How to Care for Your Outdoor Fabric Upholstery and Keep It Looking New


When most people purchase outdoor furniture, their decision is usually based on what the furniture itself looks like. Because most people expect the high-end furniture to use the top end fabric, they assume it will be almost maintenance free. The fact is, while most outdoor fabric upholstery has some degree of stain resistance and resilience, there is still a lot of maintenance you can do to further its durability.

The first thing you must do is realize that outdoor fabric upholstery should be regularly cleaned. If something is spilled on the upholstery, it should be taken care of immediately, so the stain itself does not get rubbed in and further set into the fabric. Even though the majority of the fabrics you find used in outdoor furniture are resistant to stains, the upholstery will retain its look when they are dealt with quickly. However, you should still perform a regular cleaning at least once a month or more, depending how much it is used and the general cleanliness of the area it is kept in.

To clean your outdoor fabric upholstery, you should always consult the manufacturers recommended cleaning instructions. However, the following is some basic care for those who do not have the instructions:

First, brush off the upholstery to remove any visible debris on the fabric. You can then use a cleaning solution of approximately ¼ cup of mild detergent per one gallon of warm water. The best bet, the first time you clean, spot check an area on the underside of a cushion to make sure it will not have an effect on the color of the fabric.

Use a soft-bristled cleaning brush or a sponge to clean the fabric, but make sure light strokes are used and that you follow the same direction of the fabric. The cleaning solution should be given a few moments to soak into the fabric, before you rinse the fabric with warm water. Once the fabric is rinsed, you will then want to allow it to air dry.

Any fabric that can be removed, such as cushion covers or canopies, check the manufacturers instructions to find out if they can be machine washed. However, keep in mind, the majority of outdoor fabric upholstery can not be put into the dryer and should be air dried.

To spot clean your upholstery, mix up a very small amount of cleaning solution, using the mild detergent, and use a spray bottle to gently apply the solution. Use the soft brush or a blotting method to work on removing the stain. Again, rinse the area with cool to warm water and use a towel to blot the area dry. While you may have to do this a few times to completely remove the stain, you will be happy that you won’t have to replace your upholstery.

For fabric that is covered with stains or mildew, the same general cleaning can be done, but with a little bit stronger of a solution. Instead of using just the mild detergent, you can also add a cup of rubbing alcohol into the mixture or look for a stronger detergent specifically for outdoor furniture. As bleach will more than likely harm the fabric, do not use unless the manufacturers instructions state specifically to do so.

You may also want to consider retreating your outdoor fabric upholstery with a special finish that will help it to repel moisture. This can be purchased at any home improvement store, but again, check with the manufacturer before using.

Your outdoor furniture should be an investment in your home décor. However, before you purchase any furniture, look at the quality of fabric. Make certain that it is going to be easy to maintain, so that you can keep it looking as good as it did the day you purchased it.

This post was written by

jasonjason – who has written posts on Home Tips Plus.
I'm a father of three, married and a home owner since 2006. I've worked in fixing up homes and rental properties.

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