How to Remove Mildew from Beach Chairs

Two beach chairs.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-30

There is nothing worse than getting out your beach chairs at the start of the summer only to discover they are covered in mildew. Mildew, along with being unsightly, can also be dangerous.

What Is Mildew?

Mildew, mold, fungus, you know this stuff is bad even if you don't know its specific name. But to get scientific about it, mildew is a specific type of mold, even though the word is often used to describe any and all types of mold.

By any name, however, this stuff is just gross, and it's not something you want on any of your furniture. Chair mold and mildew grow in areas where there is moisture.

Yes, "grows" is the right word. This is a type of organism, and if it is left unchecked, it will absolutely grow and get bigger and spread to more areas over time.

This is why you need to know how to get mildew off furniture. Once you know how to do this, mildew won’t be a big problem for you in the future.

Identifying Mildew

Mildew often looks black or white and if examined closely, you will see that it has a hairy or fuzzy texture. Mildew can often be found growing in moist, warm, enclosed spaces...exactly the kind of spaces where you might store your beach furniture.

It's important to inspect beach chairs and other outdoor furnishings and structures for signs of mildew, as this stuff can be very nasty. When inhaled, mildew can cause coughing, wheezing, breathing issues, and it can aggravate asthma symptoms and other breathing problems.

Mildew also looks bad and smells bad, which really puts a dark cloud over any summer day. Obviously, it helps to know how to clean beach chairs, so they’re free of mildew and mold and anything else gross.

You don't need to be certain you have mildew on beach chairs. Once you suspect you have mildew, take the step to clean your beach chairs and learn how to clean mildew off furniture the right way.

It never hurts to clean beach chairs. But if they do have chair mold or mildew on them and you don't clean them, that actually is potentially harmful to you and to the chairs.

DIY Mildew Removal

Mildew looks ugly, and it's dangerous, but the good news is, it's not difficult to get rid of. You probably have stuff in your home right now that can be used to rid beach chairs of mildew and get them clean, safe, and ready for summer.

Create a Workspace

You don't want to breathe in mildew spores or strong chemicals, both of which are harmful to your lungs. Take the chairs outside into an open location on a warm, dry day.

Keep young children, elderly people, and those with any preexisting medical conditions away from the general area where you are cleaning mildew. This is for their own safety, as it prevents them from breathing in the dangerous spores.

Be Safe

Wear gloves, eye protection, and a face mask while you work on cleaning mildew. You may feel uncomfortable, and you might get hot under the mask, but leave it on for your own safety.

If you need a little break while you're cleaning, take one. Step at least 15 feet away from the chairs to get some nice, fresh breathing air without the mask whenever you need it.


Start by brushing off as much mildew as you can with a cleaning brush. Do not be aggressive, and use a soft-bristle brush to avoid scratching your furniture.

Brushing off the mildew can make the rest of the cleaning process go much faster, but it is at this time that the mildew is its most dangerous, so make sure your face mask is secure and keep everyone else at a safe distance while you are doing this.

Mix a Solution

A person spraying mildew on a beach chair

Make your own beach chair cleaning solution by mixing a few drops of antibacterial liquid soap with about half a cup of white vinegar in a spray bottle. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with plain water and mix the solution well.

This cleaning solution is mild enough to be used on fabrics, aluminum, plastics, and other metals. Do not use this mixture on wood, as there is a different cleaning formula you will want to make for wood.

To make a cleaning solution for wooden outdoor furniture, mix 10 tablespoons of trisodium phosphate with 1 cup of standard laundry bleach. Dilute this with water and use extreme, extreme caution, as trisodium phosphate is poisonous.

Both of these solutions should be disposed of very carefully when you are done using them. Dispose of them yourself in an area that is not close to people or plants that will not be visited by any household pets or beloved neighborhood animals.


You may think you know how to clean beach chairs, but when it comes to mildew, it’s a whole different animal. Spray your cleaning solution thoroughly all over the beach chair or the specific part of the beach chair you are cleaning to remove all chair mold.

Once everything is good and wet with the solution, use a sponge or a damp cloth to wipe the entire chair down, or the specific part of the chair you are cleaning. This solution will even work on canvas, so it is a good formula for most materials found in beach chairs.

Keep your gloves, mask, and eye protection on at all times. These chemicals and the mildew are all releasing dangerous fumes that can irritate not just your breathing passages, but your eyes and other soft membranes.

You don't even have to know what soft membranes are to know you want to keep them safe.

To clean leather, which is not commonly found in outdoor furniture but may be present in some designs, mix one cup of rubbing alcohol with one cup of water. Mix this well and wipe down the leather with a cloth dampened in this solution.


Thoroughly rinse the furniture with plain water, spraying it with a hose. Leave no part of the chair uncleaned, including the fabric when present.

Stain Removal

Ingredients for cleaning beach chair mildew

Sometimes, it might not always be easy when it comes to how to get mold off furniture.

If the vinegar and soap cleaning solution does not remove all of the mold or if any stubborn stains persist, you will need to be slightly more aggressive and learn another method.

When you need to how to clean mildew off furniture that’s being really stubborn, the answer is to use slightly harsher chemicals.

Mix baking soda with several drops of lemon juice and a tablespoon of undiluted vinegar. Add enough baking soda to the mixture to make a paste with a somewhat loose consistency, slightly more watery than a standard pancake mixture before it is cooked.

Use a scrub brush to apply the paste to problem areas, rubbing it into the spot gently with the scrub brush. Cover the spot thoroughly with the past and let it sit for five minutes.

Pour hot water, not boiling but hot, on these areas to rinse away the paste. Clean the scrub brush with hot water and scrub the stained areas again with the clean brush.

Wipe these problem areas down with a clean cloth dampened with plain water and see if the stain is now removed. Work with caution, as lemon juice can lighten the color of wood, plastic, and fabrics.


Drying a beach chair in the sun

Once all the mildew is gone, allow beach chairs to thoroughly and completely air dry before you use them or put them back into storage.

How to Prevent Mildew in the First Place

The best way to treat mildew is to never let it start to grow. With a little maintenance, you can greatly reduce the chances that mildew will grow on your beach chairs so you don’t need to know how to get mold off furniture.

After using your beach chairs, spray them thoroughly with water to remove salt and sand. Gently clean the chairs with a scrub brush or cloth dampened with mild liquid detergent and water, and rinse the chairs again.

Allow chairs to dry thoroughly before folding them or storing them anywhere. This is extremely important, as moisture is what allows mildew to thrive.

You can even take the extra step of drying off chairs yourself with a clean, dry cloth prior to storage to ensure that there is no moisture present.

When storing beach chairs, try to give them a dry environment that will inhibit and prevent the growth of mildew, mold, and fungus of all types.

Keeping Storage Areas Dry

Take another step to prevent mildew growth by making sure your storage area is as dry as possible and, again, you won’t need to know how to get mildew off furniture.

Try to keep your garage, shed, basement, closet, or any storage area you're using moisture-free so that no mildew will grow, and you won’t even have to worry about how to get mold off furniture.

To prevent moisture that causes mildew, keep your storage area uncluttered and well-organized. Cluttered, tightly-packed spaces are full of shadows and little pockets of heat and moisture that practically beg for mildew growth to happen.

Make sure the area is ventilated and not completely closed. If you cannot introduce any airflow from the outside into the space, use a fan to keep air circulating and keep the space dry.

Alternatively, you can use a dehumidifier to keep the space dry.

Check all door and window frames that lead to the outside for gaps and cracks, weak areas where moisture may seep in. Use caulk to seal these cracks and gaps as you find them.

How to Remove Mildew from Beach Chairs

If you own outdoor furniture or beach furniture of any kind, you need to know how to remove mildew from beach chairs in a way that is both safe and effective. Getting this wrong could cause health problems and will absolutely ruin your beach chairs in time.

With good cleaning and good prevention, mildew isn't such a hard problem to handle. Take the right steps to clean this ugly stuff and to keep it from growing in the first place, and you will handle mildew just like a pro.

Beach Chairs FAQs

What takes mildew off beach chairs?

Many different cleaning solutions can remove mold, including specially-formulated cleaners designed specifically to treat mold that are available at grocery and home improvement stores. Even fungicides can treat mold, as can more DIY cleaning methods like bleach and ammonia, common household cleaners.

However, using harsh chemicals like bleach or potentially toxic formulas like mildew treatments should be considered a last resort. These chemicals are more dangerous to work with, and cleaners like bleach can remove the color from both hand and soft materials.

Chemical formulas stronger than vinegar, lemon juice, soap, and baking soda will also damage grass and plants that are around and near the area where you are working on cleaning your beach chairs, so these chemicals could actually negatively affect your lawn and landscaping areas.

Whatever chemicals, mixtures, or methods you use to remove mildew, remember to never, ever mix ammonia with bleach. This creates a highly toxic chemical reaction that can cause coughing, nausea, and several other symptoms you just don't want.

Knowing how to get mold out of outdoor furniture means knowing how to keep all surrounding people, plants, and animals safe while you go through this process.

How do you get mildew out of outdoor chairs?

The best and only way to remove mildew from outdoor chairs and beach furniture is to clean it well with a chemical agent that kills mildew, such as vinegar or lemon juice, or bleach.

How do you get mildew out of canvas chairs?

Canvas is a tough material that is often used in outdoor furniture and in beach chairs. To remove mildew from this fabric, mix up a solution of one part vinegar with four parts water.

Use a brush to rub this mixture into the canvas fabric. As you clean the canvas in this fashion, go behind yourself with a spray bottle of clean water and rinse the fabric after you scrub it with the vinegar solution.

This method will work well to remove mildew, dirt, and even bad smells from the material.

What kills mildew on outdoor fabric?

Many different chemical formulas and many standard household cleaners kill mildew, notably bleach. This is often a DIY solution for eliminating mold and mildew of all kinds, and it works very well on some types of stubborn stains.

However, bleach can remove the color out of fabrics, wood, and even plastic. Other formulas that kill mildew include lemon juice and vinegar, both of which are not quite as harsh as bleach.

Will Dawn remove mildew stains?

Dawn dish soap is a highly effective cleaner, and it's mild enough to clean most anything. In fact, it's even used to clean animals and works as a rather effective flea killer on household pets.

However, Dawn does not kill mold. It can be used to clean mold and will remove visible signs of the mold, but it does not kill the mold spores that produce this dangerous growth.

Does white vinegar remove mildew stains?

White vinegar is a very effective cleaning agent against mildew. Not only does vinegar clean the milder, it also kills it to stop the growth of mildew right in its tracks.

Further Reading

Banish Mold and Mildew from Your Home

How Do I Clean Mildew off of Wicker Furniture?

How to Remove and Replace Silicone Caulk

How to Remove Mildew on Wood Furniture

Mildew Stain Removal from Vinyl

Restore White Wood Furniture from these 6 Problems