How to Remove Mold and Mildew from Outdoor Fabrics

Outdoor Fabrics

Outdoor furniture is pleasing to look at and comfortable to use until you see molds and mildew building up on the cushions. Whether you’ve left your furniture outside in the rain, somebody spilled liquid on it, or you haven’t cleaned it in months, you may eventually see a build-up of mildew on your furnishings.

There are five ways to remove any mold and mildew from your outdoor fabrics. You can either use a pressure washer, borax, bleach, dish soap, or an all-natural white vinegar.

Before turning to any of these methods, you must assess how much mildew there is on the cushion as some of these techniques are good for small mildew while others are more effective if it’s already deeply embedded on the cushions.

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can distinguish mold and mildew from other stains. We’ll also tackle the five ways to remove mold and mildew and how to do so. Finally, we also included how you can prevent the build-up of these stains.


Signs of Mold and Mildew

If you live in a humid or rainy location, there’s a huge chance that you’ve encountered mold and mildew because it thrives in moist areas. It is especially true if you have a backyard patio filled with outdoor furniture and cushions.

When neglected on their first signs, mold and mildew will eventually spread throughout their surroundings. Here are some signs that indicate the presence of these stains:

  • Mold can start to look like dark spots on cushions but will typically start with colors like yellow, green, or blue.
  • If you feel something velvety or fuzzy in your cushions, it is likely mold.
  • If you feel something powdery or fluffy and have colors like yellow, white, or gray on your cushions, it’s probably mildew.
  • Mold typically smells musty.
  • Think about the smell of your bath towels after about two weeks; that’s what mildew smells like.

Now that you can distinguish mold and mildew from stains, let’s discuss the different ways to remove them.


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How to Remove Mold and Mildew from Outdoor Fabrics

There are five tested and approved methods that you can apply to remove mold and mildew from your outdoor fabrics. As mentioned earlier, it’s best to assess how bad the stains are on your cushion before doing anything. This will make it easier for you to decide which of the five methods to choose.

Pressure Washer

If the stain is deeply embedded on the cushion, then it will be hard to get rid of it with just soap and water. For this type of decay, it’s best to use a pressure washer. If used properly, this method can work on all kinds of fabrics and cushions.

Tools and materials needed:

  • Pressure washer
  • Pressure washer cleaner
  • 40° tip for rinsing
  • Soap tip (which will act as a cleaner)
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Hose
  • Protective gear


  1. Set the PSI to its lowest setting and attach it to an outside water source. Doing so will avoid damaging the fabrics and cushions.
  2. Attach the soap tip and pour it into the soap reservoir of your cleaner.
  3. Lay your cushions on the driveway or on a dry surface before washing them. You can also keep them attached to the furniture if you have no clean place to put them.
  4. Turn on your pressure washer and soak in the cushions entirely.
  5. Apply the cleaner on the cushions and do a horizontal sweeping movement using the pressure washer.
  6. Once you see a soap buildup on the fabric, leave it for about three minutes, so that the soap will penetrate the cushion inside. Do not let the soap dry off on the cushions.
  7. Using a soft-bristled brush, brush off the areas of the cushions affected by mold or mildew.
  8. Rinse the cushions with clean water using the 40° tip. Make sure to remove all soap residue.
  9. Gently squeeze out the cushions to extract all excess water.
  10. Put them in a sunny spot and let them air dry.


Borax is a well-known mineral salt that is mainly used as an ingredient in cleaning products and laundry boosters. It works wonders to remove mold and mildew, neutralize bad odors, and remove any dirt. This method is one of the quickest ways to clean outdoor cushions.

Tools and materials needed:

  • 1 cup of Borax
  • Bucket
  • Hose
  • Hard-bristled brush
  • Dish soap
  • Protective gear


  1. Lay the cushions on your driveway, patio, or any dry place that won’t ruin the cushions when they start getting wet.
  2. Soak the cushions using your garden hose.
  3. Pour 1 cup of Borax in a bucket and add a couple of squirts of dish soap into it.
  4. Fill the bucket with water and mix together.
  5. Before proceeding with the next step, make sure you’re wearing your protective gear. Then, dip your hard-bristled brush into the solution and apply it onto the cushions. Scrub the entire cushions, especially the areas affected with mold and mildew. If needed, add more solution to the affected areas and scrub vigorously.
  6. Leave the solution on the cushions for 5 minutes.
  7. Set the garden hose to its highest pressure and rinse the cushions thoroughly until all the soap is washed away.
  8. Squeeze out the excess water and let the cushions air dry in a sunny spot.


Bleach is used to kill germs, bacteria, and fungi, hence why it can also be used to remove mold and mildew on outdoor cushions. However, there are a couple of downsides to using this method.

  1. Bleach is known as a toxic substance that is harmful when directly in contact with your eyes and skin. Besides, inhaling too much bleach can also damage your lungs.
  2. It can remove the pigment of any fabric, which can ultimately damage your cushions. Before using this method, make sure your materials are all bleachable. Read the manufacturer’s instruction manual before cleaning your cushions with bleach.

Tools and materials needed:

  • Bucket
  • 3/4 cup of bleach
  • Tarp
  • 1 gallon of water
  • Hose
  • Soft-bristled brush or cloth
  • Protective gear


  1. Lay your tarp in a safe area. This will prevent your bleach from ruining any grass or your driveway. Remember that the tarp may discolor because of the bleach.
  2. Before applying the next steps, make sure to wear your protective gear.
  3. In a bucket, mix your 3/4 cup of bleach and add one gallon of water. Mix together thoroughly.
  4. Dip the soft-bristled brush or cloth onto the solution and test it on an area of the cushion where it will not be noticeable. If the cushion’s color remains the same, you can continue.
  5. Keep washing the cushion using the brush and solution. Make sure to wipe down all the area. The cushion should be completely saturated.
  6. Leave the mix on the cushions for 5 minutes.
  7. Using a garden hose, rinse the cushions thoroughly.
  8. Let the cushions dry in a sunny spot.

Dish Soap

One of the simplest and easiest ways to remove mold and mildew from your outdoor fabrics is by using dish soap. Since you already have all the materials that you need in your house, you don’t have to go to a department store to apply this method.

Although, note that this method will not take effect if the stains on your cushions are deeply embedded.

Tools and materials needed:

  • 1/4 cup of dish soap
  • 1 gallon of water
  • Bucket
  • Hose
  • Multi-surface cleaner
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Protective gear


  1. Spray the stained areas of the cushions with a multi-surface cleaner.
  2. Remove any dirt or mold and mildew on your cushions using a soft-bristled brush.
  3. Mix a gallon of water with 1/4 cup of dish soap into a bucket.
  4. Pour the mixed solution onto the cushions and brush it thoroughly.
  5. Leave the solution on the cushions for 5 minutes to let it sip in.
  6. Rinse the cushions thoroughly using your garden hose.
  7. Leave the cushions in a sunny spot and let them air dry.

White Vinegar

For an eco-friendly and non-toxic method that is safe to use as a cleaning solution for all types of fabric, you can use white vinegar. However, note that, as with the previous method, using vinegar will not be as effective if the mold and mildew are already embedded into the fabric.

Tools and materials needed:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Water
  • Clean spray bottle
  • Large bowl
  • Cloth
  • Sponge


  1. If you have removable cushion covers, remove and toss them into the washing machine. Pour 1 cup of distilled white vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser and let the washing machine do its magic. Then, let them dry off and they’ll be good to go. If your cushion covers are not removable, jump to the next step.
  2. Fill in a clean spray bottle with distilled white vinegar.
  3. Spray the entire surface of your cushion with the distilled white vinegar.
  4. Leave it on the cushions for 10 minutes so it settles in.
  5. Next, mix one tablespoon of dish soap into a cup of warm water.
  6. Using a sponge, scrub the mixture onto all the surfaces of the cushions.
  7. Using a damp cloth, rinse the cushions thoroughly.
  8. Let the cushions air dry in a dry and sunny spot.
  9. To prevent future mold and mildew on the cushions, you can spray white vinegar on the entire cushions again.


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How to Prevent Mold and Mildew on Outdoor Fabrics?

Some say that prevention is always better than cure. The same saying applies to outdoor fabrics. If you want to prevent a mold and mildew outbreak in the future, here are some tips to consider:

  • Purchase waterproof cushion covers which can minimize the risk of mold and mildew buildup. If you can’t get waterproof covers, you can get fabric seal spray that also waterproofs your cushions.
  • Monitor the weather forecast. Whenever possible, take the cushions inside or in a safe area where they won’t get wet or damaged by the weather.
  • If you’re recently applied sunscreen or are wet, make sure to cover the cushion and furniture with a towel before sitting or lying down on it.
  • If you find your outdoor cushions wet, immediately towel dry and hang them somewhere it can air dry.
  • Avoid spilling any drink, food, or liquid that may dampen or ruin the cushions.
  • Make sure to clean your cushions before storing them inside during winter. This will prevent any mold and mildew breakout.
  • When storing the cushions, make sure that the area is well-ventilated.
  • Before using the cushions during summer and springtime, make sure to clean them first and let them dry off completely.
  • Every few weeks, spray the cushions with a white vinegar solution.



All the methods mentioned earlier can effectively remove mold and mildew from outdoor fabrics. As aforementioned, assess the outbreak of the stain before applying any of these methods. This will not only save you time and effort but will also be beneficial for your cushions as they won’t undergo many mixed solutions.

Although, you must note that in some instances, the mold and mildew on your cushions are beyond repair. If you’ve already tried all the methods mentioned above and the stains remain visible and smell dirty, then it’s time to get a new set of outdoor cushions.

We recommend that you get cushions that are weather-resistant and can handle bleach for you to easily clean them later on. Those made of polyester and printed acrylic are great for outdoor patios.

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