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Cleaning Outdoor Furniture, Part I

We have a rather mild climate in Southern California, especially when compared to the rest of the country. But keeping my outdoor furniture clean is still a challenge, especially when I leave it out all the time. Because of that it becomes pitted, corroded, discolored and even develops rust. Here are some brief tips to help you keep yours clean:

  • Wash it regularly. How often will depend on the amount and type of exposure it gets and the material is is made out of. While my furniture sits under a gazebo, I have found that the side that gets more sun has less spotting than the side that gets mostly shade.
  • Pressure washing is becoming increasingly popular, generating some books on the subject. However, I prefer the old fashioned way: soap and water applied by hand.
  • Use the "sprinkle" option on your hose to wash it down afterwards and remove soap residue.
  • Use a mild detergent and spray runoff into the landscape where it can be filtered.
  • Set the furniture out into the sun to dry, but go over each piece first with a clean, dry towel.
  • After you're done, check all the fasteners to see if they need replacing or tightening. Use a silicone spray to lubricate hinges.
  • Aluminum outdoor furniture can pit, giving it a "pockmarked" look. Use a little elbow grease and some steel wool to get rid of this problem.
  • After you smooth the aluminum again, wash it with a mild soap and wter, rinse and dry it. Use car wax to buff it to prolong its life.
  • Wrought-iron furniture will rust over time. Remove the rust with steel wool. Then prime the area with a rust-resistant metal primer. A finish coat of paint used for metal is the last task.
  • Redwood furniture is probably the most common outdoor furniture. Left untreated, however, it will turn gray, though it rarely warps or splits.
  • To restore redwood furniture, wash it thoroughly. Replace or tighten fasteners. Use 150-grit sandpaper and lightly sand the surface.
  • Use a rag dampened with paint thinner to wipe away the sawdust.
  • You can also use a redwood stain which you can get at any hardware store. But don't forget the two coats of water-repellant sealer.
  • Wicker furniture brings good news and bad news. You don't want to leave it long term in direct sunlight as it will cause dryness, fading and breakage.
  • To clean wicker, use your vacuum's attachment to remove dirt and debris. Then wash with warm, soapy water.
  • You can even soak the furniture in water so the wood fibers get a good "drink" to keep them from drying out.
Continued, Part II

June Quick Links

June's Decorating Tips
Four Remodeling Tips
How to Create a Mood
How to Clean Outdoor Furniture, Part II
Getting Replacement Windows
List of Other Free Tips


Barbara Jennings

Barbara Jennings is one of the foremost authorities on interior redesign, home staging and art consulting. She trains entrepreneurs from all over the world through her online tutorials and courses. Author of 9 books for the decorating and design field, she is widely respected for her expertise and affordable training programs, customer support and on-going mentoring services.

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