When you live in a country that celebrates summer as fervently as we do, having a comfy, clean outdoor seating area is a must. But crummy storage sheds, leaky tarps and seasonal neglect can all lead to mildew-stained bench pads and rusty wrought-iron tables. Use these cleaning tips to get your lawn and deck furniture in tiptop shape just in time for Canada’s favourite time of year – patio season.
1. Wicker Wonder
Traditional wicker furniture brings a certain rustic patina to an outdoor patio, but it takes some effort to extend its life – and the first step is to rid any built-up grime. Pick up a mild oil-based soap, mix the recommended amount with warm water, dip your cleaning towel and gently wipe down the wicker strands. To maintain this new clean, hose down the pieces every few weeks to blast out any debris that could’ve fallen back between the cracks.
2. Glass Act
Avoid using any scrubbers when tackling glass patio-furniture cleaning – the bristles could scratch the surface. For the first go-over, opt for mild dish detergent mixed with warm water to really wipe away any grime, then grab a glass cleaner. Don’t ignore the underside of a glass-topped table; make sure to clean it monthly to prevent residue build-up. Cover the table when not in use to prevent damage – and further cleanings. Tip: For small nicks and scratches, head to an automotive or hardware shop for a glass-repair kit.
3. Wooden You Know
From Muskoka chairs to cedar picnic tables, there are plenty of solid-wood outdoor furniture designs that call to our collective Canadian sensibilities. It’s vital to wipe them down regularly with a diluted wood cleaner to remove dirt, and mop up excess water when it rains; but to truly take care of wood pieces, consider lightly sanding and refinishing them with a protective stain, oil or varnish each year.
4. Pedal to the Metal
One of the most common issues with aluminum furniture is how fast the metal can oxidize once it’s been scratched and exposed to moisture. To remove as many of those flaky imperfections as possible, mix up a solution of 1:1 white vinegar and water and gently work away – if any rust remains, use a sheet of fine sanding paper on the afflicted spots. Also, consider popping on a coat of colour-matched rust-resistant primer to help prolong the life of your metal outdoor furniture. Tip: Avoid using ammonia or TSP to clean metal furniture – they both speed up oxidation.
5. Cushion the Fall
Having a coordinated throw-pillow collection outdoors can be just as important as having one indoors. Give these pretty seat holders a good seasonal clean to make sure they’ll last for years to come. Fill a spray bottle with 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid, 1 tablespoon Borax and 1 litre warm water. Saturate both sides of the cushion with the spray, paying special attention to the corners and seam cervices. Let stand for 15 minutes, spray off with a strong stream of hose water, and then when almost dry, spray them all over with a fabric protector.
6. Part of the Plastics
Having a stack of plastic patio chairs on hand is always a good idea for when the barbecue needs overflow seating. Use this handy homemade cleaning solution recipe (mix 1 cup white vinegar with 1 litre warm water) to make sure they’re always ready to welcome guests. Submerge your cleaning towel into the natural cleaner and wipe down. For tougher stains, sprinkle a bit of baking soda into a dampened paper towel to create a mild abrasive. Tip: To protect your now-clean plastic furniture from the elements, rub on a layer of car wax.
Taking the time to clean your outdoor furniture now means that when the sun does finally decide to join us, you can enjoy those warm rays to the fullest – from the comfort of your own yard.
Images courtesy of Getty Images.