DIY Network

Spring Spruce-Up

Cleaning Outdoor Furniture

Learn about the best ways to clean outdoor cushions, canvas seats and chair backs, and white and colored plastic.

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Chair by purple flowers

Basic Recipe for Outdoor Cushions:

1 teaspoon dishwashing detergent
1 quart warm water
1 tablespoon borax

Saturate a sponge and use it to wash the cushions. You can put it in a spray bottle and saturate cushions on both sides, paying particular attention to the crevices and creases. Let the cushion sit for 15 minutes. Spray the solution off with a hose using a strong force of water. Stand each cushions on its edge out of the direct sun to dry. When almost dry, spray with a fabric protector. To remove dust between cleanings, vacuum as needed. Or, if the cushions are small enough, just shake them out.

Canvas Seats and Chair Backs:

If the canvas is removable, you've got it made. Most canvas is machine-washable. Just remember to put the canvas back on the furniture while it is still damp to maintain the shape of the canvas.

If the canvas cannot be removed, you'll need a scrub brush and a bar of Fels-Naptha laundry soap. Run the brush back and forth across the soap, and scrub the canvas. Rinse well and stand cushions up on edge. This method removes bird droppings and many stains.

To clean plain aluminum (the old-style lawn chairs), you'll need a plastic scrubber or fine steel wool soaked in detergent. Simply scrub the chairs, rinse well and dry.

White Plastic:

1 gallon warm water
3 tablespoons automatic dishwashing detergent (contains a bleaching agent that will whiten the plastic)

Use a sponge or soft brush. Leave the solution on 15 minutes, then rinse and dry. Don't use this on colored furniture.

Colored Plastic or Resin:

Clean colored plastic furniture with an all-purpose cleaner and water. Rinse well because sunlight and weather will hurry in fading process.

To clean aluminum with a baked-on enamel finish, keep in mind that the surface can scratch. You'll need a sponge soaked in detergent or your favorite all-purpose nonabrasive cleaner. Just scrub, rinse and dry with a soft cloth.

To maintain the shine on plastic, resin and metal furniture, give it a good waxing. Remove the cushions first, if possible, because the wax can stain. Use a soft cloth or the applicator that comes with the wax to apply, then let the wax dry. Finally, buff it off.

Clean plastic webbing with an all-purpose cleaner. Your scrub brush will probably come in handy here as well for any stains. Rinse with plenty of water.

To clean your grill window, spray the inside of the glass with oven cleaner. Wait a few minutes and then scrub it. Rinse well when you are through

Remember, if you clean your patio furniture on a regular basis, you can expect it to give you years of comfort and good looks.

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