How to clean garden furniture

Updated February 21, 2017

Keeping garden furniture looking good requires periodic cleaning. A thorough cleaning before putting furniture away for the winter ensures that furniture is ready to use when the warm weather rolls around again. How you clean your garden furniture depends largely on the material of which it is made, but there are basic guidelines for cleaning patio furniture to keep it in good condition.

Metal furniture

Wash down the surface of painted metal furniture with a heavy-duty detergent and warm water. Scrub with a soft-bristled brush, using care to get into cracks and grooves.

Rinse to remove dirt and grime, and to wash away soapy residue. Soap can make furniture sticky, which can act as a magnet for dust.

Place the cleaned furniture in a sunny area and allow it to air dry.

Apply two thin coats of car wax to painted metal furniture to protect the surface and give it a shine. Car wax also prevents scratches and repels dust and dirt. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for applying the wax.

Plastic or resin furniture

Wash garden furniture with a solution of white vinegar and water to remove dirt and grime, and to inhibit mould growth. Mix 500 ml (2 cups) of white vinegar and 30 ml (2 tbsp) of washing-up liquid to 4.5 litres (1 gallon) of warm water.

Apply to the furniture with a soft cloth or sponge to cover the surface of the furniture. Use care to cover creases and crevices where mould and residue tend to build up.

Scrub with a medium-bristle brush to remove surface residue. Use care to get between cracks, grooves in straps, seat pads and umbrella fabric.

Rinse with cool water and allow the furniture to air dry.


Keep a spray bottle filled with white vinegar handy. Whenever you see signs of mould or mildew, spray directly on the area and scrub to remove. Rinse with cool water.

Resin or plastic furniture can also be cleaned with baking soda or bleach.

Things You'll Need

  • Heavy-duty detergent
  • Bucket
  • Sponge or soft cloth
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Car wax
  • White vinegar
  • Washing-up liquid
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About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.