How to Clean Patio Furniture (Wood, Metal, Fabric)

Dirty patio furniture is an eyesore. Further, a favorite to germs and dreaded fungi growths like mold. All types of patio furniture including wood, metal and fabric requires seasonal cleaning. This not only make them safe to use but also strong and durable.

Unlike indoor furniture, patio chairs and tables suffer the wrath of elements. Mold and mildew on outdoor furniture grows as a result of frost and precipitation. Speeding winds will also blow dust, pollen and other debris on your patio furniture.

How to Clean Outdoor Patio Furniture

To ensuring that your outdoor furniture remains in good shape for years, conduct a regular.

However, how you clean your outdoor furniture typically depends on its material type. Wood, metals and fabrics have different ways of cleaning them. Without considering this, you may end up ruining your expensive outdoor investment.

Outdoor Wood Furniture

Wood is a classic material for outdoor furniture that requires regular maintenance to uphold its aesthetic value. Cleaning is the first important step followed by application of a water repellent or a sealant.

Light cleaning that involves removing of dust and cobwebs should be done regularly using a piece of cloth moistened with mild soapy water. Use another clean water moistened cloth to rinse the soap solution. Let the furniture to air dry naturally and later buff with a dry soft towel.

Deep cleaning should be done at the start and end of each season or when the furniture is heavily stained. Scrub thoroughly with a soft brush and a mixture of water and dishwashing detergent soap or oxygen bleach to remove deep stains, mold and grime. Remember to rinse using a damp cloth.

To avoid scratching during cleaning, scrub in the direction of the grain especially if you are dealing with soft wood such as pine or cedar. Tough and sticky stains or dirt may require scrubbing the area with a hard bristle brush or giving it a slight sanding before a rinse.

Since topcoat products are not typically used on outdoor wood furniture, applying a sealant or water repellent after cleaning will be important. This will help in preventing wood water damages such as warping, twisting, swelling, molding or decomposing. Apply a sealant when the furniture is completely dry.

Power washing should not be used for cleaning wooden furniture and fittings. The powerful blast of water is capable of stripping off sealant or paint from wood thus making it vulnerable to water. This method can be used on other materials such as plastic, metal or vinyl.

Plastic/Metal Furniture

Outdoor plastic and metal furniture are the easiest to maintain. Washing them is fairly simple and here is what it takes:

You’ll need the following:

  • Dishwashing liquid such as dawn
  • A bucket of warm water
  • A garden hose
  • A soft bristle brush
  • A soft piece of cloth or towel


  1. Take ¼ cup of dishwashing soap and mix with warm water
  2. Spray your furniture off with a hose to soften dirt and dislodge loose dirt
  3. Scrub using a soft brush as you focus more on dirty areas
  4. Rinse with a hose and gently wipe off with soft towel
  5. Let the furniture air dry before taking them back on your deck or patio

Fabric/vinyl Outdoor Cushions

Fabric cushions and seat covers are comfortable although tough to clean. The natural or synthetic material gets dirty quickly and requires regular cleaning to look great. While most fabric materials are machine wash, you can also hand wash using a solution of a gentle dish soap and warm water.

Remove the cushions and set them outdoor. Wash the covers as directed by the manufacturer and air dry them. Once clean, apply a water-repellant fabric protector to minimize mildew and staining in future.

Can you Power Wash Patio Furniture?

Power washing is a reliable and fast way of cleaning surfaces using a pressure washer machine. The strong blast of water quickly cuts through dirt, stains and grime for a sparkling view. An electric pressure washer can be used on most outdoor furniture except wooden.

Here is how to power wash plastic, metal or vinyl patio furniture.

  1. Place your furniture on a flat surface a distance from home windows and doors
  2. Attach a low or medium pressure washer nozzle to the machine depending with the intensity of dirt buildup on your chairs and tables.
  3. Power the machine and start spraying top to down with plain water. You may use a detergent if you are dealing with greasy or sticky stains.
  4. Use a brush to spot clean by hand areas with stubborn dirt and rinse with a low pressure spray.
  5. Let the furniture dry by air and follow with a soft buff using a soft piece of towel.


Cleaning a heavily stained outdoor furniture can be a tough job. To protect it and make future cleaning an easy task, cover or store your tables and chairs in a garage during the cold winter and times when you don’t use them. Consider giving them a thorough cleaning at the beginning and end of every season when you are also cleaning your patio.

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