How to Clean Iron Patio Furniture

Furniture that sits outside for months at a time is going to need regular cleaning. As long as your iron patio furniture hasn’t rusted, the entire process should take less you than 15 minutes.

*Before you start cleaning the frames of the furniture, you should remove the cushions or other decorative implements. Directions for cleaning the cushions are at the end of this article.

Mix Your Cleaning Solution

The recommended substance to use to clean your iron furniture is lukewarm water and a dish soap used for hand washing, such as Dawn (use a regular formula, not with bleach or anti-bacterial). Just take a gallon or larger sized bucket, or a similarly sized bowl, and fill it with lukewarm water. Then add two or three squirts of dish soap. Mix the water and the dish soap together with a large spoon or with your hands until it forms a uniform solution.

Cleaning Instructions

1. Scrub your furniture

Using a sponge, kitchen brush, or softer scrub brush, gently remove any dirt or debris from your furniture. Dip your cleaning implement in the soap and water solution as often as you need to. You don’t need to worry about wringing it out. Make sure to scrub all parts of the furniture, including the top, bottom, sides and legs.

2. Rinse your furniture

You can rinse the soap from your furniture by using a bucket filled with clean water (just pour it on the furniture) or by using the garden house, which will of course take less time. Don’t use too strong of a setting on the hose nozzle or you could risk damaging the paint on your furniture.

3. Let your furniture dry

Your furniture should air dry fairly quickly. After all, it was built for the outdoors.

Cleaning Rusty Iron Patio Furniture

If you have rust on your iron patio furniture, you will want to nip it in the bud as soon as possible, as it will only get worse with time. Here’s how:

1. Sand off any rust and cracked paint

Using the correct type and grade of sandpaper for your furniture (Not sure which? Ask the manufacturer or an employee at the hardware store.), sand off any spots of rust with gentle circular motions. Depending on how much rust is on your furniture, this may require some elbow grease. Once you’ve sanded everything off that you need to, either hose the furniture off again or wipe off any debris with a cloth.

*If your furniture is severely rusted, to the point that there are holes, there is not much you that can do to save it at that point. It’s best to cut your losses and get new furniture, with a vow to keep it cleaner and dryer in the future.

2. Prime and repaint the furniture

Depending on the type and color of paint on your furniture, you can either use a spray on or brush on paint. There may be a touch-up paint created specifically for your furniture’s brand and style. Whatever paint you decide on, apply it by following the directions on the container. Make sure no one touches the furniture until it is completely dry. Once it is dry, you can use the sandpaper to remove any uneven spots in the paint.

Cleaning the cushions

If your iron patio furniture has cushions, you can clean them in a similar manner to the one you used to clean the furniture frames – without the sanding and painting of course. Simply dip the sponge or brush in the bucket of cleaning solution you already have together and then give the cushions a good scrubbing. Be sure to rinse them very well with the second bucket or the hose or you’ll have soap bubbling up through them every time it rains.

If there are any stains on the cushions, you may want to throw them in the washing machine – if they are small enough to fit, of course. Otherwise, you can try adding a bit of chlorine or color-safe bleach to your bucket. A cup or less should do it.

Keeping your iron patio furniture clean

The easiest way to keep your patio furniture clean is to cover it when you’re not using it. You should be able to find vinyl furniture covers at your local hardware or home goods store, especially during the spring and summer months. If you are having trouble finding covers to fit your furniture, you may want to call the manufacturer for advice on where to shop, or perhaps you can order from the company directly.

You’ll also want to clean up any spills on your furniture as soon as they occur and catch any rust as soon as you see it. The sooner you catch them, the easier it will be – and the less damage to your furniture.

If possible, store your furniture in a shed or garage during periods of extremely bad weather.
Can’t cover or garage your furniture? Give it a good spray coating of car wax so that the water will bead, not soak into the iron.


  1. Thank you for the wonderful information. Very helpful.

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