Mildew, mold and leaf stains on vinyl or leather upholstery often cannot be completely cleaned, but they can be concealed with a new finish. Mold and mildew are fungi and must first be killed, so they do not colonize and grow through the new finish.
Kill Mold on Leather
Use denatured or rubbing alcohol (the higher the percentage of alcohol to water, the better) to kill mold on leather upholstery. Alcohol is better than undiluted distilled white vinegar due to its less acidic pH. It also leaves less odor. Allow the alcohol to sit for 30 minutes to several hours and then gently scrub the surface.
Never use abrasive cleaners like borax or baking soda on leather.
If the mold is present on the interior stuffing, if you’re concerned about mycotoxins, or if the mold returns after treating the leather, the items should be placed in a sealed ozone chamber for several days. This will deprive the fungus of oxygen and kill it. Fire or flood restoration companies usually have an ozone chamber. Otherwise, the piece will require reupholstery or total replacement.
Once the mold / mildew has been treated, a pigmented finish will conceal any remaining stains.
Kill Mold on Vinyl
We’ve had many years’ success with bleach, but EPA and OSHA (and certified mold inspectors) have retracted bleach as an effective mold remediation. Bleach is no more effective than alcohol or distilled white vinegar but is more toxic. It does, however, work faster (let it sit only a few minutes and wipe dry). It also lightens the remaining stains most effectively. Some customers have also reported success with Marine 31® Mildew Remover.
Pink stains on boat upholstery are caused by bacteria. Folks report luck using Pinkaway Solution.
Never use abrasive cleaners like borax, baking soda, or Soft Scrub® on vinyl.
If the mold is present on the interior stuffing, if it returns after treating the vinyl, or if you’re concerned about mycotoxins, the components should be placed in a sealed ozone chamber. Contact a local fire or flood restoration company. Otherwise, the piece will require reupholstery or replacement.
Once the mold / mildew has been treated, a pigmented finish will correct any remaining stains.