Patio Season Is Here — And It’s Time to Clean Your Outdoor Cushions

published Jun 2, 2022
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Whether your weather is just starting to warm up or you’ve been dining al fresco for a while now, one thing’s for sure: Along with extra fresh air and that much-needed Vitamin D, patio season brings with it lots of extra chores. Right at the top of the list? Keeping your outdoor chair cushions clean. 

The beginning of the season is a great time to deep clean your patio set, but if you frequently eat outside or your set’s right beneath a tree, you may need to refresh your cushions on a routine basis. Either way, following the right steps — and using the right cleaning tools — will help to keep your cushions in tip-top shape.

Here’s how to clean outdoor cushions, according to Adriana Aziz, operations manager at Maid for You, a cleaning company based in Sydney, Australia. Spoiler alert: You’ll need to vacuum and spot treat any stains before you scrub, rinse and dry the cushions.

What you’ll need: 

  • Soft-bristled cleaning brush
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Upholstery attachment
  • Bucket of water
  • Dish soap 
  • Borax
  • Towel 
  • White vinegar (optional)
  • Enzyme stain remover (optional)

How to Clean Outdoor Cushions 

You’ve probably noticed that your outdoor cushions get dirtier than other areas of your home — for one thing, you’re probably less careful when you’re eating outside (for good reason). Plus, Aziz says, outdoor furniture is exposed to the elements. So depending on your local weather, they can easily deteriorate over time. 

Routine cleaning can help ensure your cushions stay in good shape for the long-haul (as can covering your patio furniture and storing it indoors in the off season). Not sure where to start?

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to deep clean your outdoor cushions. 

Step 1: Vacuum the cushions. 

As with any other area of your home, remove any dry debris before you use wet products to clean. In this case, Aziz suggests using a vacuum with an upholstery attachment to thoroughly vacuum the cushions. “Make sure to get into the seams, crevices, and corners where dirt and grime tend to accumulate,” she says. If you don’t have an outlet to vacuum outdoors, or yours doesn’t have an upholstery attachment, a hand vac or wand vac should do the trick. 

Step 2: Treat stains if needed. 

Before you wash the cushions, carefully inspect them for stains. For common mold and mildew stains, which can occur due to moisture accumulation, spray a mixture of white vinegar and water, then scrub with your soft-bristled brush. Organic stains like grass or tree sap are best addressed with a diluted enzyme-based cleaning product; Aziz recommends Nature’s Miracle Outdoor Stain Remover. 

Step 3: Scrub the cushions down. 

Next, it’s time to scrub away all that dirt and grime with a DIY cleaning solution. In a bucket, combine warm water, a quarter cup of Borax, and a tablespoon of your favorite dishwashing liquid (and make sure to mix well). Dip a soft-bristled brush into the solution, and scrub the entirety of each cushion thoroughly, using a little extra elbow grease on dirty areas. 

Step 4: Rinse away the soap. 

After you clean the cushions, you’ll need to rinse away the soapy solution as much as possible. “If the solution is left, it will stiffen the material and could damage your cushions,” says Aziz. Her go-to? Grab your yard hose and spray down the cushions until no soap remains. 

Credit: HannamariaH | Getty Images

Step 5: Dry the cushions. 

Finally, dry your outdoor cushions. “To try them as quickly as possible, it’s best to squeeze out as much liquid as possible,” says Aziz. “This can be done easily by pressing down on the cushions while they’re on a clean, hard surface.” Once most of the liquid’s gone, let the cushions sit out in the afternoon sun until they’re totally dry. Then, repeat the process again as needed! 

This piece is part of Get Outside Month, where we’re covering all things out-of-the-house, from curb appeal tips to al fresco hobby ideas. Whether you have a backyard, a patio, or 1 square foot of a fire escape. Head over here to read more!

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: How to Clean Outdoor Cushions