If you want to improve the cleanliness and air quality in your home, a mildew remover is a great tool to tackle unsightly stains and build-up in your bathroom or outdoor space. Identifying mildew, as well as other forms of mold, is important to determine how best to treat the problem and its source. “Mildew will continue returning if the issue that led to the growth was not resolved or if the remediation was not properly completed,” says Michael Rubino, author of The Mold Medic and founder of HomeCleanse. “The issue with leaving mold and mildew growth untreated is that it can negatively affect the air quality in our homes.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it may be impossible to remove mold from porous surfaces in your home. If you suspect there’s mildew in your insulation, walls, or flooring, we recommend that you contact a specialist to safely dispose of and completely replace those materials.
Here are the best mildew removers to scrub mold from non-porous surfaces in your bathroom, kitchen, and other moisture-prone areas around your home.
RMR-86 Instant Mold and Mildew Stain Remover
Effective, fast-acting formula
Works on a variety of surfaces
Safe for indoor or outdoor use
Bleach may discolor some surfaces
If you've identified mold or mildew in or around your home, consider snagging the RMR-86 instant formula. It targets both mildew and mold, removing stains, odors, and growth in as little as 15 seconds. After using it, you might not even know that you had mildew in the first place.
To use, just spray from the ready-to-use spray bottle, and let the solution sit for a few seconds. Wipe away any mold or mildew with a rag. You shouldn't need to scrub heavily, even on stubborn stains. The product was originally developed in 2013 by Chris Atkinson, the founder of RMR-86, who worked in restoration and remediation.
This is a strong formula that includes bleach. While it is designed for indoor and outdoor use (including on tile, grout, vinyl siding, decking, brick, and some kitchen countertops), you should test it first on an inconspicuous area to make sure that it won’t alter the finish or color. It is also a good idea to wear protective gear, such as gloves, eye protection, and old clothes you don’t mind getting discolored.
Price at time of publish: $19
Type: Spray | Container Size: 32 fluid ounces | Bleach Free: No
CLR Mold & Mildew Clear Bleach-Free Stain Remover Spray
Safe for many surfaces and rooms
Foam is easy to use
Not great for tough stains
CLR is a household name when it comes to removing unwanted stains from surfaces around your home. Its Mold & Mildew Clear formula doesn’t use bleach, so it’s safe for everything from painted walls to car tires. It is also effective in spaces that commonly experience mildew, including bathrooms and kitchens.
The spray comes out as foam, making it easier for you to target specific areas. It reduces the occurrence of overspray, which is especially important if you have other surfaces nearby that you want to protect. Keep in mind that this formula is more ideal for routine cleaning than using it as a heavy-duty mildew blaster. You may need to scrub a bit more or let it sit on the surface longer to get the full effect.
Price at time of publish: $6
Type: Foam | Container Size: 32 fluid ounces | Bleach Free: Yes
Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover Spray
Works on a variety of household messes
Smaller bottle is easy to carry around the home
Also targets bacteria
May need to replenish often
This spray combines the power of Clorox bleach with a mold-specific formula to get stains. It’s formulated to kill 99.9 percent of mold and mildew around your home. It also kills bacteria, such as staph and strep. It even gets rid of soap scum and dirt as it cleans.
The bottle itself is a bit smaller, so you shouldn’t expect to get as many uses per bottle as you would with a larger container. Fortunately, it comes in a set of two. The smaller size does make it easier to carry from room to room around your home, tackling messes as you go. You can even keep one bottle in the bathroom and another in the kitchen for easy use.
Price at time of publish: $22 for two bottles
Type: Spray | Container Size: 16 fluid ounces | Bleach Free: No
Best for Showers
Lysol Mold & Mildew Foamer With Bleach
Spray foam is easy to use
Whitens as it cleans
Bleach can stain some surfaces
Since persistent humidity and poor ventilation are common causes of mold, it's often found in showers. This foam spray is ready to use against mold and mildew in the shower and bath, making it a great addition to your caddy of go-to shower cleaners. It is safe for tile, grout, and other surfaces. It removes soap scum as well as 99.9 percent of mold variants. It can even keep mold from returning for up to seven days when it is left on the surface for the recommended amount of soak time. The formula is also safe for septic systems.
It does contain bleach, so make sure that you have tested it on an inconspicuous area and that you are wearing the appropriate skin and eye protection. As with most cleaning products, it’s also important to keep it safely out of the reach of children and pets.
Price at time of publish: $22 for two bottles
Type: Foam | Container Size: 32 fluid ounces | Bleach Free: No
Best for Concrete
Wet and Forget Moss, Mold, Mildew, and Algae Stain Remover
Great for large outdoor areas
Concentrate lasts a long time
Formulated for mold, algae, and moss stains
Stains take a while to disappear
Need a separate sprayer
For outdoor areas that aren’t convenient to scrub by hand, opt for a concentrated formula like this one. It’s made to remove mold and mildew stains from concrete and other outdoor surfaces over time. It is also effective on moss stains and algae. You don’t need to power wash or even rinse the solution away. It dissolves the stains all on its own. This is a larger quantity, especially since it is a concentrated solution, but it has an indefinite shelf life.
One thing to keep in mind is that it does take some time for full effectiveness. Wet and Forget recommends giving up to two weeks for the formula to clean green stains, such as algae and moss. Black stains may take a few months, but they should fade over time as the rain and wind remove the mold and mildew. You will need a sprayer to mix the concentrate and apply it to the concrete—just make sure you don’t apply it to any surfaces within 100 feet of waterways.
Price at time of publish: $60
Type: Concentrate | Container Size: 128 fluid ounces | Bleach Free: Yes
Best for Vinyl Siding
30 Seconds Outdoor Cleaner Concentrate
Comes with spray applicator
Reaches upper siding
Easy-to-mix concentrate using garden hose
Need a separate garden hose
This 30 Seconds Outdoor Cleaner comes in a large spray canister that you can use directly on your vinyl siding. The spray nozzle reaches 24 feet, so even upper stories can be treated to remove mold and mildew stains and keep them from returning. It is safe for patios and decks as well as siding and roofing.
The formula, which contains bleach, is effective against mold, mildew, algae, and moss stains. You will need to hook up a standard garden hose and have access to water. To use the sprayer, just turn the water on, and spray the dry surface. When you are done, turn the valve on the sprayer to cut off the solution, and rinse with water without having to disconnect the sprayer. This allows you to treat and clean areas of your home’s exterior easily and efficiently.
Price at time of publish: $45
Type: Concentrate | Container Size: 64 fluid ounces | Bleach Free: No
Best for Tile and Grout
Gelivable Mold and Mildew Cleaner Gel
Tapered nozzle makes application easy
Gel solution stays in place
Works on a variety of materials
Long wait time for max effectiveness
This gel formula is ideal for tiles and grout, because you can apply it exactly where it needs to go. The nozzle is tapered for precision application, and the gel consistency keeps it from sliding or running all over the place. It is safe for a variety of surfaces in addition to tile and grout, such as glass, toilets, and some countertops. It doesn’t contain bleach, but it is still a good idea to test it on a small, discreet area before applying it all over the surface.
You will need to leave this cleaner on the surface for at least three hours for the best results. It targets the spores that cause mold and mildew, which gets rid of the stains they cause and also keeps them from coming back and growing again. It requires rinsing, so make sure that you keep track of the application time, and don’t let it sit longer than the maximum recommended time of five hours.
Price at time of publish: $25
Type: Gel | Container Size: fluid ounces | Bleach Free: Yes
Our top pick, RMR-86 Instant Mold & Mildew Stain Remover, is an extra-strong mildew remover that you can use on indoor and outdoor surfaces. CLR Mold & Mildew Clear Bleach-Free Stain Remover Spray is a budget-friendly and bleach-free alternative that is also effective on mold stains.
What to Look for in a Mildew Remover
Many mildew removers contain a cleaning agent and a whitening agent. One of the most effective ways to get rid of mildew stains is by using bleach to clean it, also listed as sodium hypochlorite. You may see either listed on the ingredients list. In bleach-containing solutions, make sure to take extra care in following the manufacturer’s safety and storage recommendations.
The most powerful mildew removers can target mold spores in minutes, but they are usually quite harsh and not efficient for large-scale use. Others take longer for full effectiveness but can be applied to larger areas. The most effective mold removers will need to be rinsed or wiped away after application, but some don’t require rinsing after application.
Pay close attention to the recommended surfaces for each product, since mildew and mold removers tend to be chemical-based solutions that can cause major damage if used incorrectly. It is a good idea to test a small amount of solution in an inconspicuous area, especially if it contains bleach.
What is the difference between mold and mildew?
Mildew is a type of mold, often found in flat growth in damp places like bathrooms. Mold can refer to a much larger group of fungal growth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mold can be found indoors or outdoors year-round.
“The term ‘mildew’ basically refers to mold growth that’s light in color and powdery in texture,” says Michael Rubino, author of The Mold Medic and founder of HomeCleanse. “These mold colonies could be [gray], white, or light green and grow in a flat format without much height, meaning they aren’t as fluffy and sponge-like as some other mold growth.”
What happens if mildew is left untreated?
Not only are the stains they leave behind unsightly, mold and mildew can also impact air quality and lead to health problems if left untreated.
“As the mildew grows, it releases spores, fragments, and other particles into the surrounding environment. All of these particles are small enough to be inhaled into the body. Some are so small that they can bypass the lungs and go straight into the bloodstream,” says Rubino. These can build up in the air and eventually in your body.
Why does mildew keep returning?
As mildew grows, it releases spores that cause other colonies to form. Unless you completely remove all of the spores, it is possible for mildew to keep returning, especially if the conditions welcome its growth. This often occurs in humid environments and rooms, such as on the shower walls of a bathroom. If contained to non-porous surfaces, it can be fairly straightforward to manage and remove. But if there is an issue, such as a water leak that led to the mildew growth in the first place—or if you’re unsure what the source of the mildew is—it’s a good idea to call on a mold remediation specialist to test for mold in your home and safely remove it from all affected porous surfaces, including wall and flooring materials.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Katie Melynn, a freelance writer specializing in home and family products. Katie has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. When compiling this list, she extensively researched mildew removers that performed well, were easy to use, and targeted mildew deep down below the surface stains. She also interviewed Michael Rubino, author of The Mold Medic and founder of HomeCleanse, to find out more about the causes of mold and how to get rid of it.