How to Remove Mildew from Outdoor Patio Furniture

Mildew is a form of mold that grows in humid dark condition or damp areas without proper air circulation. During a hot humid summer, mildew can grow on your outdoor furniture and cause the fabric to discolor or make them to rot. The fungi also produces a musty odor which is unhealthy when inhaled.

Both mold and mildew have similar detrimental effects when left untreated, the only difference is their appearance.

Mold appears fuzzy in shades of green, black, white, brown or yellow. Mildew on the other hand appears as a flat textured white powdery substance that later turns to yellow or brown.

Regular cleaning of your outdoor furniture and keeping it dry is the first step of removing and preventing mold and mildew from growing. However, the cleaning approach will depend on the furniture material you are dealing with. Here is a guide on how to remove mildew from outdoor patio furniture and cushions

How to remove Mildew from Outdoor Cushions

White vinegar is safe and more effective for killing mold and mildew on porous materials such as fabric. Vinegar penetrates the porous material and kill fungi at the root. Vinegar will also eliminate the musty odor produced by fungus and make your cushions to smell good.

To remove surface mildew from outdoor cushions, mix 1 cup of white vinegar with a bucket of warm water. Remove the washable covers and soak them in the solution for 10 minutes before washing as usual with soapy water. Rinse with clean water then air dry them in the sun before taking them back.

For cushions with non-washable covers, simply fill a spray bottle with undiluted white vinegar and apply directly on both sides of the cushions. Let the vinegar act on the spots for 15 minutes. In another bucket, prepare soapy water using 3 cups of warm water with a 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap such as dawn.

Saturate a sponge in the soap solution and scrub the cushions putting more efforts on the stains. Rinse the cushions by simply wiping them with a clean towel dampened with clean cool water. Place the cushions in the sun or let them air dry. If there are any mildew spots, spray them with undiluted white vinegar once more and let it air dry.

While some people would suggest using bleach to get rid of mold and mildew from outdoor cushions, bleach can be harsh on some types of materials. You may want to do a spot test or enquire more from the manufacturers before using this method to avoid damaging your patio cushions.

How to Remove Mildew from Outdoor Wood furniture

Proper cleaning of wooden outdoor furniture with a soapy water and a brush can help in getting rid of surface mold and mildew. However, to completely kill the fungi at the root, use vinegar solution. Vinegar also cut through tough grease, grime, and mineral deposits to make your furniture sparkling clean.

Start by removing cushions and other hardware. Check if there are mildew on the cushions and remove it as well.  Dust your furniture using a microfiber cloth or a soft piece of towel to remove dust and other surface dirt.

Mix 3 tablespoons of white vinegar with 1 cup of water. You may add few drops of mild soap into the solution to make cleaning gentler. Test the solution on an inconspicuous area probably under the furniture. If there is nothing to worry about proceed with the cleaning.

Dampen a piece of soft cloth or rug with the solution and wring out any excess. This is to avoid too much liquid on the wood which can penetrate and cause damage. Similarly, do not spray or apply the solution directly on the wooden furniture.

Scrub the furniture with the moistened cloth in circular motion. Use another clean and dry cloth to buff out excess moisture. Wipe gently with the grain to remove water marks and let it air dry. Consider polishing your wood furniture twice a year to protect the wood and restore its appearance.

How to Remove Mildew from Metals/ Plastic Furniture

Metal and plastic outdoor furniture are the easiest to clean. To remove mold and mildew simply clean with mild soap and water and let them air dry on the surface. If you still notice mildew stains or spots spray with undiluted white vinegar and let it act for 10 minutes before rinsing with a garden hose.

Wicker may be a little tricky to clean due to nooks and crannies. You may need pressurized hose or pressure washer to effectively clean mildew from wicker furniture. Start by cleaning with mild soapy water mixed with a cup of white vinegar. Follow with a blast of clean water and let it air dry.

If DIY efforts to remove mildew from outdoor furniture does not bear fruits, you may advance to using commercial mold remover solutions on the shelves. Remember to follow manufacturer’s instructions before using them.

How to prevent mildew on outdoor Furniture

Mold and mildew thrive in dark, damp and humid environment. One of the best way of preventing them is to clean your outdoor furniture and keep them in a well-ventilated area. During a humid summer, move your patio furniture outside of the shades such as gazebo or umbrellas and let them get sunlight.

Most people will cover outdoor furniture when not using them or when storing them during winter. Furniture covers without proper ventilation can also create a suitable condition for growth of mold and mildew. To ensure this is not happening, use breathable furniture covers or those with vents to allow free flow of air.

Mildew can also grow on furniture stored in a dark humid area such as basements or garage. Try to reduce moisture content of the room on regular basis using a dehumidifier or run fans to blow air around.

Finally, your backyard trees with thick canopy of leaves should be trimmed to allow maximum sunlight on your patio furniture. Remove branches that are creating a total shade around your patio.


With routine maintenance of outdoor furniture, there are not chances of mildew and mold growing. This entails proper cleaning, storage and use. Mildew can be prevented or be removed at home, and if they are notorious, you can seek help from a cleaning professional.

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