How to Clean Outdoor Furniture

Updated 09/11/19

PeopleImages/Getty Images

Al fresco living is one of the greatest joys of warm weather, but do you really have any idea how to clean that outdoor furniture? If it's been ages since you've seen the original color of your teak porch furniture, the good news is that it's an easy chore to add to your next weekend task list. But cleaning your outdoor furniture isn't as intuitive as cleaning your living room chairs or dining table—how you clean it will depend on where it lives and what material it's made out of.

If you don't have any cushions, your outdoor furniture can look brand new in just a few minutes. If you do have textiles (cushions or pillows), expect to spend a little more time scrubbing those down for a true clean.

Before you get started, here's a list of what you should gather. Keep in mind the exact materials and supplies will depend on what type of furniture you're cleaning

Supplies for Cleaning

What you'll need to get started:

  1. A hose
  2. A gallon bucket
  3. An empty spray bottle (optional)
  4. Baking soda (ideal for resin furniture)
  5. WD-40 (for resin furniture)
  6. Dishwashing detergent (for cushions)
  7. A mild oil-base soap (for wood and wicker)
  8. White vinegar (for metal or iron)
  9. Warm water
  10. A soft brush
  11. A clean rag

Hose It Off

No matter what your furniture is made out of, the first step is to get all of the easy-to-remove dirt and grime off. Set your nozzle to a strong flow that can easily dislodge soil. If you don't have easy access to a hose or your furniture is in an enclosed porch, you can skip this step, but expect a deep cleaning to take a little more time.

Start With the Cushions

If your patio furniture has cushions with removable covers, you're in luck. The washing machine is definitely going to be your best bet for attacking seasons-long grime. Add vinegar to your wash to help tackle mildew.

If your cushion covers aren't removable or you'd rather avoid the wash, mix one teaspoon of dishwashing detergent with a quart of warm water. Pour the mixture into your spray bottle and spray heavily across the entire cushion. Let it dry for about 10 minutes before hosing the cushions off.

Cleaning Wood

For wood or wicker furniture, the best way to clean stuck-on grime is with a mixture of warm water and an oil-based soap, such as Murphy Oil Soap. Gently rub the furniture down with a soft rag or sponge. If you have heavily soiled wicker furniture, you may need to use a soft brush, such as a toothbrush, to remove grime from crevices.

To help protect your hardwood furniture, annually sanding and applying a coat of polyurethane or oil can help better protect it against the elements and make cleaning easier.

Cleaning Resin

Plastic and resin outdoor furniture are not only incredibly popular, but they're also among the easiest types of outdoor furniture to clean. A mild cleaner works best to avoid scuffing or scratching the furniture. Start by sprinkling baking soda on the furniture to create a mild abrasive to remove stains. Remove with a washcloth and warm water. If you have a stubborn stain, white vinegar is a great deep cleaning solution that won't harm the material.

Restore shine to your resin or plastic furniture by spraying on a coat of WD-40 and wiping clean with a rag.

Cleaning Iron or Metal

If your once-beautiful iron patio furniture is oxidizing, a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water can help remove stains and blemishes before cleaning. After you've removed any imperfections, a gentle solution of dish soap and water will thoroughly clean your iron furniture without scratching the varnish. Overly abrasive cleaners can remove the rust-proof layer and expose your metal to the elements.

Protecting Furniture

Once you've cleaned your outdoor furniture, the best way to save time in the future is to make it much more difficult for your patio set to get dirty in the first place. Investing in a good-quality canvas cover for your outdoor pieces will help protect them from the elements and keep them clean.

Related Stories