How to Clean Outdoor Furniture: 5 Recommendations
Even the best outdoor patio furniture needs some cleaning from time to time. If you want to keep it in the best shape, you should repeat the process four times a year. However, this isn’t as easy as you think, given that some furniture items are made of delicate materials. Moreover, you can’t use just one cleaning solution for all, so you need to take special care of each of them. That’s why today we are going to learn how to clean outdoor furniture without damaging it.
How to Clean Outdoor Furniture According to the Material
There are different steps you need to take when learning how to clean outdoor furniture, depending on the type of material it’s made of. Let’s have a look at the right way to clean each of these types of materials:
1. Wood (Including Teak and Wicker)
You can find some commercial wood cleaners on the market, which most of the times are the most effective. However, make sure you read the instructions carefully. Some painted woods or wicker types may ask you to dilute the solution. If you have hardwood furniture, you should also sand it annually. After that, apply a coat of oil, polyurethane coating or stain, to protect it better. Besides the commercial wood cleaners, there are also do-it-yourself alternatives, one of which we’re presenting below:
- ¼ cup ammonia;
- ¼ warm water;
- 2 tbsp. white vinegar.
You can also use a mild soap with an oil base, which you must mix with warm water. If you have wicker furniture, you should hose it down every few weeks. This prevents building up dirt in the crevices. Moreover, you must wipe down your wooden furniture regularly if you want to protect it. Thus, you remove debris, dirt, and any excess water.
2. Metal (Wrought Iron, Cast Iron, Aluminum)
A big problem when you want to know how to clean outdoor furniture made of metal is oxidation. Sadly, not many people know how to deal with it correctly. If you notice this happened to your furniture, you should remove it with a metal polishing paste. Remove as much as you can of it, and if you’re not a fan of commercial solutions, you can mix water and white vinegar in a 1:1 proportion. When cleaning metal, it’s essential to know that you shouldn’t use trisodium phosphate (TSP) or ammonia. This is because alkaline cleaners trigger oxidation, which you definitely don’t want to see in your patio.
If you have aluminum furniture, you should wash it often if you want it to keep its natural luster. For scuff marks, use a soft cloth on which you poured a little nonabrasive product. For wrought-iron furniture, you need to sandblast it or use a special powder coating if you want to protect it. After cleaning, use a coat of automotive wax. Keep in mind that iron requires two coats.
Many people don’t know how to clean outdoor furniture made of glass and they end up ruining the beautiful aspect of the item. The best cleaning solutions are the homemade ones or the dish detergent ones. If there is any stuck-on debris, you should use some non-abrasive material that is safe for glass. Be careful, since most scrub brushes are very aggressive and they can scratch your furniture. After you clean it, you should spray some white vinegar on it and then use a paper towel or a microfiber cloth to wipe it off.
Here you have some prevention tips if you want to handle glass correctly:
- Clean the underside of the glass surface once a month. This helps you prevent serious grime.
- When you’re not using the furniture item, cover it up. Luckily, you can find plenty of patio furniture covers in special stores, suitable for any type of furniture you might have.
- Extra tip: if you need to fix some chips or scratches in the glass, you can buy a special repair kit from any automotive retailer.
Pay attention to the rest of the materials used for the table or the furniture item you have. Use the right type of cleaners and don’t neglect them.
4. Plastic or Resin
There are various cleaning solutions which you can use if you want to know how to clean outdoor furniture made of plastic. Here you have a couple of ideas:
- 3 tbsp. detergent for automatic dishwasher and 1 gallon of warm water;
- ½ cup washing soda and 1 gallon of warm water;
- ¼ cup vinegar and ¼ warm water (for colored plastic).
In case your furniture is made of white plastic, you shouldn’t use any bleach or chlorine since they can damage the material. For any stubborn stain, use a clean rag and damp it with white distilled vinegar. If you need an abrasive substance, make your own by placing some baking soda on a wet sponge. Never use abrasive cleaners since they will scratch the plastic. When you’re done with the washing, apply a coat of automotive paste wax to protect the furniture.
Extra tip: spray WD-40 to plastic and wipe it with a dry cloth for extra shine.
Another problem when deciding on how to clean outdoor furniture is the fabric contained in it. Whether you have a hammock, a stretched fabric or a seat cover, they get dirty fast, which is a problem. Here, the variety of materials is even greater, which makes it even harder to know exactly how to clean it. Ideally, you should consult the instructions on the label to see what’s recommended. Let’s look at some examples of fabric furniture items or pieces and how to clean them.
Here is a homemade cleaning recipe which you can use for cleaning outdoor cushions:
- 1 tbsp. Borax;
- 1 teaspoon dishwashing detergent;
- ¼ warm water.
Dip a sponge into the solution and wash the cushions with it. Alternatively, you can spray the cushions with this mixture. Make sure you spray it well, even in the creases and crevices. Let it stay like that for 15 minutes and then use a hose to spray off the solution. Keep the cushions in the sun to dry. Don’t forget to spray them with a fabric protector when they’re almost dry.
Between the cleaning sessions, remember to vacuum the cushions as needed. Or you can simply shake them if they are small enough.
Canvas Chair Backs and Seats
Ideally, it’s best if you have a removable canvas. In this case, you don’t need to worry about how to clean outdoor furniture anymore since you can just throw it into the washing machine. If you do so, first check the instructions and if it supports this washing procedure, place it back on the furniture when it’s damp. Thus, you can ensure it preserves its shape.
However, if you can’t remove the canvas, things are a little bit more complicated. Get a scrub brush and a bar of laundry soap. Then, run the soap on the brush and use the brush to scrub the canvas. Make sure you rinse the fabric well. Finally, remember to clean the other parts of the chairs adequately, just like we presented above.
How to Clean Outdoor Furniture – Extra Tips and Tricks
1. Deal with Mold
Humidity and rain are among the most common problems you must deal with if you have outdoor furniture. When it’s damp, it can develop plenty of mold and mildew on it. If you want to remove mold, scrub the dry furniture with a brush. Remove the mold and then use a hose to rinse it off.
2. Use Vinegar
Vinegar is one of your most precious allies when it comes to cleaning furniture. Here you have some tips that can help you fight mold and mildew:
- Recycle a spray bottle and fill it up with full-strength vinegar. Whenever you notice some mildew growth, use the bottle on it. You will remove the stain easily, and the vinegar will prevent other stains from appearing.
- Mix together ½ cup white vinegar, ¼ baking soda, 1 cup ammonia and 1 gallon of water. Use a toothbrush to apply the solution to wood decks and wood patio furniture if you need to remove mildew.
- For patio umbrellas and outdoor plastic mesh furniture, you can use vinegar to inhibit further mildew growth and to deodorize the items. Mix 2 tbsp. liquid dish soap and 2 cups white vinegar in a bucket filled with hot water. With a soft brush, work the solution into the plastic (even in the grooves). Use it to scrub the umbrella fabric, as well as the seat pads. Finally, rinse with cold water and let the items dry in the sun.
3. What If They Don’t Get Clean Anymore?
After years of use, some furniture can show stains that can’t be cleaned anymore. If nothing we presented above worked, it means that you need to take more drastic measures. For hardwood furniture (such as teak), you can simply surface-sand it and it will get its luster back. However, it’s more difficult for other types of furniture (such as metal or wood), where you will have to sand or strip to the bare surface. Then, you can paint or stain them for a revival of the old furniture. With plastic, things are even more complicated, since a new coat of paint may solve the issue for now, but it won’t last in the long run.
For an illustration of the processes above, as well as extra tips and explanations, you can check out this video:
Cleaning garden items is not as easy as you’d expect. If you don’t know how to clean outdoor furniture, you should try the tips and recipes we presented above. It’s important to pay attention to the type of material you need to clean and choose a recipe that is adequate for it. Finally, try to prevent any dirt or mildew from building up since this will help you enjoy your furniture for a longer time.
Image source: 1