Mildew On Outdoor Patio Cushions: How to Clean Mildew Out (Easy Way)

Have your patio cushions developed mildew spots? Don’t worry. You can have mildew-free cushions ready for lounging in no time.

Mildew in patio cushions is a common problem, especially in areas with high humidity or frequent rain. 

In this article, I’ll share my tips and tricks on how to clean patio cushions with mildew. With simple steps and basic supplies, your outdoor furniture can look new again.

Identifying Mildew On Patio Cushions

Mildew can be difficult to spot, but some tell-tale signs indicate the presence of this fungus. Mildew can grow almost anywhere, but they are most likely to grow on damp surfaces.

  • Look for spots or discoloration on the fabric, ranging from light grey to dark brown.
  • Another way to check for mildew is by smelling the material; a musty smell indicates mildew.
  • It can also cause the fabric to feel slimy or slippery to the touch.

By identifying these pesky patches correctly, you’ll be able to take action quickly and get rid of them before they become a bigger problem.

There can be many reasons why outdoor cushions develop a musty smell. Most commonly, it occurs after they have been left out in the rain or stored too long.

We have another article that shares tips on how to get musty smell out of outdoor cushions.

Removing Mildew From the Cushions With Natural Solutions (Vinegar)

Fortunately, natural solutions can help remove the mildew without damaging your furniture or fabric.

You can clean and freshen outdoor cushions with white distilled vinegar in the washing machine or by hand.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Start by vacuuming the cushion. This will make cleaning easier and faster.
  2. If your pads have removable covers that can be machine washed (check the care tag), add one cup of distilled white vinegar to the washing machine along with them.
  3. If the covers cannot be removed or machine-washed, spray white distilled vinegar on all sides with a spray bottle. Scrub the fabric with a soft-bristled brush, and allow the vinegar to soak for several minutes (10-20 minutes).
  4. Wash the vinegar away with a soap solution (a small amount of detergent in lukewarm water). Use a clean cloth or sponge to brush the pad.
  5. To finish, rinse all the vinegar and soap residue with warm water (or just use a garden hose).
  6. Drain the excess water, and let air-dry completely in a sunny spot before using them again.

Make sure you watch for signs of recurring mildew growth after performing these steps – if needed, repeat as necessary until all traces of mildew are gone!

Note: Pure white distilled vinegar might be needed for mildew stains. However, a 50/50 vinegar and water solution will work for general cleaning.

Specialized Products for Cleaning Patio Cushions With Mildew

If the vinegar method isn’t working (stubborn stains, deeper mildew stains, etc.), you can try specialized products for patio furniture cushions with mildew.

  • Outdoor fabric cleaners are designed to remove mildew and other unwanted dirt and grime from outdoor furniture.
  • They contain ingredients that penetrate the fabric, loosening dirt and debris and killing bacteria and fungi.
  • Additionally, specialized products have been formulated to eliminate odors. They resist future mildew outbreaks, so you won’t have to clean your pads as often.

These are typical instructions to follow:

1. First, remove any loose dirt or debris.

2. Then, mix the cleaning product according to the manufacturer’s instructions and apply it to the affected areas of the fabric.

3. Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the cushion gently, covering all areas.

4. Let the cleaning solution sit for the recommended amount of time, then rinse the pad thoroughly with water.

5. Allow the cushion to air-dry completely before using it again.

Note that specialized products are much more expensive than distilled white vinegar and might be less eco-friendly.

What About Using Bleach?

Depending on the material, bleach can cause outdoor fabrics to fade in color and destroy the foam.

Your skin and eyes can be irritated by bleach, and it can also damage your lungs. Use a non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning method rather than bleach.

What About Using a Pressure Washer?

Pressure washers are great for blasting dirt, grime, and mildew without harsh chemicals.

But pressure washers can damage the fabric and shorten outdoor furniture’s lifespan, even at low pressure.

Avoiding Mildew in the Future – How to Maintain And Store Patio Cushions

Preventing mildew from growing on outdoor furniture cushions is relatively simple:

  • Keep your cushions away from moisture.
  • Let your patio pads air-dry and catch some sunlight.
  • Regularly clean and maintain your outdoor furniture and cushions.

To keep all fresh, clean, and mildew-free, here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Clean your patio cushions regularly with hot water and mild soap. Allow the pads to air-dry completely before using or storing them; otherwise, moisture will build up in the foam.
  2. Use waterproofing spray or covers for complete protection from the elements. This will ensure no moisture gets trapped inside while keeping dirt and dust out of the fabric.
  3. Store pads properly by stacking them loosely in a cool area without direct sun or rain exposure. Keep them elevated off the ground, so air can circulate around them, which helps prevent moisture buildup and protects against pests like moths and spiders.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Clean My Patio Cushions?

The frequency with which you should clean your patio cushions depends on the climate, how often they are used, and the materials they are made from.

  • Generally, it’s a good idea to clean your patio cushions at least once a season or every three to four months.
  • However, if you live in an area with high humidity, frequent rainfall, or dust and debris, you may need to clean them more often.

Mildew cleaning should be done more often if there are signs of recurring mildew growth. Avoiding conditions contributing to mildew growth (constant moisture, etc.) would be best.

How Do I Prevent Mildew From Growing On My Cushions?

To prevent mildew from growing on your outdoor patio cushions, keeping them clean and dry is essential.

  • Regularly brush off dirt or debris.
  • Wipe the fabrics with a damp cloth.
  • Allow the pads to air dry completely before using or storing them.
  • Store the pads in a dry, well-ventilated area when not in use.
  • Avoid leaving the cushions outside overnight in damp or humid conditions.

Additionally, consider treating the fabric with a mildew-resistant spray or solution to help prevent the growth in the future.

Regularly check pads for signs of mildew buildup, such as discoloration or musty odors. If present, act fast before it spreads further and deeper into fabric fibers.

Are There Any Natural Solutions That Can Be Used To Clean Other Outdoor Furniture?

Yes, natural solutions can be used to clean outdoor furniture cushions. Some options include using a mixture of vinegar and water or baking soda and water.

These solutions can be applied to the cushions and then rinsed off with a hose.

It’s essential to test any solution on a small, inconspicuous cushion area first to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage or discoloration.

Are There Any Specialized Products I Can Use That Are Safe For The Environment?

These days it’s possible to find cleaning solutions that use only non-toxic ingredients and effectively remove mildew without damaging the fabric or other materials. 

  • They are typically made with plant-based ingredients that won’t harm the environment.
  • They usually contain naturally occurring substances such as citrus oil which has been proven to be a very effective cleaner when used correctly.

Additionally, many cushion cleaners have added protection against future mildew build-up, making them far more efficient than traditional cleaners at protecting outdoor furniture from further damage.

How Should I Store My Patio Cushions To Prevent Mildew?

Here are some things you can do when storing patio cushions to prevent mildew:

  • Before storing the cushions, make sure they are completely dry.
  • Make sure your storage space is well-ventilated to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Store the pads in a breathable storage bag or container.
  • Avoid storing them in direct sunlight or a damp or humid environment.

A mildew-resistant spray or a few packets of silica gel inside the storage container can also help prevent mildew growth.

The Bottom Line

Mildew on patio cushions can be a frustrating problem, but it’s possible to solve.

By taking preventative measures and regularly cleaning your cushions, you can ensure they stay fresh for years.

Don’t let mildew ruin your outdoor oasis – take action and enjoy your outdoor space to the fullest!

Read more: We have another article on tips and tricks for cleaning outdoor cushions and how to remove tough stains (with a washing machine or by hand).

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