How to Clean Outdoor Patio and Deck Furniture

Patio
Read on to learn how to care for all types of outdoor furniture. (alabn/Getty Images Pro)

Regardless of whether the outdoor furniture on your patio or deck is made of wood, aluminum, wrought iron, or plastic; it takes a lot of abuse from the elements including sun, rain, snow, and extreme changes in temperature.

Here are some tips on how to clean and protect the furniture on your deck or patio to keep it looking like new.

Metal Furniture
Iron and metal are prone to rusting. (ballycroy/Getty Images Signature)

Wrought Iron and Metal Furniture

How to Clean:

  • Mix up a squirt of dishwashing detergent with a bucket of warm water.
  • Scrub surface with a scrub brush.
  • Rinse furniture and allow to dry.
  • Use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove any rusted spots down to the bare metal.
  • Wipe off any metal reside with a clean cloth dampened with mineral spirits or naphtha.
  • Spray bare spots with a primer made for metal, such as those made by Rust-Oleum following the directions on the can (wear an approved respirator). Allow surface to dry for recommended time.
  • Spray furniture with paint made for metal of the desired color, following the directions on the can (wear an approved respirator).
  • Allow paint to dry thoroughly before using furniture.

Aluminum Furniture
Oxidation can be a hardy task to try to remove. Using automotive wax can help prevent it. (Kameleon007/Getty Images Signature)

Aluminum Furniture

How to Remove Oxidation:

  • Option #1: Remove light oxidation by rubbing the surface with a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water.
  • Option #2: Rub the surface with automotive rubbing or polishing compound to abrade away oxidation.
  • Option #3: Clean the surface with dishwashing detergent and water using a plastic scrubbing sponge or very fine steel wool. NOTE: Try first on hidden area to see if it scratches the aluminum.
  • All options: Rinse off the cleaning solution with a garden hose, and allow to dry.

How to Prevent Oxidation:

  • Apply a coat of automotive paste wax to the surface.
  • Allow the wax to dry for a few minutes.
  • Remove residue and polish surface with a clean cloth.

Plastic Furniture
Whether your plastic furniture is out directly in the sun or shade, colors can fade easily and the plastic can become very brittle. (Webkatrin001/Getty Images)

Plastic and Molded Resin Furniture

How to Clean:

  • Dip a sponge in warm water, and squeeze out any excess.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on the sponge to act as a mild abrasive.
  • Scrub furniture with sponge.
  • Rinse furniture with garden hose.
  • Allow furniture to dry.

How to Remove Mildew or Mold:

  • White Furniture: Apply a solution of one part bleach to four parts water in a pump up sprayer. Leave on for 10-20 minutes, rinse with a garden hose, and allow to dry in full sun.
  • Colored Furniture: Apply a solution of 1/4 cup white vinegar to one quart water in a pump up sprayer. Leave on for 10-20 minutes then rinse with a garden hose, and allow to dry in full sun.

How to Restore Shine:

  • Apply a coat of automotive paste wax to the surface.
  • Allow the wax to dry for a few minutes.
  • Wipe off any residue with a clean cloth.

Wood Furniture
Wood furniture, when worn down, can begin to decay from buildup of moisture and other weather related problems. (ogm)

Natural Wood Furniture

How to Clean (Redwood, Cedar, Pine):

  • Option #1: Scrub surface with soft scrub brush using special wood cleaner or brightener following the directions on container (wear protective clothing and rubber gloves). Rinse with hose and allow to dry in full sun.
  • Option #2: Scrub with mixture of 1/4 cup ammonia and two tablespoons white vinegar in one quart water. Rinse with garden hose and allow to dry in full sun.

How to Clean (Teak):

  • Option #1: Apply teak cleaner, following the directions on the container.
  • Option #2: Apply mixture of 1/4 cup laundry detergent and one quart bleach to one gallon water. Allow to remain on for 10-20 minutes. Scrub with soft bristled brush and rinse with garden hose.

How to Refinish Teak Furniture:

  • Gray Patina: When left unfinished, teak will develop a natural silver patina over time.
  • Natural Color: To retain the natural brown color of new teak, apply a special teak protector, teak oil, or teak sealer following the directions on the can. Reapply as needed.

Outdoor Cushion
Your furniture isn’t the only thing that needs to be cleaned! Those lovely cushions you have get just as dirty, or more, because the fabric traps all the grime and dirt. (g01xm/Getty Images Signature)

Fabric Cushions

How to Clean Removable Covers:

  • Remove covers and follow machine washing instructions on tag.
  • Put covers back on cushions while still damp and allow to dry.
  • Allow fabric to dry in place to reduce shrinkage.

How to Clean Attached Covers:

  • Dissolve a squirt of dishwashing detergent and a teaspoon of borax in one quart warm water.
  • Wet down the fabric with the solution and scrub lightly with a sponge or soft bristled scrub brush.
  • Allow to soak for 10-20 minutes.
  • Rinse cushions using a garden hose with sprayer.
  • Allow cushions to fully dry.

How to Remove Mold and Mildew:

  • White Fabric: Remove mildew by applying a solution of one part chlorine bleach to four parts water. Allow to soak for 10 minutes, then rinse off with garden hose, and allow to dry in full sun. If cushions are machine washable, add recommended amount of bleach to washer. NOTE: Do not use chlorine bleach on colored fabrics.
  • Colored Fabric: Wash in machine or soak with diluted color safe, non-chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry in full sun.

Further Reading