemon and Salt

Lemon juice and salt can be a natural stain remover for pillows or pillowcases. Follow these steps:

  1. Make a lemon-salt paste: Mix a tablespoon of sea or table salt with enough lemon juice to form a paste.
  2. Apply the paste: Use an old toothbrush or a soft-bristled scrubber to apply the paste to the stained areas gently.
  3. Rinse the pillow: After scrubbing, rinse the pillow thoroughly with water.
  4. Dry the pillow: Allow the pillow to air-dry completely, preferably in direct sunlight.

How to Get Rid of Black Mold on White Pillows

White pillows can be treated with bleach to remove mold and mildew stains. Here’s how to get rid of black mold on white pillows:

  1. Pre-wash the pillow: Wash the pillow as you usually would, following the care label instructions.
  2. Prepare a bleach solution: Mix half a cup of pure chlorine bleach with a gallon of clean water in a spray bottle.
  3. Apply the bleach solution: Generously spray the entire pillow with the bleach solution. Using a damp cloth, blot the area, and let the solution dry completely.
  4. Rinse and dry the pillow: If necessary, rinse it with water and allow it to dry completely before use.

Preventing Mold and Mildew on Pillows

Now that you know how to remove mold from pillows, taking steps to prevent future mold growth is essential. Here are some tips for keeping your pillows mold-free:

  1. Keep your home well-ventilated: Open windows and use exhaust fans to reduce humidity.
  2. Store pillows in a dry environment: Avoid storing pillows in damp closets or areas with high humidity.
  3. Dry pillows properly: Ensure pillows are thoroughly dried after washing or exposure to moisture.
  4. Rotate and air out pillows regularly: Rotate and air them in the sun to prevent mold growth.

When to Replace Your Pillows

In some cases, replacing your pillows may be more practical instead of attempting to remove mold. Consider replacing your pillows if:

  • Mold growth is extensive and has penetrated deep into the pillow.
  • The pillow’s material has become brittle or damaged due to mold infestation.
  • You have tried multiple cleaning methods, but mold stains and odors persist.

Final Thoughts

Mold and mildew on pillows are not only unsightly but can also pose health risks. Knowing how to remove mold on pillows is essential for maintaining a clean and healthy sleeping environment.

Following the cleaning methods outlined in this guide and preventing mold growth, you can ensure your pillows stay fresh and mold-free.


Will mold wash out of pillows?

Washing alone may not effectively remove mold from pillows. Mold spores can be deeply embedded in the fabric and filling, making it difficult to completely eliminate. It’s recommended to use additional mold-fighting methods.

Should I throw out a moldy pillow?

In most cases, it’s best to discard a moldy pillow. Mold can pose health risks, and thorough cleaning may not guarantee complete removal. Protect your health by replacing mold-infested pillows with new ones.

What kills mold on fabric?

To kill mold on fabric, use a mixture of vinegar and water, or hydrogen peroxide. Apply the solution to the affected area, scrub gently, and allow it to air dry in a well-ventilated space. Launder the fabric afterward.

What kills mold on bedding?

To effectively kill mold on bedding, start by removing any visible mold growth. Then, wash the bedding in hot water with a detergent that contains enzymes. Finally, expose the bedding to direct sunlight to further inhibit mold growth.

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