Looking After Different Types of Garden Furniture

Looking After Different Types of Garden Furniture

It's extremely important that you look after your garden furniture, no matter what type it is; periodic and thorough cleaning can keep outdoor furniture in top shape for many years. How you maintain your furniture all depends on what it's made from. Let's take a look at what types of maintenance need to be carried out on specific types of garden furniture.

Resin (Plastic)

Plastic or resin made garden furniture is very porous, that means stain can sink into the resin and be impossible to remove. To prevent staining you should use car wax.

If you're dealing with some stained resin furniture, try cleaning with mild detergent or washing up liquid. If that doesn't work crank it up a notch and try a 10% solution of bleach or white vine vinegar with water. We have also heard that decking cleaner is effective at removing stains from plastic but be careful and try it at your own risk, you could damage your furniture!

Aluminum Garden Furniture

Any type of aluminium garden furniture has been protected by the manufacturer with a layer of paint or clear finish to prevent corrosion. This gives a pitted or bumpyish surface.

To prolong the coating's life you must keep the furniture clean by wiping it down regularly with a warm damp cloth. Never under any circumstances use alkaline products, such as ammonia, often found in window cleaners. Like plastic you can also treat aluminium furniture with car wax.

Make sure you touch up any scratches immediately with exterior metal paint. Aluminium garden furniture that has a powder coat feel that's done by spraying electrically charged dry paint onto grounded metal, and then baking till dry needs special touch-up paint, this is readily available from the manufacturer.

Cast Iron and Steel Furniture

The biggest issue with cast iron garden furniture is rust, if you leave rust unchecked it can spiral out of control and will eat through the metal. Make sure you inspect cast iron furniture frequently, especially at welded joints.

If you notice that the paint is peeling or rust stains appear you should sand the problem areas down to bare metal; coat in a primer and then coat with a rust-resistant metal paint that's designed for external use.

Wood (Painted or Stained)

You should wipe down wooden garden furniture regularly with hot water and washing up liquid.

From time to time furniture may need repainting, if it's a painted surface you need to roughen glossy paint with sandpaper, scrape off the loose paint, and sand lightly to smooth edges of paint on remaining areas. Coat in a layer of primer, let it dry, and repaint to your desired colour.

Stained wood is easier to care for because wood stains don't peel. For deep cleaning of stained garden furniture use a decking wash, and apply a recoat of the stain once dry.

If you're garden furniture came untreated and you want to stain it but retain the wood's natural look, choose a stain with “semitransparent” pigments in a tone that matches the wood.

In most cases the wood stain will block ultraviolet rays, which break down wood fibers, again prolonging the life of your garden furniture.

Teak Garden Furniture

Do not make the mistake of oiling your outdoor teak garden furniture, this promotes mildew growth.

Teak is rot-resistant wood so it only periodic cleaning. The issue with teak is that it soon adopts a naturally weathered look, you just have to accept this as retaining the original color takes so much work that it is rarely worth it.

If you want to try maintaing the teak in it's original state then when you buy the furniture wash it with soap and water. When dry, apply teak sealer, which blocks some of the sun's ultraviolet rays.

Then, whenever the teak looks like it's becoming weather, apply a teak cleaner, and rinse. Put on a layer of teak brightener (oxalic acid) to restore the wood's color. Then once dry apply a layer of the teak sealer you used when you bought it.


Wicker or rattan furniture is the trickiest to clean because of it's textures surface and nucks and crannies. To remove dust it's best to use a vacuum or use a soft-bristled brush. For dirt and grime that won't budge you should scrub with soap and water.

If your wicker cracks that means the fibers are too dry. Apply boiled linseed oil, and wipe dry.

Garden Cushions

Most outdoor cushions are manufactured and covered in acrylic or polyester-coated vinyl fabric. For cleaning them you can usually use washing up liquid to remove any uwanted mild stains or dirt.

If your garden cushions are badly stained or have mildew problems and water no longer beads on the surface then you can tr washing them with 1/2 cup non-chlorine bleach in 5 gallons water, then reapply an outdoor-fabric finish.

Polyester-vinyl fabrics are more hardy so do not need this coating. You can clean them with a brush in most cases and where necessary simply clean them with soap.


Umbrellas and garden parasols are usually made from acrylic, polyester-vinyl fabric, or cotton canvas. You can clean these the exact same way you would clean a garden cushion as described above using soap and water.

To make life easier open the umbrella on a driveway or patio. In winter you should prevent mildew and damp by making sure umbrella is completely dry when taken down.

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