Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Removing mildew from anything—shower walls to the interior of a portable cooler (and everything in-between)—is never fun. Not only is this process cumbersome and time consuming, but if you don't have a proper mildew remover, the effort can feel futile.
However, if you invest in a quality product, whether it's a simple spray-and-wait, or one that requires a bit more elbow grease, it can make your life a lot easier. From bleach-based to bleach-free, abrasive to spray-on, or usable on a variety of materials and surfaces, here are some of our top picks for mildew removers.
Best Overall: RMR-86 Instant Mold & Mildew Stain Remover
A mildew remover that can tackle almost every surface, is budget-friendly, and works quickly? No wonder this RMR-86 Instant Mold Stain & Mildew Stain Remover spray is our best overall pick, it meets all of this criteria—and then some. Not only can it remove stains in just 15 seconds, but it does so without any scrubbing, sanding, or brushing, so it’s incredibly easy to use.
It works on most surfaces, including wood, concrete, and tile, and it can be used both indoors and outdoors. The bleach-based formula promises to be five times stronger than other products, so if you’ve got a tough stain, this is your best friend.
Best Budget: Clorox Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover
Don’t assume you have to spend a ton of money to get a quality mildew remover. It’s possible to find one on a budget that’ll also get the job done, and this Clorox spray is one of your best bets. It's effective without breaking the bank, and it’s from a brand you’ve likely used all your life, so you know you can trust it. It doesn’t even require any scrubbing—just spray and watch the magic happen.
This formula is meant to be used on tile only, making it a solid pick for getting your bathroom like new, but not the other rooms of your home. The formula does contain bleach, so you might want to do a spot test before you use it on an area that might get discolored.
Best for Fabric: STAR BRITE Mold & Mildew Stain Remover
You might not think of mildew popping up on fabric, but if you’ve got outdoor furniture that gets wet (or maybe even a boat with cushions), it’s possible. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to get rid of—unless you use a great mildew remover, like this Star Brite spray. It’ll remove mildew on contact without heavy scrubbing, and it’s easy to use. Simply spray it on your stain, scrub it in lightly, then rinse off once you see the stain has disappeared.
Not only does this work on fabric, but it's also safe to use on rubber, fiberglass, plastic, tile, and more. It can tackle mildew stains on vinyl or canvas seats, tops, cushions, or bolsters. It won’t harm stitching, either, so it’s ideal for outdoor furniture, boats, or outdoor canopies. It can even clean tents after camping! If you’ve got a stubborn stain that just won’t quit, a second application will usually get the job done.
Best Set: RMR-86 Complete Mold Killer & Remover DIY Bundle
Why search for two effective products when you can get everything you need in one bundle pack? With this bundle, not only will you get a mildew stain remover (our pick for best overall), but you’ll also get a cleaner and disinfectant. Remember, just because you remove the stain, that doesn’t mean you’ve removed the source of the issue.
Use the RMR-141 first to address the mold and mildew. (Note that this product is bleach-free, phosphate-free, and non-abrasive.) Allow it to dry, then spray the RMR-86 to remove the stain. Finally, mist the RMR-141 again lightly to disinfect and prevent regrowth. These treatments can be used on nearly all washable surfaces, so whether your problem is in the shower or on your kitchen counters, you’re covered.
Best for Wood: Spray & Forget Revolutionary Roof Cleaner
If mildew is destroying your wood deck or causing problems on your wooden roof shingles, you'll need a heavy-duty cleaner that can take on large surfaces without a ton of work. This Spray & Forget cleaner is great because it’s extremely economical—the concentrate makes up to 10 gallons, so it can clean up to 2000 square feet. It also eliminates the hardest part—the clean-up. There’s no rinsing required, you literally just spray and forget.
It’s non-corrosive, eco-friendly, and doesn’t contain any bleach or phosphate. Not only is it safe for wood, but it works on all exterior surfaces, so if you want to use it to treat your wood deck and then tackle your clay roof, all you need is a bottle of this cleaner. It promises to penetrate and dissolve all mildew stains, as well as stains from mold and algae.
Best for Stone: StoneTech Mold & Mildew Stain Remover
You have to be careful when it comes to stone—you don’t want to use anything that could potentially damage it, so going with a stone-specific formula, like this StoneTech Mold & Mildew Stain Remover, is your safest bet. This specialty cleaner removes mildew stains from stone surfaces, both inside and outside, including bathrooms, countertops, backsplashes, floors, and walls.
Thanks to its unique formula, it won’t degrade stone, and it leaves behind a fresh and clean scent. It’s recommended for marble, granite, limestone, travertine, slate, ceramic tile, porcelain tile, and glass tile. Just make sure the room you're in gas proper ventilation while you're using the product.
Best Outdoor: Wet & Forget Wet and Forget Moss, Mold, Mildew & Algae Stain Remover
If your mildew concerns are concentrated outside, your basic shower cleaner won't cut it. You’re going to need something that can cover large surfaces, and that’s going to be heavy-duty enough to tackle mildew in the rain, humidity, or damp weather. This Wet & Forget treatment is perfect. It makes 3 gallons, so you’ll have plenty to treat an entire deck or tool shed, and the spray-and-leave formula requires no washing, so it’s extremely easy to use. It’s also bleach-free and non-acidic, and works with the rain to gently remove stains.
This formula can be used on any outdoor surface without fear of fading or damaging it. It’s also safe around plants, so spray it by your lawn without worry. It promises to keep your surface clean for at least a year following treatment.
What To Look for in a Mildew Remover
Some mildew removers are bleach-based and some are bleach-free. While bleach-based cleaners are considered by some people to be more effective, they can be damaging to different fabrics and overall less eco- and family-friendly. Check the ingredients if you or your family has sensitivities to different scents and cleaning products.
Depending on what you're trying to use the mildew remover for, you may want to check out the process. Is it a spray-and wipe or scrub out? Do you need several coats or just one? Indoor or outdoor mildew remover? These are good questions to investigate before you purchase.
Some cleaners make sense for indoor use and some are stronger and are better used outside. Check your products before purchasing and test a small area before applying to the entirety of your space. It's also a good idea to look at the differences between materials (stone, wood, tile, etc.) and pick based on the surface that needs cleaning.
What is mildew remover?
Mildew remover is a mixture of chemicals and/or natural ingredients that combats mold and loosens rust or lime deposits in areas where they most commonly occur: bathroom fixtures, tubs, showers, etc.
How do you make a homemade mold and mildew remover?
You can DIY your own mildew remover with 1/2 cup of white vinegar mixed with 2 teaspoons of borax. Add this to a spray bottle, and then spray impacted area and let it sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, rinse with clean water and dry.
The borax acts as the cleaning agent while the vinegar combats the mold and mildew.
How do you get mildew remover off your clothes?
There are two main ways to get mildew remover off of your clothes: You can either use a bleach-based solution (one part bleach to three parts water), soak, and then rinse. Or, you can use water and white vinegar (equal parts), soak, and then rinse.
Why Trust The Spruce
Sienna Livermore is a former Hearst magazine editor, and a current contributing editor and writer covering travel, home decor, fashion, beauty, and women's lifestyle. Additional reporting was done by Marisa Donnelly, a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Bustle, BossBabe, Thought Catalog, and more.