How To Clean Mold Off An Inflatable Water Slide

Written By: Jen

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It’s important to care for your inflatable water slide, and make sure you clean and dry it every time that you use it. If you don’t, then there’s a good chance you could end up with mold growth, and that can lead to serious problems for your water slide if you don’t treat it quickly.

Inflatable water slide

Maybe you’ve inherited an inflatable water slide from someone that already has mold growth, or you’ve accidentally missed a spot when drying it last time you used it, and you’ve started seeing signs of black mold or pink mold forming.

Don’t panic – it isn’t necessarily terminal for your inflatable water slide yet. As long as you catch it in good time, you should be able to remove the mold and keep your slide in good condition for longer.

Let’s dive into a guide on how to remove mold from an inflatable water slide, and what you should do to prevent it growing again.

How to remove mold from your inflatable water slide

Here’s a step-by-step guide on removing mold and mildew from an inflatable water slide.

1. Inflate the water slide

One of the easiest mistakes to make when cleaning a water slide is to see a small patch of mold and assume that’s all you need to clean. In reality, if an inflatable has mold growing on it, there’ll be all kinds of nooks and crannies that need to be investigated.

So step one is to fully inflate the water slide. This will make sure any creases are completely expanded, and you can do a full inspection to find all patches of mold.

It also means that you’ll remove all the embedded spores with your chemical mix – otherwise, you might only remove those on the surface, above the stretched area.

Keep it inflated during the cleaning process – you don’t want any of the chemicals you’re using to seep into crevices again, as that can also lead to long-term damage.

Inflatable water slide

2. Prepare the affected area

Before you do the full clean, you’ll want to scrub the mold with hot water and a sponge. This may remove some of the mold, but don’t be fooled if it looks like it has all disappeared. The spores will be embedded in the material and still need to be killed.

However, an initial scrub with hot water will at least remove the surface layer of mold, so that you penetrate deeper in the next steps.

3. Prepare your cleaning solution

To effectively kill mold, you’re going to need bleach. This is the only time you should be using bleach to clean your inflatable – used too often, or without the proper dilution, it will cause colors to fade and can weaken the material

In fact, there’s a good chance that even used correctly this will cause the color of your water slide to fade. That’s an unfortunate side effect of removing the mold that you’ll have to accept.

The cleaning solution should be simple to prepare – 50% bleach and 50% warm water. Just mix them in a bucket and make sure you have a soft scourer to hand. You shouldn’t use anything too abrasive as that could tear the fabric, but a soft sponge also won’t clean the mold properly.

You’ll want to use gloves when cleaning with a bleach solution, and make sure the rest of your skin is covered.

Human hand in protective glove opening a yellow bleach bottle

4. Clean the affected area

With the surface prepped, clean the mold. If it’s on a flat piece of material, this should be easy – use gentle circular motions using your bleach/water mix, intensifying a little if the mold isn’t initially coming off.

With seams, it’s a bit tricker. These tend to be a little thicker but also harder to get into, but you need to do the job thoroughly to make sure you get into every gap. Try to scrub against the stitching, rather than running along it, as that is more likely to pull the thread and potentially remove it.

After cleaning the area with bleach, wash it again with clean warm water, making sure you’ve given it a thorough rinse to remove any bleach solution.

5. Dry the slide

Once you’ve finished cleaning the slide, the next step is crucial – you have to allow the water slide to thoroughly dry, ideally air drying it for a number of hours. Towel dry it first, to get rid of the excess moisture and speed up the air drying time.

It’s likely that the mold has already grown because the water slide wasn’t dried properly the last time it was used, so this step really can’t be understated. Mold grows in damp conditions, so ensure the area (and the rest of the slide) are fully dry before you deflate and store the water slide.

Drying an inflatable water slide

What to do if mold can’t be removed from an inflatable water slide by chemicals?

Unfortunately, if you can’t clean mold from your inflatable water slide using a bleach/water solution, you likely won’t be able to kill it and remove it at all. Specialist mold killer chemicals likely won’t be any more effective than bleach.

If the affected area is small, you could cut it out with a sharp knife and then patch your inflatable water slide. But if it’s a larger area, that may mean sending it off for a professional repair – and by that point, it might be easier or more cost-effective to look at replacing it instead.

Can you use vinegar to clean mold off an inflatable water slide?

Vinegar can kill small amounts of mold, so if the mold on your inflatable water slide is contained to a small area, you could try using it before you use bleach. Bleach is more effective but more likely to fade the colors of your water slide.

Suggested read: Can You Spray Paint An Inflatable?

In most cases, vinegar won’t be enough to kill the mold on an inflatable slide as it’s not strong enough. That’s why bleach tends to be recommended.

Can you use baking soda to clean mold off an inflatable water slide?

Baking soda can be used to remove light mold from some surfaces but it isn’t strong enough to clean established mold from an inflatable water slide. Baking soda does have deodorizing properties and so can be used to remove the smell of mold or mildew.

You’ll likely still need to use bleach to properly kill the mold on your inflatable water slide. But if there’s then a smell of bleach you struggle to remove, try cleaning the area again with a paste made using baking soda. It may remove the scent.

Can you use chlorine to clean mold off an inflatable water slide?

Chlorine is bleach, so yes you can use chlorine to clean mold from an inflatable water slide. If you’re using pool chlorine, check the recommended dilution on the bottle so that you don’t use too harsh a mix and potentially damage your water slide.

Can you power wash an inflatable water slide to remove mold?

Power washing is not effective at removing mold from an inflatable water slide. Power washing doesn’t kill the fungal bacteria causing mold, and while it can make the job of rinsing easier, it can cause complacency if you don’t make sure the spores are killed.

Using a power washer isn’t recommended for an inflatable anyway as, if you accidentally set it to the incorrect setting, it could be too powerful and puncture a hole into the inflatable. 

How to prevent mold growing on an inflatable water slide

The best way to stop mold from being a problem on your inflatable water slide is to prevent it from growing in the first place.

To do this, you just need to make sure you wipe down your slide after every use to remove any slime or dirt build-ups, and then properly dry it.

Drying it is the key step here, as it is moisture that gets trapped in the folds which will cause the mold or mildew to take hold.

Always start with a towel dry, making sure to get into every fold in the slide, to help speed along the air drying process.

Then, store the slide in a sealed container if possible. If not, make sure it’s stored somewhere where there isn’t another damp problem, otherwise, the moisture in the air could get into the folds of the deflated slide.

Final thoughts

It’s never a good sign when you find mold on an inflatable, and you’ll want to move quickly to remove it. Mold will weaken the material, and if left untreated it will spread and cause damage, never mind also making it smell really funky.

Make sure you clean mold from your inflatable as soon as you spot it. If it won’t clean, you can try to remove the affected area and patch it, but if the damage is too extensive you may need to consider replacing it. So don’t let it fester for any longer if you do spot it!

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Jen is your go-to expert on all things inflatable, from pools to tents and beyond. A former hot tub rental company owner, she's experienced the ups and downs of inflatables firsthand. Nowadays, she writes practical guides on maintaining and enjoying inflatables. A mom of young enthusiasts, her family's favorite outing is the inflatable fun park!

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