Sep 16th, 2010 by Kathy
Even though you’ll be sitting around on your patio chairs, porch swings, lounge chairs, and picnic tables, as you enjoy autumn’s breath-taking scenery, that doesn’t mean that you have to just sit around. You can also be doing some of those chores that must be finished before the onset of cold weather. In fact, if you’re going to be storing your patio furniture in the garden shed for the winter, before you put the outdoor furniture covers on it, you can give it a good cleaning; and that includes the outdoor furniture cushions.
The amount of cleaning that they will need will depend upon how heavily they were used during the summer, and how diligently you kept up with regular maintenance. If you hosed them down, or, at least, wiped them off, periodically, you shouldn’t have to deal with a lot of built-up dirt or mildew. Moreover, if you tended to spills immediately, and made sure that anyone who was slathered in suntan lotion put a towel on the outdoor furniture cushion before sitting down, you probably won’t have set-in stains, either.
Naturally, the method that you will use to wash your patio furniture cushions will be determined by the materials from which they are made. Some of the most common fabrics are acrylics, such as Sunbrella®, woven polyesters that are coated with PVC, and vinyl; and these are normally treated to be resistant to water, mildew, and UV rays. Usually, they have polyester fillings that won’t hold water; but some may contain urethane foam, which is not completely waterproof.
The thing to remember is that, even if outdoor furniture cushions are designed to stand up to the elements, they can lose some of their resistance, over time. Harsh detergents, for example, can break down their waterproof barriers, stiff-bristled brushes can scratch or damage their seals, and tanning products, besides causing stains, can weaken some fabrics.
In most cases, everything that you need to know, including the type of material, and the cleaning instructions, should be listed on the label. However, if you’ve committed the egregious crime of removing the tag, not only will you be left in the dark about how to care for your outdoor furniture cushion, but you may suffer serious “penalties of law” as well.
If your outdoor furniture cushions are made from a treated, acrylic fabric, such as Sunbrella®, PVC polyester, or vinyl, you can hose them down to loosen trapped dirt and dust. Most stains can be removed with mild dish detergent and a sponge. The best formula is a quarter-cup of detergent to a gallon of water. To get tougher stains out, you can use a soft-bristled brush, or a product that has gentle scrubbing agents.
Outdoor furniture cushions that are more heavily soiled, or mildewed, may need a deeper cleaning. If so, many manufacturers recommend soaking them for about a half-hour, in a solution of one cup of non-chlorine bleach, one cup of laundry detergent, and three gallons of warm water, then rinsing and drying them thoroughly. Of course, before you do this, you should make sure that it’s all right to use bleach on the fabric; and even if it is, always dilute it in water, rather than using it full-strength.
Remember, if you protect your outdoor furniture cushions, they’ll protect you – where it counts!