Bringing patio furniture back to life: how to scrub the winter dirt off

One of the best parts of crawling out from under the clutches of winter is getting your patio furniture ready for summer. Here are some cleaning tips to help.

Bringing patio furniture back to life: how to scrub the winter dirt off

Plastic furniture

If you want to clean plastic (resin) furniture quickly, try a pressure washer. Easy to rent at most large home improvement stores, pressure washers are also pretty simple to use.

  • Using just water (you don’t need soap) you can restore your plastic chairs to practically new in mere minutes. Plus, it’s super satisfying to see the instant results!
  • Know that the power washer will take off the smooth finish on the chair making them slightly rougher to the touch, but if that doesn’t bother you then start your power washing engine!

If you'd prefer to preserve that glossy finish, try using trisodium phosphate powder (TSP) cleaner and warm water instead.

  • TSP is a versatile all-purpose cleaner that works on everything from laundry stains to grease marks on walls.
  • Dissolve 1/3 of a cup of TSP in warm water, wipe down the plastic chairs with a clean rag, then rinse with the garden hose.
  • You may want to scrub hard dirt stains with a soft brush.
  • This method works well on the coloured plastic, but white is tougher to get clean.

Teak furniture

Teak furniture will naturally turn from a golden-honey colour to a more silvery grey.

  • If you prefer to bring the wood back to its original natural state, first apply teak cleaner (found in most home repair or boat stores) directly to the wood and scrub with a bristle brush.
  • Then, rinse the wood with clean water and wait for it to fully dry.
  • Finally, apply a teak sealer but avoid teak oil on outdoor furniture.

You can always use a pressure washer on teak but be extra careful!

  • You don’t want to damage the wood, so set the pressure washer to no more than 2000 psi and use a nozzle with a 15-degree or wider spray.
  • Hold the nozzle no closer than 6 inches (15 centimetres) away to remove the grey layer.
  • Move the nozzle along the grain of the wood smoothly and evenly so you don’t get streaks.

Metal furniture

If you have metal patio furniture, a pressure washer will quickly clean it up. Be careful if the metal is painted—you don’t want to remove the colour.

  • You can also use the same recipe of TSP and warm water as above for plastic chairs.
  • Use a soft bristle brush to ensure you don’t scrape the metal.
  • Rinse well and allow the furniture to dry thoroughly in the sun.

Cast iron furniture

Wash down your cast iron or wrought iron furniture with a mixture of 1/4 cup (2 ounces) mild detergent, 1 gallon (about 4 litres) of luke-warm water, and a sponge.

  • Rinse off the detergent with a garden hose.
  • Remove as much water as possible with a lint-free cloth.
  • Allow your furniture to dry in direct sunlight.

Wicker furniture

Clean wicker furniture using a hose and warm soapy water.

  • A pressure washer on a low setting will also work, but be careful not to break the wicker.
  • Remember to remove the cushions first!
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