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How to Remove Mold and Mildew from Fabric Furniture and Couch Cushions

Has your patio furniture taken on a strong musty odor? If so, mold could be the culprit. Left untreated, mold can affect air quality and pose a threat to your health and wellness.

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If your affected furniture happens to be made for outdoor use, you may be in luck. Fabrics used in patio furniture and couch cushions are typically colorfast to bleach (Sunbrella is one example), so there’s a good chance you can clean the mold from your outdoor cushions without damaging the fabric.

However, mold on indoor furniture is much more difficult to tackle, as fabrics used for indoor upholstery are much less likely to be colorfast to sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient in Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach. Affected indoor furniture may have to be reupholstered with a new fabric. 

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Steps to remove mold or mildew from outdoor furniture

According to Sunbrella, “Heavy cleaning for stubborn stains and mildew–Sunbrella fabric does not promote mildew growth, however, mildew may grow on dirt and other foreign substances that are not removed from the fabric.” 

As long as the affected fabric was made for outdoor furniture and safe for bleach, you can follow these instructions from Sunbrella:

  1. 1

    Check instructions first

    Always check with manufacturer instructions to determine if fabric can be cleaned with bleach solutions before you start cleaning. You can also test for colorfastness to ensure the fabric doesn’t become discolored.

  2. 2

    Mix a bleach solution

    Prepare a solution of 8 ounces (1 cup) bleach and 2 ounces (1/4 cup) laundry detergent per gallon of clean water. 

    Tip

    While it can be tempting to treat stubborn stains with a stronger bleach solution, we prefer repeated washes with this recommended ratio.

    pouring bleach mixing with water
  3. 3

    Apply the solution

    Spray on the entire area and allow to soak into the fabric for 15 minutes.

    spray trigger
  4. 4

    Work the stain

    Remove the stain with a clean towel, sponge or very soft bristle brush.

  5. 5

    Rinse the fabric

    Thoroughly rinse the fabric to remove all soap residue.

    faucet with water
  6. 6

    Air dry and check stains

    Allow the fabric to air dry. If the stain and/or mildew are severe, repeat the cleaning process as necessary.

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