How to clean chairs

Get off the couch and give it the spruce up it calls for with this problem-solution guide.

How to clean chairs

Just like the fabric in clothing, upholstery gets assaulted daily by skin oils, hair, dust, food crumbs, and spills. If your chairs and sofas are starting to look worse for the wear, save yourself hundreds of dollars and don’t call in a pro—not yet, anyway. Banishing dirt, stains, even discoloration yourself can cost mere pennies.

But before you dive into this guide on how to clean upholstery, first learn what you’re dealing with by checking the label on the bottom of the piece or under a cushion to see what type of cleaner is recommended. The label should have a code:

  • W = Water Based
  • S = Solvent Based
  • WS = Water or Solvent
  • X = Professional Cleaning Required

Then use the cleaning tips and techniques here (making sure to test on an inconspicuous area first).

If you do a general upholstery upkeep as part of your routine home maintenance, your furniture will look great longer.

How to clean chairs

How to Remove Dirt from Upholstery

Give the piece a thorough vacuuming using the upholstery attachment. Start at the top, and work your way down, using short, left-to-right strokes. Working in the same direction is important, especially for fabrics that have a nap, like corduroy, chenille, or suede. Switch to the crevice attachment to better clean seams and folds, as well as around buttons and tufting. Or, employ a can of compressed air (just as when cleaning your computer keyboard) to dislodge dirt and dust from nooks and crannies.

For fabrics with a W or WS code…

  1. Mix a few drops of liquid dish detergent in a bucket of lukewarm water.
  2. Gently brush over the entire piece with a soft bristled brush, making it lightly and evenly damp with the soap solution. Be careful not to soak any areas, as excess moisture can cause some fabrics to discolor.
  3. Follow up by wiping the entire piece with a clean, damp cloth.
  4. Allow the piece to air dry completely before sitting on it. Don’t try to speed things up with a hair dryer, as the heat could cause fabrics to shrink or pucker, but feel free to turn on fans to amp up the air circulation in the room. Clean one side of any cushions and allow to dry completely overnight before cleaning the other side.

For fabrics with an S code…

Use only solvent-based cleaners such as a dry cleaning solvent; water-based cleaners can damage these fabrics. Dry cleaning solvent can be purchased online (type “upholstery safe dry cleaning solvent” into a search engine), or you may find it in home dry cleaning kits like DRYEL, available at grocery stores, big box discount stores, and via online retailers (view on Amazon).

Make sure your work area is well ventilated. Apply dry cleaning solvent to a clean towel and gently brush over generally dirty areas of upholstery. You can work solvent into heavily soiled areas with a clean, soft-bristled brush. Allow the piece to dry completely before sitting on it again.

How to clean chairs

How to Clean Stains on Upholstery

The quicker you attend to a spill (of wine, sauce, greasy food), the less likely it will stain, so as soon as your able, blot—don’t rub!—immediately with a clean, white cloth.

To treat whatever mark remains, or go after spills that have set into stains, try a spot cleaner or dry cleaning solvent approved for your type of upholstery. If your fabric is water-safe, wet and wring out a clean cloth or sponge and dip it into a mixture of water and a little liquid dish soap. Then gently blot the stain. Follow-up by blotting with a clean cloth or sponge that has been dipped in clean water, and wrung out. Repeat as necessary, and then blot the spot dry with a clean cloth or white paper towels.

If the spot does not come out after two or three applications, it’s time to call a professional.

How to clean chairs

How to Deal with Discoloration

“Browning” can occur when natural fabrics get overly wet or dry too slowly. To counteract, use a neutral pH-based, fast-drying upholstery shampoo.

  1. Thoroughly vacuum the furniture first.
  2. Mix the cleaning product in a bucket of water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Tip: Use a hand-held egg beater or electric mixer to whip it up into a foam.) When there’s very little water left in the bottom of the bucket, the shampoo is ready to apply.
  3. Fold a clean, white, absorbent towel, dip it into the foam, and wring all of the moisture out.
  4. Wipe the entire piece of fabric in overlapping strokes, either vertically or horizontally—just make sure to stay in one direction.
  5. Apply more foam to the towel as needed.
  6. Allow the foam to sit for at least five but no more than 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the foam with a clean towel that’s been moistened in clean water and wrung dry.
  8. Rinse and wring the towel out as needed. Dry the piece quickly by opening the windows and moving the air in the room with fans. Do not use a hair dryer or anything that would apply heat to the area. The fabric, overall, needs to dry at the same rate.

This post is sponsored by HomeRight. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
**************************

You know those cleaning tasks that you just never seem to get around to? Well, that’s how things have been with our kitchen and dining room chairs.

How to clean chairs

I know some of you will think that I am crazy for having upholstered chairs for our kitchen table, but I love the look of them and the kids are past the ages of constantly spilling their milk or dropping their food. Since the chairs were slip covered, I assumed that I would be able to put them in the wash, but it turns out they are spot clean only. I did treat them with a stain guard but they have really been looking a little worse for wear over the past few months…

How to clean chairs

I am generally pretty good about cleaning up any major food spills that happen, but the chairs were just looking really grungy – especially on the seat and across the top of the chair When my Mom started asking when I was going to buy new chairs, I figured that it was time to make cleaning them a little more of a priority. 😉

CLEANING SUPPLIES

  • dish soap
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • HomeRight Steam Machine Plus
  • Microfiber cloths

How to clean chairs

CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Fill a large bowl with hot water and a couple of drops of dish soap. not using a steam cleaner> Wet down the microfiber cloth and wet the entire area that you would like to clean, giving it a quick scrub. You want this to be quite consistently wet throughout the area that you are cleaning. I did the full seat, back, and sides for all of our chairs so I basically covered the entire surface. If you are doing a smaller area, ensure that you don’t have hard edges at the end of your wet spot as this could lead to water stains.
  • Generously spray any heavily soiled areas or stains with the hydrogen peroxide. Leave on for at least 10 minutes. I have used this safely on a number of different fabrics, but always spot check on the fabric that you are using.
  • Next it is time to steam clean! I experimented with using the scrub brush and the microfiber cloth with the squeegee attachments. If you are just going for an overall clean or have a more delicate fabric, I would go with the microfiber cloth option; however, I preferred to use the scrub brush over the more soiled areas and found that it worked better to clean the corners as well. Even with the cloth though, I was able to get a lot of extra dirt up…

How to clean chairs

  • Run the steam cleaner over the fabric in a grid like fashion until all the areas of the chair are covered. Spend extra time on the heavily soiled areas and scrub as needed using either the scrub brush or the microfiber pad.
  • If you do not have a steam cleaner, you will need to use a little extra man power and give the chair a good scrub with the microfiber cloth and water/dish soap mixture. If any stains remain, give it another go with the hydrogen peroxide and scrub again.
  • Let dry and you will have a brand new chair! I was actually surprised at how well they came out!

How to clean chairs

To keep them looking new , spray with a stain guard treatment that you can pick up at any home supply store. It’s worth the extra $10 or so!

How to clean chairs

If you haven’t tried cleaning with steam, I highly recommend it. I have been using my HomeRight Steam Machine Plus for almost two years now and am still coming up with new ways that I can use it! The high temperature, high pressurized steam easily loosens and dissolves dirt, grease, and grime and kills 99.9% of all germs and bacteria without the use of any chemicals. I especially love it for cleaning our kitchen and bathrooms and the detachable hand held unit makes it so easy to get into any space of those little spaces that are hard to clean.

If you would like to give the HomeRight Steam Machine Plus a try for yourself, I just happen to be giving one away! Just follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter below to enter to win your own! This sweepstakes is open to residents of the US and Canada – full eligibility requirements are listed on the Rafflecopter.

For more steam cleaning tips and tricks, check out these posts…

How to Clean Grout How to clean chairsPower Cleaning the Kitchen with Steam

How to clean chairsHow to Detail Your Car

How to clean chairsHow to Clean Your Fridge

This post is sponsored by HomeRight. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
**************************

You know those cleaning tasks that you just never seem to get around to? Well, that’s how things have been with our kitchen and dining room chairs.

How to clean chairs

I know some of you will think that I am crazy for having upholstered chairs for our kitchen table, but I love the look of them and the kids are past the ages of constantly spilling their milk or dropping their food. Since the chairs were slip covered, I assumed that I would be able to put them in the wash, but it turns out they are spot clean only. I did treat them with a stain guard but they have really been looking a little worse for wear over the past few months…

How to clean chairs

I am generally pretty good about cleaning up any major food spills that happen, but the chairs were just looking really grungy – especially on the seat and across the top of the chair When my Mom started asking when I was going to buy new chairs, I figured that it was time to make cleaning them a little more of a priority. 😉

CLEANING SUPPLIES

  • dish soap
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • HomeRight Steam Machine Plus
  • Microfiber cloths

How to clean chairs

CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Fill a large bowl with hot water and a couple of drops of dish soap. not using a steam cleaner> Wet down the microfiber cloth and wet the entire area that you would like to clean, giving it a quick scrub. You want this to be quite consistently wet throughout the area that you are cleaning. I did the full seat, back, and sides for all of our chairs so I basically covered the entire surface. If you are doing a smaller area, ensure that you don’t have hard edges at the end of your wet spot as this could lead to water stains.
  • Generously spray any heavily soiled areas or stains with the hydrogen peroxide. Leave on for at least 10 minutes. I have used this safely on a number of different fabrics, but always spot check on the fabric that you are using.
  • Next it is time to steam clean! I experimented with using the scrub brush and the microfiber cloth with the squeegee attachments. If you are just going for an overall clean or have a more delicate fabric, I would go with the microfiber cloth option; however, I preferred to use the scrub brush over the more soiled areas and found that it worked better to clean the corners as well. Even with the cloth though, I was able to get a lot of extra dirt up…

How to clean chairs

  • Run the steam cleaner over the fabric in a grid like fashion until all the areas of the chair are covered. Spend extra time on the heavily soiled areas and scrub as needed using either the scrub brush or the microfiber pad.
  • If you do not have a steam cleaner, you will need to use a little extra man power and give the chair a good scrub with the microfiber cloth and water/dish soap mixture. If any stains remain, give it another go with the hydrogen peroxide and scrub again.
  • Let dry and you will have a brand new chair! I was actually surprised at how well they came out!

How to clean chairs

To keep them looking new , spray with a stain guard treatment that you can pick up at any home supply store. It’s worth the extra $10 or so!

How to clean chairs

If you haven’t tried cleaning with steam, I highly recommend it. I have been using my HomeRight Steam Machine Plus for almost two years now and am still coming up with new ways that I can use it! The high temperature, high pressurized steam easily loosens and dissolves dirt, grease, and grime and kills 99.9% of all germs and bacteria without the use of any chemicals. I especially love it for cleaning our kitchen and bathrooms and the detachable hand held unit makes it so easy to get into any space of those little spaces that are hard to clean.

If you would like to give the HomeRight Steam Machine Plus a try for yourself, I just happen to be giving one away! Just follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter below to enter to win your own! This sweepstakes is open to residents of the US and Canada – full eligibility requirements are listed on the Rafflecopter.

For more steam cleaning tips and tricks, check out these posts…

How to Clean Grout How to clean chairsPower Cleaning the Kitchen with Steam

How to clean chairsHow to Detail Your Car

How to clean chairsHow to Clean Your Fridge

*FloorCleaningTools is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission (no added cost for you).

Plastic chairs gain the upper hand in their compact design and the ability to be flexibly moved anywhere, especially in events and meetings held with a large number of participants.

However, many people do not know how to clean oxidized plastic patio chairs. Does this problem bother you? Refer to the following 3 techniques of washing plastic chairs in the article below.

Table of Contents

How To Clean Oxidized Plastic Patio Chairs

Clean By Baking Soda

Preparation:

  • Baking soda
  • Paste wax
  • A sponge
  • Clean water

How to Clean:

Baking soda is famous for its ability to make skin care products and its power to clean a wide range of tools and equipment.

Initially, you need to wet the sponge with warm water to clean oxidized plastic chairs, then sprinkle baking soda on the sponge and rub your chairs gently and thoroughly with this mixture.

After the steps above, you rinse the chairs with clean water and wipe them with a towel or dry the chairs under the sun for a while.

In case you want to polish the chair to look brighter and newer, apply some paste wax to the soft cloth, then wipe this cloth on all chairs and leave them on for about 5 minutes or more. Finally, use another soft cloth to polish the chairs, and you are good to go!

Clean By Bleach

Preparation:

  • ¼ cup of bleach
  • A ladle
  • Hot water
  • Rubber gloves
  • A brush/sponge

How to Clean:

You should pour ¼ cup of bleach into a bucket of hot water. Remember to wear rubber gloves dipping the brush into the detergent solution to scrub the chairs thoroughly.

It’s better to leave the cleaning solution on the chair for a few minutes to ensure this mixture has enough time to remove the stain. Finally, you will need to rinse the chairs with water, then dry them with a towel, or leave them under the sun.

Clean By Laundry Detergent

Preparation:

  • One teaspoon of detergent
  • 1 gallon of warm water
  • A brush/sponge

How to Clean:

You mix one teaspoon of prepared detergent with one gallon of warm water and apply this mixture to the chairs’ oxidized areas and scrub them with a brush or a sponge to remove all stains.

To enhance the effect of the washing process, you should leave this solution on the chairs for 15 minutes before rinsing them with water and clean them with a soft cloth.

Clean By Lemon or Vinegar

Preparation:

  • Lemon/vinegar
  • Water
  • Soft cloth

How to Clean:

First, you can mix lemon juice with clean water and apply this mixture to the oxidized plastic area. To make sure the solution has enough time to break the stains, you should leave it on for 1 hour or longer, depending on the degree of stains. Finally, scrub the chairs with clean water.

You can also wipe the stains by vinegar because it is capable of removing stains and oxidized areas on utensils quite well and safely, so you can rest assured to apply this method.

How to clean chairs

Clean By Ammonia

Preparation:

  • Ammoniac
  • 3 small cups of water
  • A soft cloth

How to Clean:

Ammonia is a very useful detergent that can clean a wide variety of stains from furniture or any other equipment, including oxidized stains on plastic chairs.

You can mix 1 cup of ammonia with 3 cups of water. Shake this mixture thoroughly, then use a soft cloth to blot the solution to wipe the stains on the chairs. You will see a miracle happen.

What To Do To Prevent Chair From Oxidizing?

Surely you will never want your favorite chairs to be oxidized and lose their original beauty. Therefore, please note the following tips to prevent that nasty scenario from taking place:

Always Keep Plastic Chairs Clean

The ancients said: “The goods are durable by people”, referring to whether an object is durable and beautiful or not depends on user usage and preservation.

To avoid plastic chairs from oxidation, keep them away from rain, dirt, and droppings by regularly cleaning them with a clean cotton towel. If you can’t do this every day, at least clean your chair 1-2 times a week.

In addition, you should also remove mold on the chairs by cleaning them with a solution of vinegar and water. Such methods should be carried out at least once a month, or as soon as signs of oxidation such as dullness or chalk invade your lovely chairs.

Paint The Chairs

Painting the chair is another quite simple way that you should consider to limit oxidation. When applying this tip, you can use the traditional painting method with a brush or spraying paint.

Although this is an easy and effective way, you should not overdo it to avoid causing other damage to your chairs.

The ideal time you should repaint your chairs is about every 6 months.

Upholster Pplastic Chairs for Preservation

If your plastic furniture is frequently exposed to the outside environment (especially ones used in events, outdoor parties, weddings, and so on), you should wrap them up with fabric upholstery to avoid plastic tables and chairs being oxidized or damaged by the impact of dirt.

Additionally, upholster plastic furniture with colorful and attractive coats is also a way to increase their aesthetics, making users feel more sympathetic.

You can also leave unused plastic chairs in a shady place, away from direct sunlight, as long periods of time in the sun will degrade and oxidize your plastic chairs quickly.

Conclusion

For the time being, you have known how to clean oxidized plastic patio chairs. Well, referring to the best three tips and some useful advice above will help you protect your favorite seat from oxidizing.

I hope you will apply these methods immediately to save money on replacing plastic furniture every year. Good luck!

Refreshing your wooden dining table, chairs, and credenza is easier than you might think. Here’s how to clean wood furniture like a pro.

There’s a reason wood furniture is a design staple with serious staying power. Not only is it a durable option, but a well-made piece of wood furniture has timeless appeal, especially if it has great bones. Of course, you’ll need to learn how to clean wood furniture the right way–regardless of whether you decide to go with a light or dark finish, mid-century modern or traditional–to make your favorite pieces last.

While it might seem complicated to clean wood, a simple approach is always best. For starters, when purchasing new wood furniture, always ask the vendor for tips on how to care for the piece. Because every finish, stain, and type of wood is different, it’s hard to have a one-size-fits-all approach to cleaning wood furniture, but a good rule of thumb is to start with the mildest cleaning solutions first and work your way up from there. You’ll also always want to test new cleansers or products in an inconspicuous spot before wiping down a whole table or chair. Follow the steps below to get started on cleaning your wood furniture.

What You’ll Need:

  • Microfiber cloths (such as these)
  • Clear dish soap
  • Mineral spirits (optional)
  • Semi-solid furniture polish (optional, like this one)
  • Cheesecloth (optional)

Follow These Steps:

  1. Start by wiping down your wood furniture with a barely damp microfiber cloth to remove dust and grime. You never want water to sit on the wood, so quickly wipe it down with another dry microfiber cloth. For regular dusting, a quick wipe-down with a microfiber cloth will do the trick.
  2. If your wood furniture has any spots with sticky residue, add a drop of dish soap to a microfiber cloth and test a tiny, out-of-sight section of the furniture to make sure the finish doesn’t get removed. If it’s fine, combine a few drops of dish soap with a cup of water and gently work on the gummy section. Avoid soaking the wood in water, and once the spot is cleaned, wipe the area dry with another microfiber cloth.
  3. In more extreme situations, you might need to try mineral spirits. Again, test a small spot beforehand to make sure it won’t remove the finish. Working in a well-ventilated area, apply a little bit of mineral spirits to a clean cloth and rub down the sticky area. And if that still doesn’t do the trick? You might need to consider refinishing the piece.
  4. Depending on your wood furniture, you might need to apply some wax to protect it and help keep its shine. Using a cheesecloth, apply a semi-solid wax (without silicone) to the wood furniture. Let the wax paste sit on the wooden surface for a few minutes before buffing it in with a clean microfiber cloth. Avoid polish sprays, which can leave a residue.

Note: As mentioned above, always start with the least damaging cleaning method first and spot test a solution before applying it to the whole piece. Worst-case scenario, if you feel really unsure about what to do, call a local furniture repair company and see if they can offer a consultation.

It doesn’t take much time or effort to extend these summer staples’ lifespans.

If you spend a lot of time outdoors during the warm-weather months—going to the ocean, concerts, picnics, your kids’ baseball games—you probably get good use out of your beach chairs. They’re portable, lightweight, and convenient, but they may also look a bit worn if you ignore necessary maintenance and throw them into a corner of the garage after every use. Take a look at these tips on beach chair care below, and you will quickly discover that spending a few minutes on these seats is all you need to keep them in great condition for years to come.

Aluminum Frames

This popular material makes beach chairs more affordable than wood iterations, but it’s prone to rusting. “Moisture is the most common reason for corrosion of aluminum-frame chairs,” says Amy Allison, an outdoor furniture expert from Lowe’s. “We recommend keeping your chairs as dry as possible and wiping off moisture as soon as you see it.” For extra protection, you can also have the aluminum clear coated, which should ward off rust entirely.

Wood Frames

When wood gets wet, it can easily warp and become uneven or bowed. “To avoid this, store your wood-framed chairs in a cool, shaded, and dry location,” says Allison. This is especially critical during inclement weather when there’s more moisture in the air than on a dry day. Treating the wood with a stain or seal finish offers extra protection in preserving the frame’s shape, as well.

Polyester or Canvas Seat Fabrics

Most beach chair seats are comprised of either polyester or canvas. Regardless of the textile type, Allison suggests giving the seat’s fabric a quick clean after each use by wiping it down with a cloth. Another good habit to practice: Immediately mop up any spills or stains rather than waiting, which may give the stain time to set. “Once a month, vacuum your seats to keep them free of dirt,” says Allison. “It can make a big difference.” And if you do see a stain? Spot clean the fabric rather than washing the entire seat. “If your chair needs a deep clean, follow all cleaning instructions on the tag,” she says. “When looking to purchase your next beach chair, consider buying one with cushions that are UV-resistant to help maintain their look as long as possible.”

Beach Chair Storage

No matter the season, store your chairs in a dry and dark location, says Allison: “Over the winter, consider placing your chairs in a storage bag or shed to protect them against the elements.”

How to clean chairs

RH’s Cloud Sectional in Pewter Italian Milano Leather. Photo: Courtesy of RH

A handsome leather couch is luxurious—and if you want to make sure it stays that way, you have to know how to clean leather. Wear and tear, of course, is inevitable—we’d never tell you to stop with the Netflix binges—but as long as you clean and care for leather properly, the material will only improve with age. You know, like a fine wine.

“The best way to think of leather is that it is like your skin. Good-quality aniline leather is a natural, breathable material; it changes over time,” says furniture designer Timothy Oulton. And just like skin, leather requires regular care to look its best. Leather couches and all other leather furniture need to be dusted with a dry cloth and receive a monthly application of a leather cream to keep the material soft and moisturized—and, actually, leather cream is also what you use to clean up any dirt or stains that crop up.

We asked Oulton and Christophe Pourny, a New York–based restoration expert and the author of The Furniture Bible, to share their top tips on how to clean leather sofas and other furniture, plus the secrets to bringing those seen-better-days pieces back to life.

1. Gather Your Materials

These are the cleaning supplies you’ll need to tidy up your leather surfaces:

  • Saddle soap
  • Water
  • Leather cream
  • Soft cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swab

2. Start With Soap and Water

To tackle mild stains, dip a clean, damp washcloth in warm soapy water and use it to wipe away the stain on your leather. “Specific leather soaps exist, usually called saddle soaps,” says Pourny. Darker stains, like those from an ink pen, are another story. According to Pourny, “a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol can do the trick.” Just be careful to apply it directly on the stain spot, so the alcohol doesn’t spread the stain onto more of the leather.

3. Dry the Leather Thoroughly

“Be sure to carefully dry the leather with another clean, dry cloth to avoid any mildew,” Pourny notes. For best results, leave the spot alone overnight.

4. Apply Leather Cream

Re-moisturize the material by applying the leather cream with a clean cloth. Let it sink in, then buff to a shine if you’d like.

Tips on How to Care for Leather

Now that you know how to clean leather like a pro, here are a few more tips on how to care for leather furniture so that it lasts a lifetime.

Aniline-dyed leather furniture, where the dye penetrates the entire material, is not only durable but is actually meant to look lived-in, says Oulton. “Rather than covering and sealing the surface with a colored coating, we work dyes and waxes into the leather by hand. As a result, we feel like the furniture wears in and not out. It’s very easy to live with, and it develops a rich patina over time.”

“In most cases, it is ambient conditions that will lead to the cracking of leather—extreme temperatures and lack of moisture,” says Oulton. “Placing a sofa right under your air-conditioning or next to a radiator or in front of a roaring fire is going to dry out the leather.” Sunlight can also have this effect, says Pourney, so avoid putting furniture right next to a window or glass door, or hang light-blocking curtains.

Cats, and sometimes dogs, will use leather as a (very expensive) scratching post, so teach them to stay off the sofa. “I think this is the biggest cause of damage we hear of from customers calling the studio,” says Pourny.

To treat specific distressed areas, find a treatment made for your type of leather. Pourny sells an Old World–inspired leather serum and cream, which can be applied with a cloth to soften the leather and smooth scratches, while Oulton recommends Leather Masters. Regardless, use a light hand. “Less is more when applying any product to leather. Test a small area first,” says Pourny. “For colored leather, be extra careful and know in advance that any product will most likely darken the leather.”

Don’t run the risk of damaging the leather further by trying to fix it—cleaning leather is a DIY job, but repairing it is not. “For large cuts, we recommend contacting a professional who can mix color and texture by applying heat, and make repairs to the leather,” says Pourny.

If that doesn’t work, go to a respected shoe repair shop or leather care expert for help. “Even if it’s a bit controversial, avoid bringing your garment to your local cleaner, even if they advertise suede and leather care,” says Pourny. “I do not know anybody that had great luck with them, and the damage will be irreversible.”

How to clean chairs

Cleaning Patio Furniture

When it’s nice out, get patio and backyard furniture ready for company with these tips.

Photo by: iStock

Related To:

Regular cleaning is important to keep outdoor furniture looking good, but it’s never more necessary than after a long, messy winter. Harsh weather can leave patio or lawn furniture looking dingy, tired and less than inviting. These tips for cleaning outdoor furniture of all types are helpful for keeping that deck furniture looking good all year long. But you’ll find these suggestions especially handy when it’s time to spruce up those outdoor living spaces as warm weather finally returns and the backyard beckons for lounging, grilling or entertaining alfresco.

Getting Started

Dust, leaves and other loose debris are likely to gather on any furniture that has been left uncovered during extended periods without use. Start your cleanup by using a brush or dry cloth to wipe away any loose materials. Wood, metal, plastic or fabric may be sprayed down using a garden hose with a spray attachment to dislodge lingering surface debris.

Plastic and resin furniture is inexpensive and comes in a wide variety of styles, making it the most popular choice for deck and lawn furniture. It also happens to be the easiest to maintain. Skip the abrasives (which can scuff the surface) and simply spray with an all-purpose cleaner and wipe down with a sponge or damp cloth to keep plastic furniture looking good.

Wrought iron and stainless steel are popular choices for outdoor furniture for their durability and ease of maintenance. In most cases, metal patio furniture will easily return to “like new” condition by using a sponge or brush to clean surfaces with a quarter cup of mild dish soap added to a gallon of warm water.

The greatest enemy of metal furniture is rust. Although metal patio furniture is often painted or coated with a rust-resistant finish, these will wear away over time. If rust is detected, use steel wool to remove oxidation and consider re-painting the furniture to prevent future problems.

How to Paint Metal Outdoor Patio Furniture 01:57

Wicker, Teak and Other Wood

Using a power washer may be tempting, but is likely to scar or otherwise damage soft wood and is strongly discouraged. Instead, use a mild oil soap or soapy water and a soft brush or sponge to remove any grit or grime. Wicker may require a toothbrush to get into the weave and can be time-consuming. To ease this chore, clean regularly to reduce build-up.

Hard woods like teak and ipe will clean up nicely when you use a weak solution of laundry detergent or one of the many commercial products available specifically for the job. Work in small sections and dry thoroughly when finished. Resist the urge to use teak oil on your hardwood furniture, which can encourage mildew.

Hammocks, seat covers and stretched fabric look great, but get dirty quickly. Because they are manufactured from a variety of materials, both natural and synthetic, the safest method for cleaning is to use a solution of dish soap and warm water. Whenever possible, consult manufacturer’s instructions for recommended cleaning methods. In some cases, fabric may be removed and washed in a washing machine set to gentle. Air-dry to avoid damage from a hot dryer. Once clean, consider applying a water-repellant fabric protector to minimize future staining.

Dealing With Mold

Rain and humidity often leave outdoor furniture damp and prone to the development of mold and mildew on its surfaces. To deal with mold, make sure the furniture is dry and scrub with a brush to remove surface mold and spray with a hose to rinse. Once dry-scrubbed, full-strength white vinegar and a hard brush will remove stubborn mildew. Diluted bleach is also effective in removing mold from hard surfaces, but may discolor some materials and isn’t always the best choice. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.

When Cleaning Isn’t Enough

After extended use, patio furniture may develop stains that are impervious to cleaning. If the cleaning methods outlined here aren’t effective, it may require far more drastic measures. Hard wood furniture like teak can be surface-sanded to restore its luster, but for other wood or metal furniture, it may be time to strip or sand to reveal the bare surface before painting or staining to revitalize old furniture. Restoring plastic furniture can be more challenging. Although some will accept a coat of paint rated for plastic surfaces, the results may be short-lived.