A Guide to Cleaning and Caring for Your Outdoor Furniture

outdoor table and seating at a home.

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If you have a backyard, patio, courtyard, balcony or any other kind of outdoor area at your home, you are probably well aware of the challenge that comes with trying to keep it neat and tidy.

Whether it’s the outdoor area itself or the furniture, we all know the frustration of wanting to spend some time in our outdoor space to relax, only to find that the weather has wreaked havoc or the furniture is no longer in a great condition.

While most outdoor furniture has been made to withstand the various weather elements, for the most part, it can still be affected by dirt, dust, mould, insects, animals and of course the weather. However, with a little bit of attention, it is possible to keep your outdoor area clean so that you can enjoy it.

In this article, we’re going to guide you through how to not only clean your outdoor furniture but how to maintain and care for it too, as well as some handy tips for keeping your outdoor space clean so you can make the most of it.

So, if you have an outdoor area that somehow always feels like you can’t use it right away, keep reading!

How to Clean Outdoor Furniture

Cleaning your outdoor furniture should involve a general regular routine cleaning process, as well as a less regular deep cleaning process.

Routine Cleaning Tips for Outdoor Furniture

When your outdoor furniture is being used regularly, say over the spring and summer months, chances are you’re going to have it out so that it’s ready to be used.

To keep your furniture in ready to go status, a quick regular clean should be on the cards. This clean up may be weekly, fortnightly, or possibly monthly, the weather and elements you experience will play a role in how often you need to clean your outdoor furniture. Follow these steps to make sure your outdoor furniture is always ready to be used.

Tip 1. Keep a brush and broom handy

We recommend having a small handheld brush – one with soft bristles – on standby, so that you can give any piece of furniture a quick sweep. This will help to clear the surfaces from debris like dust, dirt and leaves.

Use the broom to sweep the floor around the furniture, but wait until you’ve brushed off furniture with the handheld brush first – remember we clean from the top down and we do the same outdoors too.

Tip 2. Give surfaces a quick wipe down

Whether you’re preparing to use your outdoor furniture or you’re cleaning up after use, it’s a good idea to give the surfaces a quick clean. A mixture of gentle dishwashing liquid and warm water is great for this. Then using either a cloth, sponge or soft-bristle brush, give the surfaces of your furniture a wipe down. You don’t want to saturate the surfaces with water, instead you want to make sure the surfaces are clean to use or clean enough that they won’t stain if you’ve spilt anything on it. You can use this mix on basically any kind of surface, whether it’s fabric, glass, plastic or metal.

Once you’ve gone over the area with your cloth, sponge or brush and detergent mixture, use a dry lint-free cloth to dry and finish off. You may be able to wipe down some surfaces with the dry cloth, while others may benefit more from pat drying it with the cloth.

Tip 3.  Pay attention to the condition of the furniture

When you are doing these quick clean ups this is a great time to keep an eye on the condition of the furniture. You might spot signs of deterioration and some of these may be able to be fixed and eliminated. For example, if you notice any signs of mould, you can clean this using the detergent mix from the step above, but make sure you scrub to clean it off and then dry it using a cloth. Remember to where protective gear when cleaning mould, like masks and gloves, and dispose of the cloths and tools you use to clean the mould.

How to Deep Clean Outdoor Furniture

The general clean up and upkeep of your outdoor furniture will help make your furniture usable during the times of year you’re spending time outdoors, however, it’s also important for the upkeep and maintenance of your furniture to ensure you are giving it a deep clean too.

You should aim to deep clean your furniture twice a year – the first being when you’re getting it ready to use for the season, usually around spring time, and then again at the end of the outdoor season, usually during autumn.

By doing a deep clean at the start of the season, you can get an idea of the condition of the furniture and spot any issues, and then again at the end of the season, giving it this once over will allow you to spot any issues, and ensure that before you pack your furniture away it’s in good condition and will be able to be used again.

Here’s how to deep clean the most common types of outdoor furniture materials:

Wooden Outdoor Furniture

Luckily wood is one of the most withstanding types of materials when it comes to outdoor furniture. Many of the types of wood used to make outdoor furniture, particularly higher quality pieces, have been chosen because they naturally withstand all kinds of elements and deterioration, which makes maintaining them easier.

This means that you can tend to avoid using harsh chemicals on wood, and instead warm soapy water and a little bit of muscle will get the job done. To get a deeper clean, we suggest using a soft-bristled brush as this can help to clean out the woodgrain and make it easier to remove stubborn stains and dirt.

If you notice any signs of rust, mould, or stains, lightly sanding the furniture can help to remove these easier. If it is rust or mould, make sure you wear gloves and mask as you clean.

Outdoor Furniture with Fabric

If your outdoor furniture has fabric, chances are that it will be a type of performance fabric that has been made to resist damage – such as from the sun, water, moisture, stains and mildew.

If the fabric on your outdoor furniture is removable, like cushion covers, they may be able to be washed by machine or by hand. The label will usually provide a cleaning suggestion. If you are using a washing machine, we suggest using gentle washing liquids or soaps, especially something that is bleach-free. And if washing by hand, we recommend using a gentle liquid soap and lukewarm water. You can submerge the covers in the water and either swish them around by hand or use a small soft scrub brush to remove stains and dirt. You don’t want to soak the fabrics for too long, and air dry them one you’ve given them a clean.

Plastic Outdoor Furniture

Plastic outdoor furniture, while strong, can often deteriorate faster than most other types of outdoor furniture materials, so when it comes to cleaning it, it’s important to use gentle materials and avoid harsh chemicals.

Plastic is often quite easy to clean, with stains or even signs of mildew usually able to be eliminated with a quick scrub. Mix a cleaning soap – you could use a dish washing liquid – with lukewarm water and use either a cloth or soft scrubbing brush to clean out the furniture. Make sure you get into the nooks and crannies. Keeping it clean will also prolong its lifespan.

Outdoor Metal Furniture

Metal materials like iron, steel and aluminium are popular options for outdoor furniture because they are super versatile and strong. They can be used to forma all kinds of shapes and types of products.

High quality outdoor furniture will be finished with paint, powder coating or varnish to help protect it from rust, so it’s important to be mindful of this coating when cleaning.

We suggest using a mild soap solution and either a cloth or soft scrubbing brush to clean the furniture. Once you’ve cleaned it, using a dry cloth, wipe down the surfaces so they are dry.

Keep an eye out for any chipped paint, varnish or coating. If you do notice any, then the furniture is more susceptible to rust, so it’s best to touch up the area with some layers. The manufacturer may offer paint or varnish that you can use to do these touch ups.

Wicker Outdoor Furniture

Wicker furniture is a popular choice for outdoor furniture and with some love and care it can be very long lasting. Usually made from rattan or split reed, it’s best to start the cleaning process with a quick vacuum, preferably with a brush attachment. The wicker is usually somewhat finely woven so dirt and debris can get into the crevices quite easily. If you don’t have a brush attachment for your vacuum cleaner, you could use a small brush, whether a scrubbing brush or paint brush to get the dirt out of the woven wicker.

After this, use a gentle soap and water mixture with a cloth to wipe down the furniture. Try to use the cleaning mix somewhat sparingly as wicker fibres can often be impacted by water.

How to ensure you get the most from your outdoor furniture and outdoor space

To keep your outdoor space user friendly and your outdoor furniture in the best condition possible, there are some things you can do.

Keep an eye on the weather

While many types of outdoor furniture have been made to withstand all sorts of weather conditions, serious weather can wreak havoc on your furniture. If a huge storm or a heatwave is on the horizon, then making sure you keep your furniture and outdoor area protected will do wonders for its longevity.

You may be best to pack away the furniture – especially if you won’t be able to use it during this time – or putting protective covers over it. This will help to increase the lifespan of your furniture.

Regular Cleaning and Care

Implementing a regular cleaning schedule for your furniture and outdoor area will help to keep your furniture in good condition and ensure that your outdoor area is able to be used more regularly. It will also make the end of the season deep cleaning sessions a whole lot more manageable.

Storage solutions

While this may be somewhat dependent on where you live, it’s likely that you’re not going to be able to use your outdoor furntirue all year round. This is where having storage solutions and protective gear come in handy.

For the big pieces of furniture that may be difficult to move, protective covers can ensure that your furniture makes it through the off season. While storage boxes and cupboards can take care of the smaller pieces and accessories, like small tables and outdoor cushions.

The last thing you want is the furniture getting damaged or flying away in a winter storm!

Invest in Your Outdoor Furniture

There are a lot of cheap and cheerful outdoor furniture out there these days, and while some of it may last a while, more often than not, you’re going to end up throwing away some pieces after one season.

Outdoor furniture needs to be of a certain standard because it needs to be able to handle being in the great outdoors. Try as you might to take care of your furniture, if it’s not made well, it’s just not going to last.

So, do your research, see what kinds of materials last best in your kind of region, and take your time to invest in good quality outdoor furniture.

Do you need a little help around the home?

We all know that keeping up with the cleaning at home is getting harder and harder – especially with many people heading back into the office. Instead of taking on the hassle yourself, why not hire a professional cleaner?

Here at Pristine Home, we offer cleaning services all over Sydney. We clean houses, apartments and even offices, and offer a variety of different services. We can do end of lease cleaning, deep cleaning, regular domestic cleaning services and much more.

If you need help around the home, you need Pristine Home. Call us on 1300 653 295 to arrange your next clean!

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Our experienced and professional cleaners are trained to communicate with our clients in order to cater to individual requirements in your home.

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