Sports clothing and equipment soaked in perspiration or other fluids can create ideal growing conditions for mold. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to mold spores can cause numerous health problems, including allergic reactions like rashes, and respiratory complaints like asthma.
Mold can also cause considerable damage to fabric. It can leave a musty odor, discolor the material, and may even rot clothing until it falls to pieces, according to the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
1. Remove mildew spots as soon as they appear. Brush off surface growth outdoors to avoid releasing mold spores in the house. Wear a safety mask to avoid inhaling mold spores, and wash your hands thoroughly when you’re finished.
2. Hang sports clothing and equipment outdoors until completely dried. Leave the entire garment or piece of equipment exposed to the sun and air if possible, turning the item inside out if necessary.
3. Launder washable items in detergent and hot water, and then dry them thoroughly outdoors, preferably in direct sun.
Reinspect the items when they’re dry, and launder them again with colorsafe bleach if any mildew stains remain. Presoak tough or large stains in a bleach solution before laundering.
4. Have non-washable garments dry cleaned, making sure to point out the stains to the dry cleaning professional. The heat and chemicals used in dry cleaning are effective at killing mildew.
5. Use a household spray cleaner or detergent to clean mold off hard, nonporous sporting equipment. Wipe the cleaner off with a paper towel or disposable rag. For stubborn cases, mix 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water. If mold remains after thorough cleaning, discard the mold-infected item.