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Home Care Library

Outdoor Patio Furniture Tips

Regardless of what climate you live in, outdoor furniture takes a beating from the elements. But routine care of your patio furniture will help it last longer and look nicer.

This article and video discuss tips for general care of your outdoor furniture, and then we go over the special care that is needed for:
  • metal furniture

  • plastic furniture

  • vinyl furniture

  • wicker furniture

  • wood outdoor furniture

General Care

Here are some general tips for taking care of your outdoor furniture. First, you will want to keep it clean, as outdoor grime will damage the furniture, and the longer that you leave dirt and grime on, the harder it will be to remove it.

If you can, you should try to cover your patio furniture when you are not using it. This is to both help keep it clean, and to protect it from direct sunlight, since ultraviolet light will take its toll on your outdoor furniture. If you don’t cover it, you should at least try to locate it where it will not be in direct sunlight.

For the off-season, it is best if you can store your patio furniture in a shed, garage or basement where it will be away from the elements. And whenever you store your furniture, if you stack your chairs, do not stack them when they are wet, as this can lead to mold formation. And you should avoid resting heavy objects on your furniture for long periods of time, as this can leave permanent deformations.

Lastly, you should try to avoid placing your outdoor furniture where the legs will be sitting in wet soil or standing water, as this will accelerate the deterioration of your outdoor furniture.

Metal Furniture Care

Outdoor metal furniture should be cleaned with just soap and water, and you should avoid using ammonia and bleach, as these can damage the metal’s finish. After you have cleaned it, you can protect the paint on your outdoor furniture by applying automotive wax to it.

If you find nicks in the paint, you should sand them down and touch them up right away before rust starts to spread. Wrought iron will need to be primed before painting, but aluminum usually does not.

And if your metal furniture has any moving parts, then you will want to oil these places twice a year.

Plastic Furniture Care

To clean plastic furniture, you will want to use a cup of vinegar in a gallon of warm water along with a couple tablespoons of dishwashing liquid. And after it is clean, you can protect it by applying wax that is made especially for outdoor plastic furniture.

If your plastic furniture has gotten stained or mildewed, you can remove these by using a solution of 3/4 cup of household bleach and 1 tablespoon laundry detergent in a gallon of warm water. Do not use solvents, scouring agents, carbon tetrachloride, undiluted bleach, janitorial cleansers, or gasoline . . . as these can damage the plastic.

Vinyl Furniture Care

You should regularly clean your vinyl furniture with soap and water, or a basic all-purpose cleaner. But do not use bleach or abrasive cleaners, as these can damage the vinyl (helpful accessory: patio furniture cleaners).

Be sure to regularly check your vinyl straps for breakage or deterioration, and replace these straps as needed. And when replacing vinyl straps, soak the new straps in hot water just before installing (which will make them easier to install), and then they will tighten in place as they cool down.

Wicker Furniture Care

Because of the irregular texture of wicker furniture, you will want to clean it with a vacuum and a soft scrubbing brush.

To help prevent your wicker from cracking, you should regularly treat it with boiled linseed oil and wipe dry. And to protect your wicker, you can apply a thin coat of furniture varnish, shellac, or lacquer.

And if you spill anything or find any stains on your wicker furniture, you should clean these up immediately, to prevent absorption into the wicker.

Wood Furniture Care

As mentioned in the General Care tips, to help your wood furniture last longer, you should block direct sunlight from hitting your outdoor wood furniture, as both the ultraviolet light and heat are hard on your wood (helpful accessories: UV protectant for outdoor patio furniture; furniture covers).

And similar to wood decking, outdoor wood furniture will last significantly longer if it is regularly stained or sealed. But it will need to be cleaned and re-stained every 12-18 months to maintain its protection.

If your furniture is stained, then you should conduct a "splash test" each year to see if it is being properly protected. Just splash some water onto the wood, then wait 15 minutes. If the water is absorbed rather than beading up, then your wood is not being protected and needs to be re-stained.

If your wood furniture is painted, then it will need to be inspected annually and re-painted as needed.

And lastly, you should regularly check the hardware on your furniture, and tighten it up or replace it as needed.


We hope this article and video has helped you understand how to keep your outdoor furniture protected from the elements so that it can last longer for you and look nicer for your family and guests.

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