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Fabric Mildew - Mold???

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  • Fabric Mildew - Mold???

    I have a 2003 20' Baja Outlaw. On the bench seat there appears to be mold underneath the fabric. The discolor is only happening on the yellow part of the fabric. The white fabric has none. It appears to be subsurface. I have tried cleaning it with Marykate Spray Away, recommended by a boat shop, with no help. Underneath the bench seat there is a storage area. After ever time out I raise the bench seat up and keep the motor hatch up to allow airflow and prevent mildew and mold. I am at a loss for what is going on.

    I am attaching some photos. Thank you for your help.

    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: Fabric Mildew - Mold???

    If you can remove the cushion, I suggest taking it to an upholstery shop and let them look at it. It could be mold, and if so, you should be able to smell it. The other side of that story is, why not other areas? Why not the white fabric? It may not be mold but perhaps a fungus...yeah I know that sounds weird. Also try this:

    How to Kill Mold with Borax

    To kill mold using borax, create a borax-water solution using a ratio of 1 cup of borax per gallon of water.
    Vacuum up any loose mold with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner to lessen the number of spores stirred up into the air during the cleaning process.
    Use a scrubbing brush with the borax-water solution to scrub the mold off the surface.
    Wipe up any extra moisture and excess mold particles or dust/debris to prevent them spreading into the air once the surface has dried.
    You don't need to rinse off the borax as the solution will prevent more mold beginning to grow on the surface again.
    Leave the surface to dry completely.


    Cleaning Mold with Vinegar

    To kill mold with vinegar, use white distilled vinegar which you can buy cheaply from the supermarket.
    Pour some vinegar into a spray bottle without watering it down.
    Spray the vinegar onto the moldy surface and leave it to sit for an hour.
    Wipe clean the area with water and allow the surface to dry. Any smell from the vinegar should clear within a few hours.


    How to Kill Mold with Ammonia

    To kill mold using ammonia, create a solution of 50% clear ammonia and 50% water in a spray bottle and spray it on moldy areas.
    Make sure the ammonia you use says "clear ammonia" on the label.
    Leave the area for a few hours before wiping and rinsing.
    Often detergents or mold cleaning products will contain ammonia. In that case just follow the directions on the label and be sure never to mix it with bleach.


    How to Kill Mold with Hydrogen Peroxide

    To kill mold pour 3% concentration hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle.
    Spray the moldy surface completely so that the moldy areas are saturated with hydrogen peroxide.
    Leave the surface to sit for 10 minutes while the hydrogen peroxide kills the mold.
    Then scrub the area to make sure to remove all the mold and mold stains.
    Finally wipe the surface down to remove residual mold and spores.


    How to Kill Mold with Baking Soda

    Add one quarter of a tablespoon of baking soda to a spray bottle of water.
    Shake the bottle to dissolve the baking soda into the water.
    Spray the moldy area with the baking soda and water solution.
    Then use a sponge or scrubbing brush to make sure to remove all the mold from the surface.
    Once you've scrubbed away the mold rinse the surface with water to remove any residual mold on the surface.
    Spray the area with the spray bottle again and let the surface dry. This will kill any left over mold and prevent the mold returning.

    You can use a cloth instead of a spray bottle to clean mold with baking soda.
    Soak a cloth in water and then add one quarter of a tablespoon of baking soda to it.
    Use the cloth on the moldy area to remove the mold with the baking soda and water solution.


    How to Kill Mold with Grapefruit Seed Extract

    To kill mold with grapefruit seed extract create a solution of grapefruit seed extract and water in a spray bottle in the ratio of 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract per cup of water.
    Shake the spray bottle to mix the solution thoroughly and then spray it onto the surface where mold is growing.
    You do not need to rinse the solution away afterwards although you can use a cloth to wipe away the mold and solution after some minutes if you like. The longer grapefruit seed extract is in contact with mold the more it will cut through and kill the mold colony and prevent mold from returning.
    Repeat if needed to more thoroughly remove mold from the surface.

    With any of these, I would soak an out of the way place first, if possible.
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    • #3
      Re: Fabric Mildew - Mold???

      Thank you. It does not smell the slightest. When spring comes and the boat comes out of my garage I will give these solutions a try. It appears to be under the fabric and what I have tried so far as done nothing to resolve the problem.


      • #4
        Re: Fabric Mildew - Mold???

        I am an upholsterer and I'll give you the skinny on your issue:

        It is mildew and it is indeed on the underside of the fabric. The reason you have it on the yellow and not the white is due to the backing of the vinyl. Marine vinyls are customarily created with a woven backing which wicks away moisture and allows air to flow (ever slightly) thru the material (it "breathes"). The water trapped under any of the material dries out before it has a chance for mildew to form. Some better marine vinyls are also treated with a mold/mildew agent to prevent the growth in the first place.

        The yellow is another story. Most uncommon colored vinyls are not true marine vinyls. They are certainly available, but since they are accent pieces and not purchased in bulk by the manufacturers who create the seating, they use standard vinyls with white fuzzy fabric backings. This backing is not treated and will hold water/moisture which leads to the growth of mildew between the surface and the foam. You can peel the cover off, wash the mildew away with whatever method suits your fancy, allow the cover and foam to dry completely and replace the covers. Then, in 3 months, do it all over again when it reappears. Your staining is light enough that you may actually get the green/black dots out, but they will return. It's simply the property of the material and it's inability to dry out.

        The only true fix is to get the accent colors replaced with a true marine vinyl (Stamoid, Enduratex, or similiar) from a local upholstery shop. You are not the only one in this situation. Do a search on here and start reading.
        2001 Carver Voyager 374 'Stick's Competition'

        Something tells me I should be on the water....

        If I answer your upholstery questions, it's only because I've been doing it 20+ years...


        • #5
          Re: Fabric Mildew - Mold???


          The cover came off today and I want to address the fabric. The problem I have is the fabric is sown on completely and I don't have the option of pulling it off and cleaning it, then reapplying it. I wish I could. Do you have any other suggestions with something I can treat from the surface? I am going to try idonthaveaname's recommendations above but if you can think of something else I sure would appreciate it. I am very anal and the boat is meticulous except for my bench seat fabric.

          Thank you,



          • #6
            Re: Fabric Mildew - Mold???

            I'm not sure what you mean by saying that the fabric is "sewn on completely". Are you saying that there are no zippers in the cushions or that they are stapled to the bases? Or are you referring to the fact that the colored portion is sewn to the white? Please elaborate.
            2001 Carver Voyager 374 'Stick's Competition'

            Something tells me I should be on the water....

            If I answer your upholstery questions, it's only because I've been doing it 20+ years...


            • #7
              Re: Fabric Mildew - Mold???

              There are no zippers. The fabric is stapled and the there is stitching outlining the underneath portion. The yellow stained area is stitched to the white area as well. The bench seat is both white and yellow in color. The white is fine, the yellow is stained. There does not appear to be anyway to just remove the fabric without removing the stitching on the underside then taking out all the staples.


              • #8
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                Re: Fabric Mildew - Mold???

                The staples are easily removed, but to replace them, you need to have a pneumatic gun and SS staples. An upholstery shop will charge you a nominal fee to put the cover back on. Will only take a few minutes since it's already completed and shaped.

                The stitching outlining the bottom edges of the vinyl are (more than likely) a 1/4" or 1/2" foam backing that is sewn on the the pieces of vinyl. The pieces are cut, lined with a piece of foam for additional padding, sewn around their perimeters, and then joined together. This also gives the top layer of vinyl a smoother, more padder appearance. Unfortunately, it's also part of the reason for your problem. That extra layer of foam is hurting the ability of the material to wick away the water.

                Aside from having the cover stripped and repaired, try some of the cleaning options mentioned earlier and see what works for you. Don't use any abrasives, though. It will remove the vinyls protective coatings and your problems will be 10 times worse next year. Know all of those older boat interiors that have hard, dry, scratchy, cracking vinyl seats? That's why....
                2001 Carver Voyager 374 'Stick's Competition'

                Something tells me I should be on the water....

                If I answer your upholstery questions, it's only because I've been doing it 20+ years...


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