With summer now in full swing, homeowners across the country are spending countless hours in their yards, and on their patios and decks, enjoying the fantastic weather and blooming gardens. But if you’ve had a slow start on your outdoor preparations, you might be saddened to find that your outdoor furniture hasn’t made it through the winter in one piece. High wind, biting cold and harsh rains can really do a number on the comfort of your outdoor living room, and each piece needs care and attention to make it through the season. However, if you’re concerned with the environment you might not want to use those heavy chemical cleaning supplies that many people rely upon. Thankfully there are several eco-friendly ways you can protect your outdoor furniture, both during the off-season and in between each use this summer.
First of all, keep in mind that just because your furniture is designed for outdoor use, that doesn’t mean it should sit unattended in the elements. The greenest way to protect your outdoor furniture from dirt or damage is to make sure that it isn’t subject to those conditions in the first place. If you have a garage or storage space, keep your outdoor pieces there when not in use. During the summer, simply bring all pillows and cloth cushions inside if a rainstorm is expected. But when the off-season comes around, take everything inside. You’ll minimize the chemical sprays you need to employ, while lengthening the life of your furniture. If you don’t have a storage space you can use, always keep your pieces covered with a tarp or furniture cover. Again, you’ll prevent the problems before they arise.
Regardless of how the items are stored, you will need to clean them at some point. Luckily, you won’t need to use heavy chemicals under most circumstances. When cleaning your cushions and pillows, you’ll usually need very little. Shake them out and bang them against each other to loosen the dust, and then run a vacuum over each piece to take care of any built in debris. After that, a damp cloth should be enough to bring most outdoor cushions back to working order.
If you’re dealing with wrought iron or metal furniture, the process is a bit more complicated, but no more toxic. You can knock rust off with a sample wire brush or piece of sandpaper. Cleaning metal is as simple as wiping it down with a sponge dunked in a mixture of warm water and dish detergent, and organic detergent will work just as well as traditional brands. For very rusty furniture you may need to repaint, which can be tricky for the eco-conscious homeowner. Consider letting them age naturally instead.
When it comes to cleaning wood, all you’ll need is a mixture of water, ammonia and white vinegar. Make sure you use a scrub brush with soft bristles, and with a good wipe down, it should be ready to go. Most Florida outdoor furniture is either resin or plastic, to stand up to the rainy summer. Again, you don’t need anything drastic here. Get a sponge damp with warm water, and then drop a little bit of baking soda right onto it. The baking soda will naturally draw the grime off your furniture, while creating zero impact on the environment.