As the weather begins to warm throughout the country, signaling the beginning of another glorious summer, millions of people start pulling out their camping gear in preparation for the first big overnight excursion of the year.
From tents to awnings to cookware, all of your camping stuff should be rigorously inspected before you pack up your car for parts unknown. This is also true of your camping furniture—things like camping chairs and fabric-based camping tables and accessories.
You need to look everything over thoroughly to ensure that nothing got ripped or torn during the long storage process, and you also need to look for the dreaded mold and mildew—if you don’t smell it first.
How many of us have had to pack up the campsite in a hurry because of an unexpected bout of rain or hail. These freak mountain storms are very common during the summer months, and can literally strike without warning, leaving you and all of your camping gear drenched to the bone.
Sure, you might have taken the time to clean the tent out really good upon returning home from one of these rain-soaked adventures, but what about your camping chairs?
If you are like most people, you probably didn’t even give these items a second thought, and you might have even stowed them away rapidly, soaked and in a dark and humid space like your garage.
The problem with this is that these conditions can actually be the perfect environment for things like mold and mildew to grow, and unless you clean these items thoroughly, they may no longer offer you any use.
If this dilemma sounds like what you are currently going through, worry not; we are here to help. In the following article we will list a few ways to effectively clean mold and mildew out of camp chairs, and get you back into the mindset of camping rather than cleaning in no time at all.
Ways to Clean Mold and Mildew Out of Camping Chairs
Camp chairs can really be an awkward item to clean, especially those in which the fabric on the chairs is non-removable. Nevertheless, the process is far from impossible, and in fact, there are actually several things you can try.
Method I: Use the Natural Sunlight to Weaken the Mold and Mildew
Before we list a few of the other ways to clean mold and mildew out of camp chairs, let us first instruct you as to what the first step in this process must always be: drying the camp chairs out. Now this doesn’t mean drying them with one of your good towels (why mess up a good clean towel) or even going over the fabric with a blow dryer or utility vacuum.
Actually, neither of those methods would work and the actual answer is really much easier than that. All you need to do is fully extend the chairs and set them out into the direct sunlight.
The germs and bacteria that make up mold and mildew do not stand a chance against the powerful rays of the sun, as long as the chairs are in the direct sunlight. That’s because the sun emits what is known as ultraviolet or UV light, which is, in all actuality, one of the best sanitizing agents known to mankind (and womankind).
Not only does the sun do a great job of sanitizing items that contain bacteria and germs, it also does it safely and at no cost to you. Unlike some of the other methods we will go over below, you assume no safety risk when using the sun as a sanitizer, and you never need to rush to the drug store or grocery store to get it.
Just wait for a bright sunny day and place your items out there for about 4-6 hours.
So if the sun’s ultraviolet light is such a powerful sanitizer, why would you ever need to perform any of the other methods we will list later.
Actually, we wondered that as well, so we consulted some experts and discovered the following: The sun’s UV rays cause mutations in the DNA of substances like mold and mildew—substances that have formed on your camp chairs.
These mutations do not actually totally kill the bacteria and viruses, as say bleach, vinegar and alcohol would do, but the UV light does weaken the mold and mildew and stops them from spreading or reproducing. Once weakened, these germs can easily be cleaned and killed using one of the methods we have defined below.
Keep in mind that this “sun method” only works when the UV light is actually making contact with your camp chairs. Thus placing them under an awning or under a covered outdoor patio would not have the same effect.
Knowing this information about the sun will help you clean and sanitize a lot of items in the future.
Method 2: Steam Clean
Once your camp chairs have been thoroughly dried and sanitized in the sun, steam cleaning them gives you an effective way to remove the mold and mildew quickly. Now, you might be wondering how you could possibly steam clean a camp chair without removing the fabric from it.
That is a good question. Fortunately, there are now many manufacturers (think Shark) that now make handheld steam cleaners for this very purpose—and others like it.
Steam cleaners produce something that is very effective against germs and bacteria, yet very difficult to replicate with other items: concentrated heat.
With a handheld steam cleaner, you merely fill the device up with water and allow that water to reach a temperature at which it begins to create steam. Next, just put on the nozzle of your choice, point the steam cleaner at your camp chairs and begin to clean.
Using the steam cleaner, try to methodically go over every inch of both the frame and the fabric. This may take a little while and a few refills of water, but the concentrated heat, in the form of steam, is sure to kill off any mold and mildew that may still be remaining on your chairs after removing them from the direct sunlight.
Method 3: The Vinegar Method
Vinegar is one of those wonder products that almost everyone has in their pantry. Not only is it great as a marinade and for making salad dressings, it is also a great cleaner and has properties that will kill mold and especially mildew on fabrics and other surfaces.
Even better, vinegar is completely non-toxic, even at high levels. Here is what you need to do:
- Fill the bottle. Fill a spray bottle up with white vinegar. There is no need to dilute it as the vinegar is completely safe to use in any amount.
- Apply the spray. Using the spray bottle, spray the vinegar on to any affected parts of the camp chair. Do not be afraid to be liberal with your spraying.
- Work it into the fabric. Now, using a sponge, work the vinegar into the fabric by scrubbing, allowing it to penetrate deep within. Let that sit for about 15 minutes.
You do not want your camp chairs to smell like vinegar, so after treating them, create a solution consisting of warm water, a quarter cup of detergent, a quarter cup of baking soda and a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Use that solution to thoroughly wash the fabric of the camp chair, and then rinse with warm water. Place the chair or chairs out into the direct sunlight again until they are thoroughly dry.
Your chairs are now mold and mildew-free and ready to use on your next camping adventure.
Method 4: The Alcohol Method
The alcohol method is very similar to the vinegar method in terms of how it is performed. The only difference is the solution used to treat the mold and mildew.
Here is how this method is performed, again after you have dried the chair in the sun:
- Fill the spray bottle. In a spray bottle, fill equal parts rubbing alcohol (ethanol) with equal parts water. Make sure you have enough of the solution to clean all the chairs that are affected.
- Test the solution. On a piece of like-colored fabric, spray a bit of the alcohol and water solution onto a test piece of fabric. Allow the test piece to dry. Once dry, look for any fading of the colors on the fabric. If you see none, your solution is ready to use, but if you do notice fading you should add more water to the solution.
- Spray the camp chairs. Using the spray bottle, carefully spray every affected area of every camp chair you need to clean. There is no need to rub this in, as you are going to wait a while for it to dry.
- Place chairs back in sun. Place the chairs back into the sun and allow the chairs to completely dry for about 3-4 hours.
And that is all there is to it. Whether you rely on the sun alone to clean the mold and mildew, choose to steam clean it, or treat it with vinegar or ethanol, you now know several ways to treat that mold and mildew before your next big wilderness outing.