New outdoor furniture is always a delight. After all, one wouldn’t normally display it outside to make it an eyesore. Convenience should be the first priority, but having a neat-looking home in and out wouldn’t hurt. In fact, keeping things clean should keep the family and guests safer from germs and other possible diseases. Just imagine all the things that may come into contact with furniture left outdoors.
Dusting off or vacuuming accumulated dirt is the most common and logical way to take. However, that is only, in a sense, first aid. The best way to clean furniture is to regularly do it using the most appropriate technique for each kind of material (metal, plastic, etc.)
Cleaning Outdoor Chairs and Other Furniture
As said, cleaning patio furniture — or cleaning porch furniture, for that matter — depends on the kind of material it is made of. Do not expect that what works for wood would simply work for metal. They are completely different!
Since people usually prefer to sit on cushioned furniture or canvas seats, care should be given to the fabric. This means mixing a solution made of 1 quart warm water, 1 teaspoon dishwashing detergent, and 1 tablespoon borax. The solution may be put in a spray bottle or dipped into using a sponge, it’s the cleaner’s call.
Follow these instructions on the best way to clean patio furniture cushions:
- Scrub/spray on the cushions all over, on all sides, leaving no space unscrubbed. Get all the crevices and creases.
- Leave them for 15 minutes to clean off the mold and mildew.
- Rinse off dirt and cleaning solution using a garden hose. A strong force of water is necessary.
- Let the cushions stand up on edge to dry, preferably under direct sun.
- Spray the cushions with a fabric protector when they are almost dry.
- Vacuum to remove more dust or simply shake them out if they are small pillows.
Removable canvas is generally machine-washable. They may be returned on the furniture while damp to maintain the shape. But what if the canvas is not machine-washable? Don’t worry, there is a solution (though not an actual solution this time). Say goodbye to bird droppings and stains!
- Get a Fels-Naptha soap and rub a scrub brush across it.
- Rub the brush back and forth on the canvas.
- Lather them up well.
- Once clean, rinse the cushions by hosing off the dirt and soap.
What about other outdoor stuff made of fabric, like an umbrella? It is an important piece since it does help protect chairs and other furniture from bird droppings and other weather conditions. So here’s what to do:
- Hose down the umbrella. Keep the canopy open.
- Rub a wet soft-bristle brush on a laundry soap.
- Rub the brush over the canopy, from bottom to top, making sure to rid of any bird droppings encountered.
- Rinse the umbrella by hosing it down again.
Cleaning outdoor wood furniture is very important since wooden furniture (like teak, cedar, white oak, wicker) is susceptible to damages that may be caused by outdoor elements.
These are the basics of how to clean wood furniture:
- Moisten a cloth with a mild, soapy solution.
- Wipe every part of the furniture well.
- Rinse well with a cloth or damp sponge.
Should using a brush is preferred, make sure it is plastic as metal brushes can cause scratches and damages.
Cleaning teak outdoor furniture follows the same procedure, though, mixing in bleach or vinegar should work well to prevent mildew build-up and discoloration. Here’s how:
- Mix 1 cup of chlorine bleach and 1 cup of laundry detergent in 1 gallon of warm water OR mix 1 cup of vinegar with 1 gallon of warm water.
- Use a drop cloth and clean in a well-ventilated space. Start from the bottom then upwards.
- Use a plastic brush when scrubbing.
- Leave it for 15 minutes.
- Rinse thoroughly.
An important note: If the teak furniture has been left outside for a long period of time, this method may not work effectively. A more aggressive approach may be needed. There are also teak cleaners that can be bought for cleaning stains. Start with the mildest solutions then use more concentrated ones if they fail to work.
To enhance or retain its color, oil teak furniture. Tung oil and linseed oil are the more commonly preferred. The catch when oiling teak furniture is if the piece is meant to be outdoors, then regular quarterly maintenance is required.
Does a rub-rinse-and-dry process also work when cleaning wicker furniture? Not really. As everyone knows, wicker is a wicked catcher of leaves and bugs. So before any rubbing or scrubbing is done, first dislodge any leaf or bug from the cracks. Use a vacuum cleaner’s crevice attachment or be creative using a paintbrush to do the job.
After managing that part of the task, now comes the actual cleaning:
- Get a microfiber cloth.
- Wet the cloth with an all-purpose cleaner.
- Glide the cloth over the wicker. Make sure not to miss any part and any crevice.
- Do not rinse by just hosing it down with water. Rinse with a damp sponge.
- Dry with a cloth. That will prevent mildew.
This is a kind of tedious way to clean, but that’s the proper way to go about it, and somebody has to do it.
For cleaning wood patio furniture deeper and taking care of stains or mold:
- Mix a solution of water and dishwasher detergent or oxygen bleach.
- Scrub with a soft brush — scrub in the direction of the wood grain.
- Rinse well with a cloth or damp sponge.
To remove challenging stains and mildew growth:
- Do some lightly sanding in the direction of the wood grain,
- Rinse the surface well.
- Put full-strength white vinegar in spray bottle.
- Spray on the stain.
- Wipe off the stain.
- Prepare a solution of 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup white vinegar, and 1/4 cup baking soda mixed in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water.
- Sponge off mildew.
- Use a brush or old toothbrush to get to hard-to-reach corners and tight spaces.
Cleaning metal patio furniture shouldn’t be so hard. In fact, it is less complicated. Say there is an old-style aluminum lawn chair. What are needed are a plastic rubber and dish detergent. A fine steel wool should be a good alternative for the rubber when cleaning outdoor metal furniture.
So what to do with regular aluminum and other metals?
- Simply soak the rubber or wool in the detergent.
- Scrub the chair.
- Rinse very well.
- Let it dry.
Easy does it.
- For cast aluminum:
- Use an all-purpose cleaner and nylon scrub brush — scrub on the material to rid of dirt, etc.
- Wipe with a microfiber cloth.
- For aluminum with a baked-on enamel:
- Soak a sponge in dish detergent or non-abrasive all-purpose cleaner.
- Again, scrub until the furniture seems nice and clean.
- Rinse the detergent/cleaner off.
- Dry with soft cloth.
- Apply a coat of car wax. Use a soft cloth or the applicator that comes with the car wax.
- Avoid getting on the webbing or the fabric. But if it does happen, wipe it off immediately.
- Let it dry then buff.
White and Colored Plastic
When cleaning plastic outdoor furniture, one must consider this: Is it white or colored? There are definitely differences in how to use a patio furniture cleaner for each.
White plastic is quite easy to take care of.
- Simply mix 3 tablespoons of automatic dishwashing detergent with 1 gallon of warm water.
- Using a sponge (with a scrubber on the back) or soft brush, apply the solution on the chair.
- Leave the furniture for 15 minutes
- Rinse well and dry.
An alternative to the mixture is a mix of some mild detergent and a ½ cup bleach in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water.
That’s plain and simple. However, do not do this for colored plastic. The automatic dishwashing detergent is effective for white plastic for a reason — it contains a bleaching agent so the material whitens or becomes whiter again.
It just goes to say that if the owner does not want discoloration or fading out of colored plastic, use other cleaning agents. To clean colored plastic or resin:
- Use an all-purpose cleaner and water instead. (Some suggest a baking soda solution.)
- Wipe with a sponge in circular motions.
- Rinse very well as sunlight and water speed up fading.
Do these, too, for plastic webbing.
To inhibit mildew growth on outdoor plastic mesh furniture:
- Mix 2 cups white vinegar and 2 tablespoons liquid dish soap in hot water.
- Scrub seat pads and umbrella fabric with a soft brush — make sure to get to the grooves.
- Rinse with cold water.
- Dry under the sun.
Faded plastic furniture can also be brought back to its glory:
- Spray WD-40 (Water Displacement, 40th formula) on the furniture surface.
- Wipe with a clean, dry cloth.
Glass with Candle Wax
This is worth mentioning. Who knows when this should become handy, whether indoors or outdoors? To remove candle wax from glass tops:
- Blow-dry the candle wax. The heat will soften it.
- Use an old credit card (or anything similar!) to scrape the wax off. Be careful not to scratch the glass with anything.
- Pour rubbing alcohol on any stubborn residue.
- Wipe everything off with a rag.
Protecting Outdoor Furniture
Cleaning an outdoor furniture is just one part of its proper maintenance. The other part is to keep it protected, which should make cleaning easier in the first place.
After cleaning plastic, resin or metal furniture, it needs to maintain its shine. Finish it by applying a coat of car wax. That should already provide protection. Give it a good waxing using a soft cloth then let it dry. Make it shine better later.
As for wood furniture, treat it with a sealant for protection. It will also preserve the color. Re-apply the sealant every few years (but of course, that will depend on the level of wear and tear). Ask the manufacturer for recommended products.