How to Clean Outdoor Furniture {Without Going Broke}

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I love spending time in my backyard. Whether I’m simply sitting on the patio waking up, whether the grill is going with a yummy dinner, or having a fire in the fire pit with friends, you can usually find me out back when I’m not working or helping my daughter with school. Over time though, I noticed that my outdoor furniture was looking kind of dingy. So, I headed off to the store only to discover that patio furniture has gotten incredibly expensive. I also stopped by my local thrift store too but didn’t have much luck there either which left me with two options; pay the high retail price or take a look at making the patio furniture I already owned look great again. What I discovered was that once I learned how to clean outdoor furniture correctly and with a little bit of paint, I was able to make my own look new again for much less than the cost of buying new.

How to Clean Patio Furniture - Dingy patio furniture? These tips will teach you how to clean outdoor furniture on a budget! Your back yard has never looked so good!

I suppose that there are probably fancy cleaners out there that will instantly bring your old patio furniture back to life, but as I’ve mentioned before, my body and harsh chemicals do not mix well together. Because of that, I needed to find a way to clean outdoor furniture that wasn’t going to involve harsh chemicals that would cause my body to react in a negative way. What I finally did with my outdoor furniture worked in ways that I would have never imaged! They look brand new!

How to Clean Outdoor Furniture

After I learned how to clean outdoor furniture, I took things a step farther and updated and restored them. I can’t believe the difference with just a little bit of work! The steps below will not only teach you how to clean outdoor furniture but also how to update it so that it looks amazing!

Clean Outdoor Furniture by Getting Magical – 

Magic Erasers are truly magic when it comes to cleaning outdoor furniture. Grab a magic erase, add a little water and scrub until your outdoor furniture is fairly clean. It can help to wet your outdoor furniture down first if it is especially dingy. If your cushions aren’t washable, you can also clean them with a magic eraser. I personally love to grab generic Magic Erasers on Amazon simply because they’re an amazing price which means you can save even more money on cleaning your outdoor furniture!

Clean Outdoor Furniture with a Vinegar Bath – 

Vinegar is a one of the best cleaners available and it is incredibly cheap which makes it perfect for cleaning outdoor furniture. Before you begin, mix some original blue Dawn dish soap, white vinegar, and water in a 5-gallon bucket. Take a soft sponge and begin scrubbing your furniture to remove any debris that is left from over after the magic eraser. Once you’ve scrubbed it everywhere, rinse it well with a garden hose. If your outdoor furniture is wood, also consider using a homemade orange cleaner to go back over it so that the orange oil will protect the wood.

Clean Outdoor Furniture with stubborn dirt – 

For metal furniture that has stubborn dirt spots, you may want to use scouring pads to help loosen up dirt, debris, and rust. I personally find that the green scrubbing pads work best for this since they can be folded to fit almost any spot. If you’re having trouble getting the scrubbing pad to slide, a little bit of original blue Dawn dish soap will help.

Clean outdoor furniture by washing what you can – 

When it comes to cleaning things like seat cushions, go ahead and send them through the washer. If you’re worried that they will be torn up in the washer, picking up a Wonder Wash is a great option for them. Actually I use my Wonder Wash for everything from seat covers to my delicates and love it! Since you’re washing outdoor cushions, consider using a detergent like our homemade powdered laundry detergent. It has Borax and washing powder in it which will really help get at deep dirt down in the fibers.

Paint your outdoor furniture for a clean look – 

While your cushions are drying, why not give your furniture pieces a fresh coat of paint? It is the one surefire way – aside from buying new furniture – to make your patio furniture look new.  You can buy spray paint for just a few bucks making this this an incredibly cheap way to update your outdoor furniture. If you want your outdoor furniture to have a high shine, make sure that you pick up a high gloss spray paint instead of a flat or matte.

Update what you can’t clean – 

If after a good washing, your seat cushions still aren’t looking their best, it may be time to update them. You could buy new outdoor cushions, you could upcycle an old sheet or upcycle an old towel or you could buy some oilcloth or a vinyl tablecloth to fit over them. Whatever you decide to use, wrap it tightly around the cushion and use a few hand stitches to hold it in place.

Protection is a must when you’re not using them – 

The biggest way to clean outdoor furniture is to not let them get too dirty in the first place. This means protecting them from the elements. If you can’t bring them into a covered area or garage, using a large black trash bag, a sheet of Visqueen, or even grabbing a couple of blue tarps to protect them will help. The idea is to keep harsh sun and dirt blown by wind off of them.

Outdoor furniture is an investment for your home and an expensive one at that. Making sure that you’re taking care of it the best that you can will ensure that the price you’ve paid for the furniture is worth it. Do you have any other ways to clean outdoor furniture that I missed?

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Stacy Ott-Barr
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Stacy Ott-Barr

Stacy Ott-Barr is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family.By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Stacy is passionate about homeless advocacy and addiction education.  Her first book, also called Six Dollar Family is available on Amazon.

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