How to Clean and Restore Garden Furniture

As with any furniture and upholstery, outdoor furniture will also need cleaning and maintaining.



How Often Should You Clean Garden Furniture?

While all garden furniture should be cleaned before and after winter, the material will generally dictate how frequently you need to clean it.

All outdoor furniture should be given a deep clean ahead of the colder months, but if they’ve been covered and under wraps over winter you may simply need to hose down your tables and chairs. If you’ve left your dining sets out in the open however they will probably be in need of an additional spruce.


How to Clean and Revive Rattan Garden Furniture

Synthetic rattan garden furniture probably requires the least maintenance, due to its natural resistance to the weather; however you should clean regularly to maintain its condition.

Rattan can be more difficult to clean thanks to its interwoven fibres, however. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to cleaning rattan furniture.

  1. Remove the cushions and set aside. Using a handheld hoover or brush, dust down the furniture to remove any crumbs, mud or debris.
  2. After you’ve cleaned the larger frame, get a smaller brush (a toothbrush is ideal), and manoeuvre into the smaller gaps.
  3. Once done, fill a bowl with water and washing up liquid and wipe over the furniture.
  4. Wash over the furniture again with a second cloth and clean water, then dry with another cloth. If you have a synthetic rattan furniture set, you can rinse with a hose and leave to dry in the sun. With natural rattan however you have to be more careful as vast amounts of water will cause issues.

A clean before and after storing for winter should suffice for artificial rattan garden furniture, but a weekly or monthly hose down during the warmer months would be beneficial, too. In warmer months it wouldn’t take long to dry so wouldn’t cause too much inconvenience. If any stains occur, it’s recommended you use a damp cloth and wipe clean immediately.

Please note you should not use bleach, harsh chemicals or pressure washers when cleaning rattan garden furniture. Only clean the cushions when needed, and bring them inside when not in use.


How to Fix Rattan Garden Furniture

One of the most common problems with rattan garden furniture is damage to the legs, as people scrape the chairs on the patio. Abrasions to the bottom of the furniture can lead to splits in the fibres higher up. This will eventually weaken the furniture. You can prevent this however by adding rubber feet to the legs.

How to Repair Rattan Garden Furniture

Good quality rattan dining sets should rarely break but should some of the fibres snap or break, there are things you can do to mould them back together.

  1. Always repair furniture outside so you have appropriate ventilation.
  2. Clean the furniture first to make sure all debris is removed. The normal cleaning method is fine.
  3. Highlight any breakages and apply some epoxy resin to the loose fibres. Normal glue should be fine to use also.
  4. Weave the strands back in place or arrange them where possible so they blend in with the furniture.
  5. You may have to coat the fixed area with paint or varnish to ensure it matches the rest of the furniture.
  6. After fixing any broken fibres, check the wrappings on the legs of the furniture. The wrappings hold the rattan weave in place so if these become loose, the furniture can unwind and look untidy. If the wrappings are loose, you can glue them in place to prevent further issues. Please note that good quality rattan furniture shouldn’t have many issues

Monaco Bistro Set
Alexandria Lounge Set

How to Clean Wooden Garden Furniture

It’s important to distinguish whether your garden furniture is made from hardwood or softwood. Softwood products are cheaper, so aside from cleaning you will probably need to paint or varnish every year to keep it looking fresh.

 Hardwoods will last longer but the colour will weather to a grey as time goes on. You will need to apply teak oil to prevent this; once a year, or every three months if the wood has already started to change colour.

While maintenance depends on the type of wood, the cleaning process remains the same.

  1. Use a hose to rinse the furniture of any dust or debris.
  2. Take a bowl of warm soapy water and a scrubbing brush, and gently wash the furniture.
  3. Rinse with clean water.
  4. Allow to dry completely before applying oils, stains or varnishes.
  5. If you have stubborn stains that you can’t remove from scrubbing, or you are reapplying coats of oil and varnish, lightly sand the furniture before painting.

If there’s mould or mildew on the wood, dilute one-part household bleach in 5-parts water and scrub the area with the solution, before washing with clean water and leaving to dry. Always test on a small, less visible area before cleaning the entire bench with bleach products. 


How to Clean Plastic Garden Furniture

Plastic garden furniture, while less prone to weatherproofing, can attract tough stains.

First, try cleaning with warm water, a brush, and normal washing up liquid. If this does the trick, you won’t have to do anything else.

If that doesn’t work and the furniture still looks dull, try diluting one quarter of white vinegar in hot water.

Alternatively, one tablespoon of washing up liquid or gel diluted with five litres of water should help tackle stains. Apply to the area and leave for 15 minutes before washing away.

You can also try bleach, but always test on a small area as it can remove paint. Dilute ¾ of a cup of bleach with 5 litres of water for a standard solution.

If, after cleaning, your chairs still look worse for wear, you could try painting them.


How to Clean Metal Garden Furniture

Most metal garden furniture, aside from aluminium, is subject to rust when exposed to lots of water. When washing, use a mild soap and water combination and wipe your furniture clean. Use either an absorbent sponge or wrung out cloth when cleaning to avoid leaving excess moisture on the furniture. Wipe after cleaning with a dry clean cloth.

After cleaning, you can also take extra precautions by applying a layer of car wax with a lint-free cloth to protect the metal. Most metal garden furniture sets will be sprayed with a protective coating to wick moisture away but applying a coat of car wax will help maintain its condition.


Morella 6 Seater

How to Remove Rust and Restore Metal Furniture

Rust is a common side effect of metal furniture - aluminium furniture aside. However, you’ll be pleased to hear that it is possible to remove rust and restore the furniture to a usable and aesthetically pleasing condition.

  1. Place a dust sheet underneath the furniture.
  2. Ensure you have protective gloves on before using a scraper to remove any paint that is starting to flake.
  3. Sand down the surface where you find any rust until your furniture is smooth.
  4. Wash your furniture as normal to remove any dust and remaining stains.
  5. Once completely dry, paint the furniture as desired. You can purchase paint that doesn’t require a primer but always check the instructions and label before use. Metal paints will have a finish that seals out moisture protecting them from rust. You can however apply a layer of car wax as you would do after cleaning, for maximum protection.

How to Clean Outdoor Furniture Cushions

Cushions for outdoor use are designed to be resistant to dirt and grime and will have been sprayed to help wick away moisture when exposed to the elements.

For a general clean however, which we recommend doing once a year, removing the cushion covers and putting them in the washing machine should be sufficient. Don’t wash the foam inserts as they easily absorb moisture and may become mouldy; just make sure the covers are dry before replacing them on the cushions. 

If your cushion covers are not removable use a soft brush dipped in a bowl of warm soapy water and scrub the cushion. Wipe clean with a wet cloth. Use a towel to squeeze any remaining moisture from the cushion before leaving to air dry.

If your cushion covers are badly stained, combine washing up liquid with a stain remover such as Vanish with a litre of water and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture onto the cushion covers where needed. Leave this solution to work its magic for 30 minutes, checking regularly to make sure it hasn’t dried into the cushion, and then hose clean the cushions. Leave to dry, and they should be back to their original state.

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