How to get your outdoor furniture ready for summer

We thought this month would be the perfect opportunity to look at How to get your Outdoor Furniture ready for summer.

We thought this month would be the perfect opportunity to look at How to get your Outdoor Furniture ready for summer

Between lockdowns and mother nature, this feels like it has been one long winter. But as we move into March, the mornings are much brighter and the days are getting longer. 

Spring is starting to, well, erm spring, and at Lazy Susan we're definitely feeling (hoping) that warmer days will be here sooner rather than later.

The long Easter weekend for example is often, weather permitting, the ideal time to set aside a day or two and focus on getting your garden ready for summer. 

Give the borders and planters a good tidy, maybe give the lawn that first cut of the season, and for me, most importantly, it is time to get my Outdoor Furniture out of storage and onto the patio.

Personally, I store it during the winter months. OK, I know it’s weatherproof, but it isn’t going to get used. Keeping it in a shed or garage just helps to keep it clean. 

However, if your Outdoor Furniture has been left out in the elements over the past 6 months or, then that’s what I want to look at in this post.

To be honest, I’ve already started the process too. Just this weekend went I swept up and jet washed the patio. It hadn’t been done for a number of years, and what a difference. 

I’ve not got the furniture out just yet but at least the surface it’s going on is nice and clean. It was fairly mild at the weekend too which tempted me to get it out. However, I’m glad a resisted, the temperature has dropped, I even read more snow could be on the way? I hope not! 

Hopefully, it won’t be too long until we can sit outside again though… 

So, with that it mind, I wanted to take a good look at how you get your Outdoor Furniture ready for summer. 

Be it metal, wood, rattan or plastic, the Lazy Susan team and I have got our heads together to share our preferred methods of cleaning and preparation. We’ll chuck in a few ‘hacks’ we swear by too!

How to get metal outdoor furniture ready for summer

Metal garden furniture such as the cast aluminium we sell at Lazy Susan is designed to be left outside and require minimum maintenance. 

That doesn’t mean it's maintenance-free, it just requires significantly less than say wood. However, if you want to keep it looking like new, then now is the time to spend an hour or so getting it ready.

If you’ve left it outside over winter, then start by giving it a good clean. A bucket of warm soapy water and a soft sponge is all you need. 

The consensus at Lazy Susan when it comes to metal is that you don’t need any specialist proprietary outdoor furniture cleaners. 

Washing up liquid will do the job just as well. However, my personal preference is a good quality car wash/soap. I always have a 2.5l bottle for the car and it works great on our furniture. 

Designed for painted metal, it has a powerful blend of detergents that are ideal for removing oil, grease and road grime, so definitely no problem gently removing the bird droppings and muck that builds up on our furniture. It also leaves a streak/residue-free finish and is easy to rinse off. 

I avoid using a pressure washer, regardless of the type of metal (or material for that matter). It can strip the finish, you just don’t need that much power. A garden hose is sufficient to gently rinse the furniture down.

If it is looking extra dirty, I’ll rinse off before I wash too, and then just give it a final rinse to remove the detergent/washing up liquid. Nothing too aggressive, hose set to a wide spray/mist will often suffice.

If you have any stubborn stains such as tree sap or dried on bird droppings, then again, don’t be tempted to blast them off with a pressure washer. Your car wash solution should do the trick. 

If it is dried on (or baked-on in the summer months), soak a cloth in your warm water solution and leave it on for a few mins to soften. It should wipe straight off after that. 

If you wanted to speed things up or if the sap is fresh and sticky, then I find that again, car cleaning products work best. Most brands offer a Tar/Bug Remover and this will usually shift it. Another option is a little squirt of WD-40. Leave it for a few minutes then wash off.

Once washed and dry, our next tip is to give your metal outdoor furniture a light coat of car wax. You can use the ones you spray on when wet and leave to dry, but my preference to use a tin of paste style wax such as a carnauba. Any brand will do the same job. Just apply a very light coat with a microfibre cloth. 

It’ll not only provide a little extra protection by allowing water to easily bead and run off, it’ll also stop dirt from sticking to the surface and really bring back the lustre to our paintwork.

The great thing about going down the car wash route is that the products are often a similar price to specialist outdoor furniture cleaners (if not cheaper).

You often have them in the garage for your car and they’re designed to clean/remove things like sap without damaging that all-important paintwork/finish.

Our final tip for getting your metal outdoor furniture ready for summer is to check it over. Oil any moving parts with WD-40.

…And most importantly, check the paintwork for any chips or cracks. You don’t want moisture getting in and compromising that protective coating. Feet are the spot many miss! We often drag/move out tables and especially the chairs across hard surfaces such as tile and stone. 

So make sure you flip them over and check the areas in contact. The video below shows how you easily touch up any chips or cracks with our Touch Up Kits:

If you have some of our Garden Furniture Cushions, then our recent How to clean outdoor furniture cushion covers post will give you all the info you need with regard to cleaning them.

How to get wooden outdoor furniture ready for summer

When it comes to wooden outdoor furniture, again, it’ll need a good wash to get it ready for the summer months. 

However, I do that differently from how I would a metal piece. Car cleaning products are not suitable for wood. This is where I would advise that you purchase a specialist cleaner. 

Now I don’t want to go into sanding and re-staining/painting in this article. We’ve covered that in a number of other posts. 

I’m talking about wooden outdoor furniture that is still in good (i.e. weatherproof) condition and just needs a little TLC to get it ready for summer.

The weight of wooden pieces, even just a garden chair, often prohibits storing it in a shed or garage during the winter months, so it can get a bit of battering over winter. 

If the furniture isn’t looking too mucky, then you might get away with just a light cleaning. A bucket of warm soapy water and a cloth just to get the dirt off. Maybe even just a rinse down with the hose?

However, if that furniture needs a deeper cleaning to get it ready for the summer, and you’re starting to see tougher stains such as mould starting to form, then we would advise the following method.

Start by giving it a rinse with the garden hose. Again, no need for a pressure washer, you can actually gouge or strip the timber, so best avoided. 

Once you’ve rinsed off any loose dirt, fill a bucket with warm water and some of Liberon’s Garden Furniture Cleaner

This is an effective, water-based garden furniture cleaning solution that is specially formulated for all softwood and hardwood outdoor furniture pieces.

The important thing to remember is timber is a material that needs protecting and maintaining to prevent rot and mould. 

Liberon will remove dirt, mildew and grime, etc from the surface in between any maintenance. It will get rid of any bird droppings, food stains and grease marks, and it will remove any of the black spotting caused by mould and lichen. More importantly, it’ll help prevent any further re-growth of fungi, reducing the need to sand and re-stain.

When it comes to the actual application/cleaning, a sponge or cloth is no good. I’ll always use a soft bristle brush. Nothing too harsh but something that will clean and move freely over the surface.

Once washed down, rinse off with the garden hose again and, leave it to fully dry.

To finish, the Lazy Susan team and I again recommend the Liberon range. They do a Clear Garden Furniture Oil that is ideal for the regular maintenance of wooden outdoor furniture. First off, it is easy to apply. It will also feed, seal and protect the wood. It also contains UV filters, so it will also reduce fading from the sun and penetrate deep into the wood for that all-important protection.

How to get wicker rattan outdoor furniture ready for summer

Let me start by saying I’m not particularly a fan of wicker rattan furniture. I love the look of it, and I’ve owned pieces in the past. However, I always found it difficult to clean and maintain. Well, certainly more difficult than the other three outdoor materials we’re covering in this article.

Even the popular synthetic rattan furniture, which uses a resin weave as opposed to natural material, is still a little tricky. Yes, you eliminate the chance of mould, etc, however, keeping dirt out the weave (and not splitting it) is always a bit of a challenge.

That said, the team and I have created what we feel is the best way to get those poly-rattan pieces ready for summer. 

I won’t look at the natural in this post. It just isn't that popular in the UK where synthetic tends to dominate sales.

The good thing about a plastic rattan is that much like metal, you don’t need a specialist cleaner. Household cleaners will suffice.

Rattan tables often have a glass top too, so carefully remove this from the suction cups and lay it down on top of an old towel. We’ll come back to that in a moment.

First off, pick a sunny day after a period of no rain. You want the furniture totally dry, especially the weave. Not an issue if it has been stored in the shed for winter, of course. The reason is that it helps to give it a vacuum. 

Using the brush attachment, carefully vacuum the surface of each piece of furniture. This will get any loose dirt and debris out from in-between the woven strands.

Once hoovered, rinse it off with a garden hose on the spray. Fill a bucket with warm water and washing up liquid and wipe it down with a sponge or soft cloth. Rinse and leave to dry.

Don't use any cleaning products that contain bleach or scouring agents on your artificial rattan outdoor furniture as they can damage/split the resin strips.

Also, avoid the temptation to blast it with the pressure washer, as again you could split/stretch the plastic.

For the glass top, again wash with a sponge and warm soapy water. Dry it off and then spray on some glass cleaner, wipe it with a microfibre cloth. 

Do this on both sides to remove and streaking, before you pop it back on the suction cups. Make sure they’re a little moist before you pop it on too, just to ensure you get a good seal.

How to get plastic resin outdoor furniture ready for summer

Plastic outdoor furniture is probably the easiest to clean and get ready for summer. However, if it has been left outside, it can easily become discoloured.

If you find it's looking a little stained and mould has started to form, then start by giving it a rinse with the garden hose to remove any loose dirt and debris. 

Then, take an old cleaning spray bottle, rinse it out and add one cup of white vinegar, and fill it up with warm water. Give it a good shake and spray it directly onto the surface of your plastic outdoor furniture. Leave it to work for no longer than 30 mins.

When it’s had that time to do its thing, take a bucket of warm soapy water.  Washing up liquid, or I’ve found laundry detergent is great on white furniture, will do the job here. Give it a good wash with a soft sponge or cloth. Nothing abrasive as you can easily dull any sheen/finish. Then rinse it off with a garden hose on the mist or spray setting.

Another gentle homemade solution that works well on shifting grime off plastic outdoor furniture is baking soda. Wet the furniture with warm water first and sprinkle some baking soda directly onto the plastic. Leave it to fizz for a minute or so and then wipe with a soft sponge or microfibre cloth. Rinse it off with cold water and leave it to dry.

Then as with metal, I find that car wax also works great on plastic/resin pieces too. Just apply a very light coat with a soft cloth. Leave it to work for a minute or so, then buff it with a clean dry microfibre cloth

One great hack a member of the Lazy Susan team had great success with on some faded and grubby white plastic patio chairs was also with a little WD-40. 

Their article HOW TO RENEW FADED GARDEN FURNITURE USING WD‑40® explains how to do this.

Finally, one piece of important advice, regardless of the material your outdoor furniture is constructed from, always test before you apply. 

Be it a cleaning product or finishing wax. Flip over a chair or table and test it on the underside before you tackle the job properly, just to be on the safe side.

...And fingers crossed we get a nice sunny summer 2021!

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