Mildew is a living organism that weakens and damages the surfaces on which it grows. Canvas surfaces, such as tents, awnings and outdoor furniture, are particularly susceptible to mildew due to consistent exposure to moisture and humidity. Left unattended, mildew continues to grow on canvas and can spread to nearby surfaces. Commercial mildew removers are effective but contain chemicals that may not be safe for your family or pets. Homemade mildew removers are equally effective and can be used without exposing your family or the environment to chemicals.
Vinegar-Based Mildew Remover
White distilled vinegar is a natural cleaner, deodoriser and disinfectant. These three factors make vinegar an efficient mildew remover because it tackles accompanying musty mildew odour, along with the stains. Mild mildew stains are treated with a mixture made of 50 per cent vinegar and 50 per cent water, while more severe staining is tackled with undiluted white vinegar. To kill mildew and remove its stains and odour, pour the vinegar solution into a spray bottle and spray it directly onto the mildew. Leave the vinegar to dry, killing the fungus and deodorising the canvas. Once the mildew is killed, brush it off with a dry scrub brush or apply more vinegar spray, scrub with a brush and rinse the canvas with a hose.
Lemon Juice & Salt Mildew Remover
Many cleaning products are lemon-scented or made with lemon juice, and it's no wonder why. Lemons and their juice effectively clean drains and soap scum-stained showers, and they remove stains from fabric. Combine the lemon juice with table salt and you have a mild abrasive cleanser that kills mildew and removes its stains and odour. Mix two parts lemon juice with one part table salt to make a gritty paste. Spread the lemon juice and salt paste over the mildew-stained canvas and let it dry in the sun. Once the paste dries, you can scrub it lightly with a brush while rinsing with a hose.
Essential Oils-Based Mildew Remover
Essential oils from plants and flowers are used in aromatherapy and to add fragrance to candles and skincare products. Some essential oils have antiseptic properties that make them highly effective in treating fungus. Tea-tree oil is an essential oil that comes from the melaleuca tree. The oil is used in many organic cleaners and skincare products. The use of tea tree oil to remove mildew on canvas may not be the least expensive option, but a small amount goes a long way and the cleansing effects are long lasting. Adding 2 tbsp of tea-tree oil to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle provides you with a portable mildew killer for outings and camping trips. Spray it on the mildew stains, let it air dry and then brush off the dead mildew.
Borax-Based Mildew Remover
Borax is a natural substance mined from the earth. This powder has been used for years to wash laundry, kill insects and clean household surfaces. When mixed with equal parts of white vinegar and warm water, borax makes a simple homemade mildew remover that cleans and deodorises the canvas surface. Sponge it onto the canvas, leave it to sit for a minute before scrubbing and then rinse it off. Even though it's a natural cleaner, borax is mildly toxic so exercise caution when using around small children and pets.
- Reader's Digest: Mildew Cleaning Solutions
- Environmental Law Centre: The Five Basics for Non-Toxic Cleaning
- University of Missouri; How to Prevent and Remove Mildew- Home Treatments: Removing Mildew; Wanda Eubanks; April 1998
- Care 2; 3 Ways to Kill Mold Naturally; Annie B. Bond; June 2009
- Eco-Cycle: Alternative Cleaners and Recipes: Mildew Remover