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Make Your Outdoor Furniture Shine Like New! Cleaning Tips for Metal, Plastic, Wicker, and More


Summer rainstorms and festivities can take a toll on chairs, benches, picnic tables, and everything in between, leaving your prime seating areas looking worse for the wear. So what’s the best way to clean outdoor furniture? Good question, but you’ll need to get more specific — it really depends on the material.

To help return your furniture to its original, clean, and gleaming state, the online decor marketplace shared tips with us from its chief home officer, Mark Feldman. From metal to plastic to wicker, these inexpensive cleaning tips will keep your seating areas in tip-top shape.

How To Clean Metal Outdoor Furniture

Metal patio furniture is a top pick for outdoor seating areas because it’s durable and strong, Feldman says. Cleaning stainless steel, wrought iron, aluminum, or tubular steel (hollow steel) may take a few extra steps, but you likely 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, gentle scrubbing brush to remove dirt, dust, and grime. (If your metal furniture is painted, stick with a wash cloth to avoid chipping the paint.) Fill a bucket with warm, soapy water if you are doing multiple chairs at once.
  2. Rinse with water. Use a bucket or hose.
  3. Dry with a cloth. Any old washcloth will do.
  4. Use steel wool (Buy from Amazon, $6.99 for pack of six). This removes any rust or oxidation. Steel wool may also help remove scratches or chips in painted finishes.

If your furniture was painted and the coating has already chipped, repaint areas as needed. A simple spray paint from your local home improvement store may speed up the process.

How To Clean PVC, Resin, or Plastic Outdoor Furniture

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

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

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

Bonus tip: “You can also hose [PCV, resin, or plastic furniture] down with a power washer for a deep clean in crevices,” suggests Feldman. “But skip any abrasive cleaners, since they can scratch and dull surfaces.” A budget-friendly pressure washer we like: the Sun Joe SPX3000 Electric High Pressure Washer (Buy from Amazon, $169).

How To Clean Wood and Wicker Outdoor Furniture

The first rule of cleaning wood or wicker furniture: Don’t use a power washer. “Although using a power 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,” warns Feldman. “The high pressure of these washers can scar or damage the softer surfaces of the wood.” Similarly, wicker furniture made of rattan, weed, willow, or bamboo will also suffer damage from a power washer.

Here’s what you should do instead:

  1. Use a mild soap. Pick one that’s formulated for wood, or a gentle, soapy water. A mild soap we like: Murphy Oil Soap for Wood (Buy from Amazon, $10.98).
  2. Wash the furniture with a wash cloth or soft brush. Use circular motions, and try a toothbrush if you need to get into hard-to-reach crevices, like those in wicker.
  3. Sit furniture in the sun. Let it 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 bringing them inside. To restore them to their original vibrance, follow these steps (courtesy of Home Made Simple on YouTube):

  1. Vacuum off any loose dirt or debris.
  2. Spot treat stains with homemade dishwater detergent spray. Mix in 1 teaspoon of detergent for every 2 cups of warm water. Then, spray on affected area and scrub with a brush or wash cloth.
  3. To hand wash, spray down entire surface of the cushion with warm soapy water. Scrub in circles. Wait 5 minutes, then rinse. Repeat if necessary.
  4. If your cushions are machine washable, toss them in the washing machine. Tumble dry them on low. (Check the tag to make sure you can put them in the dryer.)

If your cushions have a tough exterior, you could even power wash them after spot cleaning.

We hope these tricks re-invigorate your outdoor seating area and extend the life of your furniture.

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