Just like your couch, dining table, or bar cabinet, your outdoor patio furniture requires a deep-clean every once in a while, too. And with all the rain we’ve gotten over the last few weeks, it’s as important as ever to make sure your outdoor furniture isn’t just clean, but also free to mold, mildew, and other harmful bacteria. Whether you’re prepping for a dinner party, tidying up in the middle of the season, or getting ready to store your furniture for the winter, here’s how to clean your patio furniture to keep it from looking dingy, tired, and uninviting.
First, use a brush or dry cloth to wipe away any loose materials, then use a garden hose with a spray attachment to dislodge lingering dirt or surface debris.
If you have plastic or resin patio furniture, good news: both materials are popular because they’re so easy to clean and maintain. Skip anything abrasive, which can scuff the surface and simply spray everything with a gentle all-purpose cleaner (like ours, which has no harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia). Then wipe it down with a sponge or damp cloth to keep plastic furniture looking as good as new.
For any wicker, teak, or rattan patio furniture, step away from the power-washer: It may be tempting, but too much pressure can damage soft wood. Instead, opt for a mild soapy water and a soft brush or sponge to remove any grime that’s built up over the summer. Because wicker is notoriously tough to clean, you may need to grab a brush (like our Pot Brush) to really get into the weave. Keep in mind that hard woods like teak clean up nicely when you use a weak solution of water and gentle laundry detergent.
Metal outdoor furniture’s worst enemy is rust—but wrought iron and stainless steel patio furniture are often amazingly durable. Because it’s been particularly rainy recently, make sure you keep an eye out for early signs of oxidation—they should shed fairly easily with steel wool. If no rust is detected, use a brush to clean all surfaces with a quarter cup of mild dish soap added to a gallon of warm water, then let it dry before you cover it or put it away for the season.
If any of your patio furniture is lined with fabric seat covers, now’s the time to bring them inside for the winter. If they’re removable and machine-washable, take them off to shake off any loose dirt and pop them in the laundry. (Just be sure to air-dry them, as some fabrics can melt or warp in the heat.) For anything you can’t throw in the wash, clean them with a solution of dish soap and warm water, scrubbing gently with a washcloth or brush. Once they’re clean, consider applying a water-repellant fabric protector to minimize future staining, then tuck them away until next season.
If you find yourself dealing with mold or mildew, make sure the furniture is dry, then scrub it with a brush to remove surface mold and spray with a hose to rinse. Once you’re done dry-scrubbing, dip a hard-bristle brush into white vinegar or diluted bleach to remove stubborn mildew. (Keep in mind that bleach may discolor the patio furniture, so test a small out-of-sight patch first.) Lastly, stack all furniture to store it in your shed or garage—or cover it to prevent it from getting dirty during the winter. Don’t forget to roll up outdoor rugs and store throw pillows and seat cushions in airtight bins or inside.
Remember: Properly cleaning your patio furniture can help any gross bacteria or fungus from forming on it, even in the cold. Plus, it’ll make it that much easier to get ready for hosting when spring rolls around again.