For many homeowners, the patio is one of the favorite places to spend time outdoors while at home during the year’s warmer months. It’s certainly the best place to spend some family time when the weather is looking great. While various factors will contribute to a wonderful home outdoor experience, nothing contributes to a unique outdoor home experience more than the condition of your outdoor furniture.
But then, for many homeowners, their outdoor furniture is exposed to weather elements all year-round since it’s always left outdoors. Depending on the type of materials it’s made of, your outdoor furniture will deteriorate in functionality, beauty, and even safety with time if it’s constantly left outside. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to delay the inevitable.
Regardless of the type of material, there are some basic strategies for maintaining all patio furniture. Even if you’re a reluctant cleaner, the most basic recommendation is to invest in covers for all your outdoor furniture. Water, dirt, and the sun can all cause damage and bleaching, which you can easily prevent by investing in a waterproof slipcover. Moreover, a slipcover makes seasonal cleaning a lot easier.
Besides protecting your patio furniture from the elements, you should also clean it at least 4 to 5 times per year, or at the beginning of each season and twice in the summer. Although that may sound like a tedious task, you don’t have to worry much about it. Cleaning outdoor pieces isn’t as tasking as it might seem, and it doesn’t require using a power washer. Actually, you should never use a power washer unless the manufacturer explicitly indicates that a piece is power-washer-friendly. Cleaning using a power washer can damage many types of materials.
Some Basic Cleaning Advice
Regardless of the furniture type and surface, there’s a simple method for cleaning patio pieces.
- Wipe down the pieces using a dry or slightly damp cloth to loosen and get rid of dirt and debris.
- Give the surfaces a more thorough clean using material-appropriate cleaning agents.
- Let the furniture dry completely before covering them up again.
Of course, these three simple steps might seem quite obvious. However, if you make the mistake of giving the pieces a deep clean before an initial dust-off, you may end up having twice the work to achieve a thorough clean.
The Material Specifics
Although there are some basic steps for cleaning outdoor pieces, different types of materials will require different care types. The most common materials used to manufacture patio pieces are wood, metal, plastic, and all-weather wicker.
Wood outdoor furniture is perhaps the most challenging surface to clean. With its different textures and beautiful finishes, it can be daunting to clean wooden surfaces with water. Luckily, numerous cleansers make cleaning wooden surfaces an easy job. Once you’ve dusted your furniture using a slightly dry or damp cloth, you can apply a gentle wood cleanser to give the surface a deep clean. You should always use oil-based cleansers since they don’t contain harsh chemicals and easy to use.
When cleaning outdoor wood pieces, work in small sections with the cleanser to ensure the surface is thoroughly clean. Also, keep in mind that wood has an open and, at times, coarse texture, so it may require some extra elbow grease to achieve a thorough clean. If you’re a very passionate cleaner, and you want to achieve an extra-squeaky clean, you can use a toothbrush to excavate the tiny and really tough dirt.
In case the wood has developed any mold during the wetter and cooler months, let the furniture dry out first before cleaning the spots. Then, use a dry brush to scrub the surface until the mold flakes off. Once you’ve cleared the mold, check if there are any other issues, and let the wood dry out again before proceeding with any further cleaning.
Make an effort to wipe down your outdoor wood furniture at least once per week using a damp cloth during peak-use seasons like summer and spring. This helps to prevent dust and dirt from ruining the aesthetics of the wood. If you feel your older wood furniture needs a new lease on life, you can give the pieces a royal treatment by sanding and staining them. This also helps if you want to change the piece when updating your color scheme.
Metallic outdoor furniture looks awesome when new, but can look awful if neglected and allowed to stain or rust. Most metallic surfaces are easy to clean, but different metal types have their own distinct characteristics that require nuanced care. When cleaning metallic surfaces:
- Start by removing any upholstery or decorative pillows.
- Lightly spray the metal surface with a garden hose to wash away the significant pieces of debris and dirt.
- Wipe the metal surfaces using a cloth soaked in soapy water.
- Rinse the cloth off and wipe the surface again using clean water.
- Dry the surface with a soft cloth.
- Pay close attention to any joints and undersurfaces.
- Avoid using alcohol-based cleaners, acids, solvents, or abrasive brushes that may corrode or scratch the metallic surface.
Plastic and All-Weather Wicker
Plastic and all-weather wicker patio furniture are perhaps the easiest to clean. These materials are also low-maintenance and season-friendly for any climate. After the first round of dusting, use a gentle cleaner that doesn’t contain and bleaching agents or abrasive particles. Corrosive and abrasive ingredients will damage and deteriorate plastic outdoor pieces. To restore the shine on your plastic pieces, you can apply car wax using a soft cloth. Car wax also gives the furniture a protective layer that will prevent the elements from damaging the shiny surface.
Taking care of your outdoor furniture and anything you own is essential if you want to enhance their lifespan. If you consider all the tips here, you can always be sure that your patio pieces will last for generations.