Caring for your outdoor furniture

Garden furniture is an investment and as with any investment you need to look after it. Taking care of your outdoor furniture is very important in protecting your investment and ensuring it looks as good as new for as long as possible. Knowing how to care for your patio furniture is key to making your outdoor furniture last as long as possible.

The most popular patio furniture being sold today will last for many years, but all, wether they’re constructed from, plastic, iron, timber or cast aluminium, will require a little TLC from time to time in order to keep them clean and most importantly, protect them from the elements.

Amelia 6 Seater Round Garden Table

However, don’t fear, Lazy Susan is on hand with some of our top tips that’ll help you care and maintain your outdoor furniture:

  • Always read the care and maintenance instructions
    First things first, always follow the manufacturers basic furniture care instructions. Follow them to the letter, be careful to identify any unsuitable products that could damage the furniture and void your warranty. If you’re unsure, ask them before you buy and if you’ve already purchased, pick up the phone and drop them an email.
  • Always start with a light cleaning
    In the first year or so, all you’ll really need to do is sweep surfaces using a soft-bristle brush to remove debris, and rinse with mild washing up liquid and a little warm water.
  • Only ever use a gentle cleaning solution
    Combine 1/4 cup mild washing up liquid, such as Fairy in a bucket of warm water. Use a sponge or a soft-bristle brush to scrub the furniture’s surface thoroughly. Rinse with cold water (hose will suffice as a jet/power washer is too powerful and can damage the furniture), pat dry with a lint-free cloth and then leave in the sun to dry fully.
  • Avoid harsh treatments and chemicals
    I’ll say it again as we hear it so many times as to why people need to purchase new garden furniture, please do not power-wash. Also, don’t use chlorine bleach, pine oil, or any other abrasive cleansers unless directed by the manufacturer. Test any new solutions on a hidden part of the furniture before you use.
  • Don’t let mold start to grow
    Scrub or sand lightly to remove mold, depending on the material as soon as it appears. Check your furniture on a regular basis and always wear gloves, and discard used supplies to avoid spreading the spores.

Protecting all your oudoor furniture from the elements will greatly enhance the lifespan. Bring your cushions inside on rainy days. Keep the cushions dry to lengthen the life of the fabric. Invest in some outdoor furniture covers and protect your furniture in bad weather. Store all garden and patio furniture away during winter time. It is important you clean outdoor furniture regularly and each of the different types of outdoor furniture needs to be cleaned and maintained in the correct way…

  • Caring for rattan and wicker
    Best place to start with both synthetic and natural wicker and rattan is to hoover it with the soft-brush attachment to remove any dust and debris from the weave, then wipe it down with a damp cloth. If its a natural wicker and it still looks bad, then you may have to sand or strip the piece down and repaint. A coat of clear varnish, paint, or a combination of the two is often applied to natural wicker to protect the surface. Sunlight is the main enemy of natural wicker, so you should always cover it if you intend to leave it outside for more than two weeks at a time. Only clean both natural and synthetic rattan with a mild washing up liquid and avoid using too much water with the natural type, as this can weaken the fibres, poly-rattan on the other hand can withstand a large amount of moisture. Regular cleaning is recommended for natural wicker, as it generally cannot endure harsh or abrasive treatments and this will also minimize potential mildew buildup. Poly-rattan will need cleaning every couple of months or so to primarily prevent any dirt building up between the woven resin, but also to keep it looking like new.
  • Caring for timber
    Most wood used to make outdoor furniture is naturally resistant to any decay and is selected so that it can withstand the British climate. Although sealants etc will help to preserve the colour and protect the furniture against wear and tear, they aren’t necessary if you so wish. Left unfinished, the wood will develop a silvery-gray patina that requires very little maintenance. To remove stains or mildew, you simply need to mix a little bleach (please make sure it is a oxidizing bleach and not a chlorine based) into a bucket of warm water and gently scrub the area with a soft-bristle brush.  Do not leave to soak, rinse immediately with cold water. If you want to remove any rust stains or bird droppings, or you’d simply like to restore the original of a completely new finish, sand lightly along the grain using fine-grit sandpaper and then wipe clean. To protect from the sun’s UV rays, dirt, and moisture, or to preserve the colour, you must seal the wood. Clean the surface and sand off any existing finish. Touch up with paint if needed and then apply a clear water-repellent preservative. Make sure it contains a mildewcide or a penetrating semitransparent stain as the pigment in the stain will help to prevent fading from the sun. With any timber garden furniture you should always consult the manufacturer’s instructions to learn how often to apply any stain or treatment and what type they recommend. In general, you’ll probably need to do this every couple of years at the very least.
  • Caring for metal
    Aluminum, iron, steel, and other metals can be wrought, in other words they’ve been heated and then shaped, cast in a mould, or formed into hollow tubes. Most metals, with the exception of Lazy Susan’s friend aluminum, are subject to rust, so most (if not all) metal garden furniture you buy in the UK is finished with a protective coat of clear varnish, paint, or a durable powder coating. To clean metal just use a mild washing up liquid in warm water, scrub with soft , rinse, and dry. If rust does develop you can sand the area lightly using fine-grit sandpaper and apply touch-up paint (should always be available through the manufacturer, but check before you start). After cleaning, apply a coat of quality liquid or paste car wax with a lint-free cloth for a little added protection. You can also use a little silicone spray to lubricate any moving parts on chairs etc . Always check for rust spots or chips regularly, especially in hidden areas where the surface may be unfinished, and tackle them as per the manufacturers guidelines immediately (even stainless steel can corrode when you live by the coast).
  • Caring for resin and plastic
    Resin or plastic garden furniture, is usually either constructed from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene (PE). These plastics have evolved dramatically in recent years and are now manufactured with a number of chemical additives, including UV fade protection and fungicides. They are formed to look like timber, wicker, and into items such as woven chairs etc. To clean, again you just need to use a mild washing up liquid and warm water. Scrub with a soft bristle brush, rinse, and dry. For any tougher stains or mildew, mix up a solution that is 8 parts water to 1 part chlorine bleach (please check the care instructions or with the supplier  first to establish if bleach is an approved cleaning product). Plastic garden furniture can discolour so regularly wipe it down with a wet cloth and a washing up liquid after prolonged exposure to the elements. If you have white resin furniture, you can really brighten it up by adding a little laundry detergent to the aforementioned bleach solution. Always test any solution you mix up on a hidden area to make sure it doesn’t discolour the plastic before you clean the entire piece and always wear rubber gloves. If the furniture is badly stained, then you can always leave the mixture on the furniture for five minutes, and then rinse it off thoroughly with cold water.
  • Caring for cushions and outdoor fabrics
    The materials that are used for outdoor furnitutre are often called performance fabrics as they’ve been designed specifically to resist sun damage, staining, moisture, and mildew. Solution-dyed outdoor fabrics are less prone to fading and can handle stronger cleansers than printed or piece-dyed fabrics. To establish exactly which type you have, check both sides of the fabric, and if they’re the same, then it’s probably solution-dyed. Otherwise, it’s printed or piece-dyed. Removable cushion covers can usually be machine-washed on a 30° wash, using a non bio detergent, and then hung on the washing line to air dry. Alternatively, you can hand-wash the covers, rinse in cold water, and again air dry on the line. Regularly brush off any dirt and debris, and wipe with a damp cloth as needed. Wipe spills and stains off immediately with a wet cloth and a little washing up liquid in warm water. Some of the better outdoor fabrics will have a water-repellent coating (check care guide) that loses its effectiveness over time. To restore, clean and dry the material, and then apply a fabric protector, such as 3M Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield. Re-apply once a year or whenever water stops beading on the surface.
  • Caring for your awning, parasol and patio umbrella
    Best way you clean your patio umbrella or parasol is to open it up and carefully lay it on its side. Mix a solution of a little squirt of bleach and washing up liquid dishwashing in a bucket of warm water. Dab on inside seam first to test the colorfastness the fabric and then wearing rubber gloves and a soft-bristle brush, gently scrub one section at a time. Rinse with a garden hose and dry off all the metal hardware with a cloth to prevent rusting. Leave open and leave to dry in the sun before you close.

Protect your garden furniture

During the warmer spring and summer months, many people will spend as much time as possible outside in their gardens. We don’t get enough sun in the UK, so we have to make the most of it when we do. Outdoor furniture will add the furniture touch to your garden or patio. Outdoor furniture is not cheap and to keep it looking good it needs regular maintenance in order to fight the inevitable build up of dirt, rot and rust etc. However, if you are willing to put in a little effort to protect your furniture, it will be easier to clean and you’ll have it looking like new for many years:

  • Clean the furniture before you protect it
    Make sure that your furniture is in good condition before you go through the effort of protecting it, or else you may find that your efforts were wasted in light of internal rot and decay. Remove all of the upholstery and cushions before cleaning. Wicker furniture can be sprayed with a hose. Wood and metal furniture should be scrubbed and wiped down with a sponge. Use cleaning solution that is designed specifically for your furniture’s material.
  • Keep it covered
    Always cover your furniture when its not in use, or store them indoors. Remove the foot caps on chairs and tables, and keep furniture upright so that accumulated water can drain off.
  • Protect the frames of the furniture
    Protection against the elements is vital if you want to prolong the life of your furniture. For metal and plastic furniture, purchase a good quality outdoor furniture protector, and apply directly to the furniture’s frame. This will minimize the impact of heat and UV rays. For timber furniture, paint or stain is the best way to go because they offer a good degree of protection against the sun. Some forms of paint and stain can even protect against heat and rain too.
  • Protect the fabrics on your furniture
    Making sure the fabric is clean and dry, take every piece and spray it with a fabric protector such as 3M Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield. Be sure you read the application instructions or speak to the manufacturer before you use to make sure that the fabric protector will not damage or discolor your furniture. Re-apply the fabric protector at the start of every season to reduce the risk damage and ensure the fabric is fully protected.
  • Store the furniture correctly to minimize damage
    If possible, store your outdoor furniture in a shed or a garage when not in use, especially during the winter months. This reduces the amount of exposure to the cold and damp.

About Lazy Susan

About Lazy Susan

Lazy Susan is a small family business that specialise exclusively in wicker, rattan and metal garden furniture, specifically cast aluminium. Visit www.lazysusanfurniture.co.uk to find out more and view our complete product range.

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