The Home, Cleaning & Organization

How to Clean Your Patio Furniture

It's only fun to sit on patio furniture when it's clean. Bird droppings, dirt, mold, and other outdoor treats can land on the furniture, making it less than appealing. Here's a fix: a homemade recipe that works surprisingly well and is only pennies per application.

Outdoor Furniture Cleaning Recipe

  • 1 gallon of warm water
  • 1 cup of borax
  • ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide
  • ¼ cup of dish soap

Dry brush the furniture in a downward motion to remove excess dirt and debris using a scrub brush. Mix the ingredients together in a bucket. Fill a clean spray bottle and liberally spray the solution onto each piece, using the scrub brush to agitate the mixture once applied. Sponge or hose the mixture off the furniture until suds are gone to avoid lingering residue on the furniture. All the furniture to dry in the sunshine.

For teak and wicker furniture, try a gentler method.

Mix together in a bucket a solution of 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap to 1 gallon of warm water. Dip a clean nylon scrub brush in the bucket and gently scrub away the dirt and debris on the furniture, hosing down the surface when done to remove all bubble and residue. Only apply oil to teak if the manufacturer's instructions call for it.

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Cleaning rugged cushioned pieces with permanent covers:

Spray the outdoor furniture cleaning recipe onto the cushions liberally and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. This will allow the product to saturate the material and break down dirt. Keep in mind that this should be done on colorfast surfaces only, so try testing an inconspicuous corner first before spraying down the entire surface.

After the 15 minutes or so, hose down cushions and lay flat to dry in the sunshine. Flip the cushions over when the top is dry so that the bottom side can dry as well. If the covers cannot be washed down for whatever reason, use a wet/dry vac to vacuum up debris. When necessary, stains can be spot-cleaned with warm, soapy water and a clean cloth.

Cleaning cushions with removable canvas slipcovers:

Place slipcovers in the wash with laundry detergent on a regular cycle. When the cycle is complete and the slipcovers are damp, place them back onto the cushions and allow to dry in the sun. This is an important step to ensure that the cushion covers maintain their shape.

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Cleaning outdoor pillows and cushions:

Most are machine washable (if they fit into the washer). Place them into the washing machine, run a gentle wash cycle, and tumble dry on low. Toss a couple of dryer balls in the dryer to help beat out the excess moisture and promote quick drying.

Cleaning outdoor umbrellas:

The homemade cleaning solution is perfect for run-of-the-mill grime buildup. If there is mildew on the umbrella, the process is a bit more detailed. Act quickly and clean it well to prevent more growth. First, brush off as much mildew as possible and then spray the affected area with a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water. Leave it for 30 minutes to soak.

Take a nylon-bristled scrub brush and remove the remaining mildew from the umbrella by gently scrubbing. Hose it down when done to remove the solution and mildew. Re-spray the area with the vinegar and water solution to protect against mildew buildup. Repeat this process monthly. In fact, this is a safe solution that can be sprayed on all outdoor furniture to prevent mildew.

This story appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of The Inspired Home Journal, titled “Get Rid of the Grime.”


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