How To Clean Outdoor Cushions: Remove Mildew Quick & Safe

By   | Last Updated :   August 18, 2021 | Filed In :   DIY & How To

Outdoor cushions go through a lot of wear and tear while being left outside exposed to the elements.  If you want to keep your cushions looking great for your guests, you will need to do an occasional deep clean to remove any bird poop, tree sap, dirt and mildew stains.

clean garden furniture cushions

Get your cushions gleaming for your guests. Credit: Shutterstock

Fortunately, cleaning garden furniture cushions doesn’t have to be difficult. Let’s take a look:

How to clean garden furniture cushions without harsh chemicals

Are you against using harsh chemicals on your garden furniture cushions?  Don’t fret, there are ways to clean away tough stains without using strong products.

natural cleaning

Natural cleaning products can boast excellent results.  Credit: Shutterstock

Unfortunately, these methods aren’t always as effective and can take a bit longer to work than harsher products, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, you may be surprised at the results.

Here are a few harsh chemical-free cleaning options:


The most effective cleaning solution to use on your garden cushions includes vinegar. Vinegar fights mildew and removes tough stains if used with the right strength. It is also easy to find and quite gentle on the material.  You can create your own cleaning solution by mixing half a cup of vinegar with a tablespoon of dish soap in a bucket of water. Mix the solution until a lather forms. Dip a brush into this solution and scrub your cushions vigorously.

Leave the solution to sit for 10-20 minutes before rinsing it off. If any stains remain, you can repeat the process. Keep in mind that some tough stains won’t come out with this method.  If you’re worried about what the vinegar will do to your cushions, test the solution on a hidden corner before covering the fabric in it.

It may be that the specific material your cushions are made of reacts badly to the vinegar. If this happens, rinse immediately and try something else instead.

Normal detergent for clothes

If your cushions have removable covers, the best way to clean them is to wash them in the washing machine. Simply use your normal detergent and some stain remover for clothes to clean your dirty garden cushion cases.

cozy garden furniture cushions

Credit: Shutterstock

In some instances, tough stains won’t come out with a single wash. In this case, it is best to treat the stains with a prewash designed to break down tough stains before washing again. Let the stain remover sit for around 10 minutes before starting the next cycle.

If you can’t machine wash the cushions, you can also use the detergent directly on the cushion material. Simply wet the fabric, sprinkle some detergent on the wet area and use a brush to work it in until it creates a lather.  Let it sit for 5 minutes and rinse until all signs of the detergent is washed away. Leave your cushions in the sun to dry.

Baking soda

Baking soda is great for removing fresh oil stains from suncream and other sources. Simply sprinkle baking soda on the stain and let it sit until all the oil is absorbed.

Brush off the baking soda and wash the area with vinegar, dish soap and water solution to remove any remaining dirt. Make sure the water is quite hot to remove any remaining oil.

Bring out the cleaning products

If you don’t mind using harsher chemicals to clean, then a few more options open up for you. Here are a few considerations:


Borax is excellent for removing all kinds of stains and dirt from your garden cushions.  You can also mix some borax into your homemade vinegar solution to make it more effective. Most people use some borax mixed with dishwashing detergent and hot water to create an effective stain remover for outdoor cushions.

Enzyme cleaner

Sometimes the only way to get tree sap off of your outdoor cushions is by using an enzyme-based cleaner.  This cleaner works by breaking down the sap molecules for easy removal from the fabric. You can also wash the cushion in some bleach afterwards to restore the white colour.

Just don’t forget to dry your cushions thoroughly.


How do I get black mould off my garden cushions?

Mix dishwashing detergent, baking soda, borax and hot water to create a solution that will remove mould. Take a soft brush, dip it into the solution and rub it on the mould infested cushion until all mould has been removed.

Is bleach or vinegar better to kill mould?

Vinegar is better than bleach. Mould recognises bleach as a threat which means it will grow back stronger next time.  Bleach only kills surface spores which also means the mould will live on deep in your cushion unless you dip the whole thing in bleach.  Vinegar on the other hand penetrates deeper and isn’t seen as a threat by the mould until it’s too late.

How do you clean dirty outdoor cushions?

Put some undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle. Locate any tough stans and spray diligently with the vinegar.  Leave it to sit for 15 minutes before rinsing and washing with a mixture of vinegar, dish soap and water.  If the stain remains, you might have to resort to using bleach to remove it completely from white fabric.


Save this pin for later

Post Tagged:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *