Complete Guide on How to Clean and Store Your Patio Furniture

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USA Pool Direct - how to clean your patio furniture

It is that time of year again that you need to start storing away all your outdoor items. Many questions start running through your head: How do I clean those patio furniture cushions? How can I fix the rust on my metal patio table? Which of my outdoor furniture can stay outside for winter? This complete guide will answer all of your questions related to cleaning and storing your patio furniture for the winter season.

Different Materials for Patio Furniture and How to Clean Them

Disclaimer: These tips are to help you clean your furniture and keep them in mint condition for longer! That being said, make sure to always consult the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning any individual piece before beginning.

USA Pool Direct - clean plastic patio furniture

Plastic, Molded Resin, or Vinyl Strap Patio Furniture

Cleaning Solution:

3 Tablespoons of Dishwashing Detergent to 1 Gallon of Water


1 Cup of White Vinegar to 1 Gallon of Water

Plastic furniture, molded resin, or vinyl strap outdoor furniture are popular choices for backyard landscapes. They are typically less expensive than other options and very easy to maintain! This is not to say that you can just leave them outside year round without a care in the world! Regular cleanings will ensure that you have clean, inviting patio furniture for every guest. Using one of the solutions above, make sure to use a soft sponge or soft cloth to gently remove dirt. You should not use any abrasives on plastic because it can shred the material. If you do need something stronger, you can sprinkle baking soda onto your sponge or cloth to tackle bigger buildups. Then, rinse with a garden hose and allow to completely dry in the sun before storing. Plastic should be stored indoors for the winter because it can become brittle in colder temperatures.

Bonus: If your plastic outdoor furniture is looking lackluster, you can finish with a paste wax. Make sure to buff off any residue and the furniture will look good as new!

USA Pool Direct - clean patio cushionsFabric on Patio Furniture Cushions

Cleaning Solution:

  • Roughly 1 teaspoon of Dishwashing Detergent
  • 1 quart of Water
  • 1 tablespoon of Borax

If you have attached cushions that cannot be removed and washed in a laundry machine, then this cleaning solution is for you! Make sure to saturate all sides of the cushion in the solution above. Pay special attention to the cracks and crevices where dirt is likely to collect. Allow the cushions to completely dry in the sun, this should take about 10 to 15 minutes. Once dry, use a hose with decent water pressure to completely rinse out the cushions of the solution. Again, allow them to completely dry in the sun before replacing them or storing them for the winter.

Bonus: After rinsing the cushions you could apply a fabric protector. (Please remember though to consult the manufacturer’s instructions!)

USA Pool Direct - cleaning metal patio furniture

Metal and Aluminum Patio Furniture

Cleaning Solution:

  • Roughly ⅛ to ¼ cup of Dish Soap
  • 1 Gallon of Water

If you have oxidized metal furniture skip down to our section on “How to Deal with Rust, Mildew, or Mold” for answers on how to clean and repair it.

Metal outdoor furniture is also very easy to maintain if you keep up with frequent cleanings to prevent rust and chipping. With a soft brush or sponge, slowly scrub off all dirt and buildup on your metal patio furniture. Most metals can also stand up to a slightly more abrasive scrub brush if needed. Make sure to rinse and dry completely before storing.

USA Pool Direct - cleaning wooden patio furniture

Wicker, Teak, or Wood Patio Furniture

Cleaning Solution:

  • ¼ Cup Ammonia
  • 2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
  • 1 Quart Water or Commercial Wood Cleaner

Please skip down to the section “How to Deal with Rust, Mildew, or Mold” at the bottom of this page if you have wood outdoor furniture with these problems.

Wicker furniture in particular could benefit from a quick vacuuming to remove any large dirt trapped in the weaves. Gently brush in the direction of the wood grain to remove dirt with a scrub pad or brush and the solution. Be very careful if using a commercial wood cleaner. Look into your furniture manufacturer’s instructions to see if it will need to be diluted more than normal. Rinse the wood patio furniture and wait for it to dry. It is very important to have the wood furniture dry completely to avoid mildew, mold, or rot. Then, you could apply a stain or paint if you would like.

Bonus: Do not use teak oil on your patio furniture. It is designed to trap in natural oils and moisture. If there is extra moisture then it will promote mildew growth on your outdoor wood furniture.

USA Pool Direct - cleaning patio umbrellas

Patio Umbrellas

Cleaning Solution:

  • Roughly 1 teaspoon of Dishwashing Detergent
  • 1 quart of Water
  • 1 tablespoon of Borax

Most outdoor furniture made of fabric is treated to withstand the harsh UV rays and is waterproof in case of occasional downpours. This, however, will not stop dirt and other stains from developing so it is important to regularly clean off the materials. Make sure to saturate the umbrella fabric with the solution listed above and allow to then dry for roughly 15 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly with a hose to remove all of the solution. Allow to dry completely before folding up for storage in order to avoid mold or mildew buildup. For caked on stains, you can take a slightly abrasive sponge or brush to the fabric and scrub to remove.

Dealing with Rust, Mold, or Mildew on Patio Furniture

USA Pool Direct - oxidized metal patio furniture

How to Remove Rust on Oxidized Metal Patio Furniture

The biggest threat to metal and aluminum outdoor furniture is oxidation. Rust spots are a blemish that must be dealt with as soon as possible. Remove all of the rusted areas down to the bare metal using steel wool, a wire brush, or sandpaper. Make sure to wipe off all residue from the rust before applying a metal-specific primer to the bare metal. Once the primer is applied you can repaint the metal to match the rest of the furniture.

Bonus: Once you are done painting, apply a coat of paste wax to protect even further against the elements!

How to Remove Mold or Mildew on Patio Furniture

While bleach will always work to remove the buildups, it is very harmful to most surfaces and finishes. Therefore, you should stick to using a solution of 1 cup ammonia, ½ cup of white vinegar, and 1 gallon of water. Straight white vinegar can also be very effective for mold or mildew removal. Either scrub with an abrasive tool, a soft sponge, or towel depending on the severity of the buildup. You can also apply paste wax once done to restore shine and protect against future buildup!

USA Pool Direct - winterize your patio furniture

This guide should answer all of your questions on cleaning outdoor furniture and how to winterize your outdoor space. If at all possible you should not leave your furniture outside for the winter. Bring it inside and store in a warm, dry location. If this isn’t doable then invest in quality covers that will help keep out moisture. Please let us know in the comments section below if you have any further questions or comments!

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