Keep outdoor furniture in good condition with these cleaning tips

By Chris Mautner

posted on May 24th

If you haven’t already done so, no doubt you’ll soon be digging out your backyard chairs, tables and umbrellas in order to enjoy the warm days of summer from the comfort of your home.

But setting up your patio furniture and maintaining it are two different things. How can you ensure your nice furniture stays in tip-top condition?

Relax. With just a little bit of effort — and some tips from Kelli Gehman, a sales representative at the Home Depot store in Hampden Twp. — you can make sure your wicker or wrought iron pieces stay in good shape for years to come.

There are three times you’ll want to clean your patio furniture: When you bring it out for the first time, once in the middle of the summer, and right before you store it away. (Of course, you might decide to give it a touch-up if you’re having company visit.)

When bringing out your furniture initially, make sure all the bolts and clips are tight and securely fastened, as the metal will expand and contract with the change in seasons.

Don’t use generic pressure washers to clean your furniture. “They are too rough on most furniture and they’ll take paint off or tear fabric,” Gehman said. So don’t take it to the car wash, and don’t dump it in the pool to rinse off either.

When cleaning wicker furniture, Gehman recommends to use a big sponge — the kind you use to clean your car. Soap it up using a gentle laundry detergent or dish detergent and then wash the piece.

Gehman also recommends using car wax to clean the exposed metal or aluminum sections of your outdoor furniture. Use a little bit, let it soak in and wipe it down so it doesn’t get brittle. Try not to do this on an overly hot day. Instead, shoot for a cloudy or overcast day, when the rain can help it set and soak in.

Are your wrought iron pieces scratched up and starting to rust? York suggests cleaning the area with a wire brush or medium sandpaper. Then paint the area with paint specially made for outdoor furniture.

When cleaning the upholstery, use a simple, nonabrasive detergent or cleaner that won’t stain the fabric. Gehman suggests using a baby’s hair brush as a scrubber.

If you want to go with a store-bought product, York says there are a number of patio furniture cleaners available, though they tend to work best with plastic furniture.

Avoid using cleaners and detergents that have a strong, sweet odor as they will attract bees and other insects.

Are your cushions covered in pollen and dirt? A good shop vacuum can suck up that up.

Flip your cushions over every so often to prevent one side from fading too much over time. You might want to invest in a good fabric cleaner, too.

Be wary of fertilizers and any other chemicals you use to treat your lawn. Those products can waft through the air and land on your furniture, degrading it over time. If you do treat your lawn, hose down your furniture occasionally to wash any chemicals off. This goes for pool chemicals as well.

Be careful when using your weed whackier. They can fling stones and other objects into your furniture that will chip paint and cause other damage.

Be sure to put away your furniture at the end of the summer season. If inside storage isn’t an option, York recommends purchasing a patio cover, a thick, canvaslike material designed to cover tables, chairs and other pieces and protect from the elements. Be sure to remove any cushions and store them away before you use the cover though.

If you don’t have a place to store your cushions, York suggests getting a deck box, a large plastic container that can keep the cold and wet away from your cushions and other materials.

Take your umbrella down before a big thunderstorm. Strong winds can lift an umbrella up in the air, which, if attached to your glass table, can result in the table falling over and shattering.


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