On a hot summer's day patio furniture can be a real godsend, an oasis of relaxation and bliss that is nothing short of heaven. Unfortunately, unsightly mold and mildew can be unwelcomed guests at the party. Left to their own devices, these growths will not only ruin a party, but your cloth patio furniture as well. When mold is present, you want to get rid of it as quickly as possible before it takes over the surface of your cushions and works its way into the padding below.
Cleaning mold from cloth patio furniture isn't as hard as it sounds. With the right cleaning materials you can make your patio cushions look like new again and kill off the mold. All you need is some water, soda, lime juice and rubber gloves. Yes, cleaning cushions of mold requires a trip to the grocery store, not the home improvement store. While the cleaning materials aren't toxic, the mold can be, at least in terms of causing an allergic reaction. That's why rubber gloves are so important, to protect your hands and palms and to keep mold spores from making their home elsewhere in your home. You'll want to do your cleaning outside so pick a nice day where there is plenty of sunlight and make sure you have plenty of open space to work in.
The best method of getting rid of mold is to use one quart of soda with one gallon of warm water. The soda serves as a detergent, loosing the mold and stains. Begin the cleaning process by wetting a sponge. In a circular motion, scrub the cushion with enough force to remove the visible mold. Continue to clean the moldy areas using this circular scrubbing process. Be careful not to spread the mold onto unaffected spots. This method is for spot cleaning, not general cushion cleaning. Once you've scrubbed the affected spots on the cushion, it's time to use a brush. You should use a brush with soft bristles. Stiff bristles won't remove any more mold and can damage the fabric. A brush will help remove mold spores between the woven strands of the fabric. This deep cleaning will help prevent the mold from returning as quickly.
There will undoubtedly be some stains that won't come clean this way. Mold can be pretty stubborn, especially when it's had some time to fester and grow unimpeded. In these cases you'll want to tackle the mold with lime juice. Apply a thick layer of lime juice on the stain, squeezing it right from the lime. Wait 10 minutes. Now you'll want to place the cushion out in the sun. Don't wipe off any of the lime juice. The lime juice and the sun will work together to eat at the stain, eventually removing it completely. Be sure to let each side of the cushion dry completely before flipping it over and drying the other side. If the stain isn't completely gone, reapply some more lime juice and repeat the drying process. Eventually, you should see no evidence of mold or stains.
Once the lime and sun have worked their magic, it's time to do a little preventative maintenance. First, apply water repellant to the surface of the cushions. Mold loves a damp surface and the water repellant will keep water from soaking into the fabric. It's not waterproof, however, so you'll want to keep your cushions out of continual rain or winter weather. Every month during the summer you should inspect your cushions for dirt, dust and mold and give them a good cleaning with a hose and clean cloth. It doesn't have to be a deep cleaning: just a rinse and wipe. This should keep them clean all season long. When it comes time to store your cloth patio furniture for the season, bring the cushions indoors. Don't store them in plastic - trapped moisture can promote the growth of mold and mildew. The frame of the furniture should get one more cleaning and then be covered with an appropriate cover to keep the surface from getting moldy, collecting dirt and grime and away from the elements. With proper care your cushions should remain relatively mold and mildew free for many years to come.
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