Mold in the Closet? Here’s How to Get Rid of It for Good

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: February 16, 2024

A hacking cough, chronic fatigue, and red, itchy eyes might be a sign of a hidden culprit: mold growing in your closet.

Toxic black mold thrives in dark, damp areas, releasing spores as it feeds on materials found in drywall, carpet, paper, cardboard, or fabric. Breathing in these spores can cause symptoms you might mistake for a respiratory infection or allergies.

More severe cases of mold poisoning can include nausea, vomiting, or bleeding in the lungs and nose.

Do you know how to remove mold in the closet?

Our certified ServiceMaster Chicago cleaning and restoration specialists have years of experience providing mold removal for area homeowners.

From attics to basements and even the cleanest closets, we’ve seen it all. We know why it happens, and we know how to prevent it too.

Let’s get started.

What Causes Mold in Closets?

burst pipe damage

Mold can’t grow without moisture, so a closet with high humidity or a leak can be a fertile breeding ground for mold spores.

The three most common ways moisture and mold can reach your closets are:

1. Leaky Plumbing

Leaky pipes behind your walls can be a hidden source of moisture in your home. Problems with plumbing can provide the moisture mold needs to grow in a closet near a bathroom or kitchen.

2. Attic Mold

Roof leaks or humidity can add moisture to your attic. Once mold begins to grow overhead, it can migrate through closet ceilings and into the walls.

3. Humidity

Closet doors usually stay closed, so any humidity in the air can be trapped there. This can be a problem in the summer as well as in regions with high humidity the majority of the year.

Signs of Mold in the Closet

Having respiratory symptoms that you can’t shake, headaches that are getting worse, and a musty odor in your home are unmistakable signs you have mold in your home.

Closets can be a likely culprit because they’re usually dark with back walls and corners that are difficult to see.

Sometimes black mold spores are visible on walls, so shed light on your closet walls to check. They can also be green or white.

Is Mold in the Closet Dangerous?

Mold can potentially cause serious health problems, the EPA has reported. Their spores produce allergens, irritants, and toxic substances. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores can cause allergic reactions such as sneezing, runny noses, red eyes, headaches, and skin rashes.

More serious problems can include bleeding in the lungs and nose. Molds can also trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. Young children, the elderly, and those with lung conditions can be especially sensitive to mold in the home.

The dangers of mold have prompted the World Health Organization to deem it a health hazard.

How to Remove Mold in the Closet

While getting rid of all mold and mold spores indoors is impossible — some mold spores will always be found in indoor air and dust in your home — you can take the following steps to reduce mold in your closet.

  1. Ensure the room is well-ventilated. Open windows and circulate fans in the area.
  2. Cover any furniture or belongings (or remove them from the room).
  3. Place a drop cloth or plastic covering to protect carpet or flooring.
  4. Suit up: wear protective gear to avoid getting mold on your skin, in your eyes, or breathing it in.
  5. Dampen the mold. This step sounds counterintuitive, but to keep mold spores from blowing around the room while you work, a bit of moisture is key.
  6. Mix your cleaning solution, as per CDC and EPA guidelines, and scrub the mold away.
  7. Rinse (with a spray bottle) and thoroughly dry the closet area.
  8. Focus on mold prevention. Keep humidity low to prevent the mold from returning. 

Keep in mind that this DIY solution does not guarantee that you’ve completely removed the mold.

A mold remediation company can be crucial, not only to determine if you have mold and remove it, but also to find the source of the moisture — after all, the EPA notes that eliminating mold starts with eliminating moisture.

Put simply, if the moisture problem in your closet isn’t addressed, mold will return.

A provider like ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba will inspect your home to determine if there’s a leak that is causing mold to grow in your closet.

How to Remove Mold on Clothes or Shoes

It’s possible to remove mold from clothes and shoes by washing with vinegar instead of detergent to remove the smell or by brushing mold away outside before washing with detergent in hot water and drying in the sun.

Because of the harmful health effects, you should avoid exposing yourself or others to mold. Professional mold remediators have the necessary equipment needed to remove mold safely.

How to Prevent Mold Growing in Closets: 10 Simple Strategies

Stopping mold means stopping moisture. To keep mold away from closets and their contents, the EPA recommends keeping indoor humidity below 60 percent and ideally between 30 and 50 percent.

Other ways to keep your closets dry and mold-free include:

1. Keep Things Clean and Dry

Mold feeds on dirt in fabric fibers, so resist the temptation to toss soiled clothes back into the closet. Always make sure items just out of the laundry are completely dry before hanging them up.

2. Stay Away From Plastics

Remove clothes from dry-cleaning bags as soon as possible. Their polyethylene composition traps humidity around fibers, and the dampness encourages mold growth.

3. Elevate Things on the Floor

Move things currently stored on the closet floor to shelves. This minimizes the risk of items getting damp and moldy in case of a plumbing leak.

4. Keep the Doors Closed

This tip is especially important when our Chicago weather gets humid. Keep closet doors closed to damp air, and deny mold the moisture it needs to grow.

Power Tip: If humidity is a problem in your home, consider using a dehumidifier specially designed for closets.

5. Clean Closets Regularly

Make this job more than a part of your spring cleaning routine. Every few months, move things out, dust shelves, and run the vacuum. Let fresh air circulate through the closet for several hours.

6. Don’t Ignore Musty Smells

Trust your nose. If the closet smells musty and moldy, dig around until you locate the source. It may be growing behind the walls, so consider bringing in a certified mold remediation contractor.

7. Set Out Silica Packs

When we’re asked about what absorbs moisture in closets, we recommend silica gel packs. They work very well controlling the damp that breeds mold in dark closets.

8. Leave the Light On

Mold needs moisture to live, but the warmth from a low wattage light bulb can help keep the closet dry. Install an energy-efficient light in the closet, and leave it on 24/7.

Power Tip: Make sure the bulb isn’t near clothing or anything else that could become a fire hazard.

9. Trade Wood for Wire

Replace wood shelves with wire shelving so that closet air can circulate freely. Lightweight wire shelves are also more mold-resistant than traditional wood shelving.

10. Upgrade to Louvered Doors

If you don’t have a humidity problem at the house, consider upgrading to louvered closet doors. They allow fresh air circulation that’s so important to discouraging mold growth.

Dealing with Closet Mold in the Chicago, IL Area? We Can Help

Mold can show up in the cleanest homes and sneak into the best-kept closets. You’re up against an invasive fungus that spreads quickly.

Don’t risk your health by trying to clean up a mold mess on your own. ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba provides industry-certified mold removal and mold remediation to Chicago homeowners, and we serve the suburbs, too. Flexible scheduling options are available, and satisfaction is guaranteed.

Our team of mold experts will study your situation through a property inspection, high-tech moisture analysis, and sample collection. If mold is found, the ServiceMaster by Zaba team can begin complete mold remediation and finish with a final inspection, including air sample analysis to make sure your home is mold-free.

Just give us a call, and let us take care of the mold in your closets: 773-647-1985

What type of mold grows in closets?

The same molds that grow under sinks and behind walls also grow inside closets. Common closet molds include aspergilus and alternaria. Stachysbotrys chartarum, often referred to as toxic black mold, can also grow inside closets.

Is mold in closets dangerous?

Mold inside closets can become a health hazard for people who suffer from allergies. It can aggravate existing respiratory problems and cause headaches, runny noses and itchy eyes. People with compromised immune systems are susceptible to mold-related health issues.

What type of mold grows on clothes in closets?

Mold growing on clothes is usually cladosporium. The mold thrives in both cool and warm environments. Cladosporium can also grow in carpets, drapes and upholstery.