The life of outdoor fabrics is hard. It’s never easy to keep them looking good, but all that effort pays off in the end when they last for years and provide an attractive appearance. So here are some pointers on how to care for your outdoor fabrics to last as long as possible.
Choose the Best Outdoor Fabrics
There are many textile options that you can use for exterior purposes, but not all of them are truly up to the task. You may need to experiment with different fabric types until you find the perfect material for your needs.
Polyester is a durable material and is also inexpensive. It does not fray as much as cotton (which you should NOT use in outdoor applications) making it ideal for draperies and other heavy-duty items such as tablecloths or placemats.
Linen has a nice natural texture, making it ideal for creating earthy appeal in an area, but it wrinkles easily, so make sure you have plenty of room in your budget if this is what you’re going for.
In general though, those materials are mostly only a concern if you are buying vintage. If you are shopping for outdoor furniture made within the last 20 years, any outdoor fabric you buy will likely be a vinyl or poly-blend material. These are synthetic materials integrated with polyesters, linens, and in some cases cotton to create a blend of natural and man-made fibers. The most popular materials include marine-grade fabrics like Sunbrella, Outdura, and O’Bravia, or pure resin or vinyl as used in cheaper patio textiles.
Best Material and Care for Cushions
When it comes to selecting your cushions for patio deep seating (like those found online), choose the ones with Sunbrella or other water-resistant materials for the best protection against unsightly stains and mildew. Make sure pillows are clean before storing them away.
On average, it is recommended that you should store the pillows between three weeks to three months. Keeping pads for too long can accumulate dust mites or mildew, ruining the cushion’s material.
Before putting pillows back in their place, check them carefully for any spots left behind by food or drinks. These areas might leave permanent marks. When purchasing pillows, it is best to buy ones that are water and mildew-resistant.
How to Clean Outdoor Fabrics
The exterior textiles need special attention because of the wear and tear that you expose them to. So, cleaning them requires a few things you may not need when washing textiles indoors. Here are some tips on how to clean your exterior materials that will help them look their best.
Start by setting up a washing station with a bucket, hot water, dish soap or laundry detergent, and two plastic or terry cloth towels. Place one towel on the ground to protect the area where you are working, and use the other towel to dry off your exterior textile items during the washing process.
· Fill the bucket with water and soap or detergent.
· Turn your exterior textile item inside out before you start to wash it, so all the dirt is not trapped in-between the stitches.
· Use your hand or a brush to scrub the dirtiest areas.
· Put your item into the bucket and let it sit for 5-10 minutes so all the soap or detergent can get to work to remove stains.
· Drain the water from the item by rinsing it thoroughly, careful not to twist or wring out your textiles.
· Squeeze as much excess water as possible, then put it on one plastic towel and roll it up to soak up extra moisture. Unroll the towel and repeat this process until you have removed most of the excess liquid, being careful not to stretch out any creases in the fabric while doing so since that may ruin its appearance.
· Hang your textile item on a clothesline or fence to dry. If you can’t hang it outside, lay it flat somewhere to dry away from direct sunlight.
· Iron the areas that need ironing when your textiles have dried thoroughly to remove any wrinkles or creases formed in them during the washing process.
General Care and Maintenance of Outdoor Fabrics
Keep It Clean
Dirt, stains, and mildew can ruin exterior textiles’ appearance. Ensure to rinse it with fresh water after use or rainstorms if you can’t wash it right away. And make sure not to leave any wet towels or dirty clothes on top of the textiles. Wet towels will always cause permanent damage, no matter what you do later on.
Protect from UV Rays
Fabric patio chairs are excellent for sitting outside, but you want to ensure they don’t become faded or torn due to the sun’s UV rays. Patio umbrellas are even worse, since they tend to fade if you don’t protect them from high levels of sunshine. So always take good care of your patio umbrella by closing it up when not using it and then making sure it stays in a dark place whenever possible.
Keep out Moisture
Exterior textiles should never remain wet for too long because mildew and mold can ruin them and cause permanent damage. This is why it’s essential to keep the patio seats covered whenever possible, especially during seasons where rain showers are more likely to occur.
And if you can’t keep your patio furniture covered, then make sure that it’s in a place where the sun doesn’t shine directly on it for long periods to prevent any possible moisture damage.
Some people will try using bleach or stain removers to fix up their textiles because they intend to sell them eventually when they get old. However, this is always a terrible mistake, since bleaching exterior textiles is one of the worst things anyone could do.
The color will fade away, and bleached spots are often permanent and can cause permanent damage no matter what you do later on. So never use bleach or stain remover products on your outdoor textiles’ pieces ever again!
Let It Dry Completely after Washing
To avoid your exterior textiles smelling like moldy soap, make sure to rinse them off before letting them dry thoroughly. And you should never use a dryer to speed up the drying process, since that will cause shrinkage and permanent damage. Instead, let it air-dry naturally in front of an open window or outside under the sun.
Avoid Standing Water
Standing water is always dangerous for your fabric pieces because any mildew can grow if you don’t get rid of it right away. So, make sure to avoid leaving items such as pillows or patio furniture on top of wet grass or other surfaces where there’s a chance that moisture might accumulate for too long.
Also, be careful not to leave your cushions out in the rain for too long because they will get soaked through and endure more wear and tear and damage if you do.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals
You should never clean exterior textiles with harsh chemicals such as bleach or other whitening products. It will fade the pillows’ color and cause permanent damage that you can’t fix. Furthermore, pillows usually come in bright colors such as red, yellow, green, blue, purple, silver and gold, so you want to avoid bleaching them.
Air Dry Cushions
When winter finally arrives, and it’s too cold to use your patio furniture for a while, then make sure to remove the cushions and clean them by hand using a mild soap. Scrub, brush and dry them in natural sunlight whenever possible.
Otherwise, they may get moldy if not properly dried. Also, try to air dry your pillows before storing them since failure to do so will cause mildew that you’ll find challenging to remove later.
Store Fabric Pieces Safely
When it’s finally time to put away your textile pieces until winter is over, make sure to store them in a place where there are no bugs, dirt, or moldy surfaces nearby. And you should also keep these items separately, so they don’t rub against each other and cause damage. They have natural fibers that can easily get damaged by rubbing against other textile pieces during storage.