If you want a trendy backyard, having outdoor furniture is the way to do it. Outdoor furniture is an asset to a patio or garden, making the environment personable and inviting. Of course, with all the unpredictable aspects of an outdoor environment, outdoor furniture takes a little extra care and attention to maintain its appearance and usefulness. This means special methods of prevention, protection, and cleaning.
Plastic is affordable, durable and easy to maintain. Dust does stain, however, and plastic can fade and get brittle in the heat if not regularly maintained. For white plastic, scrub with 2 or 3 tablespoons of dishwashing detergent and a sturdy brush and a large bucket of hot water, let sit for a few minutes, rinse and dry. Avoid bleach, as it erodes or discolors plastic. For colored plastic, use a 1/4 cup of vinegar and a gallon of warm water and repeat the process. Wax with a soft cloth, let dry and buff to maintain shine.
Metal has a unique character. The sturdy material can be shaped in creative ways that give the furniture a sense of sculpture. However, it is prone to oxidation. As with plastic furniture, keeping it clean, dry and cared for will conserve its value over time. Prevention is primary. A coating of car wax prevents water from soaking in and causing corrosion. Keeping metal furniture indoors during winter or extended wet weather prevents wear. You should also cover furniture that isn’t in use. Clean during sunny weather with a solution of dishwashing liquid and a large bucket of warm water. Scrub, rinse and dry.
Keep upholstered furniture out of the rain at all costs. Due to spores in the environment, mildew and mold grow in wet or moist environments. Even acrylic or petroleum-based fabrics will harbor mold when left damp. Keep cushions tilted up to prevent animals from making messes. To clean vinyl-covered cushions, 1/4 cup ammonia-free dishwashing detergent, a gallon of water and a couple of tablespoons of oxygen bleach (or hydrogen peroxide) will do. Be careful with bleach as it can discolor fabric. Also, make sure the dishwashing detergent has no ammonia. Ammonia creates chlorine gas when mixed with bleach.
To clean fabric cushions, mix a quart of warm water with a teaspoon of dishwashing detergent and a tablespoon of borax. Scrub with a sponge, let sit for 15 minutes and rinse. Tilt cushions on edge to dry. For an added measure of protection, apply a waterproofing treatment. With a double pass of a light spray to coat evenly, water will bead on the surface. It also protects against damage from sunlight.
Keeping on top of your outdoor furniture can be the key difference between having an amazing looking backyard, and having a drab or dirty looking backyard. Just remember that for good upkeep you need to keep it out of intense weather, use protective treatments, such as wax or waterproofing, and maintain appropriate cleaning methods along with frequent attention to prevent rust, stains, mold, and mildew and effects of sunlight. It may seem like a lot, but even just taking an hour a week for maintenance can save you time and money in the future, and keep your patio or deck looking guest-ready all year round!
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