Even though it’s mid-August we still have plenty of summer left to enjoy the outdoors and our outdoor furniture. Here are some of my tips to keep outdoor fabrics looking great season after season.

PROTECTION – Is crucial if you don’t want to replace your cushions sooner than necessary.

  1. Storage – If you’re not using it, store it! One of the most common issues I see with outdoor cushions is fading and fabric degradation from UV. Bringing your cushions out only when you need them will keep your fabric from premature fading and you’ll not have to replace them for many years. Case in point, we still have the same cushions for our patio set going on 10 years now! If you don’t have a storage box for your cushions then you should invest in one. A deck storage box is an inexpensive way to keep your cushions out of the suns damaging UV rays and is definitely cheaper than replacing your cushions.
  2. If you’re not going to store your cushions then a good idea is to protect your fabric. For less than $10 a can you can buy 3M Outdoor Scotchgard in spray cans at your local hardware store. It is an easy-to-use odour free protectant that causes spills and liquids to blot up before they can turn into stains. It is 100% free of CFC’s and ozone depleting chemicals and will not change the look, feel or breathability of your fabric. It is a versatile, invisible layer of protection for new or freshly cleaned upholstery which can help extend the life of your fabric and save you money. (follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application)

CLEANING – Keeping your outdoor fabrics clean is critical to avoid stains that can set in and be difficult to remove if left too long.

  1. Brush debris off of your cushions or furniture on a daily basis. Especially if your seating is close to trees, shrubs or bushes that lose leaves, pollen, seeds, needles, berries etc. all of which can stain your fabric over time.
  2. If you have a zipper on your cushions you can remove and wash in the washing machine. Use care in removing the cover as to not split the zipper. Pre treat stains with a mild detergent or with a DIY cleaning solution, depending on the stain and fabric, you can find on my Pinterest board Keep It Clean. Don’t use cleaning agents with bleach unless recommended by the fabric manufacturer. Wash in cold. Air or tumble dry low. After washing you will have to repeat Scotchgard application.
  3. To clean the cushion core (foam or fiber) I recommend using your laundry sink (if large enough), bathtub or even a small kiddie pool. You can use bleach or tea tree essential oil if mould or mildew is a concern. Do not use too much detergent as it will be hard to rinse. If the cushion will fit you can wash it in your washing machine. I use the extra rinse cycle to ensure there is no detergent residue and leave it to dry thoroughly in front of our basement dehumidifier. If you don’t have a dehumidifier you can leave outside in the sun to dry. Make sure the core is completely dry before putting the cover back on or storing as you don’t want your freshly cleaned cover and cushion to mould.

Regular care and maintenance is key to prolonging the life of your outdoor fabrics. I hope these tips will help you to keep your outdoor furniture looking great for the remainder of this summer and the many summers to come.