You love your patio. It’s a place to enjoy the long summer days, gather with family and friends or simply kick back and relax after a long day.
That’s why you’ve invested in quality patio furniture. Because you want your patio to be a place to live, not just a place to sit.
If you want to preserve your investment in your patio furniture, you need to protect it all year long.
That’s why we’ve provided you with this guide. It will help you to keep your patio furniture as well as your hammock, patio umbrella and BBQ/grill clean and well-maintained all year long.
Caring for your patio furniture can’t simply happen once a year. If you want to maintain the appearance and value of your patio set, it needs to happen year-round.
To help you get started, here’s a breakdown of everything this guide has to offer:
Seasonal Guide to Patio Furniture
- Cover and Store
- Summer - How to Care For:
- Wooden or Wicker Furniture
- Table Tops
- Cushions and Fabric care
- Hammock Care
- Umbrella Care
- Grill Cleaning and Care
Seasonal Guide to Patio Furniture
As the days grow shorter and the temperature drops, it’s time to prepare your patio furniture for the winter months.
Before you store or cover your patio furniture, make sure to follow the following steps:
1. Care for Your Cushions
At the end of the season, remove your cushions from your patio furniture. If you have zippered covers, remove them and hand or machine wash depending on the cleaning instructions.
If the cushion covers can’t be removed or washed, dust off surface dirt, then gently scrub with a sponge or soft-bristle brush and a mixture of warm water and mild dishwashing soap. Hose off and let dry in the sun to prevent mildew growth.
Once your cushions are clean and dry, store them separately from your furniture. Ideally, look for a cushion storage bag that is air and water-tight, or is vented to prevent mold and mildew from building up.
2. Wipe it Down
If you have plastic, wicker, aluminum or cast-iron furniture, wipe it down with a damp cloth that’s been immersed in a mixture of warm water and mild dish washing soap. Rinse by hosing off and let it dry.
3. Oil Up
If you have teak or other hardwood furniture, clean usingan oil-based soap and a soft bristled brush. The oil-based soap will help prevent the cracking that can occur when the temperature drops. Hose off when complete, and allow time to dry before storing.
4. Breakout the Vacuum
For wicker furniture and pieces with small crevices, use your vacuum cleaner to remove dust and other fine particles. This will keep your furniture clean and prevent grimy buildup.
Cover and Store
Whether you store your patio furniture in a shed or garage, or leave it out on the patio, putting on a quality cover can make all the difference.
A good quality cover should:
- Be waterproof so that rain, snow,ice and humidity can’t seep through
- Be breathable so condensation can escape. This helps prevent the build-up of mold and mildew
- Offer UV protection so your furniture won’t fade
- Fit tightly enough that dirt,leaves, debris, insects and other pests can’t get inside
- Be designed to stay in place even in windy conditions
As winter comes to an end, the time has come to start breaking out your patio furniture for the coming year.
Hopefully, you’ve used a cover and have been able to store your furniture for the season. However, even the best-stored furniture may need a little sprucing up.
Start by thoroughly wiping down and cleaning your furniture with water. Use a hose if necessary. However, you should avoid using a hose on unsealed wood.
Next, make a simple cleaning solution to remove any grease and grime. Fill a bucket with water to the halfway point, then add two cups of white vinegar and a dishwashing liquid that specifically tackles grease.
Work this solution into the surface of your furniture with a cloth or soft brush. Then rinse off with a hose. The mixture should successfully remove all dirt and the odors that can build up during a long storage.
Avoid using a power washer, it can remove paint and aggravate cracks in wooden furniture. Once your furniture’s dry, re-attach your cleaned cushions and enjoy the season.
As the patio season goes on, it’s always a good idea to provide your furniture with a little TLC. This can vary depending on the type of furniture you own.
Plastic furniture is commonplace because it’s affordable, reliable and easy to clean. However, in hotter climates it can bend and weaken if it’s consistently left in direct sunlight.
When not in use, put on a cover that is UV resistant and keep your furniture in a shaded area whenever possible.
To clean, use a cloth dunked into a mix of warm water and dish detergent. Most dirt can be wiped away easily with this.
If you have fine crevices, use a soft toothbrush to coax away dirt and grime. Avoid scourers and power washers, as they can scratch and damage the surface of your furniture. Be sure to rinse it off with water once it’s clean, and let it air-dry.
Wooden or Wicker Furniture
Wooden furniture looks beautiful, but may require a little more effort to keep clean.
Depending on the type of wood, a yearly re-staining can help preserve the appearance of the wood and protect it from the elements.
For softwood furniture, such as pine, adding an extra coat of wood preserver can help keep your furniture looking good for years to come. One can should last a while, so make sure you hold onto it for next year.
Before applying any wood treatment, make sure your patio furniture is clean, dry and free of debris. Otherwise, your stain or protector will seal in the dirt and debris. This damages the finish and can scratch into the wood.
This is especially true for wicker furniture, so take time to clean out the nooks and crannies before treating.
Aluminum, wrought iron and steel frames are incredibly durable and usually require a simple cleaning with water and mild soap.
The good news is that many modern metal frames are rust-resistant or rust-free.
If metal furniture shows signs of corrosion, use paste wax or naval jelly to protect them.
If you want to freshen up the color on your metal furniture you can also repaint using a metal paint or primer. Rust-Oleum is one of the most popular brands, but talk to your paint professional before re-painting.
Glass tabletops, while stylish, can be magnets for dirt, pollen and other pollutants. It’s also guaranteed to get covered with the fingerprints of your guests.
If it’s a glass table top, any household glass cleaner should do the trick. Don’t forget to clean the underside. Also, remember to use newspaper instead of paper towel to wipe it off. This prevents streaks.
Small cracks or chips can always be fixed using a standard automotive window repair kit. Keep an eye on growing cracks, over time they can become dangerous if not treated.
If your glass is left neglected for too long, or if you have problems with acid rain, the rain or grit can etch into the glass. This can cause a cloudy or milky look to the glass. There’s no perfect fix, but sometimes using an automotive wax can help protect the glass’s surface from further damage.
If your table has a tile top, clean as directed above. If dirt and dust build up in the grout lines, use a soft toothbrush to scrub them out.
Cushions and Fabric Care
Most garden furniture comes with plenty of options for cushions, both in terms of colors, patterns and materials. They also attract a lot of dirt and general wear.
UV radiation can fade your cushions, so look for cotton or acrylic or other materials that are UV-resistant.
Because dirt and other pollutants can become embedded in the cushion’s fabric, regular washing is recommended. Follow manufacturer’s instructions, and if possible, wash them on a high heat in order to remove dirt and bacteria.
Depending on where you live, you may want to stretch your summer patio season as far into the Fall as possible.
Enjoy, but be aware that the fall can bring sudden winds, rain, thunderstorms and even hurricanes.
Keeping your patio furniture covered during this time of year will allow you to have it both ways.
As the days grow colder, you’ll probably be able to sense when it’s time to store your patio furniture for the season. Just don’t let it go too long.
Umbrellas, Hammocks and Grills
If you’re really looking to kick back and relax, nothing beats a hammock. These can be hung year after year, and provide enormous flexibility in terms of location. Before you do, make sure you do the following:
- Make sure you’re using ropes rated to hold the right level of weight
- Check both the rope and frame of your hammock regularly. Look for fraying or weakened ropes and rust or cracking on the frame
- If there are weakened segments, make sure that you repair and/or replace before using
- Don’t mix and match, patching the body of the hammock should be done with materials of the same type.
- If necessary, it may be time to invest in a new hammock
Hammocks are built to stay out all summer, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need regular cleaning.
How you clean your hammock will ultimately depend on the material and build.
Some will be machine washable. Follow manufacturer’s instructions, but as a rule of thumb wash your hammock by itself, use a gentle cycle and mild detergent only. No Bleach!
Once it’s done, simply hang up and line dry.
If it’s not machine washable, or if it’s permanently attached to a frame, simply spray down with a hose and brush down with a soft-bristled brush and a mild-detergent or soap.
Make sure to squeeze out the ropes to ensure that excess water isn’t trapped inside. Otherwise, your ropes may fray or warp as they dry.
To store your hammock, treat it like your patio furniture cushions. Store in a breathable bag in a cool, dry place. Keeping it away from sunlight and damp conditions will help it to hang for years to come.
If you want to enjoy your patio while staying in the shade,nothing beats a good quality umbrella. These are affordable and can be taken down and stored at the end of the season.
They also take the brunt of everything the season can throw at them. Whether it’s UV radiation, dirt, debris, pollen or bird droppings, it can be a challenge to keep them clean year after year.
All outdoor umbrellas should be cleaned regularly, at least monthly, when in use. You may need to clean one more often if your umbrella is near trees or tall shrubs.
If your umbrella fabric is removable and has a care tag that indicates it is machine washable, use cold water and a heavy-duty detergent. If possible, wash in a front-load washer or top-load high-efficiency washer without a center agitator to prevent excessive wrinkling.
Follow these steps to clean an umbrella with a non-removable fabric top:
- Move the umbrella to a shady area away from direct sunlight
- Brush or vacuum off any loose dirt. Use a soft bristle brush to prevent driving the soil deeper into the fabric
- Combine 1/4 cup liquid laundry detergent with a gallon of lukewarm water. It is best to use laundry detergent rather than dish soap, you'll have fewer bubbles to rinse away. Also, a good quality detergent with enzyme-action will help remove organic stains
- Use a soft bristle brush to work the solution into the fabric using circular motions. Use a bit of extra elbow grease and pay attention to the stained areas
- Allow 15-20 minutes for the detergent solution to sink in. Then use a hose sprayer and rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue, soap will attract more dirt and pollutants
- Move the umbrella back to a sunny area and allow the fabric to air dry. Do not close the umbrella until it is completely dry
Don’t forget to clean your frames as well. Use the same mixture of soap and water and wipe down. If you see spotting, add 1 parts vinegar to 10 parts water.
Avoid using abrasive cleaners, they can damage the surface of the frame.
When the season comes to an end, disassemble as directed in the manufacturer’s instructions and store in a cool dry place. Covering your umbrella can help keep it free of dust and debris until you’re ready to use it again.
Cleaning Your Grill
There’s nothing quite like firing up the grill and cooking your food outdoors. Whether your BBQ or grill uses gas, charcoal or wood, giving it a thorough cleaning at the end of the season will help ensure that you’ll be ready to grill next season.
First, make sure you have the right supplies. For most winterizing jobs you’ll just need a grill brush and hot soapy water. If you have a stainless steel grill, using a stainless steel cleaner is also recommended.
Whatever cleaner you choose, be careful using abrasive scouring pads or chemicals to remove the heavy carbon buildup. If you're using that type of cleaner, you might want to test it on a small section on the back of the grill to see if the finish will be damaged.
Feel the Burn
Before you clean, fire up your grill and let it run on high heat with the lid closed for about 15-20 minutes. This will help burn off any remaining chunks of food and make the grates easier to clean. Once it’s cooled down, take your grill brush and scrape away any food debris. Use the soapy water to remove any trouble spots. Don’t forget to rinse the soap away.
It's also a good time to pull the drip pan all the way out and clean it as well.
Break It Down
Next, remove the cooking grids, flame tamers and other components like warming racks and thermometers. Either use a wire brush to brush away any remaining charred materials or soak in hot soapy water for an hour or so to dissolve the grease and food that might be stuck.
Over the winter, it may be a good idea to store these components separately.
Clean the Exterior
Most gas grills are built with stainless steel, so use the stainless steel cleaner to keep it clean. Like wood, stainless steel has a grain, so it's important to scrub and polish in the direction of the grain. This ensures all dirt is removed, otherwise, it can get trapped in the grain and keep your grill from looking clean.
Cover the Grill
Putting a cover on your grill is one of the easiest ways to protect it year-round. Not only will it keep dust and pollutants from staining the surface, a good quality cover will be breathable to prevent moisture from contributing to rust and corrosion.
Want to deep clean your grill? Learn how to do a seasonal grill cleaning .