How To Clean Mildew Off Upholstered Articles: 4 Easy Steps

There’s been a terrible occurrence of mildew everywhere that you must understand how to clean mildew off upholstered articles and anything with the same fabric now. May it be inside your home, in the garage, or even your car, mildew can get into almost anything.

Upholstery is commonly referred to as the fabric covering, paddings, and springs in furniture typically found in your home. Occasionally, upholstery can also refer to cushions attached to car seats and even the coverings of our beddings.

how to clean mildew off upholstered articles

Since they’re textiles, upholstery is quite absorbent of water; when you accidentally spill water on them, that water can get retained and invite some disaster. One of the common ones is mildew that can spread underneath the surface we commonly see.


Steps For Cleaning Mildew From Upholstered Articles

While some upholstery has this seemingly leather or plastic material that doesn’t look like it will let water through, most of them are done to maximize comfort and aesthetic. This can often mean that the final fabric that will contact your skin is soft and sponges water and other liquid.

When such a thing happens and the upholstery doesn’t get dried immediately and adequately, fungi can take hold and start producing nasty mildew in disturbing masses. If you’re experiencing this, follow these steps to get rid of them.


Step #1. Unfasten the cloth from the frame

It might become tempting to pick up some tissue and wipe down the area you see with mildew and consider the problem solved. However, the problem with such a method is that it will only work if the mildew and fungi are only on the surface.

However, water carries its weight. If there’s any available on the surface, it’s sure that there’s some of it in the inner parts.

The thing about mildew is that they prefer dark, hidden, moist, and cold spots.

If you left the fungi to thrive on the paddings of the upholstery, then you’re going to subject yourself to repetitive cleaning chores. Not to mention, the upholstery can expose an incredibly awful smell every time you sit on it and can even cause itchiness and irritation in the long run.

To properly remove the mildew, you should bring out the item where it’s fastened into the outside, then remove the fabric and paddings from the frame. You can always ask for help and extra hands if you’re having a hard time on this.

Make sure you keep a note(or a photo) of how your item looked before you start losing the parts so you’ll have a guide when you’re returning them later on. 

Here’s an article on how to reglue a chair for the return process. You can also ask a professional to do this for you.


Step #2. Soak the fabrics in bleach or vinegar

Test out a tip of your upholstery by pouring or dipping it into some bleach. If there’s no extreme reaction (i.e. discoloration or clumping), you can dilute some bleach in the water to make a 10% solution.

This solution will serve as your mildew-killing fluid.

However, if the fabric experiences adverse effects, then pick some white vinegar and dilute it to at least 30% solution. Vinegar can also kill mildew-causing fungi.

Make sure you make enough solution, then dip your fabric and padding into it. You can also wipe the springs and the frame with the same mixture but minimize water interaction if the frame is wood.

Dry the frame and all the springs well.


Step #3. Wash the cloth and foams

After soaking with bleach or vinegar, you can now wash the cloth and pads with detergent soap and water. Remember to check first whether it’s safe to wash the foam — that is, they’ll return to their original shape after getting wet.

Also, look at what kind of detergent is safe for every fabric type, so you don’t damage their texture afterward.


Step #4. Dry and return correctly

When you finish cleaning all the parts, you need to dry every one of them exceptionally well. Excess water is a critical requirement for mildew to occur, and you have to make sure there’s none of that in your item at all.

You use a wet vacuum for this or let your upholstery dry in the sun.

After all the parts have been thoroughly dried, you need to put back the upholstery to the frame as it initially looked like, or you can update its look and add some of your twists to it. Check this article on how to fix a sagging chair cushion if it happens to your chair.


What kills mildew in fabric?

You can purge mildew with bleach or vinegar in the fabric. Some use commercial mildew-killing products, baking soda, and deionized water to do this job.

Just note that other than the mildew, the textile of your site can also get affected by what you place on it, so make sure you check for safety first before full application.


Can white vinegar remove stains from upholstery?

While white vinegar can kill the mildew infestation, there’s no guarantee that the stains will come with it. After all, stain removal depends on what caused the stain and how long it’s been there.



Mildew removal can be a troubling task, but our steps on how to clean mildew off upholstered articles should peel some burden off your back. Mildew can be removed with minimal effort if you know how to do it correctly.

So make sure you check the correct way of doing it before going through the motion!

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