It seems like it was just yesterday that morning temperatures were chilly, but believe it or not, summer is knocking at our door here in Southern Maryland. If you love entertaining outdoors, now is the time to turn your attention to your patio furniture – especially if you didn’t take steps to protect it during the winter.
If you actually did store your furniture for the winter, good for you! No matter whether you did or didn’t, let’s take a look at what you should do with it as you pull your furniture out to seat your guests this summer.
Sweat the Small Stuff
Now that your furniture is facing the light of day, get rid of cobwebs. Any furniture that looks unsafe or is broken should be thrown out. Next, check the bolts and screws and tighten anything that is loose.
Dirt and debris buildup can dull the finish and shorten the life of your patio furniture. Use a damp cloth to wipe of the gunk, and if you need more work to get it off, use a few drops of dish soap in a bucket of water with a scrub brush. If it’s been a while since you cleaned your furniture, you might need a power washer to do the job. Otherwise, use the right cleaner for the material the furniture is made of. For example, a few drops of dish detergent in a quart of warm water is fine for aluminum furniture and even some wicker furniture.
If your hinges and moving parts are sticky and noisy, use a couple of squirts of a lubricant like WD-40 or an all-purpose oil to quiet them.
Cleaning Patio Furniture Sucks
Now’s the time to tackle cushions. No one enjoys this task, but you’ll appreciate the work you did when your guests stand up from their seats – and there’s no dirt on their hind ends!
Remove cushion covers and wash them. Bob Vila of Old House fame says you should clean the cushions themselves with a vacuum. After you’ve sucked out the debris, scrub them clean with a solution of 1 tablespoon dish soap in a gallon of warm water.
If mildew is the problem, Vila suggests adding a quarter cup borax to that solution and soaking the cushions for 15 minutes. You can even use borax for mildew stains on the covers, just check the labels first to see what they’re made of. You can find borax at hardware stores, some grocery stores, health food stores, farm supply stores, and online at amazon.com and bulkapothecary.com.
Next, rise the solution of the cushions with a hose and allow them to air dry. Don’t be in a rush to put the covers back on. Wait until the cushions are completely dry, Vila warns, or you’ll just create more mildew.
Tackle the Rust
Humidity takes a toll on metal patio furniture. The Family Handyman has these suggestions for how to rid the furniture of the red/brown stuff:
With ingredients such as hydrochloric or phosphoric acid, how can we go wrong with rust remover products?
Well, when the instructions caution you to wear goggles, a respirator mask and gloves, you know this stuff isn’t to be taken lightly.
If you’re OK with chemicals, head to the paint department of your favorite home improvement store and buy rust remover, such as Rust-Oleum® Rust Reformer, Krud Kutter, or one of the “4 Best Liquid Rust Removers” recommended by Popular Mechanics.
And, make sure that you do follow every word of the instructions on the label.
By the way, our friend handyman.com says that there are “newer nontoxic and acid-free soaking solutions, such as Evapo-Rust” (which he got at an auto parts store).
Sand, scour, or grind
This method will remove the paint, too, but at least you didn’t need chemicals, right? Sanding, scouring, or grinding requires that you “use a power tool like a grinder, sander, oscillating tool or drill, and that you “keep the tool moving so you don’t gouge the metal,” according to the Family Handyman.
You learn something new every day, but for homeowners, the term “rust converter” has to be among the most arcane. Rust converter can be either an aerosol spray or a liquid that you brush on like paint.
“It kills the rust, prevents its spread and dries into a ready-to-paint primer,” according to the Handyman. Prep the surfaces by rubbing with a wire brush and then spray or brush on the product. When it dries, you can either paint the surface or, as the handy guy recommends, apply another primer and then paint.
Cleaning your patio furniture is a lot of work, but when your summer parties are the talk of the neighborhood, you’ll know it’s worth it!
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