How To Care For Outdoor Furniture

This post on how to care for outdoor furniture was updated in August 2022.

Wicker furniture set from Ballard DesignsOne of the most important elements to creating an enjoyable outdoor living experience is comfortable and attractive furniture. You’re more likely to spend quality time in the great outdoors if you love your environment.  Once you have the right seating that enhances the look and functionality of your space, it’s important to maintain your furniture, so it lasts as long as possible.  Follow our tips for caring for your wood, metal, wicker or resin outdoor furniture. To extend the life of your furniture, we recommend storing it indoors or protect it with covers during long periods of non-use.

Care for Outdoor Furniture Made of Wood

Over time, wood tends to weather naturally, which further enhances its wonderfully rugged character. However, it is important to care and treat your wood furniture regularly to prevent rot and decay.  Once a year wash wood furniture with a mild water and soap solution: mix one tablespoon of bleach, five tablespoons of a gentle dishwashing liquid and a gallon of water, and softly rub the surface with a soft bristle brush. Thoroughly rinse and let it dry completely in the sun. Depending on the type of wood furniture you have (teak, pine, cedar, redwood, oak and eucalyptus are the most popular types), you’ll need to treat it with oil, stain or paint. Check your manufacturer’s instructions or ask a hardware store associate for help in selecting the most appropriate product for your furniture.  Don’t forget to perform a hardware check once a year—tighten bolts and screws and replace hardware if necessary.

Learn how to care for outdoor furniture that's metal and aluminumCare for Outdoor Furniture Made of Metal

Metal furniture, such as wrought iron, aluminum and steel, bring classic form to any seating area and is loved for its durability and versatile nature. Another advantage? It’s fairly low-maintenance. To keep your metal furniture clean, wash with water and mild soap. Most aluminum furniture is finished with a powder coating that resists damage. Simply remove any scuffs with a nonabrasive cleaner and a soft cloth. If you live near salt water, you really should wash aluminum furniture monthly. Check other types of metal furniture for rust. If you find some, remove it using fine grit sandpaper. When the rust is completely gone, touch up using an exterior, rust-resistant metal paint and allow to dry completely. Lastly, apply car wax to protect the area.

Care for outdoor furniture that's made of wickerCare for Outdoor Furniture Made of Wicker

Wicker, often made from willow, rattan or bamboo, brings natural texture and traditional looks to any setting. If your wicker is not made from “all-weather wicker,” it’s only suitable for covered outdoor areas. Both types should be cleaned regularly, though. Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment or a soft, damp rag to remove dirt. It’s safe to hose off all-weather wicker furniture and use a mild soap solution. If painted furniture needs touching up, first remove the peeling paint with a soft wire brush.

Care for Outdoor Furniture Made of Resin or Plastic

We love resin furniture for its low cost and portability, so stock up on these chairs for extra seating at your next outdoor event. Scrub plastic furniture with mild soap and water, rinse and dry. If your furniture is mildewed, mix a solution of ¾ cup bleach and one tablespoon laundry detergent in one gallon of water and scrub with a brush or cloth. You can use the same solution to clean stains from nylon webbing and mesh. (Of course, don’t forget to protect your hands with rubber gloves.)

Browse all of outdoor furniture and find more outdoor inspiration from these helpful posts below:

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply

    Sherry cat

    July 9, 2012

    We have wrought iron furniture outdoors that has faded some over the years in the heat.Any suggestions on a way to revive it? Would the car wax application work on a large surface to brighten the dullness from the sun fade? Thank you.

  2. Reply

    Tynie Jackson

    May 2, 2012

    Excellent,everyone likes the look of a outdoor room, kitchen etc., this will help them with caring for and maintaining the look they worked so hard to acquire.

  3. Reply

    heather hauser

    April 28, 2012

    what a great idea for customers to have this type of information available!

  1. Reply

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