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How to Clean Outdoor Furniture [Expert Tips & Insights]

How to Clean Outdoor Furniture [Expert Tips & Insights]
By RST Brands
April 24, 2019

Rising temperatures, longer days, and more sunshine indicate that summer is right around the corner. After a harsh winter, chances are you're ready to get your patio prepped for a fun season of outdoor entertainment. Keep in mind that even if you took the necessary steps in protecting your patio furniture against harsh conditions, the winter weather still might have taken a toll on it.

Oxidation, mildew, and other buildup can take a toll on even the finest furniture pieces. However, the following tips can help you to revive your furniture so you can enjoy a clean, functional outdoor living space all summer long. Check out the best ways on how to clean outdoor furniture like a pro.

What Type of Furniture Are You Cleaning?

Outdoor furniture comes in a variety of popular materials, including:

  • Plastic
  • Wicker
  • Teak
  • Aluminum
  • Mesh

All of these materials are durable and offer their own unique benefits as outdoor furniture, but they must be cared for in different ways. Before you proceed with our cleaning tips, make sure you read up on your type of furniture. Avoid using any cleaning materials or methods that may permanently damage your outdoor furniture. Once you're sure of what you need to avoid, you can start using the following cleaning tips and tricks.

1. Clean Your Cushions

Get rid of mildew, dust, and winter stiffness in your cushions by giving them a quick DIY cleanse. Cleaning up your cushions will make it much more pleasant for guests to sit down and relax without hesitation or worry about ruining their clothes.

How To Clean Patio Furniture Cushions

You can clean patio furniture cushions with a simple solution, and you probably already have these supplies on hand. If not, you can find them at any drugstore or grocery store. Combine the following in a bucket or spray bottle:

  • 1 teaspoon dishwashing detergent
  • 1 quart warm water
  • 1 tablespoon Borax

Spray or soak your cushions on both sides with the cleaning solution and then let it sit for about 15 minutes. Proceed to complete the following steps:

  • Using a hose, spray off the solution and set the cushion on its side to air dry.
  • When the cushion is about eighty-percent dry, spray the surface with a fabric protector.
  • Remember to give your cushions a frequent vacuum or shake to remove built-up dust and debris.

Replacing Patio Furniture Cushions

If your cushions have simply seen better days, it might be time to replace them with a fresh, comfy new set. RST Brands has a variety of outdoor replacement cushions that are long-lasting and easy to clean. Our premium outdoor cushions will stand up to the elements and look great for years to come. Add our high-quality pillows to amp up the polished look of your space and bring further comfort and enjoyment of your furniture.

2. Care For Your Canvas Seats

Thankfully, most canvas is machine-washable, meaning if your canvas is removable, you can simply stick it in the washer and let your washer do the hard work. Here are a few tips for caring for your canvas seat cushions:

  • Set your washing machine to the cold setting to keep the color of your canvas as bright as possible.
  • Don't put the canvas in the dryer. Instead, put it back on the furniture while it's still damp so it will maintain its shape.
  • Read tags and instructions to make sure you don't damage the material.
  • Spot clean your cushions to maintain a clean look without having to throw them in the laundry as often.
  • Add a mixed solution of bleach, liquid laundry detergent, and water to get rid of persistent stains. The furniture-cleaning solution should be one part bleach and one-quarter part detergent, with up to one gallon of water.
  • Let stained areas soak in a stain-removing, cleaning solution for a minimum of 30 minutes before adding them to the wash.
  • Check the website of your upholstery maker for further tips on maintaining and cleaning your patio cushions.

How To Clean Outdoor Furniture Fabric

Wondering how to clean outdoor furniture cushions that can't be taken off or removed from their furniture? Use the cleaning solution in Step 1 and a scrub brush to give your cushion fabric a fresh, rejuvenating clean, that is both effective and won't damage the quality. Trying to remove the patio cushions will only cause further damage, so it's best to stick with a spot treatment method.

Can You Pressure Wash Outdoor Cushions?

A pressure washer is a great way to clean the exterior of your house and tackle other heavy-duty outdoor cleaning tasks, including the cleaning of your outdoor furniture and their attached cushions. Pressurized water has the power to clean without the assistance of chemicals or soap, so it's a handy and easy way to give your outdoor cushions a refresh and a good cleaning.

Here's how to use a pressure washer on outdoor cushions:

  1. Set a fresh tarp out on the lawn or deck to lay your cushions on during the furniture cleaning process.
  2. Remove your outdoor cushions from the furniture and place them on the tarp, one at a time.
  3. Plugin the power washer and proceed to clean the front and back of each cushion. You can add a soap solution to the power washer if water alone doesn't seem to be doing the job, but water should do the trick on its own.
  4. Allow cushions to fully dry in the sun before putting them back on the furniture pieces.

3. Whiten That White Plastic

Plastic is often used for outdoor furniture because it's easy to clean and durable to the elements. But plastic can also discolor in the sun over time. Luckily, we have an effective trick when it comes to whitening your white plastic furniture pieces.

  1. Combine one gallon of warm water and three tablespoons of automatic dishwashing detergent to create a patio furniture cleaner that is perfect for cleaning white plastic furniture.
  2. Use a sponge or soft brush to apply this cleaning solution and let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing with a hose.
  3. Be sure to use automatic dishwashing detergent, as this contains a bleaching agent that will whiten plastic without using harsh chemicals.

4. Manage Your Metals

Despite what it may seem, corrosion is actually a way of your metal furniture protecting itself from the natural elements. Corrosion preserves your metal furniture so it upholds its structure even after exposure to rain, snow, and wind. But, corrosion can and does ruin the appearance of your furniture, and can eventually cause pitting in the metal if it is not treated and maintained properly.

How Do You Remove Oxidation From Metal Patio Furniture?

Here's how to treat oxidized or rusted metal on outdoor furniture:

  1. Using a detergent-soaked sponge, give your aluminum outdoor furniture a thorough cleaning. Be sure to rinse away any remaining suds or debris, and inspect your patio furniture for any scratches or nicks in the metal.
  2. If needed, touch up any blemishes with car paint of the appropriate color and follow with a coat of automotive wax for extra protection that will last throughout the summer.
  3. Remove any rust that's accumulated on wrought-iron furniture by using a wire brush or steel wool and follow with a coat of exterior spray paint that's created for wrought iron.
  4. Let the paint dry completely before applying cushions or canvases to the metal.

How Do You Remove Mildew From Metal Outdoor Furniture?

Metal furniture can be prone to mold building up in the form of algae or mildew. If you're wondering how to remove mold from metal outdoor furniture, you want to make sure to have the proper tools for this removal process, including the following items:

  • Face mask
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Water bucket
  • Liquid soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Cloth

After gathering your materials, proceed to inspect the metal furniture from top to bottom so you know where the mold is located. Any untreated mold will continue to spread, so be sure to look under the furniture and in every hidden nook. Once you've thoroughly inspected your metal furniture, follow these steps on how to get the mildew off:

  1. Scrub away mold by using the scrubbing brush and water. Hold the brush and use strokes that push away from you. Work especially hard on areas that come in contact with the ground, since mold is more prone in these areas. Wear a mask for safety.
  2. Create a liquid cleaning solution using water and soap in the bucket. Put on gloves and dip a washcloth in the solution. Apply the cloth to the entire patio furniture set.
  3. Wipe down and dry the metal furniture to get rid of moisture, which could cause mold to return. Be sure to look over the furniture and make sure you didn't miss any areas that needed to be cleaned and free of mold.
  4. Prevent future mold growth by wiping down metal furniture soon after it gets wet from rain, snow, or the hose. Apply a mold-resistant sealant to further reduce the likelihood of mold returning.

Check Out RST Brands

With the tips above, you'll know how to clean outdoor living furniture and make your space look as good as when everything was new! You can also prevent damage to your outdoor furniture with outdoor patio furniture covers from RST Brands.

Check out our selection of replacement cushions and outdoor patio furniture covers today. We offer high-quality furniture to enhance your living spaces, indoor and out. Whether you're looking for modern flair or classic look, you'll find what you're after at RST Brands.