The baking heat of summer added to the howling cold winds of winter spell disaster for outdoor furniture fabrics. Tis the time to store the patio furniture before the wet winter accumulations destroy your outdoor fabrics all together. There are a few considerations, though, before you slam the shed door until spring. You’ll need to ensure your patio furniture is mold and mildew free before you store them. Certain conditions could cause mold and mildew to form on your outdoor furniture while it’s in storage. Let’s take a look at what causes mold and mildew and how to prevent it forming during storage.
Outdoor Furniture Fabrics
Chances are good that your outdoor furniture fabrics are synthetic like acrylic or polyester. Canvas and mesh are also popular outdoor fabrics. Synthetics are usually coated with something that waterproofs and weatherproofs them. These coatings frequently last the life of the furniture, if they are properly maintained. However, onslaughts from the weather can and will break down anything left in its path. Outdoor fabrics left in the sun and winter winds generally last only a couple seasons. That’s before mold and mildew sink their claws into the fabric.
Mold and Mildew
Mildew is a plant, a kind of fungus, which then turns into mold. Mold is actually of benefit to the environment, because it breaks down organic matter such as leaves and debris. Once it reduces its prey to its basic denominator, it moves on to adjacent organic matter. Mold spores fly through the air and get on and into everything. Add moisture from heat and humidity to the mix and you have a recipe for brownish grayish stains feeding on your organic materials. Also remember that moisture in the form of sun lotions and bug sprays adds to the problem. Mold and mildew love warm, moist dark places where they can feed and live without being noticed. Most homeowners look for it behind walls, beneath floors, behind the wallpaper and beneath leaky windows, in basements and in attics. The truth is, it can grow anywhere anytime the environment is right.
Cleaning Mold and Mildew off Outdoor Furniture
Modern fabrics are made to be weatherproof, waterproof and colorfast. If homeowners have misplaced the instructions, allow us to give you some cleaning advice. Bleach is the best chemical with which to clean mold and mildew off outdoor fabrics. Test an unobtrusive spot to see if the bleach will fade the pattern and colors. First, rub off and vacuum the outdoor fabric. If it won’t fade, then mix one cup bleach in a gallon of warm water and spray it on the affected item. Note to homeowners: if cleaning mold and mildew is a regular problem, the bleach mixture could very well eat up the textile. If the outdoor cushions become stained and you fear mildew, then mix one teaspoon borax and one teaspoon dishwasher detergent to one quart of warm water and spray on the stains. Give it about 15 minutes and rub off. Dry in the sun thoroughly. If these things are a regular occurrence, then prevention is the key to preserving your patio furniture.
Do This before Storing Outdoor Furniture
Since washing machines, clothes driers and dry cleaners destroy the finish on outdoor fabrics, then cleaning them as we discussed above is better for the longevity of the fabric. Make very sure the items are thoroughly dry. The tiniest bit of moisture could have you gasping for air when you open the shed door next spring. Placing the cushions in a mattress bag will prevent mold from find your dry fabrics. Also placing tins of charcoal or kitty litter in the storage unit helps absorb any moisture in the air.
What’s a Suburban Survival Store without survival tips? When it comes to the outdoors and the tools for the outdoors, we know our stuff! We have known it for over 30 years, and our service guys have yet to run into a question they couldn’t answer! If you need any more information about your patio or deck furnishings, please contact us.