How to get mold out of neoprene?
November 19, 2011 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Please help, hive mind! I left a banana in my neoprene lunch bag and it got really moldy on the bottom. The mold didn't go through the whole bag, but it's ugly and polka dotted on the inside. It's a "Built" brand bag, made of neoprene, if that makes a difference. I ran it through a (cold) wash cycle once, and it didn't do a darn thing. I'd hate to ruin the bag with bleach, but I'm not sure what else to do. Does color safe bleach get rid of mold?
posted by luciddream928 to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Try vinegar. It's a non-toxic way to kill mold. If that doesn't work, use a damp cloth with diluted bleach solutin to wipe it down.
posted by annsunny at 11:35 AM on November 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

You can scrub and disinfect it with vinegar, but it may still be stained (if that's the issue you're still dealing with.) The stain is fine, it won't hurt you.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:47 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bleach is not good on neoprene, it will make it degrade quickly (this is why people wash their neoprene diving suits). Sadly, the only thing that really effectively kills and removes mold is bleach. You could certainly try the vinegar first, but I don't think it will get rid of the stains. Bleach is the only thing that will do that.

If you're going to go the bleach route, would say use a really weak bleach solution and make sure to rinse thoroughly. Color-safe may be a good place to start.

Another option might be a high temperature steam, like from a fabric steam cleaner. I think most neoprene has a high heat tolerance. Mold will be killed at about 150 degrees F, and most neoprene can withstand that temperature.
posted by erstwhile at 12:38 PM on November 19, 2011

Best answer: #1: You probably no longer have a mold problem. You hae a stain problem.

#2: Many things other than bleach kill molds: alcohol, ammonia, lysol, ... erstwhile is wrong.

#3: Few things remove protein stains as well as sodium hypochlorite bleach. But it will degrade the neoprene. I'd try color-safe bleach on a small portion, let it dry, and see if it both decreases the stains AND doesn't leave the neoprene looking damaged.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:19 PM on November 19, 2011

Best answer: A dilute solution of oil of cloves (1/4 teaspoon in 1 l of water) will kill the mould spores. Spray it on the mould and leave for 24 hrs.

Then make a strong salt water mix using plain salt (ideally with no anti caking agents or iodine) and paint on the moldy areas. Leave at least overnight until the salt has crusted on the fabric. Brush or bang the salt off and the mould will go with the salt. Repeat if necessary.
posted by dantodd at 3:36 PM on November 19, 2011

Thanks, IAmBroom. I guess I wasn't clear in saying that the only thing that will kill and remove mold is bleach, though that's what I meant and what you reiterated. Go ahead and kill the mold with alcohol or vinegar, but you're still going to have a stain.
posted by erstwhile at 9:37 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so much everyone! I just ordered clove oil and I'll be sure to try the alcohol to kill the mold first.
posted by luciddream928 at 1:30 PM on November 20, 2011

Given that vinegar is a fermentation product (I'm pretty sure Heinz isn't making theirs by oxidizing ethyl aldehyde) I'm not sure vinegar will absolutely kill fungi at non-toxic concentrations. But mold spores are everywhere, so it's not like there's any point to sterilizing this thing.

An enzymatic bleach (Clorox II, et al) might be able to digest whatever is causing the stain.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:34 AM on November 21, 2011

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