As you prepare your porch, deck or patio for the summer, cleaning your outdoor furniture will be at the top of your to-do list. Your furniture is exposed to extremes – sun, rain, humidity, and storage. And although outdoor furniture, cushions and pillows are manufactured to be weatherproof, they still require maintenance to keep them attractive year after year. Let’s take a look at some top tips for cleaning outdoor furniture.
Your first step should always be to assess the furniture itself – is it all in good working order? If yes, then start by hosing it off and taking a good look at its finish. If you own metal or wicker furniture that is painted, check to see if any of the finish is peeling or cracking. Sand and paint as necessary to restore it and prevent larger problems – such as rust or deterioration – from cropping up. If you have wood furniture that needs help, consider staining it or resealing it with a protective finish.
Cleaning the Cushions
Vacuuming your cushions is a great way to start – this will remove dust and dirt that has accumulated from last season, or from storage. If you find spots or stains, your best course is to clean the cushion with a solution of warm water and a mild detergent (such as Dawn Dishwashing Liquid or Woolite). Sponge or spray the solution on, using a soft brush for any tough stains. Clean the cushion thoroughly, rinse to remove all soap residue, and air dry. If you find that your furniture (particularly resin furniture) or cushions have unsightly mold or mildew stains, mix a gallon of water with 1 cup of bleach and a ¼ cup of mild detergent. Spray the solution on the entire surface, and allow it to penetrate into the fabric for 10-15 minutes. Once again, rinse thoroughly and allow the cushion to air dry. Before applying bleach to your cushions, do a spot test to prevent discoloring.
Don’t Forget Your Umbrella
If you have a patio umbrella, begin by opening it up and wiping it down. Remove any debris with a dry rag first, then add a mild cleaning agent (like dish detergent and water). Umbrellas can really harbor mildew, especially among their folds where dampness can linger. Mix up the same solution of water, bleach and detergent, spray it on, and allow it to penetrate. Again, be sure to do a spot test for colorfastness, and also fully air dry the umbrella before closing it up, otherwise you risk new mildew developing.
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