Brighten and protect plastic, wood, metal, and glass outdoor furniture with these easy cleaning strategies. Our material-specific ideas will keep your patio furniture looking fresh for years to come.
By Jessica Bennett
Updated April 02, 2020
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No one wants to sit on a grimy patio chair or eat at a dirty table. To keep your patio furniture in pristine condition, routine cleanings are key. For best results, you should clean outdoor furniture four times a year: once at the beginning of summer, once at the end of summer, and a couple of times in between. During winter months, store furniture indoors to prevent additional weathering and staining. To clean your patio furniture, the best method depends on the item’s material. We’ve identified the right way to clean wood, wicker, metal, glass, and plastic furniture. These cleaning tips are guaranteed to breathe new life back into your patio furniture.
Deck with wooden floor and marble table
How to Clean Wood and Wicker Outdoor Furniture
Rescue dull, dirty wood or wicker furniture with these easy cleaning strategies. To remove grime, use a mild oil-base soap, such as Murphy Oil Soap, mixed with warm water. For a DIY cleaning solution, mix 1/4-cup ammonia, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 1 quart of warm water. Commercial wood cleaners are also effective for cleaning patio furniture, but be sure to read directions carefully. Wicker and painted woods might require diluting the solution.
To protect your patio furniture, regularly wipe down wood to remove dirt, debris, and excess water. For hardwoods, consider annually sanding and applying a fresh coat of protective finish, such as oil, stain, or a polyurethane coating. Hose down wicker every few weeks to prevent dirt buildup in crevices.
Porch with yellow chairs and white table
How to Clean Metal, Iron, and Aluminum Outdoor Furniture
Proper cleaning is essential to preserve the shine on metal outdoor furniture. For aluminum pieces, oxidation is the most common problem. Before cleaning, remove as much of the imperfection as possible using a metal polishing paste or a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water. Avoid using chemicals such as ammonia and trisodium phosphate (TSP); alkaline cleaners cause oxidation.
To protect its natural luster, wash aluminum furniture frequently and remove scuff marks with a soft cloth dampened with a nonabrasive cleaning product. Combat rust by sanding it off along with damaged paint. Wipe off metal residue with a cloth dampened with mineral spirits or naphtha. Use a rust-resistant primer before painting with a rust-resistant paint.
Consider having your wrought-iron furniture sandblasted or powder-coated for added protection. To protect after cleanings, apply a coat (two for iron) of automotive wax.
Porch with wicker furniture and pillows
How to Clean Glass Patio Furniture
Keep glass patio tables sparkling with a few simple cleaning steps. First, remove any stuck-on debris with a glass-safe, nonabrasive material. Many scrub brushes will scratch glass, so opt for one designed to tackle tough cleanup jobs without marking your furniture.
Dish detergent and home cleaning solutions are the most effective cleaners. After an initial cleaning, spray white vinegar or glass cleaner on the surface and wipe away with a microfiber cloth or paper towel. Wipe down the underside of a glass table at least once a month to prevent irreversible grime. Clean frames of glass tables according to their material type.
To keep glass outdoor furniture clean, you should cover your glass table when it’s not in use. Fix small scratches and chips in the glass with a glass repair kit.
Patio seating with white furniture and colorful pillows
How to Clean Plastic and Hard-Resin Outdoor Furniture
Use these tips to remove stains and built-up grime on plastic patio chairs and tables. Make your own mild cleanser by mixing 1/2 cup baking soda mixed with 1-gallon warm water, or 3 tablespoons dishwasher detergent (which contains a mild bleaching agent) and 1 gallon of warm water. For colored plastic, mix 1/4-cup vinegar with 1 quart of warm water. It’s best to avoid using chlorine and bleach on white plastic furniture because they eat away at the material.
For stubborn stains, dampen a clean rag with white distilled vinegar and wipe down the piece. You can also sprinkle baking soda on a wet sponge to create a mild abrasive that will peel away stains but won’t scratch surfaces. Avoid abrasive cleaners, which will scratch plastic outdoor furniture. After washing your plastic furniture, protect it with a coat of automotive paste wax. [external_footer]