How to clean and restore garden furniture

Pull your tired-looking garden furniture off the patio or out of the shed and get it shipshape for summer
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  • Your garden furniture might be looking a bit shabby, but don’t give up on it just yet. It can take just one afternoon to transform it from lacklustre to lovely. It’s satisfying and simple to do, and means you don’t need to splash out on anything new, potentially saving yourself hundreds of pounds.

    Love your garden? Visit our garden ideas section and discover more on how to perfect your plot

    Our guide looks at different types of furniture, and explains how to clean them without causing damage. We’ve also got some great tips on how to restore garden furniture, whether it’s a rusty wrought iron table or weathered teak chairs.

    How to clean and restore wooden garden furniture


    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    This can be left in the garden all year round, although it will weather to a silvery grey finish. To clean it after a long winter, first remove all the excess dirt, dust and cobwebs that have built up with a stiff bristle brush.

    If your hardwood furniture is a few years old and has silvered with age, you can restore it to its original colour by using a specialist product like like Cuprinol’s Garden Furniture Restorer. Paint it on and the wood will start to lighten in colour. Work it into the wood with an abrasive pad, leave it to work its magic for 15 minutes, then wash off.

    Cleaning up big time? Check out our ultimate garden cleaning kit.


    Buy Now: Cuprinol Garden Furniture Restorer, £13.98 for 1ltr, Amazon

    If you haven’t applied a restorer, your next job is to clean your furniture with soapy water. Rinse and dry it thoroughly, and lightly sand the surfaces to remove any weathered areas.

    Now it’s time to protect your wood. This should be done every season. Teak oil will shield your hardwood furniture from the elements and keep it looking new. Using a rag, apply the oil, rubbing it in gently and following the grain. You can add more than one coat of oil, but make sure the first one dries completely before you apply the next.

    How to clean plastic garden furniture


    Image credit: Tom Meadows

    Plastic garden furniture is weather-proof but can discolour, so it’s best to store it in an outbuilding or shed over winter. If your shed has windows, make sure the furniture is covered with dust sheets so that the sunshine can’t bleach the colour.

    When you’re ready to use your furniture, wash it down with hot, soapy water with a splash of bleach in it to get rid of any dirt or stubborn stains. Use a sponge rather than anything abrasive, so as not to scratch or mark the surface, and rinse thoroughly before the furniture dries. Finally, add a protective layer of clear car wax.

    How to clean wrought-iron garden furniture


    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    Wrought-iron tables and chairs can live outside all year round, but are prone to rust. You can keep them in tiptop condition by refreshing the paintwork with a specialist paint.

    Before painting, rub off any rust with wire wool, but go gently. Brush off any loose dirt that will otherwise pit the surface of the paint once it has dried. Scrub everything down with soapy water, then sand and touch up rust spots using enamel paint. If you’re feeling lazy, Hammerite’s Direct to Rust Metal Paint can be painted straight onto the rust.

    Buy Now: Hammerite Direct to Rust Metal Paint in Satin White, £17.73 for 750ml, Wilko 

    Apply a protective coat of wax once a year.

    How to clean aluminium garden furniture


    Image credit: Nick Pope

    Aluminium furniture can stay outdoors, but it may oxidise over time. If you don’t have anywhere to store it inside, consider investing in outdoor furniture covers. Garden4less sell a wide range of PVC-backed polyester covers which will keep your furniture protected from the elements, and even have UV-filters built in to prevent sun bleaching.

    Buy Now: Gardman Premium 6-8 Seater Rectangular Patio Set Cover, £43.99, Garden4less

    Remove scuff marks with a non-abrasive cleaner, wash with – yes, you’ve guessed it – soapy water, and rinse off with a hose. Protect the surface with a little clear car wax.

    How to clean all-weather weaves

    Image credit: Alun Callender

    These can be left outdoors, but remove the cushions and cover as autumn sets in. Dust with a dry brush, then clean your furniture with a non-foaming detergent, as any residue can cause mildew to build up. Rinse each piece well using either a hose or a pressure washer on its lowest setting. Either will be powerful enough to blast any pesky residual detergent or dirt out from the weave.

    And don’t forget fabric seats, cushions and parasols


    Image credit: Simon Scarboro

    Get these looking their best by cleaning with a specialist upholstery shampoo. Choose a sunny day, so they have a chance to dry out properly and won’t develop mildew. If the fabric is just dusty or you’re short of time, use a vacuum to spruce it up in an instant.

    More garden makeover tips: Pretty patio ideas for every space.

    Right, time to grab that scrubbing brush and get to work. And remember, the sooner you get the job done, the sooner you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the sun.

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