Cleaning outdoor furniture mildew is one aspect of maintenance that extends the life of your furniture. How you clean mildew from your furniture will depend on the material from which it is made.
Regular Cleaning of Outdoor Furniture
Mildew is actually a plant that grows best in hot, humid summer weather; it's a form of mold. It flourishes in damp, warm environments that are poorly lighted or where air does not circulate well. Along with discoloring fabrics, mildew gives off a musty odor, and if it isn't treated it can discolor fabric and may even cause them to rot.
To help prevent this kind of damage, monthly cleaning and maintenance is recommended.
Cleaning Outdoor Furniture Mildew
Most outdoor furniture comes with cleaning instructions, but if you've lost those instructions or your furniture was purchased secondhand, then the following cleaning solutions can help to restore and maintain your outdoor furniture.
Cleaning Mildew from Canvas and Fabric Cushions
The most common product used to kill mold and mildew is bleach. It can be used on canvas and other fabrics, but you risk the chance of causing fabric discoloration and if the solution is too strong, it can even cause canvas and other fabrics to deteriorate. To make a bleach solution appropriate for cleaning mildew from outdoor furniture fabrics, dilute ½ cup of bleach in a gallon of water and apply it with a spray bottle. Test for color fastness on a section of fabric that is least noticeable before you spray the entire cushion. After applying, scrub the bleach mixture into the fabric with a scrub brush and rinse with clean water.
If you prefer cleaning outdoor furniture mildew from canvas with a less harsh approach, the following method may be just what you're looking for:
- Brush the soiled fabric and vacuum
- Mix a solution made from ½ cup of Lysol in a gallon of hot water
- Wash the canvas with the Lysol mixture
- Rinse with the following mixture:
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup salt
- 1 gallon hot water
Let your canvas furniture dry in the sun.
Acrylic Outdoor Cushions
If your cushions are made from acrylic or vinyl, mix the following ingredients for cleaning mildew from outdoor furniture:
- 1 cup bleach
- 2 cups detergent
- 1 gallon of water
Apply the bleach solution with a spray bottle across the cushion surface. Let it set for 30 minutes followed by wiping the surface with a clean rag. Rinse with clean water and let it dry.
Wicker Outdoor Furniture
Wicker presents a little more of a challenge because mildew can grow within the weave. The way to clean mildew from wicker outdoor furniture is with a hose or pressure washer set on a low setting. Before you use the hose or pressure washer, wipe down the furniture with a sponge soaked in a solution of mild soap and cold water. To avoid reoccurrence of the problem apply paste wax after the furniture is dry.
Wooden Outdoor Furniture
Mildew even grows on wooden outdoor furniture in hot, humid climates. You can use a mild bleach solution to remove mildew, but if you want to avoid that lingering bleach odor, the following solutions made with vinegar can also remove the mildew:
- Apply undiluted white distilled vinegar with a spray bottle directly to mildew and wipe with a clean cloth.
For more stubborn mildew stains mix the following ingredients and apply with a sponge:
- 1 cup ammonia
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 gallon hot water
Plastic Mesh Furniture
Plastic mesh furniture can be a little time consuming to clean, too, because of the way the mesh overlaps. To kill mildew and deodorize your plastic mesh outdoor furniture use the following solution:
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons liquid dish soap
- 1 gallon hot water
Apply with a soft scrub brush to work into grooves. Rinse with clean water and dry the furniture in the sun.
Cleaning Mildew from Metal Frames
To clean mildew from different metal kinds of frames such as aluminum, wrought iron or steel, use a mixture of water and mild soap.
Reduce Recurring Mildew
To help avoid problems with mold and mildew on your outdoor furniture, clean it regularly and be sure furniture is dry before you store it.