How to maintain and clean different types of garden furniture

We’ve posted a few bits and pieces over on Facebook etc about cleaning garden furniture over the past couple of weeks. However, what a lot of people don’t realise is that different types of garden furniture require slightly different types of cleaning products and maintenance.

So with that in mind and Spring now officially (meteorologically speaking if not temperature-wise) started, we’ve pulled together this overview of how you clean different types of garden furniture. That way you can correctly care for your specific type of furniture whatever the material.

Timber Garden Furniture

The best way to clean your timber garden furniture is with a soft brush and a good ‘proper’ wood cleaner that you can pick up from any DIY or garden store. Always rinse well and allow to dry thoroughly before applying any stain or finish.

At Lazy Susan we clean our wooden furniture (yes we do have a few bits) with a mix that’s a solution of 2 parts non bio washing liquid with 1 part bleach in a large bucket of warm water. Just give the wood a good scrub with a soft bristle brush and this solution will easily remove any surface dirt. 

Then just rinse with the hose (and if you do use a pressure washer, make sure its set as low as it will go) to remove any leftover soap or any dirt the brushing has missed. If you’re satisfied with allowing the the elements to ‘bleach’ your wooden garden furniture, then this is all you’ll need to do.

However, if you prefer the new look to bleached, then you can remove the patina from wooden furniture by using a two-step process that’ll return it to its original finish.

To do this you will need a stronger caustic cleaner which will remove the weathered patina. However, please be sure to read the instructions with this type of cleaner to ensure you remain safe and test first. You may also have to lightly sand the piece to fully restore it. 

You will then want to seal the wood with a sealer. This will preserve the natural colour as well as prevent mold and mildew. Some sealers can even protect it from developing stains when used around food etc, so its worth paying a little more for a good tin.

Do not use varnish or non-recommended sealers on wood furniture as this can damage the wood and will require much more sanding/maintenance etc in the long run. You also don’t want to allow water to pool on the furniture for too long as it will damage it.

Wrought Iron Garden Furniture

It is always best if you can put iron patio furniture sets in the garage or shed for winter. If you don’t have a place to store them, then you must at least cover it. Just remember to make sure that your furniture is dry before you cover it.

To clean take a soft scrub brush, and then remove any dirt or debris from your furniture with a little washing up liquid and warm water. Make sure to scrub all parts of the furniture, including the top, bottom, sides and legs.

You can rinse the soapy water from your furniture with a hose and if the sun is out your furniture should air dry fairly quickly.

If you have rust on your iron patio furniture, you will want to nip it in the bud as soon as possible, as it will only get worse with time. Start by sanding off any rust patches and cracked paint.

Depending on how much rust is on your furniture, this may require some elbow grease. Once you’ve sanded everything off that you need to, either hose the furniture off again or wipe off any dust with a damp cloth.

Depending on the type and colour of paint on your furniture, you can either use a spray on or brush on paint. There may be a touch-up paint created specifically for your furniture too, so check with the manufacturer.

Whatever paint you decide on, apply it by following the directions on the container. And last but not least, when clean, give your furniture a good coat of car wax so that the water will bead, run off, and not soak into the iron.

Sounds crazy but a coat of car wax means you can leave it out during the summer months, and its got a little extra protection from those inevitable summer showers.

Cast Aluminium Garden Furniture

Unlike iron, aluminium will not rust. However, it can become ‘pitted’ when exposed to the elements. This protective layer forms to actually prevent corrosion but its a little unsightly. The good news is that its extremely easy to clean.

Ella Bistro Table with 2 Rose Chairs

Ella Bistro Table with 2 Rose Chairs

Start by brushing away dried dirt particles including leaves, bird droppings etc. Use a nylon-bristled brush or sweeping brush. Then hose it down to wash away all the grime, bird droppings and tree residue etc.

Use hot soapy water and a soft nylon-bristled brush or old toothbrush to scrub off any ingrained muck or stains that didn’t come off with the hose. Rinse with clean water.

You can clean away any pitting with a soft cloth dipped in a water/vinegar solution. But please avoid using any abrasive materials that can scratch the aluminum. As with iron, we always advise our customers to then polish and protect aluminium garden furniture with a coat of car wax.

This video shows how you can touch up and chips in your Lazy Susan cast aluminium furniture. This can occur on the feet if you have a stone patio…

Plastic & Resin Garden Furniture

Cleaning plastic furniture is not that difficult to be honest. However, plastic is porous so merely wiping it down with a damp sponge and mild detergent won’t necessarily get it totally clean.

White outdoor patio furniture may need a mild bleach solution to keep it sparkling white. Fill a bucket with warm water and a little car shampoo or washing up liquid. You can also add a little bleach if the furniture is white or heavily mildewed.

Scrub the furniture thoroughly with the sponge and use an old toothbrush to get into any nooks and crannies. Do not use the scrub side of the sponge unless you really need to remove a stubborn stain as it can scratch the finish. 

Rinse the furniture with a garden hose or a pressure washer. Dry with a soft cloth to prevent water spots. Then finish with a coat of car wax for a water repellent shine.

Rattan Wicker Garden Furniture

Cleaning your Rattan furniture only when it is necessary will help to protect the weave from wear and tear. When washing the rattan itself always use a soft cloth that has been dampened with furniture polish or a mild washing up liquid/warm water mix.

Water and soap can fade the appearance of natural rattan, so you only need a drop of washing up liquid to remove any dirt, furniture polish on the other hand really helps to enhance the appearance.

Also ensure that you use a natural bristle brush because it is soft enough to keep the rattan from damage and flexible enough to reach the hidden parts of the furniture.

Most natural rattan furniture is sold for conservatory use so needs only basic (but regular) cleaning and care to preserve its natural strength and colour.

It is also important to get into all crevices and grooves, so use an old toothbrush or other small soft bristle brush to prevent grime from building up as this can split the rattan weave. 

Synthetic rattan on the other hand is made of much tougher stuff. It will not fade in the sun and can be left outdoors. However, grime can build up between the woven rattan, so it does need to be kept clean.

If dry, you can hoover it with the brush attachment to remove dry debris from the weave. Then follow that by giving it a good wash and rinse as per plastic furniture above.

How to maintain and clean different types of garden furniture was last modified: by