How to Clean Outdoor Furniture Cushions

Last update: 2 years ago

How to clean outdoor furniture cushions
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Just like any indoor furniture, garden furniture cushions also need special care. Although their fabric is more resistant to damage, UV rays and moisture, without regular cleaning and with constant exposure to the weather conditions, their protective coating can fade.

Summer gatherings and BBQ parties can leave their mark on the cushion’s fabric, too. Generally in the form of nasty and stubborn stains that can permanently change the look of your beautiful patio furniture. Deep cleaning the outdoor cushions seems challenging because of the specifics of the material, but you can still get the desired results in no time. How? Just keep reading on!

How often is best to clean your patio furniture’s cushions?

Unlike indoor furniture, the pieces in your backyard are constantly exposed to various factors that could contaminate their fabric. Frequent use does not make it any better, so just to be on the safe side, it is good to clean your outdoor seat cushions and pillows at least once or twice per week.

Vacuuming will extract the trapped dust in the fabric, and you can remove any missed stains before they can settle permanently. You can increase the number of cleaning sessions if you often enjoy time in your backyard.

There is one important thing to remember, though, before you begin. Never miss checking the cushions’ label for washing instructions. While more resistant, outdoor furniture’s fabric can still be damaged by improper cleaning or when more aggressive detergents like bleach are used. If you can’t find a label, check the manufacturer’s website for details.

How to wash outdoor cushions?

Deep cleaning the cushions of your patio furniture should not be a one-time thing. A simple vacuuming will not be enough for heavily soiled fabric, especially when stains are present. So, washing the seat cushions is the most effective way to get rid of all the accumulated grime.

Washing machine

Putting the outdoor furniture cushions in the washing machine can save you lots of scrubbing, and you can be sure that the material will be rinsed inside out. However, the size of the cushions matters, as well as whether the material is suitable for machine washing or just for specialised dry cleaning.

Place just the smaller cushions in the machine only if there is enough free space for them to spin. A cool and gentle cycle will be better so as not to stretch the fabric. Any stains can be pre-treated with homemade solutions like baking soda and vinegar or a mild detergent.

Tip: We do not recommend using bleach since it can change the fabric’s colour and weaken its structure. Sill, if you decide on it, use just a little bit of the product when mould is present or for heavily-stained light fabrics.

If your patio chair or lounge cushions come with a zipper, then you are in luck. Since the covers are removable, you’ll have no problem taking them off and placing them in the washing machine as often as you like. As for the stuffing, you can air out the cushions somewhere sunny.

Hand washing

While it may require a bit more effort on your part, washing your lawn furniture’s cushions by hand has its benefits. You can clean the edges better with the brush and break down stains through scrubbing.

Here is how to easily wash outdoor cushions at home:

  • Vacuum to remove dust, sand and other particles trapped in the fabric. Pay attention to the areas with seams.
  • Pre-treat the stain with powder detergent. You can also use a water and baking soda paste for light-coloured furniture, which is a good natural alternative to bleach. Enzymatic cleaners are also effective for stain removal, especially when pets are involved.
  • Fill a bucket with lukewarm water and add about half a cup of dishwashing liquid. You can add 2-3 tbs of white vinegar, as well, which can help kill any mould or mildew.
  • Use a soft brush to give the cushions a good scrub on both sides. Wait for them to dry a little.
  • Get the gardening hose and use high pressure to wash all the soap away.
  • Lean the cushions against a wall somewhere sunny, so they can fully dry.
Important: While a pressure washer can also be used to deep clean outdoor cushions, you have to be careful not to damage the fabric. There is a risk due to the very strong water flow and in case the equipment is not used properly. Heavily soiled garden furniture can also benefit from professional steam cleaning, where specialised cleaners and protective products are applied by experts.

Effective stain removal techniques for outdoor cushions

Lawn furniture may be more resistant to staining, but it is not immune to it. Below you will find some of the most common types of stains you may encounter and tips on how to remove them without much effort.

How to clean the mould off outdoor cushions

Mould and mildew both favour dampness and, considering the conditions outdoors, do not be surprised if you see them appear on your garden furniture. In order to get mould off the cushions, you can try a few things.

Chlorine bleach is considered a powerful mould killer, but we suggest you resort to it only in the worst-case scenario. There are natural home remedies that can help clean the mildew and mould off the outdoor cushions, too. So put on your protective gloves and choose an option:

  • Vinegar and water spray
  • Borax and water solution
  • Vinegar, water and essential oils (thyme, tea tree, clove) blend

Let the cleaner work, and then wash and dry the cushions. The best way to prevent mould and mildew is to protect the fabric from liquids. If the cushions get wet, make sure you set them to dry right away. The same applies to for when you wash them by hand or in the washing machine.

Eliminating bird poop stains

It’s hard to predict when you may get a visit from birds, and what they leave behind can be really unpleasant to clean. Still, though, not impossible. Just prepare and do the following:

  • Gently scrape off all of the excess dirt with a plastic tool.
  • Spray the stain with a mixture of warm water and detergent. Any enzyme-based cleaners are also welcome to try. You can scrub a little bit with a toothbrush to get the solution deeper into the fabric.
  • Then wash and rinse the outdoor furniture’s cover. If stains are still visible, you can repeat the procedure.

Getting rid of tree sap

This is a tricky one because tree sap stains get harder with time, which makes cleaning more difficult. However, there is one thing to help you effectively remove it:

  • Apply a small amount of hand sanitiser with a high percentage of alcohol on the tree sap affected area.
  • Rub it gently into the fabric with your fingers or a small brush.
  • Leave it there for 2-5 minutes to work.
  • Wipe clean with water and a cloth.
  • Repeat if the stain is still visible.

Making food stains go away

Having a snack out in the garden is a real pleasure until some of it gets on the furniture’s covering. No need to worry too much! While greasy stains are very stubborn once they penetrate deeper, you can prevent soiling with a simple trick:

  • As soon as you notice the stain, generously apply salt on it until it’s fully covered.
  • Leave it there for 5-10 minutes until the crystals absorb the greasy substance.
  • Brush the salt off and clean with warm water and soap.
  • If you have a product specifically for stains, you can add a little bit, too.
  • Wash and leave to dry.

Tips to preserve your outdoor cushions in top condition

  • Vacuum at least 1-2 times per week to rid the garden furniture cushions of the accumulated dust and grime. Especially around the edges where dirt can get trapped easily.
  • Look for specialised products that can make your outdoor furniture’s fabric more resistant to staining by adding an extra protective layer.
  • Don’t let stains settle in! They need to be treated right away, otherwise, the risk of permanent damage increases. You can keep a homemade spray of vinegar, water and soap close by for emergencies.
  • Wash the cushions several times throughout the season and deep clean the rest of the outdoor furniture before storing it inside.
  • It’s not always possible to protect the outdoor chairs and lounges from the rain. Still, you have to make sure that they are left to dry as soon as possible, otherwise, mould can start to form. Do everything you can to speed up the process, from exposing them to direct sunlight to drying the covers and the stuffing separately.

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