How to Remove Mold and Mildew from Your Outdoor Furniture

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How to Remove Mold and Mildew from Your Outdoor Furniture

We use our homes’ decks and patios to entertain, enjoy nature, and spend time with our loved ones. The last thing we want is for our outdoor furniture to smell like mold – or, even worse, pose a threat to our health and wellbeing. 

Unfortunately, furniture that sits outside in Southern California can easily become the victim of mold and mildew growth. The more it rains and the higher the humidity climbs, the more the risk of mold growth increases. 

But don’t worry – if you have discovered mold in wood furniture, there are steps you can take to remedy the problem. Let’s dive into how to spot mold, then how to treat it and prevent it from returning to your outdoor space.

What’s the Difference Between Mold and Mildew? 

Mold vs mildew

The terms “mold” and “mildew” are often used interchangeably, but they are different. 

Mold includes all species of microscopic fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments. You’ll most commonly find it on organic matter, such as clothing, leather, paper, and your home’s ceilings or walls.

Mildew, on the other hand, can be found in places like windowsills, shower walls, and other places where moisture levels are high. In general, mold is considered to be less of a threat than mold spores, which can be toxic to human health. 

Both mold and mildew can grow on natural materials like wood, which means you could wind up battling both in your outdoor spaces. So, which do you have growing on your outdoor wood furniture: mold or mildew? 

You can probably answer this question by looking at the growth. If it looks slimy, fuzzy, raized, and colorful, then you’re likely dealing with mold. Mold also has a very strong, pungent scent.

Mildew will appear more powdery and will be gray or white, not darkly colored. Additionally, mildew will only have a mild smell – kind of like damp socks that were left in the washer too long.

Why You Need to Address Mold and Mildew ASAP 

Allergic reaction due to mold

It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with mold or mildew on your wood furniture: both should be dealt with immediately to prevent further growth, damage, and health conditions in humans and animals.

When mold and mildew spores are thriving in damp, humid environments, they can spread incredibly quickly. If your outdoor deck experiences high humidity, warm temperatures, and low winds after a rainstorm, you could be dealing with fungus growth in as few as 24 hours. 

What starts as a small spot can quickly evolve into a full-blown infestation, compromising all of your outdoor furniture. Make sure you tackle the problem before that happens – and before any allergic reactions in your family. 

It’s estimated that at least 10% of Americans are allergic to mold, and some have severe allergies that can trigger more serious health conditions. If you identify mold or mildew anywhere on your deck, pursue treatment as quickly as possible. 

Removing Mold From Wood and Cushioned Furniture

Wood Furniture 

Moldy outdoor wood bench

Outdoor wood furniture is highly susceptible to mold and mildew growth. Even mold and moisture-resistant woods, such as teak, need to be treated and cleaned regularly to prevent spores from forming colonies. 

Because outdoor wood furniture is usually kept outside year-round (especially in places like Southern California), it is exposed to damp, warm conditions, which are highly conducive to mold and mildew growth. 

At Teak & Deck, we see many homeowners battling mold in wood furniture. If you’ve spotted spores on your deck pieces, here’s what you should do. 

(1) Wear the Proper Safety Gear 

It doesn’t matter how much mold or mildew there is – you need to wear the proper PPE. These spores can be toxic if inhaled or ingested, so protect yourself adequately. This means donning goggles, a face mask that fully covers your nose and mouth, and rubber gloves.

(2) Clean the Furniture Outside in Sunlight 

Do not bring your contaminated furniture into an enclosed space, such as your basement or garage. Instead, keep the furniture outside while you clean. 

The short wavelengths of ultraviolet light are germicidal, which means the sun can help you eliminate mold growth. Additionally, sunshine will help dry out the mold and moisture, killing any remaining spores and lingering odors. 

(3) Scrub With Dish Soap and a Bristled Brush 

If you’ve only noticed a light dusting of mold or mildew on your wood furniture, you might not need to take dramatic action to kill it. Sometimes, a simple solution of dishwashing soap and warm water will suffice. 

Make sure to use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the mold directly. Clean up any excess liquid as you go. When you’re done, fully dry the surface with a towel. 

(4) Tackle Stubborn Spots With Vinegar Solutions 

Dealing with more than a minor infestation? Instead of using soap to tackle mold growth, you can try using distilled white vinegar mixed with warm water. This is safe for all kinds of wood, including teak furniture pieces

Spray the solution on the mold, then let it dry for an hour. After, wipe down the surface with a moist cloth, then dry the furniture off.

If this still fails to remove the mold growth, it may be time to turn to professionals who are experienced in maintaining outdoor furniture. You might be dealing with a heavy infestation, and that requires expert removal and mitigation services. 

Cushioned Furniture 

Clean mold from cushioned furniture

The wood of your furniture isn’t the only part that mold can claim. Many of our clients also have cushions on their teak furniture, and mold loves to invade soft fabrics and organic materials. 

If you’ve noticed that mold or mildew has spread to your outdoor furniture’s cushions, you’ll need to clean them thoroughly. Dilute a half cup of bleach in a gallon of water, then spray the mixture on the cushions. You should then be able to remove the spores with a scrub brush. 

Some cushions have removable cloth covers. If yours do, you can toss them in the washing machine and run them with an extra cup of white vinegar to fully kill the mold or mildew growth.

FAQs About Mold on Outdoor Furniture 

Get Help Treating Your Outdoor Wood Furniture

Whether you’re worried about mold growth or something less concerning, like discoloration, the key is to continuously care for your outdoor furniture. That’s what Teak & Deck helps SoCal homeowners do. 

Our wood furniture experts offer a wide range of services, from teak furniture sealing to restoration and cleaning. You tell us what you need, and we’ll ensure your wooden investments are adequately protected. 

To request a quote for cleaning your teak furniture, contact us today. We’ll help you stop mold in wood furniture before it becomes a serious problem.

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Drew Isaacman

Drew Isaacman is the owner and founder of Teak & Deck Professionals, a leading restoration company specializing in teak, exotic wood, concrete, and stone. With a passion for preserving outdoor assets, Drew has built a team of skilled professionals dedicated to providing exceptional service to clients in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. His expertise in wood restoration and refinishing, combined with his commitment to customer satisfaction, has earned Teak & Deck Professionals a reputation for excellence in the industry. Drew's dedication to protecting and revitalizing outdoor spaces ensures that clients can enjoy their valuable assets for years to come.