It’s that time of year. The time for stinky dirty couch cushions to be cleaned. Here’s my best tip for cleaning outdoor cushions.

See that window with the plantation shutters in the top left-hand corner of this photo?

That’s where I stood all winter.

Looking back at the meadow.

Looking back at the snow.

Looking back at the wind and the weather and the rain and the sleet and the toll winter can take on a porch.

And then one day….

….I saw this.

(total aside:  On second thought–maybe you shouldn’t click.  I’m not sure if you will still want to be friends.)


This disgusting-icky-what-is-it-even-thinking-showing-its-face-around-here-mold.

It covered all the cushions and pillows.

Yards and yards and yards of disgustingness.

Looking out of that window this weekend–I finally decided I couldn’t take it anymore. It was time for cleaning outdoor cushions. Something had to be done.  Someone had to show that mold to the door and un-invite it to the back porch.  It took a little time to figure out how to clean it, but eventually, I figured out the best tip.

And now?

Now the pillows look like this.

Can you even believe it?

Does it even look like the same cushion?

That is the EXACT same chair.

Let’s back up and look at the whole porch.

All the cushions.

All the chairs.

They look like they are ready for a party.

Here are my best tips for cleaning outdoor cushions.

Let’s start with what didn’t work and what worked.

I had two ideas.

Idea number one:

unzip the cushion covers and put the cushions in the washer and let the washer do all the hard work.


Except I tried it on the dining room chairs and the material shrunk up and when I put the cushion back into the cover, it looked all wonky and totally un-summer like and kind of crammed into too small of a space.

Kind of like when I try my summer white jeans on for the first time after too many winter brownie sundaes.

So I put these pillows temporarily on the chairs until I can new ones and went on to idea number two.

Spraying off the pillows.

The water from the hose didn’t even make a dent.

Not even close.

After 30 minutes of spraying the pillows were still covered with winter.


Until I tried this.

Idea number two:

Dawn dishwashing detergent.

The blue one.

Who knew?

I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed it into the cushions with a scrubber sponge.  It took extra elbow grease to get it into every nook and cranny and into the fibers of the cushions.  Then the cushions were sprayed and the mold just came right off.

Now the cushions are so much better.

The porch is happy.

Everything is fluffed and decorated and straightened and cleaned and ready for a party.

And that view from that window?

So much better.

It looks just like summer. 🙂

PS  Here’s how I made the giant over-sized sign over the potting bench.

PPS  Here’s the story on the birdhouse on the porch.  It’s one of my favorites EVER.

PPPS  If you have tips for cleaning cushions, I’d love to file them in my cushion-cleaning idea book. 🙂

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  1. Image for shanna shanna

    I tried Dawn and it did not budge the mold/ground in dirt on my tan cushions. I tried oxy clean. Nothing. I'm open to all suggestions! New outdoor furniture is not in the budget this year.

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      I think the key when I used it was scrubbing it into the cushions and then spraying it on high with the hose sprayer. That combo was what worked best for me. The sun helped bleach it out a little, too. :)

    2. Image for Joan Joan

      I once used Tilex on a yellow outdoor umbrella after everything I tried had failed and it removed all the mildew and stains.

  2. Image for Nancy @ Slightly Coastal Nancy @ Slightly Coastal

    I don't have any tips for how to clean cushions...good thing you solved that problem for me. Isn't Dawn just the best? It can save sweet little birds from oil spills, outdoor cushions, and takes grease spots that mysteriously appear on the front of favorite shirts out in the wash. It's a miracle in a bottle. Love the porch. It's ready for sweet tea for sure. Nancy

  3. Image for Colleen@LilacDriveDesigns Colleen@LilacDriveDesigns

    I tackled my outdoor cushions a few weeks ago...our climate is high desert so no mold to contend with, but they were dirty! I tried to scrub them but it didn't help much so I used a pressure washer on a very easy setting to clean them and put them in the sun all day to dry, flipping them over once or twice as they dried. I then used a waterproofing spray (NeverWet) so they don't get soaked when it rains during the summer (we hardly get any rain all summer where I live but it helps when we do)...that stuff is awesome, the water just beads up and rolls off.

  4. Image for Taste of France Taste of France

    I used bleach, which amazingly didn't ruin the navy stripes. The next year I used vinegar and dried them in the sun. Both worked well. The fabric is cotton and not waterproof or anything like that, so I try not to get the cushions too wet. I have slipcovers in the living room, and when I wash them (in warm but not hot water), I do it on a sunny day so they can dry on the line outside. That keeps them from shrinking.

  5. Image for Kris Kris

    Of course I still want to be friends! Who doesn't have a little mold in their life from time to time? We don't have a lovely outdoor area like you, so I just bring my cushions in and out as needed--they are only seat cushions for my bistro table set so it's no biggie. I've always wondered if the indoor/outdoor fabric protects against yukkyness. Guess I have my answer. :)

  6. Image for Calypso in the Country Calypso in the Country

    I love Dawn! Question on your cushions - are they Sunbrella or any special weather resistant type or are they just regular outdoor cushions. I get so worried about my cheapo cushions so I end up dragging them in and out all the time. It's such a pain but I am afraid to leave them out in the rain. Thanks! Shelley

  7. Image for Terri Terri

    I have been wondering what works. Living in SW Florida, mold is ubiquitous (and not in a good way!). So, rather than pitching our cushions, I'll give this a try. Thank you for this excellent and timely tip!

  8. Image for Beth Minger Beth Minger

    We have nice HUMID summers here in Iowa - lots of mold on the north side of our house - the deck side of the house! So to save our sanity we purchased a deck box - cushions get used then go back into the box. Four years into this house - the cushions still look like new. No scrubbing. I was worried about critters moving into the box over the winters - but so far no inhabitants - OK maybe a couple of spiders - small ones!!!

  9. Image for NormaJean NormaJean

    Would it not be easy to just put the cushions in a trash bag and store them in the attic for the winter? That would be a lot less work. Just sayin'. Lol.

  10. Image for Mary Mary

    fill a spray bottle with 5 parts water 1 part regular cheapo bleach. Spray away... let sit for a few minutes and hose off. easy and no elbow grease.

  11. Image for Loryl Loryl

    How serendipitous of this post. I just used Dawn and a little bleach on my Trex railing on my deck. With a gentle scrubbie and a little elbow grease the railings are looking so much fresher and ready for summer. Dawn is the best gentle/strong cleaner out there. I use it for everything.

  12. Image for April J Harris April J Harris

    I love this tip! I would almost have thought your cushions were beyond rescue, but they look amazing now!! Thank you so much for sharing with us at Hearth and Soul. Scheduled to share on our new look Hearth and Soul Facebook page later today. Hope to see you at the party again this week!

  13. Image for Marlyn Marlyn

    I put my Sunbrella covers in the washer. No problems! I bought some outdoor pillows at Home Goods that did get mold on them. I put the whole thing in the washer and dryer and they came out a little lumpy but no mold on the yellow. I have more problems with dust and animal fur and slobber.

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