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Maintain and Care for Outdoor Furniture

Maintain and Care for Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor furniture can be exposed to harsh outdoor elements. Use the following quick reference to maintain your outdoor furniture.

Outdoor Furniture Cleaning and Maintenance

Outdoor furniture and outdoor accessories are available in a variety of materials: wicker, wood, fabric, aluminum, wrought iron, steel and resin. Each material requires different maintenance methods. Monthly cleaning and maintenance can help the furniture maintain a good appearance and make your investment last longer.

You can clean most outdoor furniture with soap and water. A pressure washer with 1,200 to 1,350 pounds per square inch is useful for cleaning many types of outdoor furniture, but you must use a low setting. In addition to cleaning, there are maintenance steps you can take to help your furniture last longer.

Wear eye protection and rubber gloves when using bleach. Use in a well-ventilated area.
Always read the care instructions on the care tag before cleaning.

Wicker Outdoor Furniture

Wicker patio chairs.

Wicker outdoor furniture can be cleaned using a hose or pressure washer. Simply remove the cushions, and spray off dirt and spills. If the wicker is especially dirty, use a sponge, mild soap and cold water to wash. Allow the furniture to dry completely. Then apply a paste wax to the frame to keep it shiny and water-resistant. Some types of wicker are weather-resistant, making care easier. Store cushions indoors and keep frames covered during the off-season.

Wooden Outdoor Furniture

Wood patio chair and table set.

Wooden outdoor furniture that's been coated with an exterior-grade varnish can be cleaned using soapy water. Be sure to completely rinse the furniture with clean water. Wooden furniture, with the exception of teak and cedar, should be stored indoors during the winter.

Metal-Framed Outdoor Furniture

Wrought iron bench.

Aluminum, wrought iron and steel frames require cleaning with water and mild soap. Many modern metal frames are rust-resistant or rust-free. If your metal furniture isn't, use paste wax or naval jelly to protect from corroding or rusting.

Resin Outdoor Furniture

Resin adirondack chairs.

Resin furniture requires the least amount of care. Simply spray off with clean water, and allow to air dry. If scuff marks are present, use a gentle abrasive to remove. Mildew can be removed using a mixture of 1 cup of bleach, 2 cups of detergent and 1 gallon of water.

Fabric Outdoor Furniture

Patio chairs with fabric seat cushions.
    • Acrylic cushions should be removed from the frame before cleaning. Spot-clean using a sponge, mild soap and water. Rinse with clean water. To prevent mildew, allow to dry completely before using or storing. Some types of cushions are mildew-resistant, but if you have a problem with mildew, use a solution of 1 cup of bleach, 2 cups of detergent and 1 gallon of water to clean. Mix thoroughly and spray on the entire cushion. Allow it to soak for 30 minutes. Scrub with a sponge or clean rag. Rinse with clean water and allow to dry completely. When storing, never wrap cushions in plastic. Plastic doesn't allow the cushion to breathe and can cause it to mildew if there's any moisture present.
    • Cloth outdoor furniture, such as hammocks and cloth chairs, should be machine-washed using the gentle cycle. Add bleach for white items. Hang outside to dry. To avoid shrinkage, stretch back over the frame before the fabric is completely dry. Frames should be cared for based on the material. Store fabric furniture indoors during the winter.


      Patio set with an umbrella.

      Umbrellas require maintenance after being in storage. Covers need washing and umbrella frame joints need oiling. Wash covers using a soft-bristled brush, mild soap and cold water. Use a spray lubricant on the joints of a wire-frame umbrella. If you have a wooden-frame umbrella, use paste wax to restore its shine. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when caring for your outdoor furniture. Keep the instructions in a safe place for easy access.