Cleaning Plastic Outdoor Furniture

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Dear NH,
Do you have a solution for removing mildew from the plastic strips on motel-type outdoor furniture? I have tried baking soda, vinegar, Dutch Cleanser, ammonia, and Mr. Clean pads.
BH from Hopewell, VA

Plastics have a porous surface, even though it appears to be smooth. These surface defects allow mildew to grow, causing the stains. That's why plastic cutting boards are not approved for most commercial cooking use, as they are difficult to clean!

Though the cleaning methods you mention will clean the surface, they will not remove the deeper mildew stains. For that, you need to use chlorine bleach. If you have a few chairs to clean, spraying on bathroom-type mildew stain remover will do the job. Because this stuff is really strong, don't leave it on more than a minute or so, followed by a through rinsing. I recommend cleaning the chairs first, following up with the spray bleach since dirt and oil can limit the bleach's effectiveness.

If you have quite a few to do, you can make a batch of cleaner, using a cup of chlorine laundry bleach and a liquid or powdered detergent (such as Mr. Clean, TSP, TSP substitute, Simple Green or other) mixed with a gallon of water. Look at the label of the cleaner to be sure it doesn't have a warning against mixing with bleach! Scrub it onto the chairs, let it sit for five or ten minutes, and rinse clean.

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