How to Clean Patio Furniture

Patio furniture is a great way to enjoy your outdoor living spaces, but with constant exposure to the elements they gets dirty fast. With so many surfaces and materials, it can be very difficult to know how to clean any of it. Here’s a look at different types of materials, what type of furniture is likely made from each material, and how you can make your dirty patio furniture look like new.

Sometimes a showroom sparkle is as easy as using a bottle of window cleaner, such as with a glass table top or most painted metal surfaces. Sometimes the solution involves a bit more, however. Here’s what to do for specific cleaning needs.

How to Clean Plastic (Resin) Patio Furniture

Chairs and some outdoor tables are commonly made of plastic, or resin.

You Will Need:

  • Baking soda
  • Sponge
  • Water
  • Bucket

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Fill a bucket with warm water.
  2. Dip the sponge in the bucket, then into baking soda.
  3. Rub the furniture with the paste until clean.
  4. Rinse.

How to Clean Natural Wood Patio Furniture

Picnic tables, chairs, and tables are commonly made of wood. Use this cleaning method for untreated or natural wood patio furniture.

You Will Need:

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Wear rubber gloves and follow manufacturer’s precautions when working with chemicals.
  2. Following manufacturer’s directions, use the brush to scrub wood with wood cleaner.
  3. Rinse well with water and allow to air dry.

How to Clean Iron Patio Furniture

Wash iron with mild soap and water to maintain cleanliness. If you find spots with rust, take care of them as soon as possible by following these steps.

You Will Need:

  • Sandpaper
  • Primer (in a spray can)
  • Paint (in a spray can)
  • Safety goggles
  • Rag

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Be sure to start with a clean, dry piece of furniture.
  2. Use safety glasses to protect your eyes.
  3. Sand rusted spots with sandpaper, going down to bare metal.
  4. Wipe sanded area free of dust or debris with a rag.
  5. Following the directions on the can, apply spray primer to the sanded region.
  6. Allow to dry completely.
  7. Spray paint onto primed surface.
  8. Allow to dry completely. Follow label guidelines for paint curing time.

How to Clean Wicker and Painted Wood

Often, wiping painted wood clean with a mild detergent will work. If not, take these steps to remove grime, mildew, water, and rust stains from painted wood.

You Will Need:

The Cleaning Process:

  1. First, use the dry brush to remove loose dirt or paint chips.
  2. ALWAYS wear rubber gloves and safety goggles when working with chemicals.
  3. Dilute or prepare wood cleaner according to label directions.
  4. Spot test the solution in a hidden spot.
  5. Apply the solution to dirty or stained furniture with the brush.
  6. Scrub stubborn spots as necessary.
  7. Rinse well in the direction of wood grain.
  8. Allow to air dry.

How to Clean Cushions

If patio furniture cushions are small enough, you may be able to throw them in the washing machine. Check the label for care instructions. Otherwise, to clean dirt and mildew from patio cushions, follow these steps.

You Will Need:

  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Mild detergent
  • Lemon juice

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Mix mild detergent into a bucket of water, adding just enough to form light bubbles.
  2. Dip the sponge into the soap and water.
  3. Scrub the cushions with the sponge.
  4. Allow to air dry in the sun.
  5. For persistent stains, pour a small amount of lemon juice directly onto the stain. Allow to dry.

How to Clean Patio Umbrellas

A mild solution of dish soap and water should be safe for almost any umbrella.

You Will Need:

  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Mild detergent
  • Sponge

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Begin by opening the umbrella and laying it on its side.
  2. Add warm water to bucket.
  3. Mix in enough detergent to create some bubbles.
  4. Using the sponge, wipe down the surface of the umbrella, scrubbing carefully over stubborn stains.
  5. Rinse with clean water.
  6. Allow to remain open in the sun for at least 24 hours to retard the growth of mildew.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Restre shine to plastic / resin furniture by spraying WD-40 on the surface. Then wipe clean with a dry cloth.
  • Before putting patio furniture away for the winter, ensure that it is clean, dry, and in good repair. Stains are much harder to remove after they’ve had months to set.
  • Most patio furniture stains can be removed with a simple solution of soap and water.


  1. Jen says:

    Since I live in a hot and humid area, I need to clean and bleach my cushions (mildew and spring’s green bloom). When buying my set, I chose the fabric that I could use bleach on. (CHECK with your manufacturer.) I simply used some laundry detergent and bleach in my bath tub. It took some work, but I was able to completely submerge the cushions, let them soak and drain. One rinse and they came out beautifully. There was NO lifting a cushion in between draining and rinsing so it was a timely process, but I did it for the first time after three years. Seems like a good time table.

  2. Margaret says:

    When pigeons take a fancy to your terrace awnings, you can help dissuade them by putting sticky tape round the metal cross bars, but inverted so the sticky side is outermost. They will have problems landing-walking-taking off now and won´t want to come back. Renew regularly till they learn the lesson.

  3. Margaret says:

    If you are able to leave your cushions and lounger covers out overnight because they won´t get rained on, you can also protect them from sleepy cats by standing/tying them upright.

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