How to Remove Mold from Every Type of Outdoor Furniture

If your patio set is looking dingy, remove mold with these expert cleaning tips.

It's disconcerting when your outdoor furniture starts to look, well, funky. Don't be alarmed, though: Mold and mildew are to be expected over time, as the surfaces are exposed to moisture from precipitation and humidity. It will take more than just a light cleaning to tackle the problem, but with a little know-how and the right tools and cleaners, you'll be able to refresh your patio set. Visit the manufacturer's website for any specific instructions, then read our materials guide below.

A note on safety: Wear gloves and a mask while you clean, and work in a well-ventilated area. Do not mix cleaners, and follow all the manufacturer's instructions on any products you use.

person cleaning an outdoor white chair
miguelangelortega/Getty Images

Before Getting Started

Note that bleach may cause discoloration on certain fabrics, so spot test an inconspicuous place before using.

How to Remove Mold from Patio Furniture

Mild cases of mold can be scrubbed off of most outdoor furniture with a mixture of water, soap, and a little bleach, says James Conner, former vice president at Molly Maid.

What You Need

  • Nylon bristle brush
  • Water
  • Enzyme cleaner
  • Bleach
  • Soap
  • Garden hose
  • Towels

Step 1: Mix Cleaning Solution

Combine water, soap, and bleach in a spray bottle.

Step 2: Protect Plants

If you are working near your garden, landscaping, or grass, take precautions to ensure your cleaners don't end up on any plants. Before you start scrubbing, hose down and completely saturate all vegetation in the immediate area with clean water, says David Flax, president at Window Genie, a home service company that specializes in window cleaning. Bleach runoff can severely damage or even kill plants and grass, but if the vegetation is wet, the bleach will be diluted upon accidental contact, reducing the odds of damage.

Step 3: Clean Furniture Surfaces

Spray the mixture onto the furniture surface and agitate the area with a nylon-bristle brush ($10, Amazon), then rinse thoroughly with water. Avoid using a brush with metal bristles, as it can scratch surfaces like wood, glass tabletops, painted surfaces, and more.

Step 4: Eliminate Mold

Although chlorine bleach effectively removes the stains caused by mold, it doesn't actually kill the mold. To effectively wipe mold out, turn to an enzyme cleaner, says Doug Hoffman, CEO of the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI). "Mold and mildew on outdoor furniture (and anywhere in the home) is a particularly tricky problem and can become a health hazard," Hoffman says. "Certified mold assessors and remediators are trained to assess the presence of mold and treat the problem effectively, and with professional-grade cleaning products."

Step 5: Protect Furniture and Prevent Mold

Once your furniture is clean, preventive measures, including regular cleaning, can help keep mold at bay. If your furniture doesn't get enough sunlight to dry it, move it into the sun or make a habit of drying your patio furniture with towels to remove standing water.

backyard stone patio seating
Peter Krumhardt

How to Remove Mold from Plastic Outdoor Furniture

To tackle mold and mildew on plastic patio furniture, use a cleaning product designed for removing mold, or use vinegar and water. Take care when using bleach, and test on an inconspicuous spot for colorfastness.

What You Need

  • Mold cleaning product
  • Vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Warm water
  • Bleach

Step 1: Use a Mold-Removing Cleaner

To tackle mildew on plastic patio furniture, use a product designed for removing mold, such as Concrobium Liquid Mold Remover ($13, Lowe's). Read the label to ensure the product you selected is safe for use on plastic; follow all application instructions and safety guidelines.

Step 2: Spritz with Vinegar

You can also turn to vinegar to clean mold off of plastic outdoor furniture. Spray white distilled vinegar onto the mold, then let it sit for an hour. Rinse with warm clean water before following up with a second application of vinegar. Let the vinegar dry without rinsing it away.

Step 3: Use Bleach After Patch Testing

Bleach can etch white plastic outdoor furniture. If you have colored plastic furniture, test bleach on a hidden spot to ensure it won't discolor or harm the material. Once you've performed a successful patch test, apply the bleach mixture noted above.

outdoor furniture sitting area of deck tree privacy
Keller and Keller Photography Inc

How to Remove Mold from Outdoor Wood Furniture

Understand your furniture. Different types of furniture require different cleaning methods and products.

What You Need

  • Bleach
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Wood-specific cleaner

Step 1: Assess Your Furniture for Bleach Tolerance

Be aware that bleach can discolor stained wood. If you opt to use bleach, test it on an inconspicuous spot first to see how it affects the finish. If your furniture passes the bleach test, follow the basic bleach, soap, and water method noted above.

Step 2: Treat Teak Gently

Gentle scrubbing is a must for teak furniture. Be sure to rinse the furniture well after cleaning.

Step 3: Use Wood-Specific Cleaners

Cleaners specifically made for removing mold stains from outdoor wood surfaces can be purchased at big box and hardware stores. Read the specifications on the label to ensure the cleaner is formulated to work on your type of wood furniture and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

colorful throw pillows outdoor furniture set
Victoria Pearson

How to Clean Mold Off Outdoor Cushions

Outdoor cushions bring indoor comfort to outdoor spaces, but there's a downside: These materials can be prone to mold and mildew. It's important to invest in cushions and fabric that are not just easy to clean but are engineered to resist water, mold, and mildew from the start, says Sarah Dooley, marketing director of upholstery at Sunbrella.

What You Need

  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Soft cloth
  • Washing machine

Step 1: Test Before You Spray

Check the fabric or cushion manufacturer's website for recommendations specific to their product. Bleach will harm the color of some fabrics, but others, like Sunbrella fabrics, are engineered not to discolor. Test the underside of a cushion before cleaning to determine if bleach is safe for use.

Step 2: Clean the Cushion

Mix bleach and water according to the bleach manufacturer's instructions. Spray onto the fabric surface, or use a cloth to wipe the mixture onto the fabric. Let the bleach stand on the fabric for five minutes, then rinse thoroughly with clean water. To avoid water rings, clean the entire surface area of the fabric.

Step 3: Machine-Wash Removable Covers

Some outdoor cushions come with removable covers that can be laundered in your washing machine. Spot-treat as needed before washing according to the furniture manufacturer's instructions.

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