How to remove mildew stains from vinyl boat seats

how to remove mildew stains from vinyl boat seats

Vinyl boat seats make a well-decorated boat interior. Unfortunately, they are prone to mildew stains. From commercial stain removers to at-home alternatives like liquid dish soap and laundry detergent, there are multiple ways to remove mildew stains from your vinyl boat seats.

Read on to enjoy sitting on mildew-free vinyl boat seats when boating on the lake or sailing in the vast sea.

Get rid of mildew stains with commercial products

In this method, treat mildew stains on vinyl with appropriate commercial products. You will need a mildew stain remover, a microfiber cloth, a magic eraser, and protectant spray. Mildew or mold stain removers and other tools required for this method are available in your nearest local hardware or grocery stores.

The stain remover will help you get rid of mildew stains by dislodging them off your vinyl. The use of a microfiber cloth instead of abrasives will protect your vinyl seats from scratches, which is essential for keeping them in top condition.

Follow the steps to remove stubborn mildew stains on your boat seats using commercial stain removers:

  1. Cleanse the vinyl boat seat using a soft damp cloth.
  2. Treat the mildew stains using the commercial mildew remover. Leave it for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Using a sponge, scrub the stained surface.
  4. When you have already removed the mildew, remove debris by wiping it off your vinyl using a microfiber cloth.
  5. Now, gently rub the magic eraser on the remaining mildew stains.
  6. Remove dislodged mildew with the microfiber cloth.
  7. Apply the protectant spray to avoid further damage.
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In this technique, the use of protectant spray prevents the recurrence of mildew stains and protects your boat seats against UV rays from the sun.

Wash away new mildew stains with mild dish soap

While using commercial stain removers is a great remedy, using home products can also solve your mildew stain problem. In this method, the use of mild dish soap will help get rid of newly stained mildew from your boat’s vinyl seats with ease.

The following steps are how you remove mildew stains off your vinyl boat seats using mild dish soap:

  1. Create a solution of two to three drops of mild dish soap with lukewarm water.
  2. Grab a sponge and soak it with the solution.
  3. Gently scrub the mildew-stained area using the sponge.
  4. Rinse the soap residue with water.

Eliminate mildew stains with alcohol and laundry detergent

Stubborn mildew stains are hard to remove from vinyl. To completely get rid of them on the surface of your vinyl boat seat, use alcohol to loosen them. In this method, you will need to use laundry detergent to lighten the stain before applying alcohol to the boat seats.

Follow these steps to lighten stains using laundry detergent:

  1. Add a cup of laundry detergent to a half liter of water. Mix to form a lather.
  2. Wet the mildew-stained vinyl using the solution.
  3. Scrub the area with a microfiber cloth.
  4. Rinse the area with water.

If the stains are still present, proceed with these steps:

  1. Mix equal parts of water and alcohol to make a solution.
  2. Dip a soft-bristled brush in the solution, then start scrubbing on the stained area.
  3. Rinse with clean water and dry with a clean towel.
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You can use any alcohol depending on your preference. However, Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) is the best choice because it can remove stains and disinfect the surfaces simultaneously. You can also use vodka or gin as alternatives.

Get rid of mildew stains with ammonia

Ammonia is good at removing mildew, but it can harm vinyl, so proceed with caution and make sure to dilute your solution. This method uses ammonia diluted in water, not the concentrated version, which makes it relatively safer to use. In this technique, ammonia speeds up mildew removal by lifting it off your vinyl.

Here are the steps to remove mildew stains of vinyl surfaces using ammonia:

  1. Using a soft-bristled brush, scrape off dry mildew stains off the vinyl boat’s seats.
  2. Make a solution using a tablespoon of ammonia for every ¼ cup of distilled water. Mix well.
  3. Scrub the vinyl with the solution using a non-abrasive brush.
  4. Use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to remove mildew debris and excess solution from your vinyl.
  5. Allow it to dry.

When using ammonia, you must be extremely cautious because this chemical can be harmful when mishandled. Wear protective gloves and glasses. If you are concerned about it damaging your seats, do an inconspicuous spot test, or try one of the other methods instead. 

Video: How to remove mildew stains from vinyl boat seats with alcohol and laundry detergent

Common questions about mildew stains

Can I use bleach to remove mildew stains on vinyl?

Yes, although using bleach on vinyl boat seats is not ideal. Bleach dries up the vinyl seat by removing the natural oil from vinyl, damaging your boat even more. Although it’s a quick solution, it can do more harm than good, so it’s best to avoid using bleach completely.

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How often can I clean vinyl boat seats?

Regularly cleaning vinyl boat seats can damage them. So, it’s best only to clean your vinyl boat seats when they get visibly soiled. Experts recommend cleaning the vinyl seats of your boat at least four times per year. It’s also ideal to clean the seats before and after storing them.

What causes mildew stains on vinyl boat seats?

The constant contact of vinyl boat seats with seawater splashes is the main reason for mildew formation. Moisture can also create a suitable environment for mildew to thrive, which is why mildew often grows on your boat seats after being in storage. Mildew needs a moist environment to thrive, so store your boat seats in a dry location.

Why does mildew keep returning?

The main reason why mildew keeps coming back even after you rigorously remove it is because of excess moisture and humid conditions. This environment is where mildew thrives the best. It’s essential to regularly monitor the moisture levels in your storage area and keep it well-ventilated to prevent the comeback of stubborn mildew.

Final thoughts

Removing mildew stains is an easy task, but removing them without compromising your vinyl boat seat’s good condition is the hard thing to do. Use a commercial mildew remover, dish soap or laundry detergent to get rid of these mildew stains. Remove the stains as soon as you see them, before they continue to grow. And store your seat cushions in a dry environment where mildew doesn’t thrive.

how to remove mildew stains from vinyl boat seats

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