How to Hinder Mold Growth in Your Closets

Mold is a disgusting four-letter word. The mere mention of it conjures up images of a gross black fungus lurking in dank basements or hiding in the back of a cabinet behind leaky plumbing. 

While that may certainly be true, the fact is that mold can be anywhere – even in your beautiful custom closets. 

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent mold from growing in your closets and avoid developing serious health problems associated with mold.

In order to keep your closets mold and mildew free, it’s important to answer these key questions:

Keep reading to learn how to prevent mold from growing in your closets.

Where Does Closet Mold Come From?

Even the cleanest home can harbor mold. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mold typically enters your home the same way you do – through the door.

Mold spores are easily tracked in on your clothes and shoes. Mold can also get in through windows or the air conditioning/heating system.

Once mold spores infiltrate your home, they can quickly grow in humid places. That’s why you see most mold and mildew in the bathroom. Being that closets are typically small, dark spaces, they make excellent breeding grounds for mold. 

Additionally, cardboard, wood, fabric, carpet, and drywall all provide the needed nutrients for mold to flourish – and all are commonly found inside of your closets.

How Do You Know If You Have Mold In Your Closet?

Generally speaking, the nose knows. Give your closet the sniff test. Do you sense a musty odor? If so, then it’s time to investigate because you might have an outbreak of mold or mildew.

If you are like most people, your closet is probably jam-packed with clothes, shoes, accessories, and more. This makes it difficult to see what’s hiding behind the hangers and bins. If you suspect there might be mold in your closet, start by taking everything out of it. 

Once all of your belongings have been removed, you will be able to search for telltale signs of mold, such as black or green colored patches on the walls or shelves. 

Be sure to carefully inspect the areas along any outside walls or the walls backing up to a bathroom, as mold tends to grow best in dark, moist places, especially those that may have hidden water damage.

Mold inspection in a closet

How Do You Get Rid Of Mold In Closets?

If you do spot mold, there is no reason to panic. As previously mentioned, mold spreads easily and can quickly penetrate a home, thriving in dark, damp spaces such as closets. This is particularly true for houses in regions that receive a lot of rainfall or experience high humidity, just like here in Washington State.

Start by inspecting your clothes and other items. Anything that is mold-infested should be bagged and thrown away. You do not want to bring mold spores back into your clean closet.

The next step is to clean and treat the area where mold or mildew is growing. This can be done using products you probably have on hand. Clean My Space recommends using distilled white vinegar; the same kind you might use to clean your windows or remove soap scum in bathrooms.

All you need to do is fill a spray bottle with vinegar and then spray any mold or mildew patches you see. Let the vinegar sit for about a half-hour before scrubbing the problem areas with a brush. Then rinse each area with water and let it dry. 

To ensure you do not have any regrowth, respray vinegar in the spots where the mold or mildew was growing. Allow everything to dry completely before putting your belongings back into the closet.

As an alternative to vinegar, you could use a mixture of equal parts bleach and water or hydrogen peroxide and water. Follow the same instructions as with the vinegar, just be sure to leave these solutions on for only ten minutes.

For major mold infestations, you should call a mold removal specialist. Mold is toxic and you want to make sure it is being removed properly. In extreme cases, drywall or shelving may need to be replaced and the air purified.

What Can You Do To Keep Mold Out Of Your Closets?

There’s a saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That is definitely true when it comes to keeping your closets mold-free.

Here are six super simple things you can do to help keep mold from growing in your closets:

#1. Eliminate Moisture

Mold only grows where moisture is present, so you will want to do everything you can to keep your closets dry. A dehumidifier will ensure that your space is not hospitable to mold. 

But, if you don’t have the budget or space for a dehumidifier, consider using silica gel packs or a product like Damp-Rid to absorb excess moisture from the air.

#2. Remove Your Hamper

Being that you can easily bring mold spores into your home on your clothing and they will grow by feeding on the dirt in fabric fibers, it’s best to keep dirty clothes out of the closet. The laundry room might be a better place to store your hamper. 

If you need to keep a laundry hamper in your closet, make sure you are only putting dry clothes in it. Anything wet or damp should be allowed to dry completely before being tossed in the basket. 

Shoes can also attract mold spores, so make sure your shoes are clean and dry before putting them away in your closet.

#3. Air It Out

A closet needs proper air circulation to prevent mold and mildew growth. Periodically leave your closet doors open to allow fresh air to enter. Open weave storage baskets and bins are two types of closet accessories that allow for ample air circulation. 

Finally, take your clothes out of the plastic dry cleaning bags. They can trap humidity around the clothing fibers which can cause mold growth.

#4. Rise Up

Do not store stuff on the floor of your closet. Keep shoe boxes and storage bins on shelves. This allows for better airflow. It also minimizes your risk of damage or mold growth if there is ever a plumbing leak that soaks your carpet or floorboards.

#5. Let There Be Light

A low wattage, energy-efficient light in the closet will not only make it easier to see, but the warmth put off by the bulb will help keep your closet dry – thus preventing mold growing in your closet.

#6. Clean Sweep

Make sure you periodically clean your closets. It’s good to remove all of your clothing items and inspect them for signs of mold or other damage (and to donate what you no longer wear). After sorting through your stuff, spend some time wiping down the shelves and vacuuming the floor.

Try to let fresh air fill your closet for a few hours before putting everything away.

An empty closet being cleaned from mold

When is It Too Late To Save Your Closet From Mold?

In time, if mold is left unattended it can start damaging your closet and it’ll be impossible to get rid of it, no matter what chemicals or techniques you’re using. Mold slowly starts turning into rot and your closet shelves, drawers, and hardware will stop working properly.

If you catch problem before it starts wreaking havoc, you might have a chance to save your closet by quickly replacing some shelving or the hardware. When it’s too late, there’s not much you can do and you’ll want to replace the entire closet with a new one.

You can’t say exactly when it’s too late, but a professional can take an in-depth look at your closet and see where the major issues lie. Here at Creative Closets, we care about giving our clients a completely safe product that encourages a healthy lifestyle.

FAQs about Mold in Closets

If you notice a musty smell or see black or green patches on the walls, shelves, or your belongings, you likely have mold in your closet. It’s a good idea to remove everything from the closet and inspect for these signs, especially on walls next to bathrooms or outside walls.
First, remove any mold-infested items and throw them away. Clean the moldy areas with distilled white vinegar or a mixture of bleach and water. Spray the solution, let it sit, scrub it off, and rinse with water. For severe mold problems, it’s best to call a professional.
To keep mold out of your closet, make sure it stays dry by using a dehumidifier or silica gel packs. Improve air circulation by leaving the closet doors open occasionally, and avoid storing damp clothes or shoes in the closet. Regular cleaning and proper lighting also help.
Closets are typically small, dark, and can be humid, making them perfect for mold growth. Materials like wood, fabric, and cardboard found in closets provide nutrients for mold. Ensuring proper ventilation and moisture control can reduce the risk of mold.

If mold has caused significant damage, such as rotting shelves or hardware, it may be too late for simple cleaning. In such cases, you might need to replace parts or the entire closet.

Consulting a professional can help assess the extent of the damage and provide the best solution.


Mold in closets is quite common. Their dark spaces and crowded conditions make an ideal breeding ground for fungus. 

Fortunately, you can keep mold and mildew from taking hold in your closets if you keep them clean and dry. Humidity harbors mold growth so a dehumidifier or simple silica gel packs are your first line of defense. 

That, coupled with a few housekeeping tips, can prevent mold and mildew from growing in your closets.

Creative Closets offer custom closet and storage solutions for your home anywhere in Washington State. If you think it’s time for a new closet or interested in seeing if there’s any way we can save your existing one, give us a call at (425) 428-5073!