Mildew is a mould that leaves unsightly stains and damages furnishings if left unattended. Although this mould thrives in damp and wet conditions its spread is not restricted to bathrooms and kitchens. Mildew can cling to furniture that is exposed to damp or water, and can damage far more than garden furnishings. Acting quickly however, can help to minimise mildew damage.
If you find mildew spots and stains on furnishings it is important to assess damage before exploring salvaging options. Loose mildew, on upholstered furnishings and chair coverings for instance, can be brushed off with a broom. It is important to do this outdoors so that the mould spots are not scattered, as this encourages new growth and will affect other items of furnishing.
Once the loose mildew has been brushed off vacuuming the surface will help draw out any remaining mould spots that are still attached. To stop further spreading of the mould the vacuum bag should be disposed of after task completion.
Fabrics that are washable can be sponged lightly with a thick covering of detergent suds. To avoid soaking any padding try to get as little water on the fabric as possible. The suds should loosen and remove the mildew fairly easily. Wipe excess suds with a clean, damp cloth and allow the fabric to dry before checking. This method can be applied to cotton, acrylic, linen and polyester.
If removal has been unsuccessful diluted alcohol can be applied to the surface. A bleach solution of 1/4 teaspoon of bleach to a cup of water can also be used. It is recommended that you apply a colourfast test to a hidden area of fabric before working with a bleach solution so that you are able to check for colour changes to the fabric.
Synthetic and wool carpets and coverings should be brushed gently with stiff bristles so that mildew spots are loosened. Collect the mould in paper and dispose carefully. After flushing the fabric with some stain remover, and removing any excess, the spots should be gently patted with dry spotter that has been applied to an absorbent pad. A dry-cleaning solvent should them be applied before allowing the fabric to dry.
Persistent stains can be sponged with a water and white vinegar solution, which must be flushed clean with water. All carpeting must be blotted of all excess liquid. Once this has been done an absorbent pad can be applied with weighted pressure so that it lifts off any remaining moisture.
Leather and suede can be successfully treated for mildew removal. Stains and spots should be rubbed with petroleum jelly. Persistent marks and stains can be treated by sponging with a water and rubbing alcohol solution. Leather items can also be conditioned with a leather cleaner.
Furnishings made from cork, bamboo or vinyl are best treated with a soapy water solution. Adding a few drops of ammonia to the water will help shift stubborn mildew stains. After rinsing well with water the furnishings should be left to dry.