A Spring Cleaning Guide for Outdoor Furniture

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It’s that time of year again, time for spring cleaning! You’ve spruced up those potted plants, double checked the propane on your grill, and pinned a few BBQ recipes to your Pinterest board. But there’s one more task to take care of this spring: Your outdoor furniture needs a little TLC to be ready for those summertime guests.

Some of the tools in your arsenal will be a garden hose, a soft brush, vacuum (with attachments), rag, vinegar, and a screwdriver.

Wood Furniture:

Wood furniture looks great in almost any outdoor area but it does require more maintenance than some other materials. Start by dusting it off with your rag. If it is dirty then use the garden hose to wash it off and a soft bristle brush to get the grit out. Wood expands and contracts due to changes in the climate which can lead to cracks, so make sure to check for any areas with splinters that could snag your guests. Sand down any of these areas to smooth the surface of your chair. It is also recommended that painted or stained furniture receive a coat of polyurethane applied once a year

Poly Lumber:

Furniture made out of poly lumber does not require as much maintenance as regular wood products. That being said it still could use a good spring cleaning! Poly lumber can be cleaned with a mild soap and water. Use a soft bristle brush for those harder to get out stains.

screened-porch-670263_1280Wicker:

Wicker furniture can be vacuumed using an upholstery attachment. For the heavy duty dirt wicker can also be hosed off with gentle pressure. But be sure not to sit on the damp wicker at all. The use can cause sagging and damage the furniture for future use.  In some cases drying can take up to 3 days.

If you notice mold or mildew growing on your wicker furniture, clean immediately with a solution of 25% bleach in 75% water. Mold can lead to significant damage, so wicker should be routinely searched for it. If you do find mold remove the wicker piece from the area that enabled mold and mildew to collect on it, and relocate to an area with good air circulation and low humidity.

These methods can be used on both natural and synthetic wicker. Most outdoor wicker is made from synthetic materials because it can stand up to the rigors of outdoor weather and use.

Metals:

Aluminum

For aluminum the most common problem is oxidation where the aluminum turns pale gray or white in color. Often oxidation can be removed using metal polishing paste or a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water. Make sure to avoid any products containing ammonia or trisodium phosphate both of these products can cause oxidation.

Stainless Steel

Cleaning of stainless steel should be done with appropriate non-abrasive cloth and clean, warm water, with or without a gentle detergent. Always wipe with the directional grain of the steel, not across it. After washing, rinse with fresh water and dry thoroughly.

Stainless steel can be prone to finger prints or smudges, to clean them up you may wish to use a stainless steel cleaner such as Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner or Stainless Steel Magic Aerosol. Both have been declared top performers by Good Housekeeping magazine. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before applying a stainless steel cleaning product.

backyard-608573_1280Wrought Iron

Wrought-iron furniture can be cleaned using a mild soap, a sponge, and a hose. Clean the furniture by scrubbing with soap and a sponge and then rinsing off with a hose. If your wrought-iron garden furniture has been sitting outside for a long time, you may notice a few stained, rusted or chipped areas on it. Sand these spots with a piece of sandpaper and carefully paint your wrought-iron furniture so it looks new again. Products made of wrought iron can also be sand blasted or powder coated for added protection. For even more protection you can apply a coat of automotive wax.

Plastic:

One of the most common materials used for outdoor furniture and is plastic because it is economical and relatively easy to clean. Plastic furniture can be cleaned using a mixture of ¼ cup vinegar mixed with 1 quart warm water. Wash with a rag and let the chairs dry. While you are cleaning be
sure to check your furniture for any damage because plastic does not usually hold up to the rigors of use as well as some other materials used for outdoor furniture such as metal or poly lumber.

teak-172642_1280Cushions:

Often cushions can be forgotten in the spring cleaning process. It is just as important to maintain your cushions as your chairs. Cushions can be cleaned with water and a little bit of fabric detergent. After cleaning them add some fabric protector and allow cushions to thoroughly dry before using them.

Bonus tip! When you’re cleaning your furniture, make sure to also check all of the hardware on your for signs of wear, and tighten loose nuts, bolts, and screws so that your product remains safe for use. This is especially important for wood furniture because of the expanding and contracting the wood does due to changes in weather.

Now you can spend your summer resting easy knowing that your furniture not only looks good, but is safe too.

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