How to Clean Outdoor Furniture

Need to get rid of all the dirt and grime from your outdoor furniture and get ready for the outdoor season? Here is how to clean outdoor furniture with tips and tricks to make it a breeze.

Woman with cleaning bucket and text overlay

Cleaning outdoor furniture for a new season is a great way to make use of the few warm days we are getting now so you’re ready for family gatherings and time spent outdoors when the weather stays warm.

If you’ve been storing your outdoor furniture for the winter, chances are it’s looking a bit dingy and could use a good cleaning. 

The good news is that with a little effort, you can have your patio furniture looking as good as new in no time.

Which Is the Easiest to Clean Outdoor Furniture?

The easiest outdoor furniture to clean is plastic, PVC, or resin furniture. If you have wicker, metal, or wood furniture, it may take a bit more effort, but you can get them clean and ready to go in no time. I have you covered with all the details below.

Metal outdoor furniture in backyard surrounded with plants

How to Clean Outdoor Furniture

​The type of outdoor furniture you have will determine how you will clean it.

White plastic furniture is pretty durable, but you want to be sure not to leave scratch marks on the plastic.

Wooden furniture will be really easy to clean if it has a good quality protective finish applied to it. The protective finish can wear off over time and with cleaning, so you may need to apply another coat of protectant once you have cleaned it. I definitely need to apply new finish almost every 3-4 years.

Metal or iron furniture will be easy to clean, but you may have to take care of rust spots if it was sitting outside all winter. 

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Supplies Needed

Before you start cleaning, you’ll want to gather the supplies you’ll need. Here’s a list of items you’ll need:

What Is the Best Product to Clean Outdoor Furniture?

Dish Soap or vinegar (mixed with ammonia and baking soda) are great options to clean outdoor furniture.

Dish soap is a great cleaner for outdoor furniture. It can help cut through the dirt and grime that may have accumulated on it since it was last used. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions first to ensure it is safe to use on your furniture.

Vinegar, when mixed with ammonia and baking soda, is a great cleaner to use on mildew and stains. Once again, be sure to test the solution on a non-visible area to make sure it doesn’t damage your outdoor furniture.

The cleaner you want to avoid, especially with metal or plastic furniture – are abrasive cleaners since they can leave visible marks.

Steps for Cleaning Patio Furniture

Here is a complete step-by-step process. Of course, you can possibly skip some steps or repeat steps depending on the type of furniture you have and how much cleaning they need.

STEP 1: Clear Debris

The first thing you want to do is to clear away any debris. This can be debris that settled over the winter or if you just left it out in your outdoor spaces you may find a lot of leaves that have spent the winter on your lawn furniture from last fall. 

  • Give each piece of furniture a good shake to remove any loose dirt and debris.
  • Wipe it down with a soft cloth to remove any remaining dust.

You can use a broom to help sweep off your furniture quickly and easily. Consider using a shop vac, if you have one, to do a more thorough clean-up. This is a good option if you have a lot of debris built up and for getting into the creases.

STEP 2: Dust

After your furniture was stored away safely for the winter, you can likely just dust it off before moving on to cleaning because not much more than dust will land on protected furniture. 

To dust, use a microfiber cloth or damp cloth to grab and collect the dust so it doesn’t get shaken up all over your house or storage facility just to settle back down for you to clean again later. 

If you use furniture covers, take them off slowly and fold them as you go to keep the dust from spreading.

For the furniture, turn it over and clean out any spider webs… you definitely don’t want those crawlies hanging out inside your clean patio furniture.

​Step 3: Clean the Cushions

A lot of the newer patio cushions are waterproof and can be simply rinsed off with a hose and allowed to dry in the sun.

Patio furniture cushions that have been stored away over the winter will need to be aired out. 

  • For dusty or musty odors, spray them with a fabric freshener before laying them out in the sun to help get rid of these unpleasant odors.
  • Check patio cushions for needed repairs and do the repairs prior to cleaning.
  • Check the tags to see if they are machine washable. Wash removable covers in the washing machine and lay them outside to dry.
  • Do repairs before you clean the cushions to prevent them from falling apart.

RELATED: How to Clean a Washing Machine in 6 Easy Steps

STEP 4: Tackle Stains and Mildew

After you clear away the dirt and grime it’s time to tackle stains and mildew. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s specific cleaning instructions before starting to clean your patio or deck furniture.

Outdoor fabrics are tough and made for everything mother nature can throw at them, but they still need proper care and cleaning.

  • Make a paste of baking soda and rub it into the fabric on the affected areas with a soft brush
  • For stubborn stains, follow it with vinegar to bubble up the dirt from the stains to make them easy to wash away.
  • Replace dirty water with clean water right away.

You can use Dawn dish detergent or your favorite laundry soap as a prewash to treat stains before you dive into cleaning. Let this sit for a few minutes but not long enough to dry. 

This will give the detergent time to bind to the stain. 

man wringing out cloth in soapy water to clean outdoor furniture

For deeper cleaning, you can use mild dish soap, mixed with a gallon of warm water. Use a soft-bristle brush to scrub the cushion covers, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies. You can mix it into a spray bottle to make spreading the detergent easier.

Step 5: Wash the Furniture

While the cushions are drying, it is time to wash the furniture itself.

  • Scrub areas thoroughly that you had to pre-treat to help break up dirt and grime that has bonded with the pretreatment. This is best done after it has had a few minutes to sit.
  • If you have a power washer, you can use it to blast away dirt and grime, making the cleaning process even easier. Just be sure to use a low-pressure setting to avoid damaging the furniture. 
  • You can also use your garden house. Set it to spray and it will apply some pressure and help blast away dirt, though you may need to go back and scrub some places.

STEP 6: Rinse and Dry

After you’ve finished cleaning, rinse thoroughly with a garden hose and let it air dry. Make sure to get into all the nooks and crannies, as any residual soap can leave streaks and cause damage over time by breaking down fabric faster.

Laying your cushions in the sun will help them to dry faster and they will smell wonderful.

Step 7: Treat Any Rust

For metal furniture, after you have cleaned your patio furniture and let it dry out you will want to give it a once over and look for any rust spots that have formed on metal or iron furniture.

These areas can be scrubbed down and treated with protection to prevent your patio furniture from further rusting and becoming damaged.

For the best results you should check for rust every few weeks when your furniture is out being used.

If there is a lot of rust on your metal furniture, consider doing a paint touch-up to make it look new again. This is the perfect time for a makeover!

how to clean outdoor furniture and spray painting metal furniture after cleaning

Using spray paint to update your outdoor metal furniture is a simple solution to give your outdoor living space a whole new look. 

That is it!

Put your furniture together and enjoy your summer!

BONUS Tip! Make a homemade peppermint spray using a few drops of peppermint essential oil, a dash of dish soap, and water, and spray under the patio furniture to keep the spiders away!

Cleaning patio furniture can be time-consuming, but set aside a couple of hours and with these tips to clean outdoor furniture, you’ll be ready for outdoor living in no time!

More Cleaning Ideas:

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Anika Gandhi is on a mission to declutter and organize all the things around her and is here to inspire and encourage you to do the same!

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