Any garden spring cleaning routine you have planned always needs to include a little special attention to your garden furniture. Although, garden furniture is usually made of durable materials such as the cast aluminium we choose to sell at Lazy Susan, constant exposure to the elements will see dirt build up on the surface or with other materials such as iron or timber it could be much worse if a little regular care and attention is not done. This is Lazy Susan’s comprehensive guide to spring cleaning and maintaining the popular types of garden furniture sold in the UK, helping you to get it ready for what will hopefully be a long hot summer in 2011.
So this weekend, why don’t you drag out your garden furniture and give it a little spring cleaning and the best place to start is by washing it from top to bottom. For plastic patio furniture, it might be just as easy as turning on the garden hose or using a pressure washer to rinse all the patio furniture pieces off. If you have wicker, teak or any other wood-based garden furniture pieces, do not use a pressure washer as they can easily damage the surface of the wood. Instead, you will need to put a little elbow-grease into the cleaning with a soft bristle brush or sponge.
Cleaning Aluminium Garden Furniture
Aluminum will not rust because it develops a protective outer exterior to prevent corrosion after being exposed to air, however, this can be a little unsightly but is extremely easy to clean:
- Start by brushing away dirt particles including leaves, flowers, branches and dried bird droppings. Use a handy nylon-bristled brush or broom. If you have a leaf blower, these are great for blowing away any fallen leaves and accumulated dust and dirt.
- Hose away any stuck-on dust and dirt. Use the garden hose to quickly wash away all the grime, bird droppings and residue, as well as plant or tree sap and stains.
- Use hot soapy water (warm water with dishwashing detergent) 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.
- Clean, polish and protect aluminum furniture with a soft cloth dipped in a water and vinegar solution. Avoid any abrasive materials that can scratch the aluminum.
- We always advise our customers to then polish and protect aluminium garden furniture with a couple of thin coats of car wax.
Cleaning Wooden Garden Furniture
Timber garden furniture is popular because of the beauty of natural wood, however, because it’s a natural product it does require a little extra TLC. When you first get timber garden furniture, if its not painted then you need to decide whether you want the furniture to remain the color it is when you get it or if you want the furniture to change with exposure to the sun. Some people are adamant about keeping their furniture the original honey colour, while others like the silver gray patina you get from it being in the sun. Which choice you make regarding your teak patio furniture could greatly affect how you clean it. Manufacturers generally provide care instructions with every product and they quite often recommend specific cleaners, but you can do just as well by following these steps:
- Mix a solution of 2 parts laundry detergent with 1 part bleach in a large bucket of warm water. Apply this to the wood with a soft bristle brush to help remove any surface dirt.
- Thoroughly rinse by spraying with a garden hose (not pressure washer) to remove any leftover suds or any dirt the brushing has removed. If you’re satisfied with allowing the the elements to ‘bleach’ your wooden garden furniture, then this is all you’ll need to doe. Otherwise, you’ll want to add the following steps too.
- You can remove the patina from wooden furniture by using a two-step process and returning it to its original finish. This process normally requires you to apply a caustic cleaner and acid which will remove the patina. Be sure to read the instructions with this type of cleaner to ensure you remain safe. You may also have to lightly sand the piece to fully restore it.
- Seal your wooden garden furniture with a sealer specifically developed for it the type of timber. This sealant will preserve the natural colour as well as prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Some sealers can even protect it from developing stains when used around food. Do not use varnish or non-recommended sealers on wood furniture as this can damage the wood and require much more sanding in the future. You also don’t want to allow water to pool on the furniture as it will cause damage. Follow these patio furniture cleaning tips will help you keep your teak patio furniture looking great. Remember to follow manufacturer’s guidelines for caring for your furniture or when using chemicals to clean it.
Cleaning Plastic Garden Furniture
Cleaning plastic furniture is not 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 detergent. With plastic garden furniture you can use everything from car shampoo, washing up liquid or any general purpose detergent.
- Add about a quarter of a cup of bleach to the detergent if the furniture is white or heavily mildewed. Make sure you’re wearing rubber gloves when using any bleach solution because the chlorine can be very irritating to the skin.
- Turn the furniture upside down, if possible. Grime and mildew accumulates on the underside too. As long as you are taking the time to really wash your furniture, might as well get all the underside clean. Wash and rinse the underside, then turn the furniture right side up and wash that side last.
- Scrub the furniture thoroughly with the sponge. Use a toothbrush to get into any nooks and crannies. If the furniture is older or very inexpensive, softer plastic, do not use the scrub side of the sponge unless you really need to remove a stubborn stain. It could scratch the finish.
- Rinse the furniture completely. If this can be done outside with a garden hose, all the better and plastic garden furniture can withstand the blast of a pressure washer. Dry with a soft cloth to prevent water spots.
- Finish with a coat of car wax for a water repellent shine. Simply follow the directions as for waxing a car and make extra sure to buff it smooth and dry before use.
Cleaning Wicker & Rattan Garden Furniture
Cleaning your Rattan furniture only when it is necessary will keep the cushion fabric from wear and tear. It is also important to change the fabric frequently if you live in a hot and humid environment because the heat can discolor the fabric thus leaving your furniture with a washed out/faded appearance. 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 the furniture, 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.
Maintaining rattan furniture from abrasion will require that you keep the pets away from the furniture as they may scratch of the coating or topple over any fragile components of the garden furniture. 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. In an effort to avoid damage to furniture, see that those around the furniture sit on the cushions and not on the arms or any other structure.
Rattan is as beautiful as it is durable, so most rattan furniture needs only basic cleaning and care to preserve its natural strength and color. Follow these basic steps and you can keep your rattan furniture looking as beautiful as the day you purchased it:
- You really need to clean the surface of wicker and rattan fairly regularly. A monthly or even weekly cleaning is the best way to protect your rattan furniture and prevent major damage. Clean with a little dishwashing detergent diluted into water. Skim the suds off the top of the water with a soft cloth and then wipe the furniture’s surface without getting the wood wet. Be sure to get into crevices and grooves with a toothbrush or other small soft bristle brush.
- Keep the furniture indoors. While rattan certainly likes humidity, it is not outdoor furniture. Keep your rattan indoors and preferably out of direct sunlight and the furniture will last long and look better.
- Care for stains or other major damage immediately. Use detergent and a cloth to scrub out stains as soon as they occur. For more serious damage like cracking or splitting of the wood, try boiled linseed oil to put moisture back into the material. For the real tough stuff, contact a rattan or wicker expert who can care for the wood with expertise.
- Do a major cleaning once a year. A thorough cleaning will take care of any dirt that has built up and will also prevent future damage. Scrub the rattan with detergent, using slightly more water than you use for the weekly cleaning. Then, dry the wood as quickly as possible, using a hair dryer or setting the furniture in the sun. Finally, apply a coat of shellac or lacquer to seal the wood until the next year’s cleaning.
- Place rubber stoppers underneath the legs of the furniture. Keeping a bit of rubber between the wood and the floor will prevent unnecessary damage and splitting of the rattan.
Cleaning Iron Garden Furniture
The recommended substance to use to clean your iron furniture is lukewarm water and a mild regular formula washing up liquid (not one with bleach or anti-bacterial). Just take a large bucket, or a similarly sized bowl, and fill it with lukewarm water. Then add two or three squirts of washing up liquid. Mix the water and the dish soap together with a large spoon or with your hands until it forms a uniform solution.
- Using a sponge, kitchen brush, or softer scrub brush, gently remove any dirt or debris from your furniture. Dip your cleaning implement in the soap and water solution as often as you need to. You don’t need to worry about wringing it out. Make sure to scrub all parts of the furniture, including the top, bottom, sides and legs.
- You can rinse the soap from your furniture by using a bucket filled with clean water (just pour it on the furniture) or by using the garden house, which will of course take less time. Don’t use too strong of a setting on the hose nozzle or you could risk damaging the paint on your furniture.
- Your furniture should air dry fairly quickly. After all, it was built for the outdoors.
- 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 and cracked paint
- Using the correct type and grade of sandpaper for your furniture (Not sure which? Ask the manufacturer or an employee at the hardware store.), sand off any spots of rust with gentle circular motions. 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 debris with a cloth. If your furniture is severely rusted, to the point that there are holes, there is not much you that can do to save it at that point. It’s best to cut your losses and get new furniture, with a vow to keep it cleaner and dryer in the future.
- Depending on the type and color 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’s brand and style. Whatever paint you decide on, apply it by following the directions on the container. Make sure no one touches the furniture until it is completely dry. Once it is dry, you can use the sandpaper to remove any uneven spots in the paint.
- The easiest way to keep your patio furniture clean is to cover it when you’re not using it. You should be able to find vinyl furniture covers at your local hardware or home goods store, especially during the spring and summer months. If you are having trouble finding covers to fit your furniture, you may want to call the manufacturer for advice on where to shop, or perhaps you can order from the company directly. You’ll also want to clean up any spills on your furniture as soon as they occur and catch any rust as soon as you see it. The sooner you catch them, the easier it will be – and the less damage to your furniture.
- If you can’t cover or garage your iron garden furniture? Give it a good spray coating of car wax so that the water will bead, not soak into the iron.