How to Remove Mildew From Boat Canvas

Keeping your boat canvas free from mildew will help it last for years to come.
Keeping your boat canvas free from mildew will help it last for years to come. (Image: boat image by pearlguy from

In nature, mildew has the important job of breaking down organic materials. Thriving in warm damp areas, this slimy substance adheres to surfaces that provide a hospitable climate and a food source. When dirt and debris collect on a dampened boat canvas, it becomes a prime location for mildew. Both unsightly and unhealthy to have around, mildew presents a problem that needs to be dealt with swiftly. With a few materials you may already have at hand, mildew can successfully and easily be removed from boat canvas.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Liquid laundry or dish detergent
  • Soft bristle brush

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Mix a weak bleach solution in a bucket by adding a cup of chlorine bleach to a gallon of water.

Add ¼ cup of a mild liquid or laundry detergent to the bleach solution.

Dampen the mildew area of the canvas with water. This helps to keep mildew spores from becoming loose in the air while cleaning.

Brush away as much of the mildew as possible with a soft bristle brush.

Rinse off the brush under running water to remove any mildew that may be stuck in the bristles.

Dip the brush into the solution and use it to clean the area removing the remaining mildew stain.

Rinse the area again with water to remove any residual soap and debris.

Allow the area to air dry in direct sunlight. Sunshine in itself is an effective natural mildew killer.

Tips & Warnings

  • White vinegar is an acceptable substitute for chlorine bleach.
  • Wiping down canvas afterward with a solution of white vinegar and water in equal parts after each time you take the boat out can help to prevent future mildew growth.
  • Protect yourself from mildew by wearing gloves, a face mask to cover your mouth and nose, and protective glasses.


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