5 types of garden furniture you should never clean with a pressure washer, according to experts

Put the pressure washer away, y’all…

garden with round wooden table and chairs
(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Did you know that there are certain types of garden furniture you should never clean with a pressure washer? Yes, doing so could actually cause more harm than good. 

We love the best pressure washers as much as the next person (who really loves pressure washers), but it’s important to note that these garden gadgets do have their drawbacks. Due to their immense power, pressure washers can damage even the best garden furniture and ruin your garden decor ideas in the process. 

So, if you want to keep your outdoor tables, chairs, and sofas in tip-top condition, you might want to put your pressure washer away and opt for alternative cleaning methods instead. 

Garden furniture you should never clean with a pressure washer

Knowing how to use a pressure washer can help to revive your old garden furniture. However, you need to be careful when using this nifty garden gadget. If you use a pressure washer on the wrong furniture, you may have to pay the price… quite literally. 

1. Rattan garden furniture

Rattan is a hugely popular choice for outdoor garden furniture. The best rattan furniture comes in so many different shapes and styles, and it’s relatively affordable compared to other materials on the market. 

However, you need to be careful when cleaning rattan garden furniture, as it won’t cope with the high power of a pressure washer. 

Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench, says, ‘​​You can use a hose to clean any rattan furniture. However, please don't use power washers, as this strength will damage the rattan.'

‘I also wouldn't recommend using any abrasive cleaners or any really strong detergents or anything with bleaches in as this could also damage the furniture.’

In fact, the easiest way to clean rattan garden furniture is to use one of the best handheld vacuum cleaners and a soap and water mixture. This Ecover Camomile & Clementine Washing Up Liquid is our personal favourite. 

A contemporary rattan seating set

(Image credit: Habitat)

2. Wooden garden furniture

While the best wooden furniture can be a stylish and versatile addition to your garden, it’s important to know how to clean wooden furniture. Unfortunately, that’s not with a pressure washer. 

'You’ll find video after video on the internet of members of the public recommending the use of a jet washer to clean teak and other wooden furniture,’ explains Peter Tyrie, Managing Director of Barlow Tyrie. 'We cannot stress enough that this is not recommended.' 

In fact, pressure-washing wooden furniture can completely ruin the wood's internal structure and leave it prone to damage. 

Peter says, 'While power washing is very tempting to achieve quick results, aggressive spraying could destroy the cellulose fibres and structure of the wood, which could irretrievably damage your furniture.’

However, if you really have no choice and need to use a pressure washer, Peter has offered up a solution. He says, 'Should you choose to use a power washer, turn the power down and do not direct the jet into the joints.'

In most cases, using soap and water to clean wooden furniture should do the trick. However, you could also use something like this Ronseal Garden Furniture Cleaner from B&Q.

Patio area in the garden of an Edwardian Terraced House with wooden dining table and chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC)

3. Stone garden furniture

Although stone garden furniture isn’t as popular as it once was, many people still have stone tables and benches in their gardens. However, stone furniture is another type of garden furniture that you shouldn’t clean with a pressure washer. 

Martin Beaumont of Monty Miracle says, ‘You should never use a powerwash on stone garden furniture. The force of the jetwash can blast away the surface of stone, leaving it vulnerable to the elements.’

And while stone garden furniture can become discoloured and grimy when exposed to the elements, there is a way to clean it without putting it in harm’s way. 

Martin adds, ‘A liquid solution like Monty Miracle is more effective. It will clean the surface gently in just ten minutes and can be rinsed off with a hose.’ You can buy the Monty Miracle Cleaner on Amazon, too.

4. Plastic garden furniture

A cheap patio furniture idea is to use plastic furniture. It’s extremely affordable, and plastic tables and chairs can normally be jazzed up with bright cushions, impressive tablescapes, and bold outdoor rugs. 

In fact, plastic chairs like this Set of 2 Boston Stackable Garden Armchairs from La Redoute are already colourful on their own. However, it can be difficult to clean plastic garden furniture. 

One thing you should definitely not do is clean plastic garden furniture with a pressure washer. Steve says, ‘If your furniture is made with thin plastic or is particularly weak (old, showing signs of cracks and splits), then you won't want to use a pressure washer.'

‘This is because it can split the plastic due to its immense strength. If you have thicker plastic furniture, you could probably use a pressure washer on its lowest setting, but make sure to have a wide nozzle set.’

In most cases, though, you’ll want to clean by hand and with soap and water. 

5. Old metal garden furniture

While metal may be one of the most durable types of outdoor furniture, it’s not invincible. That’s because most metal garden furniture is powder-coated to prevent rust and improve weather resistance. 

Over time, this powder coating can succumb to the elements, so you need to be careful when using a pressure washer to clean old metal garden furniture. 

‘Metal furniture is generally okay to use with a pressure washer,’ says Steve. ‘However, if it has any signs of chipping paint or rust, then the pressure washer is likely to crack even more paint off and could cause the metal to rust if it isn't able to dry out properly.’

If you see any cracks, you should also consider using something like this RONSEAL Direct to Metal Paint from Amazon to protect it further.

Balcony with metal bistro set beside raised beds

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

Garden accessories you should never clean with a pressure washer

Alongside these types of garden furniture, there are also so many other things you should never clean with a pressure washer. Many of these are garden accessories and additions, as outlined below:

Outdoor heaters: ‘We would avoid pressure washing heaters,’ explains Caron Grant, Brand Manager at Bridgman. ‘Instead, we would suggest using a damp cloth to lightly scrub away any dirt to avoid causing any damage or, in some cases, rust.’ So, take heed if you’ve bought one of the best patio heaters

Wooden parasols: Parasols and umbrellas are a great way to add shade to your garden. However, Alex Sudron, founder of Plia Parasols, says, ‘The mast poles of wooden parasols are made from sections of wood essentially glued together - a process called lamination, which increases the strength of the pole. The jet blast of a pressure washer could weaken the lamination layers, so they're not recommended.’

Greenhouses: They’re perfect for sowing seeds and keeping your plants safe, but greenhouses need to be cleaned by hand. Andrew Haydon, the Director of Simply Plastics, says, ‘Greenhouses are made using glass or polycarbonate panels which, while durable to the weather, won’t hold up well against the high-pressure jets of water from a pressure washer. These panels will usually be thinner than your usual household windows, meaning they can easily crack, chip or warp when subject to a pressure washing and make your greenhouse ineffective.’


Can you use pressure washer on garden furniture?

One of the reasons why pressure washers are so popular is because they are so versatile and can be used to clean everything from patios to garden furniture. 

However, it’s important to note that pressure washers can’t be used on all types of garden furniture. You should never use a pressure washer on rattan, wooden, stone, plastic or old metal garden furniture; instead, you should clean them by hand. 

Can you pressure wash rattan furniture?

Ideally, you should avoid pressure-washing rattan furniture. The power of the pressure washer may damage the weaves and make the furniture too wet, leading to mould growth. 

But it’s always a good idea to check the cleaning requirements of the specific rattan furniture you have, as many retailers are now offering rattan garden furniture that can be pressure washed. 

If you want to maintain the integrity of your garden furniture, it’s time to put the pressure washer away! 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.