Stay Fresh! How to Clean Outdoor Cushions Safely

how to clean outdoor cushions

Cleaning your outdoor cushions is more important than cleaning your indoor cushions, simply because there is (usually) so much more potential in the outdoors for dust, moisture, and straight-up filth than there is inside.

But how frustrating it would be to try cleaning them, do it wrong, and leave them worse off than before. This article is all about how to clean outdoor cushions safely and thus prolong their lives–both the lives of their function and their beauty.

Broadly, there are three categories of how to clean outdoor cushions. First–and easiest–comes the cushion cover. If you’ve invested in cushion covers from Fig Leaf Cushion Covers, they can go through your washing machine. Try it on warm, and make sure to use a mild detergent. The second category of how to clean outdoor cushions is maintenance cleaning. That is, cleaning before storing, brushing them off between parties, things like that. Finally, the serious stuff–how to clean outdoor cushions when they suffer spills and stains.


How to Clean Outdoor Cushion Covers

While we recommend washing Fig Leaf cushion covers on warm with a mild detergent, it’s important to note that many outdoor cushion covers are not machine-safe. Before you do anything else, always read the care instructions printed on the tag.

Now, if you read that tag and find that it’s recommended not to machine wash your cushion covers, washing them by hand can be easier than you might think. For general maintenance and mild stains, simply soak them in a solution of a ¼ cup of clear, mild liquid laundry detergent per gallon of water for 20-30 minutes. Of course, you won’t want to machine dry them so hang them out to dry in a safe place where they won’t get re-stained.


How to Clean Outdoor Cushions: Maintenance

There are three little answers that can do big things to the question of how to maintenance-clean outdoor cushions.

First, just take an old-fashioned whisk broom to them once or twice a week, depending on how much you use them. This is an easy–and highly effective–way to prolong your outdoor cushions’ lifespans, and it keeps them all ready to be enjoyed at a moment’s notice.

Sadly, sometimes cushions get wet. Happily, sometimes that’s because you’ve been washing them. Sadly, if an outdoor cushion doesn’t dry fast enough, it can grow mold. Happily, there’s a trick worthy of life-hack status to help make sure all your outdoor cushions dry fast enough: stand them on their edges. An outdoor cushion will dry much faster standing on its edge, partly because more of it is exposed to the air and partly because this position helps with drainage.

Finally, once you have your preferred method(s) of how to clean outdoor cushions, do it before you put your cushions away for the winter. As SF Gate puts it, this, “…ensures a trouble-free start in the spring.” Don’t give dust, bird droppings, and spilled soda a year to get comfortable. One more wash before storage is one of the most important points about how to clean outdoor cushions.


How to Clean Outdoor Cushions: The Serious Stuff

When there’s something to actually clean out of your cushions, there are three basic steps, the particulars of which depend on what you’re trying to remove.

Maybe it’s a no-brainer but, just in case, it’s worth the PSA reminder that before you do anything else, you’ll want to “get the big pieces”, so to speak. That is, if someone spills a glass of wine on one of your cushions, soak up as much of the stuff as you reasonably can with normal towels or paper towels. Or if a bird rudely uses one of your cushions as its toilet, scoop or scrape off as much as possible. Give steps two and three as small of a job to finish as you can.

Once a spill is reduced to a stain or little more, it’s time to apply the cleaning solution. The recipe you use depends on what you’re trying to remove–see this link again–but all the relevant at-home cleaning solutions have pretty basic ingredients that you probably already have. Whichever solution you pick, let it soak for at least 15 minutes, more if the recipe calls for it. And if you’re ever in doubt about if it’s been long enough, give it another five minutes.

Finally, rinse, rinse, rinse. Everything may not come out right away; just keep rinsing. This is the payoff stage of the process. If, after you finish this article, someone ever asks you how to clean outdoor cushions, your first reply could not-incorrectly be, “You mean before the big rinse?” Don’t stop rinsing until you’re absolutely, totally and completely sure that every little bit of your cleaning solution is out.


How to Clean Outdoor Cushions: Recap

Once you have some, it’s imperative that you know how to clean outdoor cushions. If you don’t do it, you’ll have to get rid of your cushions much sooner. If it comes to that, you may be able to save the covers–but surely we’d all rather not have to buy new cushions if we don’t have to.

Just remember, if you can remove the cushion covers, do so and wash them according to the instructions on their tags. Often this means you can run them through the laundry, but not always.

Between parties and when there’s no serious stain to clean, a quick, simple whisk-brooming does well to keep them fresh.

And when the inevitable spill happens, apply the cleaning product(s) of your choice–many of which can be made at home–let it soak, and rinse until all the product is out.

If you refer back to these instructions for how to clean your outdoor cushions, you should be able to enjoy them for many years to come.