How to clean outdoor furniture: metal, wicker, etc.

Rainstorms and summer festivities can take a toll on chairs, benches, picnic tables, and everything in between, leaving your main seating areas to get worse. So what’s the best way to clean outdoor furniture? Good question, but you’ll have to be more specific – it really depends on the material.

To help you restore your furniture to its original, clean and shiny condition, the online decoration market RiverbendHome.com shared with us tips from his chef of the house, Mark Feldman. From metal to plastic to wicker, these inexpensive cleaning tips will keep your seats looking their best.

How to Clean Metal Outdoor Furniture

Metal patio furniture is a top choice for outdoor seating areas because it’s durable and strong, Feldman says. Cleaning stainless steel, wrought iron, aluminum, or tubular steel (hollow steel) may require a few extra steps, but you probably already have the tools and products you’ll need.

Here’s how to clean metal furniture, according to Feldman:

  1. Wash with soap and water. Use a cloth or large soft scrub brush to remove dirt, dust and grime. (If your metal furniture is painted, use a washcloth to avoid chipping the paint.) Fill a bucket with hot, soapy water if you’re making multiple chairs at once.
  2. Rinse with water. Use a bucket or a hose.
  3. Dry with a cloth. Any old washcloth will do.
  4. Use steel wool (Buy on Amazon, $6.99 for a six-pack). This removes any traces of rust or oxidation. Steel wool can also help remove scratches or chips in painted finishes.

If your furniture has been painted and the coating is already chipped, repaint the areas as needed. A simple spray paint from your local hardware store can speed up the process.

How to Clean PVC, Resin, or Plastic Outdoor Furniture

If you have polyvinyl chloride (PVC), resin or plastic furniture, good news: it’s less difficult than metal. “The easiest outdoor furniture to clean and maintain is usually made from [these three materials] – think Adirondack chairs and patio chairs,” Feldman shares. Check out his tips for cleaning these three materials.

Note: These tips apply to synthetic resin plastic, not resin wicker. Tips for cleaning wicker furniture can be found in the next section.

  1. Wash with soap and water or other all-purpose spray cleaner. Use a damp sponge or cloth to remove dirt and grime.
  2. Rinse. Use a bucket or garden hose.
  3. Leave the furniture in the sun. Let air dry.

Bonus tip: “You can also water [PCV, resin, or plastic furniture] with a pressure washer for deep cleaning into crevices,” suggests Feldman. “But avoid abrasive cleaners, as they can scratch and dull surfaces.” A budget-friendly pressure washer we love: the Sun Joe SPX3000 Electric Pressure Washer (Buy on Amazon, $169).

How to Clean Wood and Wicker Outdoor Furniture

The first rule of cleaning wood or wicker furniture: don’t use a pressure washer. “While using a pressure washer is fine for plastic furniture, it is not recommended for patio furniture made of teak, wicker, or other types of wood such as ipa, acacia, pine or mango tree,” warns Feldman. “The high pressure from these washers can scar or damage the softer wood surfaces.” Likewise, wicker furniture made from rattan, weed, willow, or bamboo will also suffer damage from a pressure washer.

Here’s what you should do instead:

  1. Use a mild soap. Choose one that is formulated for wood or soft, soapy water. A gentle soap that we love: Murphy Oil Soap for Wood (Buy on Amazon, $10.98).
  2. wash the furniture with a washcloth or soft brush. Use circular motions and try a toothbrush if you need to get into hard-to-reach crevices, like those in wickerwork.
  3. Furniture sitting in the sun. Let air dry.

Bonus: How to Clean Outdoor Furniture Cushions

Oh no! You accidentally left your cushions out in the rain instead of covering them with a tarp or tucking them inside. To restore them to their original shine, follow these steps (courtesy of simple homemade on Youtube):

  1. Vacuum any dirt or debris.
  2. Treat Stains with Homemade Dishwashing Spray. Mix 1 teaspoon of detergent to 2 cups of warm water. Then spray on the affected area and scrub with a brush or washcloth.
  3. For hand washing, spray entire cushion surface with warm, soapy water. Rub in circles. Wait 5 minutes, then rinse. Repeat if necessary.
  4. If your cushions are machine washable, put them in the washing machine. Dry them at low temperature. (Check the label to make sure you can put them in the dryer.)

If your cushions have a hardwearing exterior, you can even pressure wash them after a spot cleaning.

We hope these tips will invigorate your outdoor seating area and extend the life of your furniture.

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