How To Clean Patio Furniture


Knowing how to clean patio furniture can maintain and protect the investment you’ve made in making your outdoor spaces comfortable and inviting.

But let’s face it: between cookout spills, skin covered with greasy sunscreen, and that nasty stuff that grows on outdoor seating after a week of non-stop rain, your table and chairs can get mighty ugly. Here’s how to clean your patio furniture — or deck furniture — quickly and easily.

How To Clean Patio Furniture

How to Clean Patio Furniture

Don’t Use Vinegar

When it comes to cleaning patio furniture, this is one time I don’t recommend using white vinegar since it kills plants and grass. Oxygenated bleach, on the other hand, is safe around both plants and pets.

Vinyl and Unpainted Wood Patio Furniture

Plastic, vinyl, and unpainted wood are easily stained. Fortunately, they are also easy to clean, too.

You will need:

  • 2 ounces of oxygenated bleach (like OxiClean)
  • 1 gallon of HOT water
  • Microfiber cloth or large sponge
  • Scrub brush
  • Bucket


  1. Combine the oxygenated bleach with the hot water in the bucket and stir until dissolved.
  2. Using the microfiber cloth, get every surface of the furniture wet. Allow this solution to sit for 15 minutes then scrub with a stiff-bristled brush to remove mildew.
  3. Rinse and let air dry.

Metal or Painted Wood Patio Furniture

Oxygenated bleach can corrode metal patio furniture and lighten painted surfaces, so the cleaning solution for these furnishings is different.

If you’re cleaning painted wood furniture, don’t skip the hand-drying step since standing water will make the paint chip and crack. (Related: How to Clean Your Wood Deck.)

You will need:

  • 3 tablespoons dish detergent (Original Dawn, or Fairy in the UK, works best)
  • 1 gallon of HOT water
  • Microfiber cloth or large sponge
  • Stiff-bristled brush
  • Bucket


  1. Fill the bucket with 1 gallon of hot water. Add the liquid dish detergent and stir.
  2. Use a microfiber cloth to wash the furniture, scrubbing as needed with the brush.
  3. Rinse thoroughly and immediately wipe dry with a clean towel.

Wicker Patio Furniture

Wicker requires a pre-cleaning before you get it wet. So, grab a brush and scrub the wicker carefully to loosen dirt and grime, or vacuum it using your machine’s dust attachment.

Once pre-cleaned, use the same method and materials as described for metal patio furniture, above. Give each piece a gentle shake after rinsing to shed as much water as possible, then allow it to dry in the sun.

Patio Furniture Cushions

Grab a cushion in each hand and clap them together to shake out as much dust as possible. Use a stiff-bristled brush to dislodge any mud or dried on substances, then vacuum to remove remaining dirt.

Small Cushions

If the cushions are small enough, you may be able to wash them in your washing machine on the delicate cycle using warm water and ordinary laundry detergent. (Check the label.)

Let cushions dry in the sun and repeatedly turn them, so they dry on both sides.

Large Cushions

Cushions that cannot be laundered, or which are too big to fit in your machine, should be cleaned by hand.

  1. Mix 1/4 cup each water, baking soda, and liquid dish soap in a spray bottle.
  2. Heavily spray both sides of the pillow, especially on stains and in any creases.
  3. Use a scrub brush to dislodge dirt then wait 15 minutes for the cleaning mixture to do its work.
  4. Rinse the cushion on both sides, lightly pressing it with your hand to release sudsy water. Continue rinsing until all suds are gone.
  5. Let the cushion air dry in the sun. Turn it over every hour or two, so both sides have a chance to dry.

Keep Your Patio Furniture Clean

As always, the best way to clean patio furniture is to prevent it from getting soiled in the first place. Wipe up spills when they happen, and keep grime from building up by hosing your patio furniture down with a strong jet of water weekly.


  1. Mariette's Back to Basics says:

    Dearest Katie,
    Great tips and especially considering the plants!
    Yes, life on the patio can start again and we do look forward to that.
    Just got back from our vacation to the tropics in CuraƧao with daughter Liz and her husband Hans whom we had fly in from Amsterdam to join us. Such family time is way too short but it probably has to last us for a long time to come.
    Hugs to you both,

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hello Mariette,
      Your vacation sounds wonderful! I’m so happy you got to spend time with Liz and her husband. We’re planning to spend time with my husband’s side of the family in Minnesota this summer. As you said, family time is too short!

  2. Hello Katie,
    I was gifted a 3-piece wicker set. It was used indoors. Do you know of any reason why using a spray to protect from UV rays might not be good for the furniture?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Andrea,
      I don’t know of any reason off the top of my head why you couldn’t use that spray, but indoor wicker isn’t necessarily made for outdoor use.

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