Cleaning Outdoor Furniture: Mildew Removal Tips by Type

Updated April 19, 2021
Cleaning Outdoor Furniture

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.

How to Remove Mildew From Lawn Furniture: Materials

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. Before getting started you need to grab:

  • Bleach
  • Lysol
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Scrub brush
  • Vacuum
  • Detergent
  • White vinegar
  • Hose/pressure washer
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Ammonia
  • Baking soda
  • Cloth/sponge

Cleaning Mildew From Canvas and Fabric Cushions With Bleach

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. Additionally, if the solution is too strong, it can even cause canvas and other fabrics to deteriorate.

  1. To make a bleach solution appropriate for removing mildew from outdoor fabrics, dilute ½ cup of bleach in a gallon of water.
  2. Add it to a spray bottle.
  3. Test for colorfastness on a section of fabric that is least noticeable before you spray the entire cushion.
  4. If safe, apply the mixture to the cushions.
  5. Scrub the bleach mixture into the fabric with a scrub brush and rinse with clean water.

If you are not a fan of bleach, you can substitute 2 cups of white vinegar OR hydrogen peroxide for the bleach in this solution.

How to Clean Patio Cushions in Canvas With Lysol

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:

  1. Brush the soiled fabric and vacuum.
  2. Mix a solution made from ½ cup of Lysol in a gallon of hot water.
  3. Wash the canvas with the Lysol mixture.
  4. Mix 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup salt, and 1 gallon of hot water
  5. Use the mixture to rinse the canvas.
  6. Let your canvas furniture dry in the sun.

Awesome Acrylic Outdoor Cushion Cleaning Methods

If your cushions are made from acrylic or vinyl, you are going to take a different approach.

  1. Mix 1 cup bleach, 2 cups detergent, and 1 gallon of water in a spray bottle.
  2. Test the solution on an inconspicuous area to make sure it doesn't cause any issues.
  3. Apply the bleach solution across the cushion surface.
  4. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  5. Wipe the surface with a clean rag.
  6. Rinse with clean water and let it dry.

Clean Mildew From Umbrella

When you have a canvas umbrella in your patio furniture set, you can use white vinegar to get rid of the mildew.

  1. Open the umbrella and use a brush to brush off any loose mildew.
  2. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  3. Spray it onto the mildew.
  4. Let it sit for 30 minutes or so.
  5. Dampen a cloth with vinegar and use it to brush away any remaining mildew.
  6. Rinse with straight water.

Wipe Mildew Out on 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.

  1. Create a wash of Dawn and water.
  2. Wipe down the furniture with a sponge or cloth soaked in the solution.
  3. Set the hose or pressure washer on a low setting.
  4. Spray down the furniture.
  5. Allow to dry.

To avoid reoccurrence of the problem, apply paste wax after the furniture is dry.

cleaning wicker outdoor furniture

Remove Mildew From 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, white vinegar can also remove the mildew:

  1. Apply undiluted white distilled vinegar with a spray bottle directly to mildew
  2. Wipe with a clean cloth.
  3. For more stubborn mildew stains, mix 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 gallon hot water.
  4. Wipe with a cloth or sponge.

Wipe Out Mildew on 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 method.

  1. Mix 2 cups white vinegar, 2 tablespoons Dawn, and 1 gallon hot water.
  2. Apply with a soft scrub brush to work into grooves.
  3. Rinse with clean water and dry the furniture in the sun.

Cleaning Mildew From Metal Frames

When it comes to metal frames, like aluminum, wrought iron, or steel, with mildew is pretty easy to clean off them. For this job, you just need a bit of dish soap and water.

  1. Create a mixture of 2 tablespoons of dish soap and hot water.
  2. Rub the mixture over the metal.
  3. Rinse and dry.
woman cleaning metal chair

How to Clean Outdoor Rug With Mildew

Outdoor rugs in the right climate can easily get mildew. To get rid of it, you need the power of white vinegar.

  1. Pour straight white vinegar onto the mildew.
  2. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add a ½ cup of white vinegar to 4 cups of hot water.
  4. Dip a scrub brush in the mixture.
  5. Use the scrub brush to scrub the area of the outdoor rug.
  6. Rinse with water.
  7. Allow it to dry in the sun.

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.

Reduce Recurring Mildew

To help avoid problems with mold and mildew on your outdoor furniture, clean it regularly and be sure the furniture is dry before you store it. Now it's time to get cleaning your outdoor furniture.

Cleaning Outdoor Furniture: Mildew Removal Tips by Type