One of the benefits of Florida living is the state’s ever-available outdoor-friendly weather. A casual dinner party can smoothly transition into moonlit drinks, a chaotic children's party can ever so easily be kept away from precious breakables inside, and a relaxing Sunday morning with the paper and cup of coffee comes with a view. It also means that just as we pay close attention to maintaining our indoor furniture (sofa, chairs, bed linens etc.) we also need to give our outdoor seating a good scrub now and again, ideally often before the BBQ sauce leaves a permanent stain or mud from the dog’s paws sinks in too deep.
With just a few household ingredients, cleaning your cushions can be a breeze. We recommend cleaning cushions regularly for ideal upkeep.
Here are a few quick tips for both basic and deep cleaning your outdoor furniture cushions. In all instances make sure to keep the cushion’s insert as dry as possible to avoid mildew and musky smells; not quite the nose-tingling coconut and sea-salt beachy aromas that come to mind from a comfortable lounge in the Florida sun.
The Basics of Spot Treatment
If your cushion covers are removable, all you have to do is unzip and remove the foam insert before cleaning, then dry the covers flat on top of a thick towel to absorb moisture, or out on a clothes line if available. Don’t be tempted to use the washing machine and tumble drier unless of course you want that ‘frayed seam’ look for your new cushion covers – as it will surely due the trick.
If your foam inserts do get wet or you can’t remove the covers and therefore you have to wash together, make sure you dry them completely before replacing the cover or daring to sit down. You can help speed this process along by wrapping the foam inserts up in towels like delicious burritos, then attempting to squeeze out as much moisture as possible before turning the inserts on their ends to dry.
Spot wash spills by using a sponge or a soft bristle brush with a warm soapy solution of mild detergent (such as Joy or Ivory liquid). Brush or sponge the soiled area and rinse thoroughly with fresh water. Allow to air dry. Repeat if necessary.
If and only if your cushion is made from 100% solution-dyed acrylic such as Sunbrella®, you may use 1 part bleach mixed with 1 part water and mild dish soap to clean your cushions. We recommend also using rubber gloves and eye protection in this instance. Before dousing the entire cushion in bleach it’s best to test out a small inconspicuous spot first for color-fastness before cleaning the entire cushion. Be sure to rinse the cushion thoroughly to remove all of the bleach solution, then air dry completely before use.
More Elbow Grease Required
If your outdoor furniture chair cushions look more like they’ve been through Disney World Theme Park, you might want to consider soaking the covers first to loosen the ingrained dirt. Seams and creases tend to be the worst offenders in this instance so you’ll want to give them a bit of extra love and attention.
Prepare a solution by mixing a teaspoon or two of dish soap, like Dawn or Joy, along with warm water to create a sudsy soak. This time place the solution in a spray bottle and have a garden hose at the ready. Use the spray bottle to apply the cleaning solution to the soiled cushions using a soft bristle brush to give a little circular motion scrub, then leave to sit for 10-15 minutes in a shady spot before turning the hose loose on them. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
So Fresh and So Clean
After a soaking rain, or any time the cores of the cushions get wet, it is best to stand the cushions on end to allow them to drain more quickly. This will prevent mold and mildew growth between the frame and the cushion.
Preventative Care and Storage
In order to reduce the amount of cleaning you will have to do on your outdoor furniture chair cushions (and prevent the need to replace them), it’s a good idea to be proactive. Leader’s offers the option for a stain guard treatment on all of our outdoor furniture, so consider this as an option and gift to your future self - saving you precious minutes and possible frustration. Less scrubbing, more pina coladas!
And finally, should you be an against-the-grain bird who migrates North for a holiday, consider storing your cushions away in airtight containers during your absence, maybe with a few cedar balls to help prevent must and mildew build up and cut down on spiders and other creepy-crawlies looking for a cozy new condo to call home.