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Preparing Patio Furniture for Fall

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Now’s the time to get your patio furniture ready for the big chill. Timely cleaning ensures you’ll have attractive pieces that can be pulled out of storage and used on those occasional warm fall days and nights. Here’s how to get your outdoor furniture clean and prepped for the change of seasons.

Tips for preparing patio furniture for fall

Patio cushions

Be sure to clean away any spills or stains before storing cushions for the winter. Stains allowed to sit for a season are often nearly impossible to remove. Most cushions have synthetic covers and polyester fill and are designed to withstand the elements. Still, they could use some help if you’d like them to last for the long term (or at least a few seasons.) Use a spray enzyme cleaner on stubborn spots to remove them. Set the patio cushions on their ends in the sun until completely dry.

If the cushions have mildew, place them on a flat cement surface and saturate with a solution of 1 cup bleach, 3 gallons of warm water, and 1/2 cup of laundry detergent. Let the wet cushions sit in the sun for several hours. Rinse, then allow to dry in the sun for several days or until fully dried. Store clean, dry cushions in plastic bags (I use trash bags).


To clean, lay flat and scrub with a solution of hand dish-washing detergent in warm water. Scrub stains and spots away using a nylon scrubber. Rinse, turn over, and clean the other side. Rinse again. Hang to dry. Don’t use bleach on your hammock – it will destroy the fibers. When you bring it out next spring, spray it with a water repellent to minimize water retention, which can cause your hammock to suffer a premature demise. (Cotton hammocks soak up water like a sponge.)


Clean a season’s worth of dirt from an umbrella by first taking it apart. Put the top part back into the stand so that it’s within reach. Next, crank the umbrella open. Wash it with a liquid dishwashing detergent and a sponge. If your umbrella is vinyl, use a cleaner made for convertible car tops. It works wonders on these sun-beaten skin-savers. Dry the umbrella open in full sun for a day or two. Never put an umbrella away even slightly damp. That’s a recipe for mildew.

Patio Furniture

Aluminum: Wash with mild liquid detergent; rinse and dry. Coat with an automotive wax.

Resin: Wash with a mild, soapy solution, rinse and towel dry. Avoid products with ammonia, but use a diluted bleach solution for stains. Polish resin with car wax if desired.

Teak: Don’t use teak oil on outdoor furniture because it will act as a dust magnet. Clean teak with a mild soap solution and a soft brush. Rinse well. Keep teak in the sun because dampness will cause mildew.

Vinyl: Clean with warm, soapy water. Avoid bleach because it can damage the finish, allowing porous material to stain, fade, and weaken faster.

Wicker (natural): First, tip the chair to one side and vacuum it well. Then wash it with a solution of mild detergent and water, using a toothbrush to get at those hard-to-reach spots. Rinse with a garden hose. Towel dry, and let dry fully in the sun.

Wicker, (resin or vinyl): Wash synthetic wicker in soapy water, then rinse and dry it. You can polish it with a spray-on polish.

Wood: Wash with a mild detergent and scrub brush. Store it indoors over winter if possible.

Wrought iron: Wash with soapy water; rinse and towel dry. Wax and polish it twice a year. Touch up any rust spots immediately. During the winter, either bring wrought iron indoors or cover it.

Category: Outdoor Design & Décor, Outdoor Furniture

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