Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Patio Furniture

Summertime means you’ll probably be spending more time outdoors. You may have outdoor furniture you use each year. However, you may not know how to restore your outside furniture so it’s ready for the summer.

People who have patios often have patio furniture which remains outdoors all year long. This means it gets grungy! There are many types of materials used for outdoor furniture. You may have some made from plastic, wicker, teak, pine, cedar or redwood. Each material will require a different type of care.

These patio furniture cleaning tips can help make that outside furniture look like new.

Getting Started

Here are some of the items you’ll need to clean your patio furniture:

  • soft bristle brush
  • mild soap
  • clean cloths
  • towels
  • laundry detergent with bleach
  • access to a water source
  • bucket
  • Wood/Teak sealer (optional)
  • Wood/Teak protector (optional)
  • Wood/Teak restorer (optional)
  • Clear coating (optional)

Plastic Patio Furniture

Plastic furniture may be the least expensive, but it can degrade over the years. It becomes weak and may not be safe after several years. Before cleaning, be sure to inspect your pieces to make sure they are safe for use.

If your outdoor furniture is relatively new, you can clean it with warm, soapy water. Furniture which is looking ratty can be spruced up by painting it with a spray paint specially designed to adhere to plastic.


Wicker furniture can be cleaned with warm, soapy water using a mild soap. Be sure you spray the wicker furniture to get all of the soap off of it. Much wicker furniture is painted, so you may want to reapply paint to help it look new.

Some wicker furniture is natural and may only need to have a fresh coat of sealer on it. Check with the manufacturer to see what they recommend and follow their directions.


Teak patio furniture is popular because of the beauty of the wood. However, because it’s a natural product it does require extra care.

Manufacturers generally provide care instructions with every product. This is also true for those building teak or other wooden patio furniture. They may recommend specific cleaners, but you can do just as well by mixing a solution of 2 parts laundry detergent with bleach in 1 part water. Apply this to the wood with a soft bristle brush to help remove any surface dirt.

Thoroughly rinse the teak pieces by spraying them with water to remove leftover suds or any dirt the brush has removed. If you’re satisfied with allowing the teak to develop the gray patina, this is all you’ll need to do to care for your furniture. Otherwise, you’ll want to use the following methods.

You can remove the patina from teak furniture by using a two-step process and returning it to its original finish. This process normally requires you to apply a caustic cleaner and acid which will remove the patina. Be sure to read the instructions with the cleaner to ensure you remain safe. You may also have to lightly sand the piece to fully restore it.

Seal your teak furniture with a sealer specifically developed for it. This sealant will preserve the natural honey color as well as prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Some sealers can even protect it from developing stains when used around food.


Pine furniture, such as a picnic table and benches, can be cleaned up using soap and water. Allow the furniture to dry naturally.

Natural pine can be stained or left as is. If the furniture has been previously painted, you may want to repaint it. You can apply polyurethane to the surfaces to help protect the table and benches from the weather.


Cedar is another furniture material which shouldn’t require a lot of extra attention. Western cedar may lighten over time outdoors so you may want to stain it before applying polyurethane or another recommended sealant.

Eastern cedar, on the other hand, will get darker over time. You may want to seal it but leave it natural otherwise.


Redwood furniture is also made from hardwood. It also may change in color after years of being outdoors. However, it shouldn’t require much attention each year. You can clean it with an appropriate cleanser. In most cases you may not even need a sealer.


Likely your furniture is not made out of glass, but your tabletops or inserts may be. Treat this just as you would your windows on your home and clean with a mild soap and water. Alternatively, use a specialty window cleaner spray for extra shine. Vinegar and water can also deliver a more streak-free clean shine.

Outdoor furniture can make your life more enjoyable and can easily be restored in readiness for the summer. Read any instructions from the furniture manufacturer and follow their instructions. They will have the best advice for caring for your outdoor furniture to keep it looking great for years to come.

Barb Webb. Founder and Editor of Rural Mom, is an the author of "Getting Laid" and "Getting Baked". A sustainable living expert nesting in Appalachian Kentucky, when she’s not chasing chickens around the farm or engaging in mock Jedi battles, she’s making tea and writing about country living and artisan culture.
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