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How to Remove Mildew from Boat Seats

clean mildew and mold from boat seats

Boating is a pastime enjoyed by millions of Americans. Cruising along the surface of the water is exhilarating. However, lounging in the boat can be an uneasy experience when the boat seats are covered in mildew. Our professionals are here to prove some safe ways to remove mildew stains from boat seats.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association reports that 12 million boats were registered in the US in 2018. The majority of these boats are small, being sailboats, powerboats or personal watercraft. These boats have an average length of less than 26 feet.

Approximately 95 percent of the recreational boats purchased in the U.S. are American made. Most of the boats are manufactured with vinyl seating. Vinyl is the preferred material for cushioned boat seats because of its durability as well as its ability to withstand water exposure.

Vinyl, despite its long-term resistance to wear and tear, comes with limitations. Vinyl seating can gradually become shabby when improperly maintained. Mildew can form, too. Boat owners must clean the vinyl seating on a regular basis to remove splotches of mildew and mold.

Mold and mildew spores are everywhere in the natural environment, so fully protecting a boat from the airborne spores is impossible. Mildew requires three elements to flourish: moisture, ideal temperatures, and an organic food source, like upholstery fabric. Controlling mildew is a continuous effort.

Although cleaning mildew off boat seats is a regular chore, the cleaners necessary to remove mildew stains are inexpensive and readily available. Be careful when selecting a cleaner, as some may contain bleach as a primary ingredient. Bleach removes mildew but is harmful to vinyl seats.

Why should boaters avoid cleaning mold with bleach?

Bleach is a powerful cleaner and useful for cleaning mildew and mold off a multitude of surfaces. When used on vinyl materials, however, bleach strips the vinyl of the essential oils that are necessary to preserve its longevity and resistance to water.

As a harsh cleaner, bleach will break down the vinyl over time. Rather than retain its durability, vinyl seats cleaned with bleach will become more easily damaged from normal wear and tear. Plus, when using bleach, the boater may accidentally bleach the carpeting or nearby materials.

How to Remove Mildew from Boat Seats

ServiceMaster Fire & Water Clean Up is available 24/7 at (844) 805-1107.

Although bleach is an inexpensive household solution, using it to clean vinyl boat seats is not recommended. Instead, purchase cleaners specially designed to clean vinyl, as these are better for preserving the material. Commercially made vinyl cleaners are available at all marine stores.

Use distilled water when cleaning the seats. Alternately, clean, fresh water or tap water will clean the seats without causing damage. Salt water and water from a lake or river are filled with minerals and dirt that will wear down the seats like sandpaper during cleaning.

Step 1: Wipe away dirt

The first step in removing mildew from boat seats is to saturate a clean cloth with fresh or distilled water. Wipe away visible dirt from the vinyl seats. Spray the vinyl cleaner onto the seats and into any gaps and seams—mildew thrives in concealed places, like these.

Step 2: Follow recommended contact times

Allow the mildew cleaner to saturate the vinyl for the length of time recommended on the product’s label, usually a few minutes. Longer contact time is ideal when the mildew stains are stubborn. Extended contact time allows the cleaner to break down the mildew and mold and make it easier to clean.

Step 3: Scrub away mildew

Once the recommended contact time has passed, scrub the vinyl with a soft brush. Soft bristles are critical, as they will not scratch the vinyl material and cause additional damage. When scrubbing, apply gentle force; excessive force will also result in unnecessary damage.

Step 4: Wipe away remaining mildew

Gently scrubbing the vinyl seats as well as the crevices will remove the majority of mildew. However, minor amounts of mildew and mold may linger. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe away the remaining mildew. Depending on the extent of mildew, several microfiber cloths may be needed.

Eliminating heavy mildew stains is unlikely to be accomplished in one round of cleaning. Successfully removing the mildew may require repeating the aforementioned steps several times. If a stain is especially stubborn, boat owners have a last line of defense—magic erasers.

A magic eraser sponge is manufactured with cleaners inside. Boat owners often notice good results immediately upon using the magic eraser on problem areas. A few passes may be necessary to get rid of the mildew. Apply gentle pressure to avoid causing further ruin to the vinyl boat seats.

Once the mildew stains are removed, add a vinyl protectant as a preventive measure against future mildew outbreaks. Since mildew thrives in moisture-rich areas, wipe down the vinyl seats after a day on the water. Run a towel along the seats’ cracks and seams to ensure a thorough dry.

Mold Remediation Specialists in Lancaster County, York County and Dauphin County

Mold and mildew affect boats and buildings alike. When moisture conditions are ideal, mold and mildew will invade the areas and cause serious damage. If you are faced with a mold disaster of any level, consult the mold remediation experts at ServiceMaster Fire & Water Clean Up.

Our mold cleanup technicians are IICRC-certified and experienced in eliminating mold from a variety of spaces, including residential homes, commercial businesses, and facilities of all sizes. We tackle mold infestations that are visible and those that are concealed behind walls and underneath floorboards.

When you call ServiceMaster Fire & Water Clean Up, expect top-notch mold remediation services. We’ll promptly arrive and perform an assessment of the mold damage. Black mold, if present, will be contained so that the spores do not contaminate other areas of the property.

Skilled mold cleanup specialists from ServiceMaster Fire & Water Clean Up remove all traces of mold and apply antimicrobials. Using cutting-edge cleaning products and techniques, our technicians prevent mold from returning. We also work with property owners to accelerate mold damage insurance claims.

Mold is a nuisance that must be professionally addressed. ServiceMaster Fire & Water Clean Up immediately respond to calls for emergency mold removal. We serve property owners in the Hershey, PA area 24 hours a day.

Call us at (844) 805-1107 for fast and reliable mold remediation services.