How to Clean Outdoor Furniture of Mildew

Autumn Jones

Mildew is the visible growth of mold. It grows easily on damp surfaces and produces a musty, unpleasant smell. Outdoor furniture--exposed to rain and thunderstorms--is an easy target for mildew. Thankfully, the hard surfaces and durable fabric of outdoor furniture are usually easy to clean.

Clean Outdoor Furniture of Mildew

Try these at-home mildew cleansers that range from mild to strong. Once the mildew is gone, keep your furniture clean and dry to prevent future growth.

  1. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar. For mild or recent mildew, spray the affected area thoroughly with the vinegar and allow it to soak in for a few minutes. Wipe off mildew with a cloth.

  2. Mix 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 cup ammonia and 1/4 cup baking soda into 1 gallon of warm water. Sponge onto mildewed wood furniture.

  3. Mix 2 cups white vinegar and 2 tbsp. of dish soap into a gallon of hot water. Use a sponge or brush to clean mildew off plastic patio furniture and umbrellas. Use an old toothbrush for corners and crevices.

  4. Pour 2 cups of water and 2 tsp. of tea tree oil into a spray bottle. Spray on mildewed furniture. Don't rinse.

  5. Make a customized bleach solution. The ratio of bleach to water can vary--try 1 part bleach to 10 parts water for milder mildews, and increase it to equal amounts of bleach and water if your mildew problem is really bad. Scrub with a stiff brush.

  6. Try this stronger bleach solution from Kansas State University. Spray wooden surfaces with a mixture of 1 quart of bleach, 3 oz. trisodium phosphate and 1 oz. non-ammonia laundry detergent dissolved in 3 quarts of water. For painted surfaces, use 1 quart of bleach, 1/3 cup non-ammonia detergent and 3 quarts water. Scrub with a stiff brush.

  7. Warning

    Never mix ammonia-based fluids with bleach. They will react and emit poisonous fumes.

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