In many parts of the country, patio furniture did not see any use during the recent winter months. Best-case scenario: It was stored indoors, away from the elements, and simply needs a dusting with a damp cloth. Worst-case scenario: It sat uncovered outside and now has a level of grime making it unusable. Get your dirty patio furniture clean with these helpful tips.
Get Out the Hose
Start by moving all of your patio furniture into the driveway, so that you have room to work and can access all areas. Pull cushions and pillows off the furniture. Turn your nozzle to the “Jet” setting and use water to dislodge as much dirt as possible from the all of the pieces. Do not be tempted to use your power washer, as the higher pressure can cause damage.
Use the Right Cleaning Solution
The cleaning solution you use on the furniture depends on the type of material involved. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations if you still have them handy, or use this guide:
Plastic, Resin, Metal and Glass—Combine ¼ cup of mild dishwashing detergent with 1 gallon of warm water in a bucket. Dip a soft nylon brush into the solution and scrub until all dirt is gone. Rinse with water. Let air-dry, or if your water leaves behind spots, wipe dry with a cloth. For glass tabletops, follow up with a glass cleaner.
Wicker—Combine ¼ cup of mild oil-based soap with 1 gallon of warm water in a bucket. Dip a soft nylon brush into the solution and scrub until all dirt is gone. Rinse with water. Let air-dry, or if your water leaves behind spots, wipe dry with a cloth.
Wood—Combine 2 oz. of oxygenated bleach with 1 gallon of hot water in a bucket. Dip a large sponge into the solution and apply to all surfaces. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, and then scrub with a soft nylon brush until all dirt is gone; always scrub with the grain, especially with softer woods. Rinse with water. Let air-dry, or if your water leaves behind spots, wipe dry with a cloth.
If while cleaning you notice mildew on your patio furniture, mix a stronger solution of 1 cup of ammonia, ½ cup of white vinegar, ¼ cup of baking soda and 1 gallon of warm water. Apply to the stubborn stains for removal, and then rinse and dry.
To rid cushions and pillows of dirt and stains, use the instructions above for plastic, metal and glass, letting the solution sit for 15 minutes and allowing the pieces to air-dry in the sun.
Add a Level of Protection
Once your patio furniture has been restored to clean status, protect it to minimize the amount of cleaning you will need to do in the future. As with cleaning solutions, what you use depends on the material.
Plastic, Resin and Metal—Apply a layer of car wax! Yes, car wax. Then buff with a soft cloth. It will repel dirt from your furniture just as it does with your car. With metal patio furniture, nip rust in the bud by removing with sandpaper and repainting as well.
Wood—Paint and stain that block UV rays protect wood from damage. Opt for stain for horizontal surfaces as paint may peel.
Two More Tips
To make cleaning cushions and pillows easier in the future, apply a fabric guard once dry.
Bring cushions and pillows inside when not in use for long periods of time, such as if you go away on vacation.
Use towels to protect pieces from suntan lotions and tanners, which can leave behind stains.
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