How To Prevent Mildew In Closets

The easiest way to treat mildew is to prevent it, and while most of us know to check for mildew and mold growth in our kitchens and bathrooms, we often forget to check our closets.

Your closet is a perfect place for mold and mildew: it’s dark, enclosed, and maybe slightly humid.

Luckily, we’ve done the research, and learning how to prevent mildew in closets is easy if you acquire a few simple items and build a couple of easy routines into your cleaning schedule. 

What You’ll Need To Prevent Mildew In Closets

You will need a few basic things to prevent mildew in your closets.

You can use either a dehumidifier or silica packs in your closet; the primary purpose is to remove excess moisture from the air.

What you use will depend upon the size of your closet and your budget.

A small closet only needs a couple of silica packs, but if you have a large closet, you might want to consider getting a dehumidifier, especially if you live in a humid climate.

Now that you have the tools you need to prevent mold from settling in your closet, read on to learn how to prevent mildew growth in your closets.

Step By Step Instructions For How To Prevent Mildew In Closets

Preventing mildew in your closet takes a little work to get started, but if you follow these five easy steps, you will be able to enjoy your closets as reliable, mold-free storage spaces for years to come.

1. Eliminate Any Moisture Inside Your Closet

Mold thrives on moisture, so the first thing you should do to prevent mildew in your closet is getting rid of any moisture.

Check your closet for damp spots or leaks; these should be cleaned up immediately to prevent mildew growth.

In addition, you should only store dry clothes in your closet.

Never hang your clothes to dry in your closet, and make sure your clothes are not slightly damp when they come out of the dryer.

This also includes your shoes.

If you do find yourself with a mildewy smell inside your shoes, check out our article dedicated to teaching you how to get the mildew smell out of your shoes.

Both scenarios introduce excess moisture into an enclosed space, which encourages mold.

You can eliminate moisture by using a dehumidifier or silica packs.

If you choose the dehumidifier route, I recommend the Eva-dry Edv-1100 Electric Petite Dehumidifier.

It’s very portable, lightweight, and puts out very little noise.

It also gets excellent reviews on Amazon.

These remove the moisture from the air, which is excellent, especially if you live in a typically humid area.

Silica packs use a chemical called anhydrous calcium sulfate, which absorbs the moisture in its surrounding environment.

If you decide to use silica packs, I recommend these 5 Gram Pack of 50 “Dry & Dry” Premium Pure & Safe Silica Gel Packets Desiccant Dehumidifiers.

These 5 grams packs get excellent reviews on Amazon. 

You can use a couple of packs in your closet to remove all the excess moisture in the air.

Pro tip: While silica packs are great for removing excess moisture in your closet, we don’t recommend you place them around your entire house.

Not having enough moisture in the air can aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma.

In addition, don’t place or store your silica packs where pets or children can reach them because they are toxic if swallowed. 

2. Increase The Air Circulation in Your Closet

Ventilation is essential to preventing mold, so open your closet door periodically (unless your closet opens into a humid room such as a bathroom or kitchen) to allow air circulation.

If your closet door does open into a kitchen and you have problems with mildew in your closet as well as areas in your kitchen such as the dishwasher, check out our article on how to remove mildew from dishwashers.

You should also eliminate storage solutions that restrict airflow.

If you dry clean your clothes, take them out of the plastic covers before hanging them in your closet.

The plastic prevents air from moving and can trap moisture, which will encourage mildew.

To encourage airflow:

  1. Place open wire shelving in your closet instead of wooden shelving.
  2. Use wire shelving covered in plastic to protect your clothes.
  3. Use open storage containers like open weave baskets for your smaller items instead of plastic tubs.

Both wire shelves and baskets help you stay organized while promoting ventilation, which is a significant part of preventing mildew.

Pro tip: Packing your closet full will also limit air circulation.

Piling things on the floor also limits air movement and can lead to trapped moisture and mold, so make sure you have your closet organized so that air can move freely.

3. Turn On The Light Inside Your Closet

Install a low-wattage light bulb in your closet to help you see and limit your closet’s moisture.

Ensure the light bulb is a safe distance from all flammables and allow the warmth from the light bulb to dispel moisture.

4. Move Your Laundry Hamper Outside Closet

If you have anywhere else to store your hamper, you should move your hamper out of your closet and into that location.

Mold spores are everywhere, and your dirty clothes may introduce them into your closet.

Removing your hamper helps prevent this.

Pro tip: The best way to prevent mildew in your laundry basket is to only put dry clothes in it.

If your clothes are wet or sweaty, allow them to thoroughly dry by draping them on the side of the basket or hanging them in your bathroom. 

5. Clean Your Closet Regularly 

Periodically, take everything out of your closet, and check it for mold.

Use this time to clean your closet, air everything out, and go through your clothes—you can donate anything you don’t wear anymore.

Let your closet air out for a few hours before putting everything back in. 

Commonly Asked Questions

What should I do if my closet starts to smell musty?

If your closet starts to smell musty, immediately pull everything out and find the source of the smell.

A musty smell is generally a sign of mildew or mold, and the faster you find it, the less you will have to clean. 

Despite my best cleaning efforts, I frequently find mold in my closet. What else can I do?

If you live somewhere with a lot of moisture and already follow the above instructions, you can also use an air purifier.

They come in all sizes, prices, and complexities.

You don’t need to buy the most expensive model, but a good air purifier will help limit the mold spores in the air, which will help prevent mold from settling in your closet. 


I hope you have enjoyed learning how to prevent mildew in closets.

While your closet may initially present an ideal place for mildew, you can do a few simple things to prevent the mold from settling in.

All you have to do is limit the moisture in your closet and clean it periodically, and you will be able to enjoy your closet without sharing it with mildew.