If a summer's worth of outdoor entertaining has taken its toll on your patio furniture, now is the time to clean - before you stash it way for winter.
A greasy chaise lounge. A broken chair strap. A dingy market umbrella.
No matter what type of patio furniture you have - wood, iron or metal - it has to be cleaned and minor repairs made before settling in for a long winter's nap.
Here's how to get your patio furniture primed for storage so it will be ready to roll again next spring.
Cleaning and repairing patio furniture, umbrellas and hammocks at the end of the season has its rewards: You'll have comfortable, attractive pieces that can be pulled out of storage and use on those occasional warm winter days.
In the spring, patio furniture repairs can take eight to 12 weeks because suppliers are swamped with orders.
Another benefit: Repairing old outdoor furniture usually costs half what you'd pay for new replacements.
Worn straps and cushions can be replaced, and patio umbrellas and furniture can be re-covered now, when prices and wait times for repair are often much less.
What about that rust or brown spotting - a chemical reaction to the sun's ultraviolet rays - on your favorite chaise lounger? Quick action now can ensure the chaise is usable next spring.
If you catch them when they first adhere themselves, the dark spots are relatively easy to clean away with soapy water. Once they attack the straps, however, there's nothing you can do to get them off. Eventually, the straps will have to be replaced.
If you have wrought-iron furniture, chances are you have light rust spots. Most of the middle- to high-end manufacturers use a sophisticated paint process to inhibit rust, but they cannot prevent it.
There's no such thing as rustproof wrought iron. It just has to be watched over and cared for.
Wood furniture, whether it's the most expensive teak or inexpensive redwood, also requires regular care, including gently sanding away surface dirt and grime. Follow with exterior penetrating oil to keep the surface looking lustrous.
Wood is a lot like skin. If you were sitting in the sun, your skin would dry, age, and crack. Wood does the same thing. Oil not one protects the wood but keeps it looking good as well.
The key to extending the life of outdoor furniture is preventative maintenance. Clean regularly, keep seat cushions indoors when not in use and invest in patio furniture covers. Store all patio furniture in an upright position to allow for proper drainage.
Storing upside down may cause water to accumulate and freeze inside the frame, causing premature structural damage.