How to Clean Outdoor Patio Furniture Guide {PRO Tips}

by Katie Dillon

cleaning outdoor cushions + patio furniture
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Patio furniture is made to withstand the elements but, unfortunately, there isn’t a self-cleaning line available.

This means that a dose of elbow grease here and there is necessary to keep your guests from dirtying white pants by sitting on filthy outdoor cushions.

I’ve been there.

When you know how to clean patio furniture, it becomes easier to add this task into a normal routine.

Always refer to manufacturer instructions, but here are some good rules of thumb when it comes to keeping your outdoor living space squeaky clean.

How to Clean Wood Patio Furniture

how to clean patio furniture cushions
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Adirondack chairs, aromatic cedar picnic tables and more can add a layer of natural warmth to a concrete patio.

Wood patio furniture is a popular choice for adding rustic charm, but the downside is that it can be expensive.

The two most popular wood patio furniture choices are teak and cedar, because these trees produce natural enzymes that protect the wood against decay.

Potential issues:  Wood patio furniture is subject to mold, mildew, staining and weathering if not cared for properly.

Cleaning methods:

1. Brush dirt off the wood furniture by using a dry, soft bristle brush (use the brush on a test area first to make sure it won’t damage the wood).

2. Hose down the furniture and scrub with mild dish soap and water to remove dirt.

3. Rinse soap off thoroughly.

4. A power washer can be effective when knocking dirt off of wood patio furniture.

5. Let wood furniture dry completely before covering it or putting pillows back on it.

Teak weathers naturally with age so accept this fact when purchasing furniture.

You can apply sealants and take proactive measures to retain or restore original color, but it is labor-intensive.

How to Clean Cast Aluminum Patio Furniture

how to clean patio furniture
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Aluminum is a fairly inexpensive metal that can be shaped easily, making it a popular choice for patio furniture as it allows manufacturers to add flourishes and other ornate details.

It also has one of the highest weight-to-strength ratios, which means that furniture is both lightweight and strong if you need to move it around frequently.

Do cover it or take precautions during wind storms so it doesn’t blow around.

Since aluminum is naturally rust resistant, you can leave it out year-round though it’s wise to cover it during periods of inclement weather.

One thing to consider when buying aluminum furniture is that metal is a conductor of heat, so on sunny days be careful as the furniture can become hot.

Cleaning method:

1. Wipe down the aluminum with water and soapy water.

2. Rinse well.

3. Apply baby oil, if you prefer the furniture to have a sheen.

How to Clean Plastic or Resin Patio Furniture

The good news about plastic patio furniture is that it’s inexpensive and extremely easy to maintain.

It is so lightweight, however, that owners must be careful to keep it from blowing away or tipping over.

Recycled plastic patio furniture hit the market recently, is made to look like real wood and is virtually maintenance-free.

Plastic patio furniture is sensitive to extreme heat or cold where prolonged exposure can result in cracking.

Cleaning methods:

1. Just a hose will do and, perhaps, a rag to scrub off dirt the host can’t blast off.

2. Because plastic is porous and can stain, consider applying car wax as a barrier.

3. For stains that are tough to remove, try using a mix of distilled white vinegar with water (1:10 ratio), but spot test first to make sure it doesn’t discolor the furniture.

How to Clean Wrought Iron Patio Furniture

Wrought iron is one of the most durable patio furniture options that money can buy and because it’s heavier than cast aluminum there is less risk of it blowing over in a wind storm.

It’s imperative to keep your wrought iron painted in order to avoid rusting so ask about extra paint at time of purchase.

Wrought iron patio furniture isn’t as pricey as it once was, making it an affordable alternative to plastic.

Unlike plastic, wrought iron can take nearly any weight, but because it’s painted, take precautions by covering furniture or moving it inside during inclement weather.

Cleaning method:

1. For basic cleaning wipe the furniture down with a rag and dish soap.

2. Rinse and let dry.

3. Should the furniture need a deeper cleaning or chip repair, sand it lightly.

4. Repaint with paint provided by manufacturer.

5. Consider applying car wax as a protective layer.

How to Clean Wicker Patio Furniture

It’s easy for dirt, leaves and grime to sneak into the weaves of wicker furniture so staying on top of the problem is key.

Don’t use a foam cleaner as the suds can get stuck and create gunk between the weaves after it dries.

Wicker is often painted, therefore, keep it protected from rain and snow and reapply paint as necessary.

Cleaning method:

1. Vacuum dirt and dust out of the weaves of wicker furniture.

2. Be mindful if the wicker is painted, but a soft bristle brush can loosen stubborn dirt.

3. Wipe down with mild soapy water and a sponge.

4. Allow to dry completely as wet wicker is less stable and sagging can occur if used while wet.

5. Inspect the weave for cracks that indicate the fibers are too dry.

6. Apply lemon oil or boiled linseed oil to restore moisture, however, the latter will require several days of drying before using the furniture again.

How to Clean Sunbrella Cushions

Most patio furniture cushions today are made with a durable fabric called Sunbrella that started as an industrial-grade awning fabric and now manufactures designs loved by interior decorators.

Sunbrella fabrics are acrylic coated with a moisture and stain-resistant fabric.

The best way to keep any cushion clean is to tackle a potential stain as soon as it happens, but should you catch it too late, Sunbrella has a stain chart on their website.

Have a look at this video made by Sunbrella to see how they recommend keeping their fabrics looking perfect.

Cleaning method:

1. Brush off any dirt with a soft bristle brush.

2. Prepare a solution of 1/4 mild detergent, such as Woolite or dish soap, per gallon of water.

3. Use the brush to clean the fabric with the detergent mixture, allowing it to soak in.

4. Rinse and allow to dry thoroughly.

For spot cleaning, keep a spray bottle of the detergent mixture handy.

How to Clean a Patio Umbrella

How to Clean a Patio Umbrella
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Between weather and birds, it’s likely that your umbrella is going to require the occasional cleaning.

If the umbrella is made with a fabric like Sunbrella, check to see if the fabric can be removed for cleaning and, if so, refer to the instructions above.

Cleaning method:

1. Fill a clean trash can 3/4 full of water.

2. Swish around some mild detergent or bleach, if allowed.

3. Soak the umbrella for a few hours and swish occasionally to loosen dirt.

How to Clean an Outdoor Patio Rug

Thankfully, most outdoor patio rugs don’t need professional cleaning.

Cleaning method:

1. Vacuum off the dirt and debris.

2. Flip the rug over and scrub with a soft bristle brush and soapy water.

3. Flip the rug over again and do the same.

4. Rinse both sides thoroughly.

5. Hang the rug up or drape it over a table so that both sides can dry.

Cleaning Tips Video

Leave it to the pros at Lowe’s to put together a quick video regarding keeping outdoor living spaces clean.

Your Turn…

Which type of patio furniture did you choose for your outdoor living space?

Katie Dillon

Katie writes La Jolla Mom, a lifestyle site focused on parenting, luxury travel, cooking with kids, home management and local happenings. When not traveling, she lives in the seaside community of La Jolla, CA with her 5-year-old fashionista, dog, and husband. Follow Katie on TwitterPinterest and Google +.

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