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Article by george@lockstep.media / June 6th, 2022

How to Clean Outdoor Cushions

It’s that time of year again! The weather is warming up, skies are blue, and you’re starting to think that spending time on your patio or deck is a good idea. However, if you’re like most people, which means getting your patio furniture out from under their covers or out of the shed, and that raises the question: how to clean outdoor cushions? 

Let’s take a closer look at how to clean patio cushions under various circumstances, so you can save time and effort, and start enjoying your patio sooner. 

Decoration of comfortable pillows decorate on sofa in the garden background

Buy the Right Cushions

The first thing you need to know about the solution to the question of how to clean outdoor cushions is that a lot of the work is decided by how you buy your cushions. 

There are some patio cushions that are machine washable, and if you get those type of cushions, you will save yourself a lot of time and effort. If you’d rather not have your own washing machine full of dust and dirt from your cushions when you wash them, you can always take them to a laundromat. A few coins are all it takes to get your outdoor cushions clean and ready to use! 

Machine Washing Outdoor Cushions

If you do plan to machine wash your outdoor cushions, and they have removable covers, you only have to wash the covers. Take them off and keep the inner cushion somewhere dry and safe while you’re getting the covers clean. 

Then simply slip them back into their clean covers, zip them back up and you’re ready to go! 

Store Them Carefully

There are several times of the year (usually fall, winter and early spring) when you don’t need to use your outdoor cushions. Make sure that you store them properly to make cleaning them for the summer easier. 

Never store outdoor cushions that are even a little bit damp, and don’t store them in closed plastic bags that can’t breathe. This could lead to mold and mildew, and once that happens, there are very few solutions to the question of how to clean outdoor cushions! 

Keep them on a shelf in your shed or garage and cover them lightly with plastic or a fabric tarp to keep the dust off. This will mean there’s less work to be done when you are ready to use your patio furniture again. 

Vacuum If Necessary

Often, a lot of the dirt on outdoor cushions is loose dirt, rather than stuck on dirt or stains. So you can actually solve a lot of the problem of how to clean outdoor cushions by vacuuming them. 

Clean your outdoor pillows one by one, using a brush or broom handle to knock them firmly a few times, and then following up with the vacuum cleaner. This should take most of the loose dirt off the cushions and leave you with a lot less work to do. 

Clean Your Outdoor Cushions with Vinegar 

A half cup of dish soap, a few tablespoons of white vinegar and a bucket of water is a good solution to the question of how to clean patio cushions without harsh chemicals. 

If your cushions are not too badly soiled or stained, you can use this mixture to gently wipe the dirt off the surface of the cushions, and then simply leave them to dry. This solution will tackle mild mildew problems too, and if your cushions are weather proof, you won’t have to worry about letting them dry – although a quick wipe with a dry cloth to remove the moisture is still a good idea! 

You will want to follow your first pass with the cleaning solution with a rinse with clean water too. Or your cushions might have a lingering scent of vinegar! 

How to Remove Bird Droppings from Outdoor Cushions

If your patio cushions have been the target for birds in your garden, you’re not alone. This is a common problem, and one of the reasons people wonder how to clean outdoor cushions! 

The same methods we’ve mentioned above will work in this case too, but before you add any water or cleaning solutions, you should first scrape off any solid bird droppings. Water will only soften and liquify any droppings, and when you try to wipe your cushions, you’ll make more of a mess than before! 

Scraping off most of the droppings first means there’s less material to get damp, and that makes cleaning this type of problem a lot easier! 

Can You Use Stain Remover on Patio Cushions?

If you’re wondering how to clean patio cushions in the washing machine, and you have a few stubborn stains to deal with, you might be wondering if you can use stain remover. 

The answer is usually yes, but you might want to do a color fastness test before you try this. Spray or apply some stain remover on a hidden part of the cushion like a seam and wait to see if it changes the color. If there is no effect after a few hours, you should be able to use the stain remover on the visible parts of the cushion.

Apply as you normally would, before washing in a washing machine, and then proceed as you usually would. 

A Word on Drying

Now that you know how to clean outdoor cushions, you might be ready to get out there and get washing! However, you do also need to know that drying is a very important step in the process! 

Water that is trapped inside your cushion covers can lead to mold and mildew, and that can cause irreparable damage to your cushions. 

Always ensure that you don’t get the inner cushion wet (either by making sure the cove is waterproof or by removing the covers for cleaning) and always ensure that every part of the cushion is completely dry before using or storing. 

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