How to Clean Garden Furniture

It’s the time of year when many of us are wanting to improve our outdoor living space and we then realise how dirty our garden furniture is – so it’s time for a good clean!

With plastic, rattan or metal garden furniture the cleaning process is often more straightforward. A hot bowl of soapy water and a Cleaning Brush is usually all you need. But with wooden or wrought iron garden furniture, it will take a bit more time to clean and restore to its former state and you will need some specialist products to do this, such as our Garden Furniture Restoration Kit.

The Different Types of Garden Furniture

Garden furniture made from wood is probably the most common and many of us have at least one item made from wood in the garden. The wood used in patio furniture is quite likely to be teak, oak or pine.

Aluminum is one of the most popular metals for outdoor furniture as it is lightweight and very durable. It also never rusts, so is very easy to clean! Other metals used in garden furniture are steel and wrought iron, which do rust so will need a bit more care. Stainless steel furniture can vary in quality and the lower grade alloys often have a protective powder-coated finish. With wrought iron furniture, this rusts very easily and therefore must be treated with a sealant or wax each year.

Woven garden furniture is usually made from one of three types of material: synthetic rattan, natural rattan or cane. Rattan is one of the more durable materials used in garden furniture and, although more expensive to buy, it is relatively low maintenance. However, like cane, rattan is really only suitable for use inside or within the conservatory. Synthetic rattan is suitable for outdoor garden use and is very easy to clean.

Plastic and resin furniture is perhaps the easiest to clean but it can also get quite grubby very quickly. White outdoor patio furniture may also need a mild bleach solution when cleaning to keep it gleaming white.

Finally, the cushions. These can be made from all types of materials and, like the furniture frames, also need to be regularly cleaned. Unless the cushions are made from a waterproof material (which is sometimes only showerproof, not rainproof), don’t forget to bring the cushions inside after use, or else they will need a major clean or replacing more often!

Simple Steps to Cleaning your Outdoor Furniture

1. Remove the cushions

If they have removeable covers, these should be washed in your washing machine as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Do make sure they are completely dry before replacing otherwise mould and mildew could soon appear. If the covers do not remove, you can also use products like our Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner and Carpet & Upholstery Protector to help prolong the life of the cushions. And if you are getting tired of the colour, or the fabric has faded, you may want to even consider using our Fabric Paint to change or restore the colour.

2. Remove all surface dirt

Use a Cleaning Brush to brush away any loose dirt, leaves and cobwebs.

3. Wash with soapy water

Get a bowl of mild soapy water – washing up liquid will suffice – and give the furniture a good scrub with Cleaning Brush. Use an old toothbrush for those hard-to-reach areas.

4. Rinse with clean water

Before the soapy water has time to dry, rinse the furniture down with a hose to remove all the soap suds. Leave to dry thoroughly before replacing the cushions.

Cleaning Wooden Garden Furniture

For wooden garden furniture, the process is slightly different as the wood is absorbent and needs a deeper clean as well as protection.

You should regularly clean your wooden outdoor furniture as per the simple steps above but at least once a year or when wanting to remove staining from mould or algae, it is recommended that you give wood furniture a more thorough clean.

1. Remove cushions and all surface dirt.

Follow steps 1 and 2 above.

2. Scrub the wood

The next step is to use a proper wood cleaner, such as our Teak Cleaner. Pour this into a bucket of warm water at a ratio of 1:5 (5 parts water). Dip a Stiff Scrubbing Brush into the mixture and scrub the wood to remove all dirt, grime and any green algae. Then wipe down with a clean cloth.

3. Rinse with clean water

Rinse the wood with a hose to remove any excess cleaner, then leave to dry thoroughly before treating the wood (Step 4).

4. Treat the wood

After cleaning, the wood should be maintained by applying our Teak Oil. If the wood is heavily stained or weathered, you might also consider using our Teak Brightener to further restore the original colour before applying the oil.

The three teak products mentioned above can be used on any outdoor woods and are included in our award-winning Garden Furniture Restoration Kit, along with all the accessories needed.

Cleaning Wrought Iron or Stainless Steel Garden Furniture

With wrought iron or stainless steel patio furniture, any rust should be removed as soon as possible.

1. Sand the rust

Sand off any rust patches and cracked paint.

2. Remove the rust

Wipe off the loose rust and dust with a damp cloth or hose down.

3. Paint over the affected area

Touch-up the rusted area by spraying on or brushing on paint recommended by the manufacturer of your furniture.

4. Wax the furniture

Apply a coat of car wax so that the water will bead and run off, rather than soaking into the iron.

Storage and Maintenance

In the winter months and during prolonged periods of disuse over the summer, it is always wise to cover or store away your outdoor furniture. And, with the correct maintenance routine and regular cleaning, you can keep your garden furniture looking good for many years.