The Proper Care and Cleaning of Patio Furniture

Basic Cleaning

There are certain household chores that need handling each year when the weather gets warmer, and cleaning patio furniture is one of them. While certain types of furniture may need extra care, the basic rule of thumb is to use a clear dishwashing detergent and water on the actual piece itself to remove any caked on dirt or grime. Make sure the water is warm and not hot, as water over one hundred degrees could cause damage to your patio furniture. Also, you should use a soft cloth instead of a scrubbing pad to prevent any scratching of plastic or metal surfaces. Pressure washers can be used in some cases, but should generally be avoided in favor of good old soap and water on most styles.

Plastic Furniture

Plastic furniture (also known as resin furniture) often requires a different level of care than other patio pieces. If using warm water and soap does not leave the surface sparkling, a mixture of 1/4 cup dishwasher detergent and one gallon of water should do the trick. After you have tried this, any additional mildew stains can be removed with an additional mixture of one part bleach to one part water. (This is especially true for white plastic or resin furniture.) After patio furniture is cleaned, it is best to add a thin layer of wax (like you would use on a car) or WD-40 to the surface of the plastic to help prevent further staining.

Wood Furniture

While wood patio furniture can be more durable, it is often a little more difficult to care for than other types. As with plastic furniture, a mixture of dishwasher detergent and water often removes stuck on grime and can be used in conjunction with a scrub pad or brush. Be mindful of the type of wood you are cleaning, as softer woods can be easily damaged with too much pressure. After the piece is cleaned, a piece of medium grit sandpaper can be used to smooth any rough spots, if needed.

Metal Furniture

There are two types of metal patio furniture to be aware of: aluminum and cast iron/steel. Both types require fairly regular inspection for any reddish brown rust spots and/or cracking paint. If either of these elements are noticed, it is important to gently sand the area with fine grit sandpaper and repaint to prolong the life of the piece. Basic dirt and grime can be removed with a regular household cleaner, although those with any alkaline substance like ammonia should generally be avoided on metal furniture.

Outdoor Fabrics

One of the most annoying facets to cleaning patio furniture is trying to get mold and mildew out of outdoor fabrics. While most fabrics are given a special treatment coating by the manufacturer to help keep pesky odors at bay, not all are. The easiest way to tackle this chore is by rinsing the fabric with a garden hose. It can then be sprayed with one part white vinegar and one part warm water. Of course, checking the manufacturer’s cleaning and care instructions should also be done to ensure proper care is being taken.

Keeping It Looking Good

Keeping patio furniture looking good after it is clean is also very important. By performing regular maintenance checks and using designated covers during harsh weather conditions, you can rest assured that it will still look beautiful for many more years to come. A fresh coat of paint or stain on wood or metal furniture often gives it new life. Fabric elements of patio furniture pieces need to be disassembled and brought indoors during cooler or rainier months. Any metal hinges, wheels, or other pieces should be oiled and cleaned on at least a quarterly basis. With these basic tips in mind, you can be assured that your patio furniture will continue to look lovely for many years to come.

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