Patio furniture gets dirty. Really dirty. And dirty patio cushions are the worst.
This is primarily because they're made of different material than the indoor pillows and cushions we're familiar with cleaning.
Here's how to take the mystery - and the dirt - out of cleaning outdoor furniture and cushions.
Most outdoor furniture cushions have synthetic covers and polyester fill and are designed to withstand the elements.
To clean them, use a garden hose to rinse away dust and dirt from furniture cushions weekly; turn them often for even wear and sun exposure.
Avoid getting sunscreen on patio cushions. If you (or the kids) do, rinse it off immediately. To deep-clean cushions, use a spray enzyme cleaner.
Then set the furniture cushions on their ends in the sun until completely dry.
For general care and cleaning, rinse outdoor furniture near a pool or spa at least weekly. This is because chlorine will damage most finishes. Here are specific tips for different patio furniture surfaces:
Wash aluminum furniture with a few squirts of mild liquid dish-washing detergent in a bucket of water; rinse and dry. Coat with an automotive wax every six months.
Outdoor resin - or plastic - furniture doesn't require much care. Simply wash it with a mild soapy solution, hose it off, and towel dry.
Avoid products with ammonia, and use a diluted bleach solution for stains.
Teak furniture is popular because it weathers well. Resist the urge to use teak oil on outdoor furniture, however, because it will act as a dust magnet.
Instead, clean it with a mild soap solution and a soft sponge or brush. Rinse well. Keep teak furniture in the sun because dampness will cause it to mildew.
Clean vinyl furniture with warm soapy water. Don't use bleach - it can damage the finish, allowing the porous material to stain, fade, and weaken faster.
Clean wood furniture with a mild detergent and scrub brush at least once a year. Store indoors over winter if possible.
Wash wrought iron furniture with soapy water; rinse and towel dry. Wax or polish it twice a year. Touch up any rust spots immediately. During winter, either bring indoors or cover.
The trick to cleaning outdoor tables is turning it on its side (very carefully, if you're dealing with glass), and hose it down first. Next, wipe off the tabletop with a sponge dipped in soapy water. Hose again, then wipe dry. If you can't turn it sideways, move the chairs back and spray the top. Finish with a glass cleaner.
Consider outdoor furniture cleaning a part of your seasonal home maintenance, and you'll be enjoying each piece for many seasons ahead.
Check out the Clean Organized Home Store for the patio furniture cleaning products and tools you need.