How to clean mould off outdoor fabrics

Mould is the scourge of outdoor fabrics. We've just got that climate where you leave a parasol or cushions in the garden, bit of rain, bit of sun, hey presto... Mould spots! However, don't despair, you can clean mould off outdoor fabrics with a few items we've all got in our cupboards. No need for buying any expensive solutions or replacing with new.

Outdoor fabrics can develop mould or mildew stains when left outside quicker than you'd think. I went on holiday for a fortnight, in the so called British summer too, accidentally leaving the cushions on my rattan sofa set. Came back to several patches of mould that had appeared from nowhere.

Outdoor Furniture Cushions

At then end of the day, mould and mildew is unsightly. And lets face it, nobody wants to sit on mouldy cushions. My cushions were white too, so it stood out like a sore thumb.

The key to treating mould stains is to get them cleaned off as soon as you see them starting to form and it really gets a chance take hold.

Seat Pad Cushions

Many of us are now popping our outdoor cushions away for the winter, so it is vital you make sure they're mould free before you do this too. If they aren't cleaned now they'll become permanent and your only option is to then replace.

To clean the mould off, get a bucket, fill it with warm water, add ½ cup of white vinegar and ½ cup of the Oxi action Vanish In Wash Stain Remover. Then give it a good mix until everything is dissolved.

Take a soft bristled brush (an old nail brush is ideal), and gently scrub the mould stains. Always test a hidden area for before you start though, just to make sure it doesn't damage the fabric in anyway.

If the stains are a little on the stubborn side, then apply a little lemon juice and the Vanish powder directly onto the stain. Leave it for a few minutes and then repeat the first step.

If the cushion covers can be removed, then you can always pop them in the wash after you've removed the mould. Please just check the care instructions before you do this, as washing many outdoor fabrics can damage them.

After cleaning, rinse thoroughly, and then leave to fully dry before storing for winter or using again.

Garden Parasols

The parasol is another item that can develop mould, and again many of us have or will be soon popping them away for the winter. Not as easy to tackle as the cushions, but please note that you should always clean the fabric on the frame and never try to take it off.

The best way I’ve found to clean mildew and mould from a parasol is with the following non-bleach method as this doesn't damage the canvas. But again, test in a small inconspicuous place before cleaning the full thing

Stone Parasol

Start by giving the canvas a good scrub with a soft-bristle brush just to remove any loose dirt. Then give is a wipe with a little warm water and soft to break up any bird poop etc.

Then pop on a pair of rubber gloved, half fill a bucket half with cold water and add 1 litre of White Spirit, which you can pick up from the paint section of any DIY store. Give it a good stir and then with a soft cloth (rubber gloves still on) with all the excess liquid squeezed out, give the fabric a good scrub. This will break up and remove any mould spots.

When all gone, rinse the fabric with a hose, pat it dry with an old tea towel, and then leave to fully dry. You and use this method on cushions too, but I would only advise you do it if the covers can be removed and then washed in the washing machine. You don't want the white spirit soaking into foam where it will be difficult to rinse off!

And just remember that your parasol and outdoor cushions should never be put away damp. They also need to be stored in a dry place with good ventilation as this will help to prevent any future mould from forming.