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How to clean garden furniture 2024
How to clean garden furniture 2024

An inviting outdoor seating or dining set is like an extra room that’s always ready for an outdoor dinner or celebration – until it’s not. Sun, rain and a few too many backyard barbecues can leave patio furniture looking worn over time. So how do you keep your furniture in tip-top shape so it lasts for more than one season?

According to the pros we interviewed, the secret is regular maintenance and smart protection – think gentle cleaning instead of pressure washing, UV-resistant treatments and investing in durable covers. Storing your furniture properly can also make a big difference. “The biggest mistake people make with their outdoor furniture is that they don’t take care of it all summer,” says Sean Cassidy, professional product designer at West Elm. “They take it out and leave it uncovered all season.”

From preventing UV rays from fading your favorite pieces to investing in durable covers, here’s how to clean outdoor furniture and keep it looking like new.

Clean your furniture gently and regularly

Keeping your outdoor furniture clean is the first step to maintaining its appearance and quality. According to Zachary Dettmore, founder of Dettmore Home Improvements and carpenter at This old houseThe trick is to avoid aggressive methods. “Using a pressure washer with a nozzle that is too powerful can damage the furniture,” he says. “And harsh chemicals can also shorten the life of the furniture.”

A gentler approach, such as gentle washing with conventional cleaning products, is often more effective and less damaging. A simple mixture of water and mild dish soap works great for plastic and metal furniture, while a specialist wood cleaner will keep wooden pieces looking like new. “I can’t speak highly enough of mild soap and water,” Cassidy says. “For most materials, except wood, a gentle soap like Dawn and a garden hose works wonders.”

Regular cleaning – especially during pollen season or when the leaves fall – can help prevent dirt buildup that can lead to stains and wear. For stubborn stains, you can use a soft brush to gently scrub away dirt without damaging the finish of your furniture. Stick to a regular cleaning schedule to ensure your furniture stays in great condition year-round.


Invest in high-quality covers and keep the pillows dry

Investing in heavy-duty garden furniture covers is one of the easiest ways to protect your garden dining set and sofa from the elements. “All major retailers sell matching covers for their sets,” says Cassidy. “They’re small investments, but will significantly extend the life of your furniture.” These covers protect against rain, sunlight, wind and more. Most importantly, they should be used regularly throughout the summer – not just during inclement weather.

On a sunny day, you might not think to cover your outdoor furniture, but when the furniture is not in use, consider using sturdy covers. And when storms do hit, make sure cushions and fabrics stay clean and dry. Moisture can lead to mold and mildew, which can quickly ruin cushions. Even if you have covers, it’s best to bring cushions indoors during inclement weather to avoid damage.


Position your furniture strategically

Where you place your outdoor furniture can make a big difference in how well it holds up over time. “Protecting your outdoor furniture from UV light is critical,” says Dettmore, “so the best option is to place it under a covered area.” Consider placing your furniture under a pergola or canopy for constant protection from the sun. And if you want to create moveable shade, a patio umbrella is your best bet because it’s easy to adjust as needed throughout the day. If you have limited covered space, prioritize placing your most vulnerable pieces, like wooden furniture and cushions, under these structures.

It is also important to think about what you At Your furniture. “Don’t put candles, plants or other items on tables that can cause permanent stains,” advises Dettmore. This is especially important during or after rain showers, when moisture can collect and settle between the items and the table surface.


Apply UV-resistant treatments

Cassidy warns that the sun causes “the most damage” to outdoor furniture, so it’s important to protect your furniture from the harmful UV rays. If you don’t want to use covers or place your furniture in shaded areas, applying a UV-resistant coating or paint is another great way to protect your furniture from the sun. These treatments act like sunscreen for furniture, helping to prevent fading, cracking, and other damage caused by UV radiation.

First, clean your furniture thoroughly to remove dirt and debris. Once the treatment is dry, apply the UV-resistant treatment evenly, following the instructions on the product label. Be sure to cover all nooks and crannies for maximum protection. Regular reapplication is important, especially if your furniture is in a sunny location. Read the manufacturer’s recommendations on how often to reapply the treatment and watch for signs of wear over the course of the season.


Refresh and refurbish wooden furniture

Don’t forget to give your wooden furniture a little extra love to keep it looking like new and extend its lifespan. Just remember that the material needs special treatment. “Choosing the right finish for your garden furniture depends on whether a protective coating is required,” explains Dettmore. “For example, wood such as teak needs oil to retain its original color, while garden furniture made from recycled plastic doesn’t need any products to maintain its appearance.”

When choosing a finish, it’s also important to consider the maintenance involved. Certain oils are easier to reapply because they don’t require excessive sanding or stripping. On the other hand, durable products like varnish may last longer but often require some effort to sand and strip before reapplying. “If you want your wooden patio furniture to look new and fresh, you’ll need to apply the appropriate finish frequently,” says Dettmore. “However, if you prefer a more weathered look, you can let the elements take their course and the wood will usually develop a silvery patina that resembles an old beach house.”


Store furniture properly out of season

As temperatures drop and patio season ends, it’s time to think about where you’ll store your patio furniture. “Cold and wet winter conditions will take their toll on your patio furniture,” warns Cassidy. “Patio furniture is made to withstand harsher conditions, but there are limitations.” The best solution? Store everything in a shed, garage or under a deck. A temperature-controlled room is ideal, but a dry place with minimal humidity works too. “Protecting furniture from rain, snow and UV rays will help preserve its appearance and increase its durability,” says Dettmore.

With pillows that you’ll love bringing into your home And Store them properly, says professional organizer Tova Weinstock. “I see a lot of outdoor pillows half-stuffed into garbage bags and thrown into a boiler room or unfinished basement,” she adds. “If you want them to last, you need to treat them better by storing them in fully sealed plastic containers or bags.” Remove the covers to wash them, then store the pillow inserts separately. Vacuum storage bags are also great for saving space and keeping things mold-free.

If indoor storage isn’t an option, durable covers are the next best thing to protect both your frames and cushions, but be prepared for a little more cleaning and prep work come spring.


Check and repair your furniture regularly

Regular inspections are key to keeping your outdoor furniture in good condition. Catching small problems early can help prevent them from becoming bigger problems. Look for rust on metal parts and remove it with rust remover and a fresh coat of paint. For wooden furniture, sand down rough spots and apply a fresh coat of paint to keep it looking like new.

Don’t forget to check cushions and fabrics for mold, stains or tears. A quick wash and a few minor stitches can extend their lifespan significantly. If you notice stains, treat them immediately with the appropriate cleaner to avoid permanent damage. Regular maintenance will ensure that your garden furniture stays ready for every time you spend in the garden.