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Cleaning Outdoor Patio and Deck Furniture

Outdoor furniture can be exposed to harsh outdoor elements. Learn how to clean and care for outdoor furniture so it will last for years.

Outdoor patio set with gazebo

Outdoor Furniture Cleaning and Maintenance

Outdoor furniture and accessories are available in a variety of materials: aluminum, fabric, resin, steel, wicker and wood. Each material requires different maintenance methods. During the seasons your furniture is in use, it's ideal to clean it monthly. This ensures it will look its best and your investment will last longer.

Most outdoor furniture can be cleaned with soap and water. A pressure washer is useful for cleaning many types of outdoor furniture. Use the lowest setting to ensure your furniture is not damaged. In addition to cleaning, there are maintenance steps you can take to help your furniture last longer.

Wicker Outdoor Furniture

Wicker Furniture

Wicker outdoor furniture can be cleaned using a hose or pressure washer on the lowest setting. 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.

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Wooden Outdoor Furniture

Wooden Patio Furniture

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

Metal-Framed Outdoor Furniture

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 keep it from corroding or rusting.

Resin Outdoor Furniture

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

Chairs with fabric cushions

Acrylic 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.

Cloth Outdoor Furniture
Machine wash canvas covers and hammocks on 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.

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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.


Patio Umbrellas

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.

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See How Your Neighbor Did It

Blogger Sarah Gibson tackles a custom outdoor seating project.

Sarah Gibson of Room for Tuesday, decided to build her own custom outdoor seating using Lowe's tools and materials. The results are impressive.

See how she did it.