How To Clean and Maintain Your Outdoor Furniture

Today, fun-loving Aussies are spending more and more time relaxing, dining, and entertaining in their outdoor areas, and they wouldn’t have it any other way because they thrive on the combined indoor-outdoor lifestyle.

 

The furniture pieces we choose for our outdoor areas are usually high-quality and designed specifically for outdoor use, which means they’re built to endure the elements for many years. Of course that doesn’t mean we don’t have to give our outdoor furniture some TLC to ensure it continues looking good and lasts well.

At Abide Interiors we have some great outdoor furniture pieces to add to your all-weather furniture.

 

Unlike indoor furniture, outdoor furniture items are required to handle Australia’s  natural elements, which can sometimes be quite harsh. Of course, if our outdoor furniture items were manufactured from salt, rain, or sun-resistant materials like concrete or titanium we wouldn’t have to worry about how the weather might affect our casual, but often expensive, outdoor furniture pieces; however, we like our furniture to be affordable, lighter, and softer, which is why metal, plastic, and timber are typically used in the manufacture of most of our outdoor products.1.6m Alta Round Dining Table - Ebony Black with Black Powder Coated Legs

The result is outdoor furniture items that are not exactly maintenance-free, but really only require light cleaning on a regular basis to ensure you continue enjoying the comfort and style of your outdoor entertaining area. Regardless of how careful you and your family or guests might be, there are always going to be spills on your patio furniture. Of course the elements can do their share of damage too, not to mention birds and insects who can leaving their calling card on your lovely furniture items.

 

Not only do we need to commit to cleaning our outdoor furniture on a regular basis, we also need to know how to clean and maintain each piece. After a couple of seasons outdoors your furniture could well start showing its age with obvious stains, mildew, or even rust marks. Not to worry! We can help you take care of these furniture items and ensure they stay looking clean and smart.

Let’s take a look at the right way to ensure your outdoor furniture pieces stay looking good, for longer. Here are our top tips for keeping your outdoor furniture in as-new condition for many years to come –

 

Timber Outdoor Furniture

If you’re looking to restore old timber furniture, there are special wood cleaning products you can use to remove any ingrained dirt and mould before re-oiling. Just make sure to thoroughly remove the cleaner with fresh water before applying the new oil. There won’t be any sanding required if you do this once every 12-months.

 

For timber furniture that lives outdoors you will need to re-oil these pieces once or twice each year to maintain their original appearance. Any timber left untreated will turn silver-grey, plus there’s a greater chance of splintering and surface checking. Some timbers are more vulnerable than others: we like teak because it has a fine-grained, naturally oily structure and resists cracking. We also like some of Australia’s native timbers because they naturally last longer. One timber that’s not affected by direct sun exposure is the Spotted Gum, whereas the harder Ironbark and Grey Box timbers are prone to developing surface cracks and splinters if not oiled on a regular basis.

If you rather fancy timber furniture with the grey look but still want to extend its lifespan, simply give it a good oiling after a light wash with soapy water. Do this annually and your timber furniture will maintain the quality and look you desire.

Metal Outdoor Furniture
Metal outdoor furniture must be kept clean of airborne pollution and all types of dirt if you want it to look great and stand the test of time. The frames should be washed at least once every 6-months with warm soapy water, regardless of whether they’re stainless steel, powder-coated steel, or aluminium.

If you have coated metal furniture, be aware that it will corrode if allowed to sit on dirt, leaves, or long grass for long periods of time. The key to maintaining painted steel furniture is to ensure water is kept away from any joints or where the feet caps meet the legs.


Rust will develop quite quickly if furniture is left in shady, damp areas, and keep in mind that chips and minor scratches in the paint work will also lead to corrosion. Any small damages can be touched up with automotive spray paint, which comes in a wide range of colours, but make sure you remove as much rust as possible prior to touching up with paint.

If you live near the coast you’re probably familiar with ‘tea’ staining on stainless steel products. This is a natural oxidation of the metal and is unavoidable, but while it doesn’t look very nice it’s actually not harmful to the furniture. Keep these furniture pieces clean with warm soapy water and this will deter the staining to a degree, otherwise you can use one of the commercial stainless cleaners which will quickly and effectively take care of this problem. If you live near salt spray you might want to choose high-quality marine-grade stainless steel (316) products because this stainless steel is less prone to oxidisation.


Plastic Outdoor Furniture

Plastic outdoor furniture is fade-resistant, lightweight, and usually cost-effective. This type of outdoor furniture does not require sealants or paint that other materials require, making plastic outdoor furniture easy to maintain and a great option for casual outdoor entertaining.

 

The negative is that plastics suffer from UV breakdown more than other materials. If left out in the sun over long periods of time their life-span will be dramatically reduced, plus you’ll eventually notice a dull white chalkiness or crazing of the surface. The result will be brittle furniture that doesn’t look nice or feel nice to sit in.

The easy solution to these issues is to wash plastic furniture with soapy water on a regular basis, and don’t leave these furniture items out in the direct sunlight for long periods of time. When not in use, put these items into storage, or at least away from sunlight, and you’ll get years of use from your plastic outdoor furniture.

Final Points

  • To increase the lifespan of your delicate outdoor furniture items, simply store them underneath an awning or verandah. Cane and other less durable items should always be kept out of direct weather.
  • Outdoor fabric products, like cushions, have been designed specifically to handle periods of both rain and sunshine, but if you want them to last for many years we suggest you bring them indoors whenever possible. Note that standard grade upholstery will fade then eventually go mouldy and rot if left outside, so ensure you only use outdoor fabrics for seating pads and cushions.
  • If you live in a high-rise apartment, please keep in mind that any outdoor furniture you choose for your balcony should be heavy enough to handle strong winds. You may have noticed that some light plastic products offer sand or water filling options for this very reason. Also keep in mind that your furniture will need to be washed on a regular basis to remove any airborne deposits of brake pad, diesel, and road dust particles.
  • A problem commonly experienced in Australian outdoor areas is leaf tannin stains. Endeavour to sweep gum tree leaves off all furniture as often as possible to avoid tannin stains on stone, timber, or plastic furniture items.

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