Ten easy garden furniture cleaning tips

Cleaning garden furniture is often overlooked right up to the moment you have guests coming over, and they could be wearing white. Whether your wooden garden bench or your rattan sofa seat, you want to keep them free from debris and dirt that can transfer onto clothes. Not only will this mean your furniture is more pleasurable to use, but you will extend its life and make it a beautiful feature of your outside space.

You can clean your garden furniture in many ways, and how you go about this will depend on the material and how dirty it is. Here are our ten easy garden furniture cleaning tips to give you all the choices you need.

1. Remove cushions and other soft materials

Over winter, you will have likely had your garden furniture under a cover or removed the cushions and other soft materials and stored them indoors. Giving these a refresh away from the main frame of the garden furniture is an essential first step. Hopefully, the materials are machine washable, but if they aren’t, you can wipe them with warm water and some mild washing-up liquid.

2. Bring out the dustpan and brush

The winter brings cobwebs, leaves, moss, and other detritus that can easily be collected with a dustpan and brush. Before removing cushions for washing, you can get a lot done with a simple brush. Then again, when the cushions are removed, most furniture will look much better after a simple brush down.

3. Spot clean non-removable fabrics

With some furniture, it is impossible to strip back the fabrics and wash them in a machine. Therefore, you will need to spot-clean them with a mild detergent and a soft scrubber to lift any staining. Make sure you use dry towels to lift excess water and leave the area to dry in the sun before replacing any other cushions.

4. Low-pressure hose

Using a low-pressure hose is a decent option for plastic and wooden furniture. Pressure hoses are not the right tool for this, as you will damage the furniture. Instead, you use a normal garden hose and shower the furniture. Even most waterproof furniture is only designed to be left out in showers. Therefore, remove excess water with towels and not allow the furniture to stand soaked for too long.

Generally, it is good to remember that your garden furniture will also benefit from being protected from heavy storms. Therefore, investing in some covers will save you from having to clean too often.

5. Get into the cracks

Dirt that congregates in cracks and joints can lead to damage over some years. Therefore, using an old toothbrush to get into those cracks and remove stubborn dirt will extend the life of your garden furniture. Be sure to start with soapy water first, and then move on to clean and clear water. Following up soapy water with clean water is true for all stages of washing your garden furniture.

6. Bring out the sandpaper

Over time a wooden bench might show snags, splinters, or stains. The best way to get rid of these is with some sandpaper. Not only will sanding restore your wooden garden bench to its former glory, but it will also make it useable for your visitors. The last thing you want is someone’s best clothes getting ripped or snagged on your furniture.

While sandpaper is also a good tool for getting rid of mildew, you don’t have to be this extreme. Mildew on a wooden garden bench can be lifted with wire wool or a brush.

7. Staining

A wooden garden bench will be protected from the elements when stained. Staining a bench every two years is normal to retain its good looks. If you have had to sandpaper part of the bench to remove snags, splinters, or unwanted staining, you will have to give the bench another coat to protect it from the elements. You can use a wood stain for this or purchase some wood sealer.

8. Vacuum rattan

With rattan furniture, you have to avoid excessive scrubbing. Not only will this scrubbing cause damage to the surface of the rattan, but it will also lift the glue bonds. Rather than using a brush and scrubbing, use a vacuum cleaner to remove debris and any easily removed dirt. Use the small nozzle fitting to get in amongst the weave and pull-out debris caught in the cracks.

To get at the tricky bits of dirt between the weave, use a toothpick and toothbrush to get into these cracks.

If you have had to wet the rattan to remove stains, leave it to dry.

9. Linseed oil

Rattan garden furniture can begin to look quite tired after a few years. It is easy to pick up second-hand rattan furniture, as people tend to discard theirs and buy new rather than revitalising the sofa and chairs.

If you pick up second-hand garden furniture or are thinking of dropping yours at the recycling centre, purchase some linseed oil. By painting this onto the surface of the rattan, you will bring it back to some of its former glory and extend the life of the furniture. Make sure you out on a lot of linseed oil, as it will be absorbed.

10. Rust patch magic

You do not have to live with the rust if you have aluminium garden furniture or furniture with aluminium elements. Using a mixture of 50% white vinegar and 50% warm water, you can remove the rust and bring some sparkles back to the metal. There are cleaners you can buy from the garden centre that does this too, though white vinegar and water are cheaper and as effective as shop-bought cleaners.


Cleaning garden furniture requires the right tool for the right job. The material you are dealing with will naturally dictate the strategies you use. While plastic furniture can cope with a powerful hosing and a gentle wipe with a cloth, your wooden, rattan and metal furniture may be damaged by such a rough approach. Therefore, choosing to use a vacuum, toothbrush, sandpaper, or another tool for the job, can get you the desired look without any damage to your garden furniture.

Posted in Homeowners, Gardening on Jul 22, 2022