How to Clean and Maintain Outdoor Furniture

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The ideal spring cleaning routine includes special attention to furniture dedicated to the patio, gazebo, playground, garden and yard. Outdoor furniture is usually made of durable materials like metal or plastic, but being constantly exposed to the elements it can quickly rust, gather dirt or weaken and deteriorate. Here are quick and easy ways to clean and maintain furniture that is designated to enhance our outdoor experience.

Things You'll Need

  • Water hose
  • Nylon-bristled brush or broom
  • Soft cloth
  • Soapy water
  • Brush away dirt particles including leaves, flowers, branches and dried bird droppings. Use a handy nylon-bristled brush or broom. If you have a leaf blower, this will work well to blow off fallen leaves and accumulated dust and dirt.

  • Hose away stuck-on dust and dirt. Use the garden hose to quickly wash away all the grime, animal-related droppings and residue, as well as plant-related sap and stains.

  • Scrub off stubborn grunge. Use soapy water (warm water with dishwashing detergent) and a nylon-bristled brush or old toothbrush to scrub off any filth or stain that didn't come off with the hosing down. Rinse with clean water.

  • Clean, polish and protect aluminum furniture with a soft cloth dipped in water-and-vinegar solution. Avoid abrasive materials that can scratch the aluminum.

  • Polish and protect metal and plastic furniture with a couple of thin coats of car wax on all the exposed areas.

  • Protect wood furniture by repainting as necessary. Consider sealant treatments used to waterproof wood decks and patios.

  • Check the integrity of painted metal furniture. When rust develops or when bubbles and irregularities appear on the painted surface (indication that rust is developing underneath the paint), consider restoration before the situation worsens.

Tips & Warnings

  • Try not to distress nearby plants when cleaning and polishing outdoor furniture. Whenever possible, spray hose furniture on the driveway so that soap and water will flow into the street drain.
  • If your furniture has removable canvas material, these can be machine washed. Just remember to reinstall the canvas while it is still damp because it shrinks and loses shape as it dries.
  • Soapy water is also good for cleaning grill grease spatters from tables and chairs.
  • Clean and polish outdoor furniture twice a year--in the spring and fall.
  • Do not use abrasive scrubs and brushes--or car wax--on vinyl furniture. Abrasion will wear away the vinyl's protective layers and car wax will harden and clog up its breathable surface.
  • Photo Credit Photo by Ruby Bayan
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