October 4, 2012 2:01 PM   Subscribe

I accidentally left my favourite (white, lace) top in a plate of salmon lasagne and left it for a week. It's covered in mould. I suck at life.

The top can only be washed at a maximum of 30 degrees. It smells unbelievably bad and is covered in black mould. I'm so ashamed of myself. :( Halp.
posted by Bows of Bow to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
You could try soaking it in bleach but I'm guessing you are SOL.
posted by pintapicasso at 2:02 PM on October 4, 2012

How...? Wha...?

Ok, well, since it's white, you can use the magic of sunlight to disinfect and bleach it. After a regular cleaning with as warm water as it will take, hang it out in the brightest sunlight you can find for at least a day.
posted by parrot_person at 2:03 PM on October 4, 2012 [8 favorites]

You left your shirt in a plate of lasagne, now it is moldy, and you would like to wear it again? I think the way we could be the most helpful is if you had a photo of it/ described it so we could help you find a new one.
posted by estlin at 2:03 PM on October 4, 2012 [62 favorites]

Well, washing it in a borax solution should kill the mold without ruining the shirt.

Getting the stains the mold leaves out? Oy. Bleach and pray, I would say.
posted by zug at 2:04 PM on October 4, 2012

You could try a long soak in oxyclean and then put it out in sun. Whatever you do, don't put it in the drier. Is that 30 degrees celsius? It has to be, right? (OK, now I see you said "mould" so it must be... sorry!)

Also, could you please share how this happened? Seriously, I'm on the edge of my seat here.
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:04 PM on October 4, 2012 [17 favorites]

What? How? You left laundry in food? Am I reading it right?

Do you have access to Oxy Clean?

I'd soak it in that and hot water for about a month, then see where you are.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:05 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Forget the chemical bleach, which could hurt a delicate lace shirt. I'm telling ya, sunlight. Wash and then hang out the wet shirt in full sunlight. Trust me. Here, skip down to "How to Sun Bleach": http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2011/06/forget-the-bleach-how-to-use-the-sun-to-whiten-your-whites.html
posted by parrot_person at 2:06 PM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: To those who want to know what happened, here's how it was. My boyfriend and I are not the most... organised of people. We ate our dinner in bed. There is currently a dispute as to who it was that left the plate of lasagne on the floor, but for my part I am sure it is him because it was on his side of the bed and I am fairly sure I finished mine off and put an empty plate on the other side of the bed. I got undressed in the dark, not knowing the plate of lasagna was lying beneath the clothes I dropped on the floor. I work shifts and had a long week. I finally got around to dealing with the laundry situation today. Alas, when I picked up my clothes there were the remains of my boyfriend's half-eaten lasagne underneath. The mould had grown through a couple of layers of fabric on the top. It's in a warm wash now but I am going to try bleach and sunlight tomorrow. My housemate has suggested a moratorium on food in the bedroom and says she will make us a sign for the door to help us remember. She is sitting next to me right now making fun of me a LOT.
posted by Bows of Bow at 2:16 PM on October 4, 2012 [193 favorites]

Keep in mind the mold and/or food ingredients may have eaten into the lace, affecting the structure and/or viability as a clothing item. Good luck though!
posted by rhizome at 2:40 PM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would put it through several changes of cool water and delicate detergent soaking to get the worst of everything out of it before I even started with harsher chemicals. I might also try a bit of lemon juice or vinegar if the remnants were greasy.

For food stains, not using hotter water is often good anyway, because hot water can end up cooking/setting the stains, where cooler water may not.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:41 PM on October 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

Yeah, if you do get all the mold gone the lace may have been seriously compromised. You'll need to replace it pretty soon if not immediatly.

And... yeah rotten fish for a week in your room? You might need to put that no-food rule in place.
posted by Blisterlips at 2:43 PM on October 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

I have had good results with a solution of Oxi-clean and Dawn dish detergent. Mix a few tablespoons of the Oxi with a goodly squirt of the Dawn in a tepid sinkful of water (or a bucket). Allow your item to soak for an hour or two, swishing every few minutes -- whenever you walk by the bathroom and remember. Then squeeze the water out (but don't twist it) and lay it out in the sun to dry.

This method removed dark black mildew spots from a wet cloth diaper that had been forgotten in the diaper bag for upwards of a week. Blecch. But it worked!
posted by fancyoats at 2:56 PM on October 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

If the lace is not made of a natural fabric it is going to be really tough to get the revolting stench of week-old rotting fish out of it. You might think it is gone and then the next time you wear it, the stench seeps out once you start sweating (like with mildew).
posted by elizardbits at 3:00 PM on October 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

Any cleaning you are going to do to get rid of the mold is going to ruin the top. I'd chalk this up to a lesson and move on.
posted by radioamy at 4:15 PM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not convinced that you can save the top--as elizardbits writes, once deep odors are in, they tend to return with heat and perspiration.

Having said that. Don't use Oxy or Bleach and then lay it in the sun. I have many a white tee shirt ruined with a quick oxy spot cleaner done outdoors for whatever reason. The stain goes away immediately, then I'll find yellow spots when I wash. This only happens when I've spot cleaned outdoors, so I am blaming the sun.

Try the vinegar/baking soda method for removing odors from clothing. Use dawn or some other detergent to handwash the item and bleach as needed. Then toss the top in the wash with your normal detergent. When the water has come up a bit, add a cup of white vinegar or baking soda. Before the rinse/drain cycle, let the top sit in the mix for a couple of hours. Then finish the wash cycle.

Assuming you a) get the stain out and b) get the smell out, wear the item around your house for a day to see if any creeping odors come out. If they do, just throw the thing away.
posted by xyzzy at 4:47 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can try lemon juice and water as well to help kill the scent. I would spray bleach (if you have a spare spray bottle) rather than soaking it. It make take a few washings to get it all out. DON'T PUT IT IN THE DRYER!!!

Good luck.

posted by Yellow at 5:07 PM on October 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

I would try enzyme cleaner. Bac-Out does a good job on furniture; it might help in your horrible situation.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:43 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Folks, question is not about your opinions of leaving food under the bed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:33 PM on October 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

Don't feel bad. I baked a sock once.*

As far as stench goes, burying it in baking soda for a few days can help. If it's nylon lace it'll take a bleach better but hold a stench more. If it's cotton or other natural fibres I'd just bid it a sad farewell. Anything that will get rid of the spots will probably murder the fabric too.

*Cats, man. Cats.
posted by Jilder at 4:55 AM on October 5, 2012 [9 favorites]

Cream of tartar has powerful stain-removing properties, but you'll want to test it in an inconspicuous area. Make a paste with a few drops of water, rub it in, and let it sit for a few minutes before you rinse it. You don't want to let it sit forever, because I'm afraid it will degrade your fabric. If that takes care of the stains, then you can use an enzymatic cleanser like The corpse in the library suggests. Anything recommended for pet odors will do the trick, though it might require a lengthy soak.

Another stain-removing option is steam, but if you can't wash the top in hot water, then you might want to save steam for a last resort. The nuclear option would be to dye the top. If it's made of any kind of natural fiber, you might be able to dye it another color to cover up the mold stains.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 6:27 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

A few weeks back I was listening to an episode of Jordan Jesse Go and they mentioned a similar situation where a suit had been doused in kefir and then left to... percolate... for a week or two.

Mentioned they shipped it to some expert dry-cleaning place and the suit came back in great shape. As detailed herein.

I don't know much about cleaning lace but it sounds like if anyone could clean it these guys could.
posted by rhooke at 7:33 AM on October 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

What's the fabric? Don't bleach silk; it turns a horrid color. Cotton bleaches quite well. Hydrogen peroxide is often recommended for things that can't be bleached. Mold that has penetrated the fabric may have consumed some of the fabric; hard to say with lace. Sorry about the pile-on you're getting. stuff happens. though I'd have preferred a livelier explanation, true or not
posted by theora55 at 5:41 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I came in to tell the same story rhooke did. If it's your bestest shirt ever, might be worth a shot
posted by itesser at 7:30 PM on October 5, 2012

Ok, in New Zealand, there is this stuff called 'Canesten Laundry Rinse'.
It is a very strong anti-fungal, anti-bacterial laundry rinse.
Y'know stinky sport socks that just smell, no matter how much you wash them? This makes that go away.
This probably won't solve the staining issue, but I suggest doing this before attempting bleaching, because it has killed the smell in socks that bleach could not.

As an alternative, also consider dyeing if bleach will damage the fabric too much. It may not be your favourite white top, but maybe it could be a lovely light turquoise top or something.
posted by Elysum at 10:27 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

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