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Clean Mold From Outdoor Cushions

Mold and Mildew on Patio Cushions:
What Can Be Done?

Mold and mildew on patio cushions and pads can be very hard to clean, and of course is very unsightly. What can you do to clean mold and mildew from outdoor cushions and pads? Before answering that question, let's learn a little about mold and what causes it in the first place...

What is Mold?

Believe it or not, mold has been around ever since the Earth was born. It exists, like everything else on our planet, for a purpose. Its job is to clean up dead things!

Mold is even mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. A very detailed explanation of how to get rid of mold from an infected house can be found in Leviticus 14:33-45. Check it out, it's an interesting read!

There are over 100,000 different varieties of mold. Some are useful to us; some are destructive. Most of them are harmless, but many of them can cause irritation to susceptible humans. Useful molds are those used to make medicines like Penicillin, cheeses (Brie, Camembert, Danish Blue, Stilton and Gorgonzola to name a few), as well as beer, some dessert wines, salami and soy sauce.

Others can be very destructive and even deadly to human beings. But most of all, they are just pesky: making a mess of bathrooms, basements and even our favorite patio cushions and patio furniture.

How Does Mold Start to Grow?

The beginnings of mold growth are “spores” that are carried by the wind and spread by the billions in the air, looking for a place with the right conditions to grow. So what are the right conditions?

Molds need four elements in order to develop:

  • A food source
    Their favorite food source is anything cellular, such as paper and wood.

  • Moisture
    Molds thrive on moisture, and the more the better. A flood or leak is an ideal setup for mold growth. However, as little as 55% relative humidity can provide enough moisture for many molds to continue their growth.

  • An ideal temperature range
    As long as it's between 68 and 86 degrees they're very much at home. A sadly, that's exactly a good temperature range for us humans too. So we have to co-exist.

  • Time
    But not much! In many cases mold can develop significantly in just hours.

Why Does Mold and Mildew Attack Patio Furniture Cushions?

Here's an important fact: mold CANNOT eat your outdoor patio cushions. Today's patio cushions are made from synthetic materials and contain no cellulose fiber. So why then, you ask, are my patio cushions moldy? Good question.

You might be surprised to learn that the mold on your outdoor cushions is not living off the cushions and pads – its food is the dust, dirt, pollen and even your dead skin cells that are embedded in the fibers of the fabric!

Now that we know this, we can resolve the problem. The obvious answer is to keep your outdoor cushions and pads clean. A thorough and regular cleaning cycle at least twice a year (more in dusty or pollen-laden areas) will help to prevent the formation of mold and mildew by eliminating the food source for the spores.

What Can I Do to Clean Off the Mold that has Already Formed On My Outdoor Cushions?

The answer to that question depends on the type of fabric that is used to make your particular cushions. There are many types of outdoor fabric fibers, including (but not limited to) vinyl, acrylic, olefin, polyester, and blends of two or more of these.

Click this link for cleaning instructions for most fabric types.

What Can I Do to Prevent Mold from Coming Back?

As earlier stated, keeping your cushions and pads clean is the answer. Also, there are products you can use to help with prevention. ScotchGuard® helps for indoor fabrics, but is not suitable for outdoors.

There are a couple of things you can do. Firstly, you can use a product similar to ScotchGuard®, but which specifically formulated for use outdoors. It not only helps to keep the cushion fabrics looking good, but also makes it more difficult for dirt and dust to get between the fibers. It has the added benefit of reducing the affects of UV light, so fading is significantly reduced and fabric life is prolonged. A recommended product is here.

You can also waterproof your fabrics. This product virtually seals the fibers from penetration of water and dirt. Best solution? Use both, but apply the UV protectant first!


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