How to Clean and Protect Your Outdoor Furniture


Boulder County is one of the best places in the world to enjoy the outdoors — hiking, camping, wildlife, and skiing is right at your doorstep. And with four defined seasons to enjoy, you don’t even have to leave your porch to take in the glory of every season. 

From summer to winter, Colorado receives nearly 300 days of sunshine. That means you can relax outdoors pretty much year-round with friends and family.

One way to make the most of every season is investing in a comfortable, relaxing patio setup. But as a homeowner, the last things you want is for your backyard patio to become a money pit.

When you invest in quality outdoor furniture, you want it to serve your family for years to come. That’s why it’s important to properly care for your patio furniture throughout each season.

With some proactive preparation and care, your outdoor setup can stay sturdy and look brand new for years. From cleaning and applying protective coatings to protection from seasonal weather, here’s our guide to protecting your outdoor furniture.

How to Protect Your Outdoor Furniture Year-Round in Boulder County

Clean Your Furniture Regularly

Your outdoor furniture will get dirty over time. The wind blows dust and debris, branches and leaves fall off trees, and rainwater distributes residue.

If you ignore the build-up from weather, dirt and debris could permanently stain your furniture, eat away at the fabric and wood, or rust the metal.

The simple answer is to clean your outdoor furniture regularly. Even if it looks clean, hard-to-see dirt may be settling in and can eventually cause damage.

To clean your outdoor furniture, a simple wipe down of warm water and dish soap will likely do the trick. Clean your pieces on a clear, sunny day so they can dry out after you’ve scrubbed and rinsed. You may even be able to toss outdoor cushions or their linings into the washer, but check the washing instructions on the tag first.

Another option for cleaning cushions, rugs, and fabrics is a pressure washer. A pressure washer will blast detritus off almost any material. Be careful when using the washer on wood or metal, as finishes and coatings may be sensitive to the high pressure.

With wood furniture, use the cleaning instructions that came with the set. Different finishes and wood types could be sensitive to certain solutions, and cleaning the furniture the wrong way might void your warranty!

If you aren’t sure how your wood furniture is supposed to be cleaned, it’s likely safe to simply wipe it down with a damp, non-abrasive cloth.

Apply Protective Coating

All outdoor furniture is susceptible to damage from the elements, whether it be the sun’s harsh UV rays, hail, rainfall, or snow.

Applying a protective coating to your patio furniture is important to defend against these elements. This is especially important to protect your furniture from the sun, which can fade colors and break down fabrics over time.

To apply fabric protector, make sure the furniture is clean and dry. Then spray it with any applicable fabric protector, which is available at most hardware or outdoor stores. Check the tags or cleaning instructions to make sure you get the right kind of protector for the material you’re applying it to.

Wood and metal can be protected with a paint-on waterproof sealant, which can also ward off stains. Many paints and sealants also incorporate UV protection to absorb or reflect the harmful aspects of Boulder County’s 245 days of sun a year.

Protect from Direct Sunlight

The sun can do a real number on your outdoor furniture. Whether you use a fabric protector or UV-resistant sealant, it’s smart to simply keep your furniture out of direct sunlight.

Install an awning or set up your furniture under a covered porch or gazebo. This will help the protective coating do its job, and make your furniture last even longer.

Cover When Not in Use

Another way to extend the life of your outdoor furniture is to cover it when you’re not using it. Table and chair covers are commonly available from stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Amazon. Your set may even come with them! This simple solution can do wonders in protecting your furniture.

Covers keep the sun’s rays away and block residue that comes with rain and snow.

Keep It Dry

Damp furniture is a siren call for mold and mildew, which will leave your furniture looking dirty, smelling bad, and more susceptible to rot.

Keeping your furniture clean and covered and applying a protective coating is a powerful way to hold moisture at bay. But if the furniture does get wet, you should air it out and dry it as soon as possible.

Rugs and cushions can be hung out to dry, while wood, metal, and plastic can be dried off with a clean towel.

If mildew continues to be a problem, you can clean it with white vinegar to both abate growth and kill off any stench the mildew brings along with it.

Secure in Place

Cushions and pillows are likely to get blown off your porch on a windy or stormy day. While they may not travel far, they can get dirty or damaged when rolling across your lawn or getting scraped caught on your fence.

Many outdoor furniture cushions are designed with straps or clips to keep it them place so they can’t escape during a storm. If your outdoor pillows or other light-weight pieces don’t have a built-in tie-down, you can apply Velcro fasteners beneath the cushions.

Store in Inclement Weather

While the elements will wear down your outdoor furniture, the most detrimental days are those with extreme weather.

Big snowfalls, heavy downpours, super hot and dry days, and hailstorms are all likely to speed up the breakdown of outdoor furniture. These weather events can even cause irreparable damage.

Rain storms and cold weather can be particularly damaging, as they can coat your outdoor pieces in layers of heavy (and slippery) ice that can be difficult to remove without further harming the furniture.

If you know a big storm or harsh weather day is on the horizon, save yourself some money and store your furniture somewhere safe, like a shed, garage, or sun porch.

More Home Cleaning Tips from GSC

At GSC, we’ve got a lot of experience in maintaining properties — everything from cleaning houses, sweeping chimneys, and clearing driveways of snow to taking care of a lawn or even taking out the trash.

Over the years, we’ve learned a lot of quick and easy tricks that anyone can do to keep a Colorado home clean and fresh all year long. Read our 10 housecleaning tips to save you time and money »