It’s frustrating when mould and mildew start growing on your curtains. These pesky fungi can damage the fabric, spread spores, and even pose health hazards if left untreated. 


While it may seem tricky to remove mould and mildew from curtains, the good news is there are several effective cleaning methods you can use to freshen them up. This guide covers simple techniques for getting rid of mould and mildew, preventing future growth, and when to call in the professionals.


Why Does Mould and Mildew Form on Curtains? 


Mould and mildew growth on curtains is usually caused by excess moisture in the air. Areas with high humidity, poor ventilation, or leakage problems tend to have issues with mould and mildew. 


The cellulose fabric of curtains provides the perfect breeding ground when exposed to damp conditions over time, and windows tend to attract plenty of condensation, particularly over the colder months. 


You’ll first notice grey, black or green spots forming on the curtains. A musty, earthy smell is another tell-tale sign of mould and mildew.


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mildew on a surface


How Mouldy Curtains Can Affect Your Health

Don't ignore a mould problem on your curtains. The spores emitted from mould and mildew can worsen allergies, trigger asthma attacks, and even cause respiratory infections for some individuals. 


Mould may also damage the curtains by breaking down the fibres and eventually ruining the integrity of the fabric. Getting rid of the mould protects your curtains and improves household air quality.


Removing Mould 


Mould can be removed from washable curtain fabrics using a few simple cleaning methods:


1. Manually remove as much mould as possible 

We recommend this should be done with a vacuum attachment or hard bristle brush to lift off excess growth. 


This prevents the mould from spreading during the cleaning process. It’s a good idea to do this outside to stop the mould from spreading to other areas of your home. You should also preferably wear a mask, as breathing in mould could be a risk to your health.

2. Spray Affected Areas


Spray white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or a commercial stain remover directly onto affected areas using a regular domestic spray bottle. Let soak briefly. The acids in vinegar can help kill mould and break down the stubborn stains. You can alternatively use a bleach solution, but this is often more dangerous to use and is more likely to discolour your curtains.


spraying a curtain with vinegar

Make sure to check any care labels or instructions on your curtains before you use a cleaning product on them, and always test it on a small area before using a product on the whole curtain.


3. Wash your Curtains

Again, check the care instructions to find out if the curtains are machine washable, hand washable, or if they require a trip to the dry cleaners.


If you are able to machine wash, put your curtains on the gentle cycle using hot water and an oxygen-based detergent. Avoid using bleach. You can also add 1 cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle to act as a disinfectant. You can use similar instructions to hand wash curtains.


Find out How to Clean your Curtains in Situ


4. Dry the Curtains


If possible, dry in direct sunlight, as the UV rays help kill remaining mould spores. If you’re plagued by wet British weather, you can alternatively tumble dry them on low heat before re-hanging.


Removing Mildew


To remove mildew from washable curtains:

1.   Remove as much Mildew as Possible

First, remove as much of the mildew growths as you can with a vacuum or scrubbing brush. Like you would with mould growth, take the curtains outside to prevent scattering spores indoors.

vacuuming mould


2. Wash the Curtains

If your curtains are machine washable, put them on a hot wash cycle with detergent and 1⁄2 cup of baking soda. This will help to remove mildew stains and lingering odours. Oxygen-based detergents also treat mildew.

3. Air Dry

Air dry the curtains in direct sunlight to naturally kills mildew spores. Make sure not to  hang the curtains up again until they are fully dry.


Preventing Mould or Mildew from Growing on Your Curtains 


While cleaning removes existing mould and mildew, you’ll also need to tackle the underlying causes to prevent recurrence. Here are some ideas:


  • Increase airflow by opening windows to lower humidity levels and keep blinds and curtains open during the day.
  • Run a dehumidifier in problem rooms to maintain humidity below 50 percent. You should also address any sources of excess moisture like leaks.
  • Vacuum your curtains regularly to remove dust and dirt build up where mould can grow.
  • Wash curtains every few months to kill developing mould and mildew spores before they spread.
  • Take down and fully dry any curtains exposed to leaks or heavy condensation.

condensation on window
  • Consider spraying curtains with an anti-mould treatment to add extra prevention between washes.


When to Hire Professional Cleaners

For severe mould and mildew issues, or if the curtains are dry clean only, professional cleaners may be needed. 


Professionals such as A Cleaning Service have industrial-strength cleaners and tools for removing extensive mould damage. They can also treat delicate fabrics like silk that require special handling.


If the mouldy smell persists even after cleaning, or you see signs of mould within the wall or window areas, contact a professional remediation company.


If you’re based in South Wales or the wider Bristol and Bath area, why not take a look at our renowned curtain cleaning service or request a quote today. Our cleaning professionals prioritise delivering an efficient, friendly service using pet and family friendly products.