How To Remove Mildew From Plastic Outdoor Furniture

Enjoying your yard in the summertime can take a lot of forms, including enjoying sports with friends or just growing a beautiful garden. The supplies we use to spend time in our yards may change, but almost all of us can see the value in having quality outdoor furniture to add a touch of comfort to our backyard days. 

Most outdoor furniture is made to last, but will eventually fall victim to aspects of the elements. Whether it’s a nice table with chairs, or just a bench with cushions doesn’t matter, either. It happens to all outdoor pieces, even those that are made of materials that are designed for outdoor use.

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One of the worst things that can happen to your outdoor furniture is the appearance of mold and mildew. With furniture made of materials like wicker or wood, mildew can be an instant death sentence for your furniture. With plastic outdoor furniture, things are a lot less gloomy. Plastic furniture can have mildew removed from it. This guide will tell you what you should know…

How Did My Plastic Outdoor Furniture Get Mildew On It, Anyway?

Though we often think of mold thriving on organic surfaces, it’s possible to see mildew and mold pop up on outdoor furniture. After all, both mold and mildew are remarkably good at surviving on just about every surface imaginable.

Mildew shows up on outdoor furniture when mold spores combine with high humidity levels. As long as there is enough humidity and mold in the air, there’s a chance that it could grow on your outdoor furniture.

Is Mildew Dangerous To People?

A good rule of thumb is to assume that mildew is more of an inconvenience than it is dangerous. The vast majority of people will not get seriously ill from mildew, but they will have some form of an allergic reaction if it comes into contact with their skin, lungs, mouth, or eyes.

Among adults, mildew won’t pose a serious threat to them unless they have notable allergies pertaining to mildew. With children, on the other hand, it’s a different story. Mildew can make children who play or chew on plastic furniture sick.

If you’re concerned about the welfare of your pets, don’t be. Animals are highly unlikely to get sickened by mildew or mold. They instinctually avoid mildew unless it’s a food item for them.

Can Mildew Harm Plastic Furniture?

If you spent a small fortune on fine outdoor furniture, you are probably concerned about the potential damage that mildew can do to your goods. This is a valid concern. Depending on the extent of the mildew’s existence, you may get permanent staining on plastic furniture—not to mention a foul smell that’s difficult to get rid of.

Mildew will shorten the lifespan of any outdoor furniture, plastic furniture included. In extreme cases, excess mildew can permanently stain plastic furniture and even cause it to become brittle. That’s why it’s so important to get rid of it before it gets to be overwhelming. 

Can Plastic Furniture Be Irreparably Damaged By Mildew?

Plastic furniture has a lifespan, just like any other type of furniture item out there. If you’ve neglected your furniture for too long, it is possible to have the mildew permanently stain your furniture or even cause it to become brittle faster.

There is a certain point where restoring your furniture impacted by mildew won’t be entirely possible. That being said, this is a far more extreme case than what you are probably dealing with at home. With most cases of mildew and mold, you will not see permanent damage occur as a result of mildew.

How To Remove Mildew From Your Plastic Outdoor Furniture 

Getting rid of mildew and mold from plastic furniture is surprisingly easy—at least when it comes to mild to moderate cases. There are several ways to remove mildew from your furniture safely that you can choose from. These methods below are considered to be the easiest and most reliable according to top home care groups…

The Bleach Method

Worried about having to buy up pricey solvents? If you have bleach lying around your house, you are already equipped to get rid of most mildew stains. All you need to do is get gloves, a squirt bottle, some rags, and a towel. 

The easiest and most common way to get rid of mildew stuck on plastic is to use bleach. Bleach kills mildew and also makes it harder for mildew to come back, which is why it’s so popular. Here’s how:

  1. Grab a bottle of bleach and a bottle of water. To create your mildew killer, mix equal parts of water and bleach together. Stir gently, add it to a spray bottle, and you’ll have made your own bleach spray.
  2. Spray the bleach mix onto the furniture, and clean it the way you would any other item. Most people find that using a sponge with a rough surface can help remove stubborn mold, but it’s usually not necessary. A simple rag usually suffices.
  3. Fully rinse the furniture, then towel dry it. Wiping it down with a towel helps ensure that mildew won’t grow back.
  4. If your furniture has plastic pillows, dunk the pillows in bleach, then dunk them in water. Towel dry the pillows off completely, and then use a hair dryer if you have pesky crevices you can’t reach.

The Bathroom Cleaner Method

If you’re not a fan of mixing your own bleach solution, there’s another option to consider. Most bathroom cleaning solvents can be used to kill off the mildew and freshen up your furniture. Using them is fairly simple:

  1. Grab your bathroom cleaner and spray down the furniture. Fast spritzing is all you need in order to kill off the germs and mildew. A good tile cleaner will do the trick.
  2. Wait five to 10 minutes to let the cleaner sink in. These cleaners need more time to work than bleach does. If your mildew is really problematic, scrub the furniture down with a brush or sponge.
  3. Rinse with water. Once the mildew is off, rinse off your furniture using a garden hose.
  4. Towel dry the furniture. Dryness matters. By getting the furniture dry quickly, you prevent mildew from coming back. 

The Lemon Juice Method

Want to seek out a more organic method? Believe it or not, there’s an easy way to get rid of mildew fast using sunshine and lemon juice. Here’s how to make it work:

  1. Place all of your outdoor furniture in the sun. Mildew only fares well in dark, damp areas. By bringing your furniture into the sun, you make it hard for the mildew to stay alive. If your furniture is out on a hot, dry day, the results will be even better.
  2. Spray lemon juice all over your furniture. Lemon juice’s acidity kills any mildew that is left, and also makes it easier to wipe away remnants. 
  3. Wipe down your furniture, then let it air dry in the sun. This will help further remove any remaining mold that could potentially cause harm to your furniture. 
  4. Do a quick wash with soap and water. Since lemon juice can only do so much, adding regular soap and water to the mix can help quash and sanitize your outdoor furniture even more. 
  5. Rinse your furniture and towel dry it. Once you have finished cleaning your furniture, drying it off will help keep it mold-free. 

The Pressure Washer Method

If you have a pressure washer on hand, then you have one more option that you can consider. Many individuals have used high-powered pressure washing to remove the majority of mildew off plastic furniture. 

To further sanitize your plastic furniture, you can spray vodka on the furniture to get rid of any mildew remnants that regular pressure washing didn’t get. Rinse it off with a pressure washer again, and towel it off to finish up.

How To Remove Extreme Mildew Stains From Plastic Furniture

Light to moderate mildew can be removed using the methods that we’ve already mentioned. However, some mildew stains will not budge without serious intervention. Here’s how you can get rid of extreme staining:

  1. Mix a gallon of warm water and ¼ cup of dish soap together. This will be one of two detergents that you will be using to get rid of the mildew and freshen up your furniture. Cheap dish soap works well here.
  2. Dip a brush into the mixture and use the brush to remove most of the mildew. The detergent will help remove debris and also work your furniture into a rich, sanitizing lather.
  3. Prep yourself. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, since this next part of the process will involve caustic materials.
  4. Grab a second bucket, warm water, and oxygen bleach. Add up to 1 cup of oxygen bleach to a gallon of water, and mix well. This will be the substance that will kill off the excess mildew.
  5. Use a clean sponge or brush to wipe down the furniture using the bleach mix. We strongly suggest using a coarse sponge or a hard-bristle brush when scrubbing. Mildew can be surprisingly clingy. Having that extra roughness can reduce the amount of time you spend scrubbing immensely.
  6. Keep scrubbing until the stains either disappear or just don’t seem to be able to fade anymore. How long it takes for you to reach this point can vary greatly depending on the damage that has been done by mold and mildew. Sometimes, you might be able to get rid of the stains entirely in less than three minutes. Other times, it can take up to 15 minutes or more before the full results are seen. 
  7. Once you’ve reached the point where scrubbing doesn’t make a difference, let the bleach mixture sit. You only need to wait five to 10 minutes during this step. This short waiting period gives the bleach a chance to penetrate the plastic’s pores and hopefully get rid of any remaining mildew or residue that could harm your furniture.
  8. Rinse off the mixture. You can use a regular garden hose if you want. Any remaining sludge will quickly fall off the chair. Let your furniture air dry. 
  9. To help prevent mildew from returning and give your furniture a face lift, apply car wax to it. This treatment is known for being noticeably rough on plastic—often to the point of leaving it somewhat dull in appearance. You can help reverse some of the damage by adding car wax to your furniture, then using a cloth rag to buff it. 

Preventing Mildew From Showing Up

Though getting rid of mildew isn’t really that difficult, preventing mildew is still a smart move. After all, no one wants to spend their time wiping away green or black gunk off their furniture. There are plenty of ways to prevent mildew from reappearing. These tips below can help cut down on cleaning time during your next summer:

  • Move your furniture indoors when you water your plants. Most outdoor furniture gets mildew from water splashing out of a gardening hose and rainfall. You can cut down on at least one of those by protecting your furniture during watering sessions. 
  • Keep your outdoor furniture underneath a waterproof tent or awning during rainy months. To prevent water from hitting your furniture when it rains, keeping your outdoor furniture underneath a tent can help. 
  • Keep your furniture away from pool edges. It doesn’t take too many splashes to make your furniture get moldy. 
  • When it’s dry outside, place your furniture in sunlight. Mildew hates the sun, which is why it makes sense to keep it around sunlight whenever possible. 

Wax your furniture. If you want to lock mildew out of your plastic furniture, head down to the automotive store and grab some car wax and a rag. Apply the wax on your furniture, using the rag to “buff it in” with small, circular swipes. The car wax will lock out mildew and also help make your plastic furniture slightly more resistant to dampness.

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