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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

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Old 04-29-07, 05:19 AM   #1
bikemama
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cleaning mildew off a bike trailer?

I did a search and didn't find a relevant thread, so I'm hoping someone can help me. I bought a 4+ year old Burley d'lite off craigslist last year. It had only been used a couple of times, and was in great condition. We took it on a test ride with my toddler, then stored it in our garage over the winter. When I pulled it out this spring, the back cargo area and the part of the straps that go behind the seat were slightly mildewed. The only help google gives me is this cleaning link, which suggests either bleach, lemon juice, or oxy-clean. I'm nervous about damaging the trailer even more, so I figured I'd ask for advice before trying any of these options. I'll be stopping in at my local bike shop later today, and will talk to them about it if they're not swamped, but I figured maybe other people here have dealt with this as well.
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Old 04-29-07, 06:56 AM   #2
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Undiluted white distilled vinegar works, just pour it in a a spray bottle and spray away and let it sit (preferably outside and in the sun) without rinsing. The smell will go away in a few hours and most, if not all the mold will be killed. Repeat as necessary. Between the vinegar and sunlight, the combo should kill any mold and mildew.

If you live nearby an automotive detailer or supply store, buy Microban Mildew & Mold Remover ($8.95 for 32 oz) or can order it here: http://www.topoftheline.com/32ozmicroban.html
This is what I generally use when I detail a car with mold/mildew problems and sometimes followed afterwards with an ozone generator treatment (few hours to overnight depending on how bad the problem and odor is). But an ozone treatment is for car/trucks in a closed environment and fairly dangerous, healthwise, if you don't know what you are doing. Airing out in direct sunlight is much safer and may take a few days.
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Old 04-29-07, 10:14 AM   #3
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Also, get in touch with Burley. I'm sure they know what to do.
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Old 04-29-07, 10:49 AM   #4
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Sci Fi: Curious about using white vinegar & sunlight to kill off the mildew--I have a kid pulk sled that has some mildew on its Cordura nylon cover--I have used soap & water on it and rinsed it out & let it dry in the sun, but some of the black spots remained. Will white vinegar remove the black spots from the fabric? Cordura is waterproof, so the mildew is only on the surface of the fabric, not through it. Will the vinegar discolor the fabric like bleach would? Thanks!
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Old 04-29-07, 12:02 PM   #5
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I just emailed DuPont. We'll see what they say.
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Old 04-29-07, 05:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by karmantra
Sci Fi: Curious about using white vinegar & sunlight to kill off the mildew--I have a kid pulk sled that has some mildew on its Cordura nylon cover--I have used soap & water on it and rinsed it out & let it dry in the sun, but some of the black spots remained. Will white vinegar remove the black spots from the fabric? Cordura is waterproof, so the mildew is only on the surface of the fabric, not through it. Will the vinegar discolor the fabric like bleach would? Thanks!
Depends. Vinegar is relatively safe to use (slightly acidic), but one should test an area that is hidden from view if you have any doubts or want to be safe. Some fabrics/vinyl, although rare nowadays, are not colorfast. The "black spots" is the mold/mildew and you need to use a "soft" toothbrush to gently scrub them away with vinegar or the enzyme product I mentioned. Moisture and oxygen is all mold and mildew needs to feed and grow in. In a car/truck, the seams and sewing (and the air conditioning) is where is usually starts and it will literally eat those areas first and/or create a foul smell. Sunlight is cheap and effective in killing whatever bacteria is left and dries out any moisture in a few hours. Just remember, it may take a few cleanings to get it back to OEM condition and you really don't want to use stronger chemicals if you can avoid it...can always ask your local dry cleaners for some of their spot remover/pre-cleaner solution and that should clean the rest off without harming or dis-coloring the fabric.

Can use a good vinyl/fabric or convertible top protectant, like 303 Aerospace Protectant or Raggtopp, afterwards to protect the surfaces and add some water repellancy back into the fabric or vinyl, but you have to make sure you cleaned and dried everything or you will just end up sealing the bacteria in. A hair dryer on the low setting is one favorite way to dry things out or for larger areas...use an electric fan on high.
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Old 05-01-07, 08:56 AM   #7
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Thanks for the recommendations. I tried vinegar over the weekend, and it did a great job with the smell. It didn't do much for the spots, but I think maybe a few more attempts will help, or if not, I'll move on to the next recommendation.
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Old 05-01-07, 10:10 AM   #8
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Thanks for the recommendations. I tried vinegar over the weekend, and it did a great job with the smell. It didn't do much for the spots, but I think maybe a few more attempts will help, or if not, I'll move on to the next recommendation.
I tried the white vinegar recommendation on my nylon covered ski pulk, and it definitely cut back on the number of black spots, but did not remove all of them, this after three cycles of application & drying. It cut down the mildewed area considerably, to the point to where the remaining spots are barely visible--I probably could have continued, but I was worried about abrading the fabric to the point of putting a hole in it. Thanks Sci-Fi for the info!
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