10 Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Patio
It’s easy to bring your outdoor spaces back to life and make them shine. These simple secrets will help you clean and refresh everything from patio stains to mildewed umbrellas—once you’re finished, you won’t recognize your own deck.
A good, thorough annual base cleaning in early spring is the key to happily enjoying your outdoor space the rest of the year, whether you’re entertaining a crowd on short notice or just kicking back. First, clear all furniture and plants out of the way, then sweep up sand, leaves, and debris. Next, rinse the entire patio with a garden hose. De-grime and tackle oily spots and stains with a 10:1 solution of warm water and an environmentally safe cleaner, such as Simple Green. Leave the mixture on for 15 minutes, then use a scrub brush or stiff broom across the patio surface and rinse thoroughly. Now step back and look at the splendor!
Out, out, darn spot! If your initial de-griming treatment doesn’t quite do the job on particularly stubborn stains, there’s an easier way to clean than scrubbing until your arms fall off. Now’s the time to bring in your power helper, bleach—the hardest-working cleaner out there. For a 10’ by 10’ patio, add about a cup of bleach to the solution on the previous slide (a 10:1 mixture of warm water and an environmentally safe cleaner); if the space is larger, add a bit more bleach; if it’s smaller, add less.
Secret number one to improving your home’s curb (or beachfront!) appeal—with minimal renovation work and expense—is a great foundation of clean exterior siding. Pressure washing is the key to making the most of your time—just an hour or two of washing thoroughly removes dirt and mildew stains. If your home has tiled exterior steps or siding, though, use only a garden hose to clean and rinse in those areas, as the force of pressure washing can loosen the tiles.
The beauty of powder-coated aluminum furniture is its protective coating’s built-in resistance to rust or mold. But you can improve its appearance—and durability!—with a seasonal gentle rinse: Use a garden hose to rinse your furniture off, then wipe it down with mild dish detergent and water. Use a soft brush, cloth, or kitchen sponge. Don’t scrub: if the finish wears off, the furniture will corrode. Be sure to rinse completely after cleaning to remove any soapy residue from nooks, crannies, and joints.
Another stellar pick for patio furniture, teak naturally resists mold and rot and requires little care; it will mildew over time, so keep this durable wood looking its best with a mild soap and water wash, using a soft brush that won’t damage the wood’s surface. If stains remain, add bleach or vinegar to the soap and water mix. Allow the furniture to dry completely. For future protection against the elements, apply a teak sealer.
Now it’s time to get into the groove: the most important tool for cleaning wicker and rattan is an old toothbrush—perfect for delving into the crevices of these coastal furniture favorites. First, use a soft cloth dipped in mild soap and water to wipe off the furniture surface, then take care of any dirt or grime in the grooves with the toothbrush. Let the furniture dry completely in the sun, and apply a layer of lacquer with a paintbrush for added protection.
Wrought iron is durable, hardy, and easily updated with new cushions and padding. Its downside? In coastal areas with moist climates, algae tends to grow on it. Left alone, algae (and the moisture in the air) can cause wrought iron furniture to rust. Luckily, there’s an easy fix. You can use a stiff-bristled brush and a strong disinfectant like OdoBan to remove the algae and, hopefully, prevent more from growing. Be sure to pick up a disinfectant that is safe for use outdoors and near plants, animals, and children.
If the glass of your fixtures is dusty, use a foam paintbrush sprayed with window cleaner to wipe both sides of the glass (inside and outside) clean. Use a second dry brush on both sides to remove any remaining cleaner, ensuring the glass stays clear. If your fixture has faded, give it a new coat of paint: Remove and disassemble the fixture, then coat it with spray paint in your desired color for a completely new look.
They get good use when the weather’s good, but at the end of winter, those adorable patterned pillows can look a little rough. Give them a good scrubbing by mixing a quart of warm water, a teaspoon of dishwashing detergent, and a tablespoon of borax in a large bucket. Dip a sturdy sponge in the solution and use it to scrub all sides of the cushions. Allow the solution to soak into the cushions for 15 minutes, then rinse with a hose. Stand each cushion up on one side to dry completely in the sun.
While that umbrella was protecting you from the bright sun and the occasional drop of rain, it was picking up plenty of grime (and don’t even get us started on the bird droppings). Clean it up a little: First, rinse the umbrella all over with a hose. Run a wet soft-bristled brush over a bar of laundry soap and then over the open canopy, working from top to bottom. Once finished, rinse with the hose and leave the umbrella open until it’s completely dry.