Caring and Cleaning for Outdoor Furniture

Your outdoor living space can take a beating since it’s exposed to sun, wind, rain, and snow, but that doesn’t mean it has to look like it! Follow these tips for cleaning outdoor furniture and keeping it looking good over the long term.

How to Clean Outdoor Furniture

For most outdoor furniture, the name of the game is knowing how to clean it. Here are tips for regularly cleaning outdoor furniture of all major types.

  • Plastic and Resin: Most plastic and resin furniture just needs to be wiped down with a mild cleaning solution or a bucket of mild detergent such as Ivory soap and warm water. Clean regularly to prevent buildup that will be difficult or impossible to get off. Avoid using abrasives that will damage the finish.
  • Wicker and wood: To keep wood and wicker furniture looking nice, use a soft scrub brush and either a mild detergent specifically made for wood or a diluted white vinegar solution. You can also hose down the furniture periodically to prevent the buildup of dirt. Regular cleanings will prevent dirt from accumulating in nooks and crannies that are difficult to clean.
  • Metal: Metal furniture can easily be cleaned with a mild detergent such as Ivory soap and warm water. If the furniture develops rust, remove it with steel wool or simply sand it away and repaint. Once it’s clean, you can protect the metal from rust by applying a coat of automotive wax.
  • Glass: Glass tabletops require regular cleaning, as dirt left on for long periods of time can become almost impossible to remove. Attack major dirt with a mild cleaning solution and finish off with a glass cleaner for sparkle and shine. Consider covering the table when not in use to keep it clean longer.
  • Fabric: Some pillows and cushions can go into the washing machine. Be sure to read the care instructions before tossing them in! If not, scrub very soiled cushions with a soft brush and mild detergent and hose them down regularly to keep them from getting too soiled. Covering chairs with cushions will help keep everything cleaner and also prevent fading.

Other Care Tips for Outdoor Furniture

In addition to cleaning outdoor furniture, how you take care of it is also very important. Here are a few tips to extend its life.

  • Keep it covered. The key to long-lived outdoor furniture is keeping it out of the elements when not in use. A covered porch or patio is ideal for limiting its exposure, but you may also consider buying covers to keep on it when not in use.
  • Put it away in off season. Storing your outdoor furniture indoors during off seasons will also help extend its life.
  • Remove mold and rust. Aside from regularly cleaning outdoor furniture, you should also make it a point to watch for mold and rust, both of which can shorten your furniture’s life considerably. Mold can be removed by dry brushing and then scrubbing with white vinegar, while rust generally needs to be sanded off and the furniture repainted or refinished.
  • Maintain the finish. Paint creates a seal and protects metal furniture from rust and wooden furniture from rot. Unpainted furniture generally has some other type of finish to ward off damage. Make sure to inspect your furniture at the start and finish of every season and determine whether it needs to be refinished.

Enjoy Your Outdoor Spaces

You’ve probably had the experience of wanting to go outside on a nice day but noticed that your outdoor furniture was too dirty to sit on. Or perhaps you’ve wanted to host an outdoor party but realized how much work it would take to get everything clean enough for guests. Don’t fall into the habit of neglecting your outdoor spaces! Cleaning outdoor furniture regularly and taking good preventative care of your outdoor furniture will ensure your outdoor spaces are always ready to enjoy.

Tips for Winter Home Maintenance

Your outdoor space isn't the only thing you should maintain this winter. Prepare your home for the colder weather by following these winter home maintenance tips.