How do you remove mildew from plastic outdoor furniture?

Mildew is common in the UK due to our wet humid climate and it loves plastic outdoor furniture. In this article, we are looking at how to prevent and remove it…

Last month we looked at how to rejuvenate plastic garden furniture and we wanted to follow that article up to focus on a common issue we see here in the UK, and that is how to remove mildew from plastic outdoor furniture.

Mildew is a type of mould, and while both mildew and mould are a type of fungi, they differ in their appearance and structure. It is defined by Wikipedia as:

Mildew is a form of fungus. It is distinguished from its closely related counterpart, mould, largely by its colour: molds appear in shades of black, blue, red, and green, whereas mildew is white. It appears as a thin, superficial growth consisting of minute hyphae (fungal filaments) produced especially on living plants or organic matter such as wood, paper or leather. Both mould and mildew produce distinct offensive odours, and both have been identified as the cause of certain human ailments.

Mildew can form on most outdoor surfaces even plants too, including plants and the metal patio furniture we sell here at Lazy Susan.

However, it is easily removed from our garden furniture with soapy water and it does not penetrate or stain our durable powder-coated finish.

With wood, plastic and recycled plastic garden furniture, they’re a little more porous, so if not tackled promptly and correctly, they can cause staining, especially on lighter-coloured furniture.

Mildew in the UK generally appears as grey or white fluffy or powdery spots, and it is usually found on the surface of outdoor furniture that is frequently damp or in gardens and patios with poor air circulation.

If your plastic garden furniture has been left outside in a humid or damp environment, again common here in the UK, it will be more susceptible to mildew growth. Outdoor fabrics are also highly susceptible if not stored correctly or if put away damp.

You can usually tell if it is mildew and not another type of mould, as it tends to have more of a musty damp odour. If it is a problem on your plastic garden furniture, then in this article we have a few simple tips and tricks to help you tackle it and prevent it from forming.

How to remove mildew from plastic garden furniture

We have yet to find a specialist cleaner that works as well as the eco-friendly solution we mix up with common household supplies found in our kitchen cupboards.

To safely remove mildew from wood and plastic garden furniture and outdoor fabrics, all you need is the following:

  1. Washing-Up Liquid

  2. White Vinegar

  3. Bicarbonate of Soda

  4. Water

  5. Soft-Bristle Brush or Sponge

  6. Old Spray Bottle

  7. Bucket

  8. Garden Hose

The steps for cleaning are as follows:

1. Prepare the cleaning solution

In an old/clean spray bottle mix a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water.

Vinegar is a natural disinfectant so it will kill the mildew effectively.

2. Apply the cleaning solution

Generously spray the vinegar solution onto the mildew-affected areas on your plastic garden furniture.

Ensure all spots are thoroughly covered and leave the solution to sit for 10-15 minutes.

3. Gently scrub the mildew-affected areas

Using a soft-bristle brush or sponge, scrub the garden furniture to remove the mildew stains.

Be gentle to avoid scratching the plastic surface/finish.

4. For stubborn mildew stains

Make up a paste of baking soda and water, apply it to the affected area, leave it to fizz for a few minutes and scrub again.

Be gentle to avoid scratching the plastic surface/finish.

5. Rinse your furniture down with a hose

Rinse the furniture thoroughly with your garden hose to remove all the cleaning solution and mildew residue.

Ensure no soap or vinegar remains on the furniture.

6. Dry your furniture

Wipe down the furniture with a clean, dry cloth or let it air dry completely in the sun.

Sunlight will also help kill any remaining mildew spores.

How to remove mildew from outdoor fabrics

For any outdoor fabrics such as cushions, awnings, parasols, etc, you can follow the same steps above but avoid scrubbing and instead dab/blot the fabric with a sponge.

The steps for cleaning outdoor fabrics are as follows:

1. Brush off any loose mildew

Start with a dry soft-bristle brush and remove as much loose mildew as possible.

Do this outside to prevent the mildew spores from spreading.

2. Apply the cleaning solution

With your 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water solution, spray the affected areas.

3. Let the cleaning solution sit

Leave the vinegar solution to sit on the fabric for 15 minutes.

This will help to kill the mildew and loosen any stains on the fabric.

4. Gently dab the fabric

Gently dab the fabric with a soft cloth or sponge.

5. For more stubborn stains

For stubborn mildew spots, again, apply a paste of baking soda and water, leave it to fizz for a couple of minutes, then blot gently with your sponge.

6. Wash the fabric

With warm soapy water, wash the fabric down with a sponge to remove the vinegar solution and any remaining mildew.

7. Rinse thoroughly with a garden hose

Rinse the fabric thoroughly with a garden hose to remove all the vinegar solution, mildew residue, and soapy water.

Make sure no soap or vinegar remains on the fabric.

8. Dry the fabric

Allow the fabric to air dry completely in direct sunlight.

As with your plastic furniture, the sun's UV rays will help to kill any remaining mildew spores and prevent new from forming.

9. Apply an outdoor fabric protector

Once the fabric is dry, we would recommend you apply an outdoor fabric protector to help prevent future growth.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

Lazy Susan's final thoughts...
Our final thoughts…

Regularly cleaning your plastic outdoor furniture is the best way to prevent mildew from forming. Do not let water sit on the surface of tables and chairs, and make sure it is positioned in a well-ventilated and sunny part of the garden.

If you have the option, store your furniture in a dry, well-ventilated area when not in use, especially during wet or humid weather and the off-season. If this isn’t an option, then invest in some breathable waterproof protective covers to keep the furniture clean and dry. Never cover the furniture when wet.

Also, be sure to store correctly and clean outdoor fabrics regularly to prevent mildew buildup. When not using, store them in a dry, well-ventilated area. If they do get wet from rain or cleaning, then ensure they dry out completely before you put them away.

No garden furniture is maintenance free but plastic, like our cast aluminium, is a low-maintenance option. Mildew is caused by the environment not the material, so by following these steps, you can effectively remove it, prevent it from forming on your plastic outdoor furniture, and keep it clean and ready to enjoy in your outdoor spaces.

If you have any photos of your Lazy Susan Outdoor Furniture, we’d love to see a few for our Do Some Good charity campaign. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or Upload Here.

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