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Best Ways to Care for Your Outdoor Patio Furniture

Best Ways to Care for Your Outdoor Patio Furniture
By RST Brands
May 8, 2019

While learning how to protect outdoor furniture, it's important you clean, preserve and protect, decorate and design, and store for the weather.

Let's dive into the four tips on how to care for your outdoor patio furniture so it stays looking beautiful for years ahead.

As one of the most valued summer spaces, your patio is often the heart of relaxation, entertaining, friendly gatherings, family dinners, and romantic evenings. Thus, ensuring your patio furniture is clean and functional, is key. Similarly, by exploring fresh patio and backyard design ideas, you can have the most welcoming outdoor living area on the block. As you prepare your house for warm summer days and backyard parties, don't forget to give your outdoor furniture a little love.

1. Cleaning Your Outdoor Furniture

One of the best ways to keep your outdoor furniture in tip-top shape is to give it good, regular cleanings. Similarly, starting with a clean patio will help you to better create a space that is both comfortable and welcoming. So before you set up your patio furniture and get it summer ready, be sure you give the surrounding wood, stone, or brick a good cleaning and make any necessary repairs. Follow following tips to make your outdoor patio furniture shine:

  • Wicker and teak: Clean and moisturize by using a soft-bristled brush, water, and a mild oil-based soap. Rinse with water and maintain shine by hosing down every two to three weeks.
  • Plastic and wrought iron: Mix water and a mild dishwashing detergent and wipe all plastic and wrought-iron furniture with the mixture and a damp cloth. Hose down to rinse and repeat every three weeks.
  • Aluminum: Wipe aluminum furniture with a damp cloth and mild dishwashing detergent. Use a Soft Scrub brush to remove any scuff marks and rinse with a hose.
    • Fabric and canvas cushions: Vacuum all cushions and saturate all sides with a mixture of 1 tbs. dishwashing detergent, 1 tsp. Borax, and 1 quart of warm water. Let the mixture sit for 30 to 45 minutes before using a soft bristled brush on stains. Rinse well, let dry, and repeat every three to four weeks.
    • Patio Umbrellas: Use a bristled brush to remove any loose dirt. Mix ¼ cup of laundry detergent with 1 tbs. of Borax or baking soda and warm water. Let the mixture soak for 30 minutes and rinse well with a hose or bucket. Allow the fabric to dry partially before opening entirely.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew pose an incredibly common threat to outdoor patio furniture. Whether you live in a tropical climate with high levels of humidity, or you store your furniture indoors during the winter time, you run the risk of acquiring mold and mildew on all kinds of different materials.

If left untreated, mold and mildew can quickly spread across your furniture, covering your patio set in a layer of fuzzy, discolored fungi. Not only can this turn your outdoor oasis into a disgusting, unsightly display, but it can also affect the physical health of those who spend enough time around it.

Mold has the ability to cause a number of minor health complications, including painful migraines, frustrating allergies, inflammation of the joints, and impaired breathing. Mildew is also capable of inflicting negative health effects, such as headaches and respiratory problems. Use these key indicators to catch early signs of fungal growth so you can keep it from spreading.

  • Mold isn't always easy to spot, as it starts out fairly thin and light in color. Look closely for patches of what looks like fuzz clinging to your cushions, pillows, and the underside of patio umbrellas.
  • Mold can grow in a variety of sickly colors, so be careful not to mistake discolored mold as a strange fray in the fabric or a stray clump of dust or lint. Mold can be found in varying shades of white, black, gray, brown, yellow, or green.
  • Mildew grows in flat patches of what looks like powder or a fluffy substance. It commonly grows on the furniture itself, as opposed to cushions and pillows.
  • Mildew starts out thin and white, making it a subtle threat that's not always easy to discern. As it progresses, it can take on a different shade of gray, black, brown, or yellow.

Protect your furniture and your family from mold and mildew with these pro tips from RST Brands.

  • Frequently check your furniture for signs of mold and mildew, especially if you live in a humid climate.
  • Keep umbrellas covered and dry when storing, as their folds are a perfect place for mold to grow.
  • Use well-ventilated furniture covers to avoid creating a muggy storage environment.
  • Store furniture in a cool, dry area when not in use.
  • Clean your outdoor set regularly with patio furniture cleaner to prevent mold and mildew buildup.
  • Remove signs of fungal growth as soon as you spot it before it spreads.

How to Remove Mold and Mildew from Patio Furniture

If you come across a patch of fungi on your outdoor furniture or the inside of your patio umbrella, don't panic. With the right treatments, you can effectively eradicate mold and mildew. We suggest you scrub the affected area with an ammonia mixture, mild bleach, or hydrogen peroxide to kill the growth and keep it from spreading. If you want to avoid using harsh chemicals on your furniture, you can scrub the area with a combination of lemon juice and salt.

In extreme cases, you may be better off ordering a set of replacement cushions. Once you've got your replacements, you'll know how to prevent the same problem from occurring a second time. Preventative measures can also be made by using outdoor furniture covers during the wet and cold months of the year, or when not in use.

After discovering fungal growth on your patio furniture, you may be feeling uneasy about the effectiveness of your current cleaning habits. If you'd like to step up your game, you can always pressure wash your patio furniture from top to bottom.

2. How to Protect Outdoor Furniture

Now that you know how to properly clean your patio set with outdoor furniture cleaner and various treatments, it's time to learn how to protect your furniture against all odds. Contrary to popular belief, snow and rain aren't the only threats to backyard sofas, tables, and other patio set components. Extreme heat and sun exposure also have the ability to damage many different materials. These tips will help you protect your patio furniture year-round so you can enjoy a beautiful, high-quality outdoor gathering place for many seasons to come.

  • Invest in high-quality furniture covers that are best for your climate. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and rain, choose durable covers that are resistant to moisture. If you live in a humid, tropical climate, opt for light-weight covers that are well ventilated to prevent mildew and mold.
  • Store all patio furniture indoors during seasons that bring a lot of snow and rain.
  • Protect your outdoor cushions and pillows from sun and water damage by keeping them in a dry, cool, indoor space when you're not using them.
  • If your patio receives a great deal of direct sunlight, consider installing a form of overhead shelter that will protect your furniture from sun damage. A few examples of this would be a patio umbrella, an awning, an opaque patio cover, or a pop-up tent that you can put up and take down easily.
  • Make a habit of checking your furniture regularly for signs of rust and mildew. Make sure you eradicate these problems immediately before they spread and corrode your patio set. Keep an eye out for any minor cracks and fix them before they have the chance to grow beyond repair.
  • As a good rule of thumb, it's always best to store your patio furniture, cushions, and pillows indoors whenever you're not using them. If you only use your patio set for parties and gatherings, it may be worth the effort to move the furniture indoors until your next event. Otherwise, you run a much higher risk of damaged furniture by consistently exposing them to the elements.
  • If your patio set is much too heavy to transfer back and forth before and after every social gathering, use patio covers whenever you're not using the furniture, and bring pillows and cushions inside.

Additionally, when looking to protect different types of outdoor furniture, here are some tips to help keep specific materials safe:

  • Wooden wicker: Choose a matching outdoor paint or shellac and allow it to dry at least two full days before using. You can also apply a thin coat of furniture wax for added shine and protection.
  • Fabric: Use a fabric protector like Scotchgard to protect against spill stains and make cleaning easier. Apply this fabric protector after each and every cleaning.
  • Teak: Although durable, Teak should be kept stained, varnished, and weather treated to prevent it from rotting and turning gray and weathered.
  • Metal: Remove any rust spots with mineral spirits and a damp cloth. Apply a coat of Rustoleum Paint or primer and paint to improve and repair the metal.

3. Decorate & Design

After you've cleaned and treated your furniture, it's time for the fun part: decorating. If you're looking for fresh ideas that will give your patio the facelift it needs, check out these backyard design ideas.

  • Notes of nature: Trendy planters and natural accessories are today's hottest design elements. Choose hardy plants like boxwood, grasses, and evergreens for optimal privacy and design, and enhance the look with branches, shells, rocks, water features, and festive lighting.
  • Envision vintage: Make old, new by mixing modern accessories with vintage elements. Check out your local flea market or salvage store for unique pieces that help you avoid the showroom look and make your space more personalized.
  • Feature flooring: Summer is all about being barefoot, so make sure your patio design includes a flooring element that is safe and feels good on the feet.
  • Heat is neat: Include an outdoor fireplace, fire table, or several large pillar candles to make your patio the ideal place for warm, welcoming entertainment.
  • Add ambiance: Overhead canopies, trees, and arbors make your patio inviting while unique lighting can add fun and flair to essential elements.

4. Storage For The Weather

Summer Furniture Care

When the weather unexpectedly turns for the worst, it's important to care for your outdoor furniture so it keeps the great quality you currently enjoy. During the warmer months, there are a few tips to consider.

    • Close Umbrellas: close your patio umbrellas when they're not in use to avoid accidental damage.
    • Move for weather: move furniture to an enclosed location if severe winds or rain pass through.
    • Storage: when the weather turns cold store away as much furniture as possible in a shed, garage, or under a tarp or furniture cover.
    • Clean and protect: all furniture should be cleaned and protected with sealant or fabric sprays to protect from the summer heat or rain, and before storage for the winter.

Winter Care for Patio Furniture

Sometimes, all it takes is one particularly harsh winter to cause permanent damage to your patio set. Whether you choose an outdoor dining set crafted from stone and glass, or a deep-seated love seat beside a lovely fire feature, you're going to want to take the necessary steps to protect your furniture from the extreme temperatures and snowfall.

Without proper protection, you run the risk of shattered glass, rusted metal, warped wood, cracked acrylic, and more. As winter draws near, use these tips for outdoor furniture care to protect your patio set against the harsh weather.

  • If possible, store your furniture indoors during the winter season.
  • Remove fabric cushions or pillows and store them in a cool, dry area. Place them in a plastic sack if you're worried about them getting dirty.
  • Make sure your indoor storage area isn't susceptible to leaks or flooding.
  • Check for flaws in the structure that could allow rodents to seek shelter among your outdoor patio furniture.
  • Apply a water-repellent finish that's appropriate for the type of materials you're protecting.
  • Wrap glass pieces in thick blankets or towels to prevent shattering when you bring them out of storage.
  • Remove any signs of mildew or rust and repair minor cracks before storing furniture for an entire winter season.
  • Wrap your furniture in high-quality, water-resistant covers that are well ventilated for an added layer of protection.

With these care and design tips, you bring lasting comfort to your patio while also making sure it's functional, safe, and inviting. If you're looking to replace and/or protect your outdoor patio furniture, take a moment to browse RST Brands furniture collections and find the perfect (and stylish) set and covers for your lifestyle.