Just like your couch, dining table, or bar cabinet, your outdoor patio furniture requires a deep-clean every once in a while, too—lest it starts to look dingy, tired, and uninviting. Whether you’re prepping for a dinner party, tidying up in the middle of the season, or getting ready to store your furniture for the season, here’s how to clean your patio furniture to keep it in tip-top shape.
First, start by getting rid of any big branches, leaves, or other loose debris that may have found its way into your yard, deck, or patio. Use a brush or dry cloth to wipe away loose dirt, then use a garden hose with a spray attachment to dislodge lingering dirt or surface debris.
If you have plastic or resin patio furniture, good news: both materials are popular because they’re so easy to clean and maintain. Skip anything abrasive, which can scuff the surface and simply spray everything with a gentle all-purpose cleaner (like ours, which has no harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia). Then wipe it down with a sponge or damp cloth to keep plastic furniture looking as good as new.
For any wicker, teak, or rattan patio furniture, step away from the power washer: It may be tempting, but too much pressure can damage softwood. Instead, opt for mild soapy water and a soft brush or sponge to remove any grime. Because wicker is notoriously tough to clean, you may need to grab a brush (like our Pot Brush) to get into the weave. Keep in mind that hardwoods like teak clean up nicely when you use a weak solution of water and gentle dish soap.
Metal outdoor furniture’s worst enemy is rust—but wrought iron and stainless steel patio furniture are often amazingly durable. Unless you live in a particularly rainy climate or you skipped an entire season and haven’t cleaned your set for more than a year, any oxidation from this past winter should be shed fairly easily with steel wool. If no rust is detected, use a brush to clean all surfaces with a quarter cup of mild dish soap added to a gallon of warm water.
If any of your patio furniture is lined with fabric seat covers, hopefully you brought them inside for the winter. But if you forgot (or they’ve collected dust or other debris), not all is lost. If they’re removable and machine-washable, take them off to shake off any loose dirt and pop them in the laundry. (Just be sure to air-dry them, as some fabrics can melt or warp in the heat.) For anything you can’t throw in the wash, clean them with a solution of dish soap and warm water, scrubbing gently with a washcloth or brush. Once they’re clean, consider applying a water-repellent fabric protector to minimize future staining.
If you find yourself dealing with mold or mildew, make sure the furniture is dry, then scrub it with a brush to remove surface mold and spray with a hose to rinse. Once you’re done dry-scrubbing, dip a hard-bristle brush into white vinegar or diluted bleach to remove stubborn mildew. (Keep in mind that bleach may discolor the patio furniture, so test a small out-of-sight patch first.)
Once I was done cleaning my outdoor space, I gave it a full refresh with a new lemon tree and a few hanging plants. Remember: Your outdoor space should be just as inviting as your dining room table. (Oh, and if you’re looking for some tips on hosting a great dinner party, find those here.)