top of page

Cleaning Your Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor Furniture on a patio

Over the years, stains, blemishes, dirt and other undesirable effects can easily make themselves right at home on your outdoor furniture. While no one enjoys dirt, rust and mold invading their peaceful outdoor space, it can be difficult to decide whether to buy new furniture or take steps to salvage what’s already there.

It all starts with understanding your furniture and its specific maintenance requirements. For example, the methods you might use on wood patio furniture may not be the same for metal furniture. Take a look below, where we highlight the most important tips for giving new life to your worn-out patio furniture. Sometimes, a good cleaning with the appropriate materials and techniques is all it takes to breathe new life into your outdoor furniture.

Wood Outdoor Furniture

Some of the factors that take a toll on outdoor wood furniture are sunshine, heat and dampness. Unfortunately, these are in no short supply in any outdoor space, and these elements can make the paint chip and the color fade, leaving ugly stains. However, fading and staining doesn’t necessarily mean your furniture needs replacing! You can start by removing all the chipped paint with sandpaper. Before sanding, consider using a power hose to remove most of the flaking and dirt. Sanding will not only remove the damaged finish but will also smooth the surface.

After this, you can apply the new finish using a standard or foam brush. The idea is to have an even coat of paint on the furniture. Let it dry after applying, but don’t leave it outside where debris can ruin the wet paint.

Staining the wood can be an excellent choice, especially when you want the wood to retain its exotic look. Apply the stain evenly on the surface and continue applying more coats if you want a darker appearance. Once the stain dries, apply a sealer. You can choose to use oil-based stains because they do not raise the grains, but they do have a strong smell, unlike water-based stains.

Metal Outdoor Furniture

Anyone who’s seen it can attest: rusty and faded lawn furniture isn’t very appealing. It’s not uncommon, however; since metal furniture that’s regularly exposed to the elements is bound to develop those qualities before long. Luckily, there are simple do-it-yourself tricks to freshen the look of your metal outdoor furniture and achieve incredible results. To start, make sure the furniture is free from any cloth coverings or pillows. Wash it with soap and water then rinse properly. This will remove the dirt and debris. Leave it to dry.

The second step would be to remove rust and stains. If you choose to paint over the rust, the result will be a bumpy surface. You want the coat to be smooth and even, so use a wire brush to remove the rust and paint.

After removing the stains and rust, you should apply a primer before applying the desired paint. You can use a brush or just spray. Using a spray ensures an even coat of paint, and you can quickly reach hidden places such as folds and joints. Allow the primer to dry then go ahead and apply the paint.

Aluminum furniture can become faded from exposure to the sun. A simple way to take care of this is to use car wax to make it shine like new. Make sure to clean and let it dry before applying the wax and it should be removed using a smooth cloth before it dries on the surface.

Plastic Outdoor Furniture

Plastic furniture can change colors over time, especially when left in the sun for too long. The good news is that water tends to have little effect on plastic furniture, which makes painting a quick and effective restoration option.

Clean the furniture with soap and water and try to remove any stains. If you encounter trouble removing stains, ammonia-based detergent will help. Let it dry, then cover any of the material that isn’t plastic.

There are paints specifically made for plastic furniture. Spray paint can make it easier to coat the furniture evenly. Add coats until you get the desired effect and remove seals once the paint has dried completely.

Wicker Outdoor Furniture

As a natural material made up of woven plant matter, wicker requires special care to keep it looking its best. Regular care requires nothing more than a small feather duster or dusting cloth to remove the dust from the surface of your wicker furniture. For heavier dust and particles that get stuck between the weave, a paintbrush with soft bristles can work wonders!

Once or twice a year, you should prevent and remove dirt and stains by wiping your wicker furniture down with a soap and water solution. First, mix ¼ cup of liquid dish soap with two cups of warm water. Soak a rag in the solution and wipe down the entire surface of the piece. Finally, use a hose to rinse off the solution and leave it to dry. If you have mold on your wicker furniture, try adding a cup of white vinegar to your soap and water solution! Sunny and windy days are the best time to clean wicker outdoor furniture, as they aid in quick drying.

Outdoor Furniture Cushions

Though there are a wide variety of materials that can be used to make outdoor furniture, many of them include cushions of a much more soft and comfortable material, and they often require a different form of care than the furniture on which they rest.

Before you begin, check the tags on your outdoor furniture to ensure that none of them have specialty cleaning instructions. Some may have removable slipcovers that can be machine washed. Most, however, are made to be hand-washed and left to dry outdoors using the following simple steps.

First, remove any excess dust and debris from the surface of the pillow using a brush or vacuum cleaner. Next, add ¼ cup of laundry detergent to 4 cups of warm water. If your cushions have any mold on their surface, add an additional ¼ cup of white vinegar to the mix. With this mixture, scrub the outside of the pillows using a plastic-bristle brush. Finally, rinse thoroughly with water and gently ring out the cushions before leaving them out to dry in a sunny spot (be sure to flip them over after an hour or two or, better yet; hang them up to dry). When they are fully clean and dry, you can also apply Scotchgard or a similar water-repelling product to keep them clean and dry in the future.

Other Helpful Tips For Cleaning Outdoor Furniture

Here are some other quick tips to spruce up your patio furniture:

  • If the cloth on your furniture has become worn or faded, consider replacing it to update the look. You can do this using a staple gun.

  • There are cleansers made especially for teak. Use them to clean wood before sanding and sealing.

  • Slipcovers are an easy way to update your patio furniture and can be removed anytime for cleaning. Just make sure they fit your furniture!

  • Using tung oil on wooden furniture can add a dark, oily appearance while protecting the furniture from the sun. Make sure the piece is clean and dry before applying.

You don’t always need to make a big purchase when your patio furniture starts to show signs of aging. Regular cleanings can go a long way to extending the life of your furniture—so don’t forget to carry out regular maintenance to keep it in top shape for as long as possible! Just swing by any of our 9 locations and ask an associate to help you find exactly what you need to bring your outdoor space back to life!

bottom of page