7 Easy Ways to Clean Mold off Patio Cushions (and How to Prevent It)

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One thing that can ruin a relaxing evening on a patio chair is noticing weird spots that you suspect are mold. Not many people will find the look or smell of mold to be appealing.

First attempts at cleaning the mold often involve a bit of scrubbing, resulting in a mold stain on the fabric. Fortunately, not all is lost!

Knowing how to clean mold off patio cushions is all about selecting the right method.

Using baking soda, dish soap, borax, bleach, and some other supplies you can find in your pantry can help clean mold off the cushions. However, intense cleaning agents could ruin the fabric or the cast iron frame if you’re not careful.

Let’s dive into identifying mold and how to clean it off with minimal damage! We’ll also look at methods to prevent mold in the first place.

Identifying Mold on Outdoor Cushions

When you think of mold, you might imagine a dark, musty, damp room, but that’s not always the case. Mold is a fungal growth that likes to grow in any moist area, and unfortunately, this includes your patio furniture.

This can ring especially true for furniture that is subjected to periodic moisture, such as uncovered furniture.  

Therefore, the furniture will probably get wet, especially if you live in a humid area.  Moreover, if your garden is close to the furniture, you may splash the cushions by mistake. 

Depending on what type of fungi is infecting your cushions, the mold can present in a few different ways:

  • Yellowish-white patches that grow in a pattern
  • Black or dark brown spots with discoloration all around
  • Tiny fuzzy hairs that look like velvet
  • Musty or stale and damp scent

Regardless of the way mold presents on your cushion, there are many methods you can use to get rid of it.

Taking the Necessary Safety Precautions

It’s important to note that mold can be pretty dangerous. 

Because fungal spores can spread around while you’re cleaning the mold, they can fall onto nearby objects and infect them. Unfortunately, it can get to you, too!

So, once you confirm from the signs that you’re dealing with mold, you need to take some safety precautions.

Wearing safety gloves is a simple way to keep the mold from spreading to your hands. However, you have to remember to take off the gloves as soon as you put the cushion down.

Plus, adding a face mask will ensure the infection can’t make its way to your lungs. Even with a mask, it’s crucial you work in a well-ventilated area for your protection.

Preparing Outdoor Cushions for Mold Removal

Before you break open your cleaning supplies, you need to dry out your cushion. Since mold prefers moist areas, drying them out will ensure the mold doesn’t spread.

The best way to dry out the cushions is to lay them out in the sun. The sun will also help control the mold growth rate.

Find a nice dry area off the ground that gets plenty of sunlight. You can use a windowsill if you don’t have room on your patio or porch.

It’s best if you can leave your cushion in the open air since a fresh breeze will help it dry faster.

Cleaning Outdoor Cushions in the Washing Machine

If your cushions have removable covers, it might be your lucky day. Depending on your cover’s wash instructions, you may be able to just pop them in your washing machine.

Certain types of materials are more suitable for machine wash, while others require hand washing.

Even if your covers can be machine washed, you may need to repeat this process a few times to get all the mold off. Since you’ll likely be running a gentle cycle, not all the mold will clear away after one wash.

Make sure to let the covers fully air dry before you start the next cycle. If you don’t, the mold may cling on for a while longer.

Using your dryer for this step may work, but not all covers may be compatible for machine drying. Out in the sun is usually the best drying spot.

What You’ll Need

  • Washing machine
  • Detergent
  • Fabric softener
  • Vinegar


Here’s what you need to do:

1 – Set your machine to a gentle cycle to avoid damaging the cushion covers.

2 – Add detergent, fabric softener, and vinegar to the wash compartment in equal quantities.

3 – Run the cycle.

Sometimes the mold can spread beyond the removable cover and onto the cushion itself. If this happens, a washing machine won’t be your best bet.

Cleaning Outdoor Cushions With Baking Soda and Vinegar

While baking soda and vinegar are often coupled to form a nifty science experiment of flowing lava, they can also be great in tag-teaming against mold!

Baking soda is an alkali that can help dissolve substances like dirt and grease. Once they dissolve, you can easily rinse them away.

Additionally, baking soda mixes usually have incredibly tiny particles. These particles can act like an exfoliant and scrub away the mold.

While baking soda alone may help remove the mold, it’s even better when combined with white vinegar.  The vinegar contains acetic acid which has a pH of around 2.5 and is effective at killing mold.

What You’ll Need

You’ll need a few materials to get started:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Toothbrush
  • Spray bottle


To clean mold off patio cushions using baking soda and vinegar, you can follow these steps:

1 – Add vinegar into a spray bottle.

2 – Spray vinegar onto the mold and allow it to sit for one hour.

3 – Add one teaspoon of the baking soda into two cups of water in a spray bottle.

4 – Spray the cushion with the baking soda-water mixture.

5 – Scrub the area with a toothbrush.

6 – Rinse with warm water and repeat.

This process may take a while, but it uses materials that most people have lying around the house.

With enough elbow grease, this method can be incredibly effective. However, some people might find the lingering odor a little unpleasant.

Cleaning Outdoor Cushions With Citrus and Salt

Instead of using baking soda, an alkali, to clean your cushions, you can use an acid. Acid sounds a little intimidating, but it’s actually all around you.

A great example of this is any citrus fruit. Most fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits have a slightly acidic composition. This is what gives them their sharp taste.

You can use this fact to your advantage when it comes to cleaning. The acid in these fruits can help break down the mold and disinfect the area.

Salt adds a little grit to your cleaning solution, so you don’t have to scrub so hard manually.

What You’ll Need

  • Any type of citrus juice (lemon, lime, oranges, grapefruit, etc.)
  • Coarse salt
  • Plastic bowl
  • Toothbrush
  • Sponge


Let’s see how you can use citrus and salt to clean mold off patio cushions:

1 – Pour about half a cup of your citrus juice into the plastic bowl.

2 – Add 3-4 teaspoons of salt and stir the mixture until all the salt dissolves.

3 – Keep adding salt in batches until it forms a paste.

4 – Spread the paste over the infected area.

5 – Scrub the paste into the mold with a toothbrush.

6 – Wet the sponge and squeeze out any excess loading water.

7 – Gently wipe the paste off with the sponge.

8 – Rinse the cushion with plenty of water.

This method works just as well as baking soda and vinegar. However, with citrus juice, you’ll leave your cushions smelling divine!

For optimum results, use fresh citrus juice. It’s also best to use coarse salt for this instead of table salt to make scrubbing much more effortless.

Try to avoid adding a large amount of salt at a time. If you add too much at once, it can make spreading the paste around much more difficult.

Cleaning Outdoor Cushions With Dish Soap

If you prefer a more conventional method of cleaning, you can try using dish soap. It’s widely available and isn’t harshly irritant to the skin.

This method is pretty straightforward, but it might not be as effective as some of the others. For example, if your cushions have a severe mold infection, dish soap can’t do much.

You’ll be able to remove the mold on the surface, but not what’s underneath. So, this method is mostly suitable only for small mold patches before they spread.

What You’ll Need

  • Any brand of dish soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge
  • Bucket
  • Tough scrubbing brush (optional)


Here’s how you can clean mold off patio cushions using dish soap:

1 – Use the tough scrubbing brush and quickly dust the cushion to remove excess dirt.

2 – Fill your spray bottle and bucket with water.

3 – Spray the infected area of the cushion until it’s damp.

4 – Pour a quarter cup of dish soap over the area.

5 – Let the soap sit for 15 minutes or so.

6 – Use the toothbrush to scrub the area.

7 – Submerge the sponge into the bucket and squeeze out any excess water.

8 – Scrub the mold using circular motions.

9 – Rinse the sponge in the bucket.

10 – Repeat steps 7 and 8 until you can no longer see mold residue.

Cleaning Outdoor Cushions With Borax

If you’re looking for a less labor-intensive cleaning method, borax may be the way to go.

It’s the common name for the compound sodium borate, which has many applications, but we mainly use it for cleaning.

It has the ability to eat away at any dirt or mold and can disinfect any surface. Moreover, it can neutralize any odors that the mold may cause.

What You’ll Need

  • Borax or any detergent that contains the compound
  • Bucket
  • Hose
  • Dish soap
  • Tough scrubbing brush


To clean mold off patio cushions using borax, you can follow these steps:

1- Soak your cushion with water using your hose.

2 – Squeeze a few drops of dish soap onto the infected area.

3 – Let the soap sit there for about 15 minutes.

4 – Add a gallon of hot water into a bucket.

5 – Mix a cup of borax into the bucket.

6 – Dip your scrubbing brush into the borax bucket.

7 – Scrub the surface of the cushion with the brush.

8 – Add a couple of extra drops of soap and scrub again.

9 – Use the hose to rinse off the surface, then let it dry.

This is one of the highly effective methods on our list. Not only will it get rid of deep infections, but it’ll also take little effort.

Still, you need to be aware that borax is an irritant. This means it can cause rashes and itchiness.

So, if you have sensitive skin, it’s best to stay away from it.  Or, make sure you wear protective equipment, such as gloves to protect any contact with it.

Cleaning Outdoor Cushions With Bleach

Another quality option in removing mold from your outdoor cushions is good-old bleach. Bleach is often used because of how effective it is at getting rid of microorganisms, but you should never mix it with ammonia!

Bleach alone can neutralize almost any type of fungi in a matter of minutes. However, this means it can be dangerous not just to the mold, but to other living organisms such as yourself

Therefore, if you’re using bleach, it’s a good idea to wear protective masks, gloves, and goggles. 

You’ll want to wear some old clothes that you’re not afraid to ruin, as the bleach will fade any colors.  Usually, it’s also best to cover your work surface with a tarp to avoid any collateral damage.

What You’ll Need

  • Bleach
  • Bucket
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Hose
  • Sponge
  • Plastic tarps


To clean mold off patio cushions using bleach, you can follow these steps:

1 – Fold out your plastic tarp and cover your entire work area

2- Fill your bucket with about 16 cups of water.

3 – Add ¾ of a cup of bleach to the water.

4 – Run the bleach mixture on a small test batch to make sure it doesn’t discolor or erode.

5- Dip your sponge into the bucket and squeeze out any excess water.

6- Scrub the cushion with the sponge.

7 – Go over the cushion with the scrubbing brush.

8 – Rinse the cushion with the hose, then let it dry.

As long as your cushion fabric can handle the bleach, this method works perfectly. Within a few minutes of scrubbing, most of the mold should be gone.

Cleaning Outdoor Cushions with a Pressure Washer

If the mold spreads to most of your cushion, you may need to call out the big guns. In this case, it’s using a pressure washer.

A pressure washer pushes water at high speeds onto a surface. This speed can force dirt and mold off of your cushion.

Many people fear that using a pressure washer on fabric will ruin it. However, this isn’t always the case. 

When you know how to use the washer, you can remove the mold without damaging the fabric.

What You’ll Need

  • Pressure washer
  • Soap or disinfectant
  • Toothbrush
  • Hose
  • Scrubbing brush


Here’s how you can clean mold off patio cushions using a pressure washer:

1 – Use the scrub brush to remove large dust spots and visible mold.

2 – Add a few drops of soap and scrub it in with the toothbrush.

3 – Let the soap soak in and penetrate the cushion.

4 – Set up your hose and connect your pressure washer to one end.

5 – Turn on your pressure washer on the lowest PSI setting, or use a wide angle nozzle.

6 – Hold the tip of the nozzle at least 2-3 feet away from the cushion.

7 – Go over the entire surface of the cushion with water.

The only issue with this method is that there’s the added expense of buying a pressure washer if you don’t already own one. Other than that, this method can get rid of mold in no time.

Preventing Mold From Growing on Outdoor Cushions

Even though cleaning mold is fairly easy, it’s never fun. So, instead of spending your time on dull chores, try taking active prevention steps instead.

Furniture Covers

The simplest way to do that is to cover your cushions. 

You can use slipcovers that are sized for your furniture to help protect your cushions from water and mold.

Or, a cheaper option is to simply use a plastic tarp.  The tarp works equally as well in protecting your outdoor furniture when you’re not using it, although it may be a bit more cumbersome to secure than slipcovers.


Furniture Under Pavilion

Placing your patio furniture under a canopy is a great way of keeping water off the cushions.  There are many types of canopies, ranging from pavilions to retractable awnings.

Aside from protecting your cushions from rain, these canopies are a nice way to keep you shaded while using the furniture.

Unfortunately, a canopy won’t prevent high humidity in the air from saturating your cushions.

Fabric Sealant

Certain fabrics are compatible with fabric sealers that will repel water.  By protecting the cushion against water intrusion, you’re also protecting against eventual mold.

Before purchasing a sealant, carefully review the cushion manufacturer’s instructions.  Or, at least confirm that the sealer you purchase is compatible with the type of cushion material you have.

Following the sealant’s instructions for application and curing.

Sun Exposure

Another method for preventing mold is to ensure all sides of your cushions get plenty of sun. Flipping them a couple of times a week can help keep them dry consistently.

Elimination of moisture is a key aspect of preventing mold growth. However, sun exposure does come with potential of causing fading of the fabric, so keeping a nice balance of sun and shade is beneficial.

Final Takeaway

Figuring out how to clean mold off patio cushions is all about choosing a suitable cleaning agent. You can go for baking soda and vinegar, citrus and salt, dish soap, borax, or even bleach. 

Since each method has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, make sure to choose the one that’ll work best for you! This includes ensuring that the method is compatible with your furniture so that you don’t cause more harm than good.

Most methods will involve some scrubbing or washing to help physically remove the mold.  Fortunately, you can prevent mold growth on your outdoor patio cushions by preventing them from getting wet in the first place.

Happy (Spore-Free) Lounging!

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