Image: Virginia MacDonald | Designer: Christine Hanlon
No matter what material your outdoor furniture is made of, here's how to get stains out and polish it up for another season.
Summer has finally graced us with the pleasure of her company, which means it’s time to invite some company over to enjoy backyard brunches and weekend BBQs. But before opening up your patio doors, you probably want to make sure your outdoor furniture is looking presentable.
Patio pieces can take a real beating, thanks to everyday use and rain and sun damage. So how do you keep them looking new? We checked in with Melissa Maker, host of the YouTube channel Clean My Space for her tips.
What type of outdoor furniture has the best longevity?
You’ll want to look for something that’s reasonably weather- and stain-resistant. What’s your best option? “Canvas is usually the preferred material,” says Melissa, suggesting you look for UV-resistant fabrics, which help prevent fading and are easy to clean.
Is there a proper way to care for your outdoor furniture?
To protect your outdoor furniture from stains and weather damage in the first place, Melissa says to always cover it up when it’s not in use. “Many items will come with covers or you can buy ones that fit your furniture,” she says. In the off-season, she recommends wrapping your furniture, so it’s protected from dirt and moisture. “You want to protect against moisture so it doesn’t get moldy,” she says. “You can use a scotch guard to treat the fabric against stains, but many outdoor fabrics come treated in such a way that they are stain resistant.”
How should you clean it?
Before you start cleaning your furniture, use a vacuum to pick up the dust, dirt and cobwebs that may have settled on the surface. Then get to it! Here's how, depending on the material and type of item.
- Aluminum: To clean aluminum, don’t use anything acidic, says Melissa. “Just mild soap and water with a soft sponge on aluminum or a power washer.”
- Wrought-iron and stainless steel: Melissa says that you can clean wrought-iron and stainless steel outdoor furniture the same way as aluminum. These materials are most susceptible to rust and even though many outdoor furniture pieces will already be pre-treated to be rust-resistant, these finishes will generally wear off over time. If you find that your furniture has rusted, Melissa suggests making a scrub with fresh lemon juice and salt and applying to the rusted areas. “Let it sit until dry and then scrub it off with a wadded-up piece of tin foil,” she says. Then rinse and pat dry.
- Wicker and raffia: To clean wicker and raffia outdoor furniture, Melissa says to use soapy water and an iron handle scrub brush and rinse well. Since wicker can have a tight weave, you might want to use a toothbrush to get into those spaces. It’s a good idea to clean this type of furniture frequently so to reduce the build-up of dirt and grime.
- Plastic and resin: Plastic and resin furniture is probably the easiest to clean and maintain. Avoid using abrasive cleaners; they’re not necessary. Melissa says to simply use a plastic scrub brush and soapy water, then rinse well to make your plastic furniture look new again. A wet sponge dipped in baking soda is a non-abrasive way to clean resin furniture. Simply rub in a circular motion, rinse and leave it to dry.
- Wood: Wood furniture looks great but you’ll want to make sure that it’s got some kind of sealer on it to protect it from the outdoor elements. “Clean wood patio furniture with a soft cloth and soapy water,” says Melissa. “Rinse well. If necessary, you can put a sealer or varnish on to reseal.”
- Fabric cushions: Those fabric cushions on your patio furniture look great but can quickly start to look dingy if not properly cared for. Consider bringing them inside when it rains or when the sun is high, to prevent discoloration. To clean them, Melissa says to use a scrub brush and soapy water. “You can also check the care label and machine wash if applicable,” she says.
- Umbrella: Cleaning your patio umbrella requires the same steps as cleaning other outdoor fabrics, says Melissa. “Scrub with soapy water and hose it down, then leave it fanned out to dry. A pressure washer would work best if you have one.”
What about removing mold?
If you do find mold on your outdoor furniture, Melissa suggests using a product like Concrobium to remove it, warning to follow the directions on the package carefully. To ward off mildew, you can use vinegar. Simply wipe the mildew away with a damp cloth, then spray the furniture with vinegar to prevent it from coming back.