How To Clean Patio Furniture and Cushions

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Exposure to the elements can leave a grimy residue on your outdoor furniture. Use these formulas to get your patio and deck furniture and cushions spotless.

Wood deck featuring freshly cleaned patio furniture with boho black and white cushions and a hanging chair

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 and deck furniture easily.

How To Clean Patio Furniture

It’s best to clean your outdoor furniture on a cool, slightly cloudy day. When it’s too hot or sunny, any homemade patio furniture cleaning solution will evaporate too fast to remove grime. Applying cleaner to furniture that’s hot from the sun can also cause spotting. So, try to time your project for a cool morning or evening, ideally when there’s no rain in the forecast for several days.

Tips on Cleaning Outdoor Furniture

Only a little dirty? If your patio furniture is only a little bit dirty, you can easily clean it with a quick spray of all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth.

Don’t use vinegar. Although vinegar is excellent at cleaning grime, it can also damage your landscaping. To clean patio furniture safely, stick with dish soap or oxygenated bleach which, despite the name, isn’t harmful to plants like chlorine bleach would be.

Cleaning Metal Outdoor Furniture

Rusted metal furniture needs more care. If your metal deck table and chairs have developed rust spots, use a steel wool pad to remove the oxidation. If it’s extensive, you may need to repaint your set.

Check fastenings and joints. When you’re cleaning your patio furniture, inspect the bolts and other fastenings to make sure connections are secure. It’s not uncommon for chairs, especially, to loosen up over time with use.

Cleaning Wood Outdoor Furniture

Don’t use a pressure washer. Although power washers are great tools for cleaning vinyl siding and stained cement, they’re too strong for most patio and deck furniture.

Sand wood furniture before cleaning. If your wood patio feels rough or cracked, you should lightly sand it in the direction of the wood’s grain. Start with 120-grit paper to remove the splinters, then switch to a 220-grit to smooth the surface.

Oil wood furniture after cleaning. Once your teak or wood furniture is dry, you can rejuvenate its appearance and protect it from damage by applying a thin layer of tung oil. Be sure to do this out of direct sunlight and always wipe away any excess oil to prevent spots.

Cleaning Wicker Patio Furniture

You may want to pre-clean wicker. If your wicker furniture is especially grimy, it’s a good idea to sweep or brush it before using the patio furniture cleaner.

Don’t let wicker stay wet. When saturated, wicker is fragile and prone to cracking. As it dries, it becomes brittle. To help your wicker patio set last longer, keep it covered when not in use. This will help prevent rain and snow from soaking through the wicker. After cleaning, you should tap it a few times to dislodge water and help it air-dry faster.

How to Clean Outdoor Furniture Cushions

The cushions on your patio or deck furniture will get dirty, too. In fact, they often get gritty faster than the rest of the furniture, especially if you leave your set uncovered when not in use. To keep dirt and pollen from becoming permanently ground into the fabric, be sure to clean them often.

Unzip cushions and check the label inside. If yours says it’s machine washable, you’ve got it made: remove the cover and run them through a warm wash with a cold rinse using your usual laundry detergent. Let them air dry in a shady spot outdoors before slipping them back onto the cushion inserts.

If the cushion cover isn’t machine washable, can’t fit in your machine, or you don’t have a washing machine at home, use the recipe for patio cushion cleaner spray below.

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One Comment

  1. Thank you! I was just thinking how I needed to clean the cushions but the covers don’t come off. I have your book and love it, helping me to focus.