Lemonade and lazy days are calling your name. But does your winter-weary patio furniture look less than inviting?

Getting your outdoor furniture ready for summer soirees is just another excuse to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. As chores go, it isn’t so bad. All you need is a soft-bristled brush, a hose and cleaning solution to scrub away the winter grime from chairs and tables.

Patio furniture today comes in a wide range of materials, each with a preferred cleaning approach. Here’s the short course:

Resin Plastic Furniture: Start by hosing off any loose dirt or other elements. Spray a generous amount of an all-purpose cleaner of your choice and allow it to soak in for five minutes. Gently scrub with your soft bristle brush, hose off the excess product and let dry in the sun.

Soiled Cushions: Mix together 1 teaspoon of dish detergent and 1 tablespoon of Borax in 1 quart warm water. Saturate a sponge or put the solution in a spray bottle to coat both sides of the cushions. Let sit for 15 minutes and spray off remaining solution with a hose. Stand the cushions on edge while they dry and then spray with a fabric protector.

Many canvas seats and chair backs are removable and machine-washable. Just remember to put the canvas back on while damp to retain shape.

Wood: Use a dry brush or hose to gently remove any dirt or cobwebs from furniture. Using warm water and dish soap, saturate a clean cloth with the soapy mixture and wipe down from top to bottom. Hose off when finished. In really grimy cases you may want to use a pressure washer, but this works best with natural, unpainted wood. High pressure can peel off old and loose paint.

Patio Umbrellas: To protect the exterior coating on an umbrella that repels water and prevents fading, mix a gentle cleanser with warm water. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove dirt and mildew. Tough stains may need a mixture of bleach and warm water but do a patch test, rinse the area and let it dry to ensure the fabric color won’t be affected.

Wicker: Use a vacuum attachment to remove dust and debris between the crevices. Dip a clean cloth in a solution of 2 tablespoons of ammonia for every gallon of water, and wash as you go. To prevent damage, do not drench the wicker. If using a hose to gently rinse off afterwards, dry immediately with cotton towels or cloths.

Cast Iron: Mix together 2-to-3 teaspoons regular dish soap such as Dawn with a gallon of lukewarm water. Use a sponge or soft-bristled brush to remove any dirt or other hangers-on. Apply solution as needed and rinse with a garden hose. Dry quickly with clean cloths or towels.

Say goodbye to pollen remnants, cobwebs, winter grime and last summer’s leftovers. Getting patio furniture ready for the season will make sure the lasting impression your friends and family receive is not a coat of grime on their crisp summer clothes.


photo by: Martin Selway via Flickr Creative Commons

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