Summer is fast approaching, and there’s no better way to usher in warmer weather than by entertaining and relaxing in your outdoor space. From barbecues to casual evening dinners, your outdoor space gets the most love when the weather gets warmer.
All this outdoor time means more than just memories: it means your outdoor furniture is getting more attention than it sees all year. Although outdoor fabrics are typically much sturdier and easier to clean than their indoor counterparts, knowing how to care for your patio set will extend its life and keep it clean all season long.
These general care solutions can help keep your outdoor furniture looking fresh all season long and can also help remove end-of-season rust, mildew, and food stains.
How is Outdoor Furniture Different from Indoor?
Your indoor furniture may be easy to care for, but it is still different from outdoor furniture, which is usually pretreated with compounds to make them waterproof and more resistant to inclement weather.
As such, the manner in which you clean outdoor furniture will differ from the way you clean and upkeep your indoor furniture. Indoor furniture differs from outdoor furniture in the following ways:
- Indoor furniture isn’t fade-resistant like outdoor furniture. Even the wooden portions of indoor furniture have not been treated to resist fading like outdoor furniture.
- Outdoor furniture is naturally weather resistant. Outdoor furniture is typically much stronger than indoor furniture, allowing it to age better than most indoor furniture, if it is properly cared for and maintained.
- Indoor furniture that hasn’t been treated sometimes requires regular oiling. Outdoor furniture will have been treated so that it will not need to be oiled or polished.
Different Types of Outdoor Furniture and Care Guide
Your outdoor furniture care will vary depending on what type of materials your furniture features. Some pieces may be solid wood construction with no fabric, while others could be a mixture of wicker, plastic, and fabric.
What You’ll Need
Before you begin cleaning your outdoor furniture, make sure you read the care instructions from the furniture manufacturer. While we can give recommendations about what will typically work, your furniture manufacturer may have specific guidelines you should follow that may be important if your furniture is under warranty.
You’ll need a few items to clean and maintain your outdoor furniture adequately.
- Mild soap. For cleaning solid surfaces and for some fabrics, you’ll need a mild dishwashing soap. You can always use a specialized soap that works for furniture; however, it isn’t necessary.
- Microfiber cloth. You’ll want to use a microfiber cloth or another cleaning cloth that doesn’t shed or pill onto your furniture’s fabric surfaces. Using paper towels or cloth that sheds onto your fabric will make a larger mess.
- Vacuum cleaner or dust buster. For light cleaning and regular care, you’ll want to use a vacuum cleaner or dust buster to remove loose dirt and soil.
Unless you have major rust issues, these are the only items you’ll need for regular care. If you have rust or hard water stains, you may need a specialty cleaning solution.
Fabric seating is comfortable and versatile for outdoor furniture, making it an extremely popular option. Some fabrics are even treated with special compounds to ensure they resist mold and mildew. Outdoor fabric is fade-resistant, waterproof, and typically made from a blended material that resists stains.
Outdoor Fabric Care: Every three months, vacuum the cloth portions of the furniture to remove dirt and debris. If you encounter a spill, blot it up as quickly as possible. Dab it with a lint-free cloth but do not rub the fabric.
If your outdoor furniture has removable fabric covers, you can remove them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Metal outdoor furniture looks great when well maintained. It shines, has an ultra-modern look, and is sturdy enough for outdoor use. However, over time the weather can wreak havoc on your metal furniture, leaving it rust-ridden and covered in mold and mildew.
You’ll need to follow your furniture manufacturer’s care guide to ensure you aren’t using an abrasive cleanser on your metal furniture that is too harsh. Some types of metals are easily scratched or scraped.
Metal Outdoor Furniture Care: You’ll want to use mild dish soap on the metal parts of our outdoor furniture unless there is an issue with rust. To clean, simply wipe down the metal areas of your furniture with a wet soapy rag. Rinse with water, and make sure you use a microfiber towel to dry it completely.
This plastic blended furniture works great outdoors because unlike other plastics, it doesn’t absorb water. This material is also very resistant to the growth of mold and mildew, making it even easier to clean and maintain.
Polypropylene is lightweight, can be designed to accommodate any stylistic preference, and is virtually indestructible. Polypropylene also requires less in terms of sealants, which is great news for buyers who prefer less chemically treated materials.
Polypropylene Care: Care of polypropylene furniture couldn’t be easier. Simply remove dirt and soil with a damp cloth and mild soap. For sticky stains, use a mild oil-based solvent.
Modloft incorporates the use of regatta rope in many of our outdoor furniture pieces, the same roping used on sailboats. Its durability and beauty are unmatched. Using regatta instead of wicker makes our outdoor furniture stronger and more aesthetically appealing. Regatta is also extremely weather-resistant.
Regatta rope care: Most of the time, you won’t have a need to clean your roping. If, however, you have a stain or a build-up of dirt, you can begin the cleaning process by using a low-pressure water hose to gently lift the dirt.
If the rope is still dirty, try using a mild soap and a soft-bristled brush (like an old toothbrush) to gently remove the stain. Be sure not to use any kind of metal bristles as it can damage the rope.
Natural eucalyptus is the perfect wood for building sustainable outdoor furniture. Eucalyptus naturally repels water, making it a durable and naturally water-resistant choice for outdoor spaces.
Eucalyptus care: Mild soap and water will remove surface dirt from eucalyptus. If your eucalyptus is untreated, you may need to oil it according to manufacturer specifications. This should only be done if your manufacturer suggests.
Nothing beats the beauty of clean, untouched stainless steel. The problem is, it is seldom ever untouched! Still, it’s a better choice for outdoor furniture because it resists rust, mold, and mildew better than other metals.
Stainless Steel Care: Use only mild soap and water along with a soft sponge or cloth. Rinse with soap and water and dry completely with a microfiber cloth.
If your stainless steel has developed a rust spot (which is avoidable with proper care), check with your manufacturer to determine whether you can use a mildly abrasive sponge to remove it.
One of the absolute best outdoor furniture materials is engineered concrete. Not only is it weather-resistant, sturdy, and long-lasting, it is also a modern take on the classic patio set. It’s stain-resistant and can literally handle practically anything you can throw its way.
Engineered Concrete: At Modloft, we seal our engineered concrete with a wax sealant to ensure its longevity and keep it looking beautiful for years to come. Dish soap and water is all that is needed to clean engineered concrete.
Be sure you don’t use an acidic cleaner on concrete as it can damage the sealant and discolor the concrete.
Tips and Tricks
Outdoor furniture is made to withstand the elements, and it has been designed to be used. You can trust that if you’ve purchased a quality piece, like the ones available from Modloft, your furniture will require little maintenance and only occasional cleaning.
Here are some final tips to help keep your outdoor furniture clean and beautiful.
- Store cushions when inclement weather is on the horizon. Not only will this preserve the life of your furniture, it will allow you to immediately use your furniture as soon as the weather passes, without having to wait for it to dry.
- Never use oils, waxes, or bleach on your outdoor furniture unless instructed by the manufacturer. These materials can harm your furniture and void a warranty if one is in place.
- Spot treat. If you see a small stain or area of rust, spot treat it. Checking your outdoor furniture each week for stains and damage can help you make sure you’re able to treat it fast before it develops into a larger problem.
Outdoor furniture care is easy because your outdoor furniture has been treated to withstand the elements. You can take care of your outdoor furniture easily by using mild soap and water and occasionally giving it a good, thorough cleaning.
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