How to Clean and Maintain Outdoor Furniture

From melting popsicles to extreme weather, many factors can detract from the appearance, performance, and longevity of patio furniture. The good news? There are a few simple ways you can clean (and preserve) your patio furniture.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to clean and maintain outdoor furniture, to keep your investment stylish and functional for years to come.

Why Cleaning Your Patio Furniture Matters

Routinely cleaning your patio furniture isn’t just about maintaining its appearance. While outdoor furniture is made with innovative weather-resistant materials, it’s not invulnerable to the elements. Over time, dust, dirt, sand, sunscreen, and other debris can collect on furniture. In addition to making it harder to clean your furniture when you finally do decide to tackle this task, the accumulation of this grit and grime can lead to preventable wear and tear. Routine cleaning can help you increase your patio furniture’s lifespan thereby maximizing your patio furniture investment.

How to Clean Outdoor Furniture (by Material)

Patio furniture comes in an array of materials that have different care and maintenance requirements. Here, we’ve broken things down into patio furniture cleaning by type: teak wood, metal, plastic, and wicker.

How to Clean Teak Outdoor Furniture

A gorgeous natural material, teak wood is a classic choice for outdoor furniture. Follow these steps to keep it in optimal condition:

  1. Fill a bucket with a combination of warm water and a few drops of gentle soap. You can also add a small amount of bleach if desired.
  2. Dip a brush into the soapy water mix and begin gently scrubbing, starting at the top and gradually working your way downward.
  3. After cleaning the entire piece, use a hose to rinse off any remaining dirt or residual cleaning solution.
  4. Use a towel to blot away any excess water, then allow to air dry.

Don’t forget that the look of teak is supposed to change over time. While it begins its life as a golden-brown color, it will gradually develop a silvery-gray tone through a natural weathering process. Sealing outdoor wood furniture may offer another level of protection.

How to Clean Metal Patio Furniture

The process for cleaning metal patio furniture is similar to the process of cleaning teak outdoor furniture. Follow these steps:

  1. Fill a bucket with a solution comprising warm water and a few drops of dish soap.
  2. Use a sponge or rag to wipe away any debris. Avoid using wire brushes or other abrasives to protect the finish.
  3. Once you’ve cleaned the entire piece of furniture from top to bottom, use another soft rag to wipe it dry.

Note that wrought iron furniture may require additional care because it’s not rust-proof; additionally, this material may chip and flake, so use extra caution while cleaning.

How to Clean Wicker Furniture

Contrary to common misconception, wicker isn’t actually a material. Rather, it’s a weaving style used to make furniture from either natural fibers like rattan or weather-resistant synthetic resin. To clean natural wicker furniture, follow these basic steps:

  1. Make a soapy solution of water and a few drops of gentle dish soap.
  2. Working in small sections, use a soft brush or toothbrush to gently slough away dirt and debris.
  3. After completing a section, use a damp microfiber towel to remove all residual soap and water before moving on to the next section.
  4. Dry in front of a fan or in direct sunlight.

Experts also recommend wiping down natural wicker twice a year with lemon oil. You can skip this task if your wicker furniture is painted white to avoid yellowing the finish.

Nine Tips for Minimizing Patio Furniture Care and Maintenance

Here are some additional best practices for patio furniture care and maintenance:

  1. Plan on cleaning your outdoor furniture three or four times a year.
  2. If possible, store outdoor furniture indoors (or cover) during winter to prevent avoidable weathering.
  3. Give patio furniture a quick wipe-down before applying soap and water to remove excess debris and grime.
  4. When cleaning your patio furniture, wear gloves to protect your skin.
  5. While most all-weather fabrics are pre-treated, using a spray-on fabric protectant or wash-in protectant can improve water- and stain-repellent qualities. Just make sure that the fabric is completely free of dirt and stains or the treatment will seal them into the fabric.
  6. When it comes to the question of how to clean outdoor furniture cushions, you should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations included on the label. One trick for making light work out of this task? Choose styles with zippers or snaps that can be removed easily and tossed into the washing machine.
  7. Treat stains immediately to prevent them from setting in.
  8. While it’s tempting to use abrasives or a power washer to clean outdoor furniture, these tactics are unnecessary and potentially harmful to furniture.
  9. Consider putting a tarp down before starting to clean your patio furniture to avoid damaging surrounding areas and belongings.

Replace Old or Worn Outdoor Furniture With Durable Pieces from Porch & Patio

If your patio furniture is too far gone or you’re looking to refresh your space completely, new patio furniture may be in order. There’s no better place to find the latest styles in high-quality outdoor furniture, accessories, game tables, and more than Porch & Patio! For ideas and inspiration or to start transforming your outdoor space with new patio furniture, visit Porch & Patio today.


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