How to clean garden furniture: 6 steps to keep your outdoor setup looking fresh

Make sure to follow these steps before any summer parties this year

garden furniture
(Image credit: Ralf Geithe / iStock)

We've now reached the fourth week of T3's Outdoor Living Month, and what a month it's been! We've covered everything from barbecue safety tips to the hottest new running gear for summer 2024, meaning there's been something for everyone and anyone. 

This week covers garden care, with special attention on gardening tips and maintenance guides. We've already had a look at the mistakes everyone makes with garden furniture, and now we're going to be advising you on how to clean it. 

To find out more, I spoke to Catherine Green from Smol. Catherine is a strong advocate for accessible sustainable living with a strong focus in planet-friendly cleaning, and she provided us with some fantastic tips on how to clean and maintain garden furniture. 

Equipment needed:

Clean bucket filled with warm water

MIld soap or detergent 

Soft-bristled brush

Sponge or cloth

Hose with a spray nozzle (optional)

1. Check the manufacturer's instructions

Before starting, you should always check the furniture manufacturer's instructions. This may include details on how to clean and care for your specific product, which can differ depending on the material. 

For example, the best pressure washers are great for garden furniture made out of plastic or hardwoods, but shouldn't be used on anything made from glass or rattan. 

2. Remove any cushions and soft furnishings

Make sure to remove any cushions and soft furnishings, and check any care label instructions. Most soft furnishings can be machine-washed at 40°C or cooler, and a high efficiency laundry detergent will work well at removing stains and bringing your covers back to life. 

If you plan or ironing any soft furnishings to remove creases, make sure to check if they can be ironed. You may be better off using some crease removal spray and drying them in the sun. 

3. Brush off loose dirt and debris

Start by removing any loose dirt, leaves or debris from the furniture using a soft-bristled brush. You can also use of the best vacuum cleaners for this, especially if it's a cordless model

It is important to pay special attention to hard to reach areas where dirt can accumulate, and make sure they are cleared thoroughly. 

4. Prepare the cleaning solution

Take your bucket filled with warm water and mix in a small amount of mild soap or detergent. Make sure to avoid using a detergent or soap containing harsh chemicals, as they can damage the finish of your furniture.

5. Scrub and rinse

Soak a sponge in your cleaning solution and scrub the furniture gently, paying close attention to any areas that are stained. Ensure you rinse the sponge or cloth frequently to avoid spreading dirt around to other parts of the furniture. 

If you have access to a hose with a spray nozzle, you can use it to rinse the furniture after you have cleaned it, or you can just use a clean bucket of water.

6. Dry and maintain

Once the furniture is clean and all excess soap has been rinsed off, use a clean towel to wipe away any remaining moisture and allow the furniture to dry completely before using or storing it.

For regular maintenance, consider applying a protective finish or sealant designed for the specific material of your garden furniture. This can help prevent future staining and weathering, making it easier to keep your furniture looking its best.

If you've started feeling motivated, why not check out our guide on how to clean a barbecue using natural products only? 

Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.