Our Complete Guide to Outdoor Furniture Maintenance

December 16, 2022

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When it comes to outdoor furniture, paying attention to the small details, such as the quality of the components, is important if you want it to last. Equally important is the continuous maintenance needed and knowing the material of your furniture which is essential to ensure that you can continue to use it and keep its beauty.


After a few seasons on the porch, your furniture may begin to exhibit signs of wear, such as rust marks, mildew, or stains. These standard maintenance techniques can keep your chairs, tables, and cushions looking great for years to come.

Outdoor woven textiles are typically chemically treated throughout the production process to enhance stain and moisture resistance, regardless of whether they are composed of synthetic fibers like vinyl-coated polyester or acrylic, or cotton blends.

Here’s a complete guide on outdoor furniture cleaning & maintenance. Learn how to take care of your wood, wicker, plastic or stainless steel furniture. Before we get into the particular care practices for each outdoor material, have a look at the best techniques to keep your outdoor furniture in good condition.

  1. READ CARE GUIDELINES. First, there are some general furniture care guidelines to follow. Read the manufacturer’s directions completely. Using inappropriate products may cause damage to the item and void the warranty.
  2. START WITH A LIGHT CLEANING. Sweep surfaces with a soft-bristle brush as needed, then rinse with water. Use a gentle cleanser when cleaning your outdoor furniture. 1 gallon warm water and 1/4 cup mild dishwashing liquid, such as Ivory. Scrub the surface of the furniture thoroughly with a sponge or a soft-bristle brush. Rinse well, then pat dry with a lint-free towel.
  3. AVOID HARSH TREATMENTS. Unless otherwise advised, do not power-wash or use chlorine bleach, pine oil, or abrasive cleaners. Try out new ideas on a hidden area or part of the furniture to see if it would damage the material of your furniture or not.
  4. LOOKOUT FOR MOLD. Depending on the material, softly scrub or sand to eliminate mold. Wear gloves and dispose of old materials to prevent the spread of spores and to protect yourself too.
  5. PROTECT FURNITURES. When not in use, cover them with a cloth or store them indoors. Remove the foot caps from chairs and tables and keep furniture upright to allow water to drain.


This flexible weave is usually made from rattan, split reed, or coated paper and is occasionally strengthened with metal. To preserve the surface, coats of clear varnish, paint, or a mix of the two are frequently applied. Wicker’s main adversary is sunlight. If you want to leave wicker furniture outside for more than two or three weeks, always cover it.

Deep Cleaning

Vacuum with a dust-brush attachment or use a dry paintbrush to remove dirt and debris. Use a mild soap solution to clean. Rinse after scrubbing. Avoid using too much water, since this might cause the fibers to deteriorate. Dry as described.


Wicker should be cleaned on a regular basis since it cannot withstand harsh or abrasive treatments. This also helps to keep mildew at bay. To remove any peeling paint, simply sand with fine-grit sandpaper and touch up with paint as needed.


Most lumbers used for outdoor furniture are inherently resistant to deterioration and the weather. Sealants, while helpful in preserving color and protecting against wear and tear, are not needed. When left unfinished, the wood develops a silvery-gray patina and requires little maintenance.

Deep Cleaning

To remove stains or mildew, combine 1 gallon boiling water and 1 teaspoon powdered oxygen bleach according to package instructions. Rinse after scrubbing the area with a soft-bristled brush. To remove rust stains or bird droppings, sand softly down the grain with fine-grit sandpaper and rinse. 

If the area is too large to sand, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and combine hot water with oxalic acid crystals (commonly known as wood bleach or wood brightener). Rinse after applying with a soft-bristled brush. Avoid using chlorine bleach, which can cause wood fibers to deteriorate.


Seal the wood to protect it from UV rays, grime, and moisture, or to keep the restored color. To begin, clean the surfaces and sand away any previous finishes. If necessary, touch up with paint. Apply a mildewcide-containing clear water-repellent preservative or a penetrating semi transparent stain. (The stain’s pigment helps to reduce sun damage.) Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines to determine how frequently you should reapply; in general, you should do it every 1 to 3 years.


Wrought (heated and hammered into shape) aluminum, iron, steel, and other metals can be cast from molds (typically in solid chunks), or shaped into hollow tubing. Because most of them, with the exception of aluminum, rust, metal furniture is typically coated with layers of clear varnish, paint, or a durable powder coating.

Deep Cleaning

Scrub, rinse, and dry with a mild soap solution as directed. To remove rust spots or mold, gently sand the affected area with fine-grit sandpaper. Wipe it clean, and if necessary, apply touch-up paint (available from the manufacturer) in many thin coats. Allow to dry between coats. Because humidity might cause problems with the paint, it’s better to work on a dry day.


If the manufacturer recommends it, apply a layer of quality liquid or paste vehicle wax with a lint-free cloth after washing. Lubricate chair swivels and glides, as well as umbrella ribs and poles, using silicone spray. Regularly inspect for rust or chipping, especially in concealed locations where the surface may be incomplete (even stainless steel can corrode in salty environments).


Outdoor fabric, also known as performance fabric, is intended to withstand sun damage, stains, moisture, and mildew. Solution-dyed fabric, which is woven with pigment-infused fibers, is less prone to fading and can withstand more severe cleaning agents than printed or piece-dyed fabric. Check both sides of the cloth to see which one you have. If they’re the same, it’s most likely solution-dyed. Unless otherwise specified, it is printed or piece-dyed.

Deep Cleaning

Removable covers can occasionally be machine-washed in cold water with mild, bleach-free laundry detergent and air-dried. To hand-wash, immerse the cloth in a solution of 1/4 cup mild liquid soap, such as Ivory, and 1 gallon lukewarm water (nothing hotter than 100 degrees), swishing gently. 

Rinse well and air-dry. To remove mold from solution-dyed fabrics, use 1 gallon warm water with 2 teaspoons of oxygen bleach if it is listed as an acceptable cleaning product in the care guide. Scrub the afflicted region with a soft-bristle brush after it has been wet. Rinse well and air-dry.


Brush off dirt and debris on a regular basis, and rinse as needed. Spills and stains should be cleaned up quickly using a damp cloth and a mild soap solution, since some substances, such as sunscreen, might cause discoloration. Some textiles feature a water-repellent coating (see care advice) that degrades over time. Clean and dry the material before using a fabric protector. Allow to dry between coats. Repeat once a year or whenever the water on the surface stops beading.


Resin or all-weather furniture is often composed of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene (PE). These polymers are made with a variety of chemical additions, such as UV stabilizers and fungicides, and can be fashioned to seem like wood, wicker, and woven chair straps and slings.

Deep Cleaning

Scrub, rinse, and dry with a mild soap solution as directed. If bleach is listed as a suitable cleaning agent in the care guide, use a mix of 10 parts water to 1 part chlorine bleach for stubborn stains or mildew.


Because sunscreen residue can discolor some plastics, wipe off furniture with a damp cloth and a mild dishwashing solution as soon as possible after exposure.

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