No matter how badly we try to keep it alive, the summer is eventually going to fade away into fall and then to winter. And one of the things that will require some special attention before the snow and cold arrives is your patio furniture.Your patio furniture made for some memorable outdoor living during the summer months, and if you want it to provide similar memories next summer, you’d better treat it right. Throwing a tarp over top of it or just tossing into a shed so it’s out of the elements just won’t do.No matter what materials your patio furniture is made from, it will last longer if you prepare it properly when wintertime comes.
Cast Iron or Wrought Iron Cast iron and wrought iron can give a regal look to your patio during the warmer months, but you’ll definitely want to cover them up when the snow starts to fly. Ideally, put your cast iron or wrought iron furniture safely away in a garage or dry shed. If that’s not possible, at least cover it up securely so that no moisture can get onto the surface. Make the point of buying covers that are specifically designed for patio furniture, so you’ll know they are waterproof. It’s also important that you dry off your cast iron or wrought iron furniture before you cover it up or put it away. Using soapy water and a gentle scrub brush, remove any visible dirt and debris from your furniture. Also remove any visible rust with light sandpaper before the furniture is put away for the winter. If you are leaving the furniture outside, be sure to remove the cushions and store them indoors to prevent fading. Once the furniture is scrubbed with the soapy water, rinse it in clean water or spray it with your garden hose, then let it air dry. After the furniture is rust-free and dirt-free and dry, continue with your storage process.
Aluminum FurnitureAluminum furniture may seem a little impersonal to some, but others find that it fits the theme of their patio perfectly. To get aluminum furniture ready for winter, start by brushing away or hosing away any stuck-on dirt or dust. If you use a hose and some of the dirt is too stuck-on, use a gentle brush with some soapy water.After the aluminum furniture is clean and dry, you may want to wipe it down with a clean cloth that’s been dipped in a vinegar and water solution to protect the coating. An alternative solution is to give the furniture a once-over with standard car wax.
Wood FurnitureWood is a nice material for patio furniture, as it blends in with standard decking materials. Wood is one material you really don’t want to leave out and exposed to the winter elements. Before you put away your wood patio furniture, clean it off thoroughly with a soft brush and an effective wood cleaner. If you can’t get your hands on a commercial wood cleaner, make your own with two parts laundry detergent to one part bleach in a bucket of warm water.Rinse the wood off thoroughly with a hose or buckets of clean water. Allow the wood to try, and then if you are satisfied with the look, leave it alone. If you’d like the original finish back, stain the wood back. Once it is stained and cleaned and ready to go, store it safely in a garage or basement, or cover it with airtight, watertight patio furniture covers.
Wicker FurnitureWicker patio furniture is another popular choice that works well with several different kinds of patios. Like the other types of furniture, start by washing the dirt and mildew off your wicker furniture with a soapy cloth or sponge. Try not to use too much soap when it comes to wicker; only a drop or two of dishwashing liquid will do. Too much soap will end up fading the appearance of the furniture, which is not what you want to see.The brush you use to clean off your wicker furniture is also important, as a coarse brush may cause damage to the surface of the furniture. Wicker and rattan furniture will need to be moved indoors over the winter to preserve the integrity of the furniture. After cleaning, dry it quickly with a hair dryer or set it in the sun, and then apply a coat of lacquer or shellac to keep the wood sealed until you clean the furniture next year.
Plastic FurniturePlastic patio furniture can probably take a little more abuse than some other materials. You can use soapy water and a sponge or brush to clean off all the dirt and grime from the summer. Take the time to clean off both the top and the bottom, and then blast it with the pressure washer on your garden hose to get all the residue off.Dry off your plastic furniture in the sun or with a soft cloth to prevent water spots. Even though it is hardier, you still don’t want to leave it out in the snow uncovered. Cover it with the standard, waterproof patio furniture cover, or move the furniture indoors for the winter.
Canvas & Other FabricsIf you have patio furniture that is covered with canvas or other fabrics, you’ll have to do a quick mold and mildew check before you pack them up for the winter. Over the spring and summer, mold can form in the cracks and crevices of cushions, seat covers and umbrellas. Wash off any mold and mildew with water/bleach solution and then let it dry completely.Avoid the temptation to seal your patio cushions in a big plastic bag for the winter, because you’ll only be encouraging more mold to form. You can also machine wash your cushions if that strategy is easier for you.