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How to Care for Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor living is what summer is all about and outdoor furniture offers you the chance to sit back and relax while enjoying the cool evening breezes. Using outdoor furniture made of wood, metal, plastic or wicker adds a bit of style to your outdoor living space. Each material requires different methods when it comes to cleaning and care.

Wood Care
Natural hardwoods such as redwood, cedar and teak add a beautiful, natural appearance and vibe to your outdoor space. Wooden furniture typically stays in pretty good shape even when exposed to extreme weather, but even the most durable pieces get a little grimy when exposed to the elements.

For furniture sealed with an exterior grade varnish, simply dip a soft brush in a bucket of soapy water and rub the wood lightly to loosen and remove grime, dust and dirt. Thoroughly rinse the furniture with clean water and allow it to air dry. Apply furniture oil to the wood when dry for a sleek, glossy look.

Prevent the growth of mold and mildew by wiping water off the seat and legs after rain. Never allow wooden furniture to sit in pools of water. Replace any metal screws, bolts or other fasteners once they start to rust. The rust will permanently stain your wood furniture.

Cedar and teak furniture can stay outside year round because they contain natural oils that prevent moisture damage. Store furniture constructed from other types of woods inside your shed or garage for the winter.

Metal Care
Outdoor furniture made from aluminum, steel or wrought iron is easy to maintain as long as you take care that it doesn`t start to rust. Use plastic covers to protect your metal furniture from the elements during warmer months and store it inside during wet winters.

Clean metal outdoor furniture with a mixture of mild liquid dish soap and water and rinse thoroughly with clean water. If you live near salt water, wash your furniture once a month and apply a coat of car wax or naval jelly to prevent rust and corrosion.

If your metal outdoor furniture already has a few rusty spots, remove the rust with fine grit sandpaper. Touch up the spot with a bit of paint designed for metal surfaces. Once the paint dries, apply a coat of car wax or naval jelly.

Plastic Care
Plastic resin furniture is the easiest outdoor furniture to maintain. Simply spray off dirt and dust with a blast from your garden hose and allow the furniture to air dry. Prevent stains by applying a layer of car wax.

If your plastic furniture already has a few stains, scrub with a soft-bristled brush dipped into a bucket of soapy water. Remove stubborn stains or mildew spots by applying distilled white vinegar. Use a gentle abrasive to remove scuff marks. Make the plastic shine by applying furniture polish especially designed for plastics.

Wicker Care
Wicker is a popular selection for outdoor furnishings. Made from woven willow, bamboo or rattan, these pieces add a tropical, casual flair to your outdoor space for many years if given the proper care.

Clean your wicker furniture once a week with a vacuum attachment or a dust cloth. Rub or vacuum the furniture following the direction of the weave to avoid accidentally damaging the wood. Scrub off stubborn dirt with a soft-bristled brush dipped in soapy water. Apply a wax paste to the wicker for a glossy appearance.

Outdoor wicker furniture lasts longer when it doesn`t sit in direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time. Place the furniture in a space that gets at least some shade every day.

Cushion Care
Although most outdoor furniture cushions come with specific care and cleaning instructions, you can generally wash the cushions with soapy water. Clean the cushions on a sunny day so they have plenty of time to dry.

Some fabric cushion covers can be cleaned in the washing machine. Be sure your washing machine is set on the delicate cycle. Avoid fabric shrinkage by hanging the fabric covers up to dry and replacing the covers while they are still slightly damp.

Following these tips will help you prolong the life and looks of your outdoor furniture, which will save you both time and money in the long run. If you are not ready to commit to outdoor furniture but want to host an outdoor event, consider renting the pieces from a place such as cheap outdoor furniture hire.

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