It’s Tough to Keep White Patio Furniture White In a City — Here’s How to Protect Yours

published May 26, 2022
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Memorial Day weekend is here, which signals the official start of the outdoor recreational season. More gathering will happen outside and it’s time to put that patio furniture you scored last season to good use. Having patio furniture in a city can be rough. While you expect the occasional leaves and twigs to fall onto it from nearby trees, you also have to deal with the dust from constantly busy streets and pollution. I live near a highway, so my balcony’s furniture is constantly covered in a thin layer of black dust. If you don’t use the patio chairs in a few days and go out there for a cup of coffee, you first have to brush off the cushions or else your PJs will get a soot-like smear wherever you sit. Admittedly, this has made me less inclined to use my outdoor nook, and on top of that, I never wanted to invest in quality furniture because it will just get filthy anyway. 

While my garage-sale bistro set has served its purpose thus far, it would be nice to have my balcony look as inviting as the rest of my apartment. I’ve always gravitated toward white patio sets, but first I needed to find out how to protect it from the stubborn and persistent dirt of the city. Here’s what I found. 

Use exterior stain repellant.

Even if outdoor furniture is made to be more stain-resistant than indoor furniture, that doesn’t mean it can’t use a boost in protection. Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield is safe to use on polyester, nylon, polypropylene, cotton, leather, and suede, and even though its main purpose is to be water-repellent, it will also leave a thin protective coating between your fabric and soot. That means you can wipe it away or spot clean it easier, without as much worry about the dust embedding in the fabric and staining it. 

Use a protective cover.

It might not be visually appealing, but if you don’t use your patio or balcony daily and instead like to pop out for a glass of wine once a week, then it could be beneficial to use a protective cover over your furniture. That way, days’ worth of dust won’t settle over the cushions, and you can take it off when you’re ready to use the set. To make it less of an eyesore, get one that’s a little more stylish, like this structured off-white cover. It has a little more form to it, so it won’t look like furniture cosplaying as a ghost under a bedsheet. You can also get one with a print like this coastal blue and white striped one. Keep a stylish basket outside to store the cover once you take it off. 

Try heavy outdoor drapes.

Not a fan of taking off tarps or covers? If you have a balcony, install heavy outdoor drapes over your openings, which you can close shut when you’re not using the space. Not only will they help keep dust and soot out of your balcony, but they will also add an extra design opportunity. Pick out a curtain rod that best fits your style, choose drapes long enough that they pool a bit on the ground (adding an extra touch of elegance), and get curtain tiebacks to keep the drapes open with some flair.

Invest in outdoor storage.

If you live in a place where soot and dust are persistent, it might be easier to just store your couch or seat cushions when you’re not using them. To make the process as simple as possible, get a large outdoor storage bench or cabinet to tuck away your cushions. When you want to hang outside, you can take them out and have a clean seat each time. Depending on what your style is, you can get something like this acacia wood bench, black wicker deck box, or off-white locker cabinet.

Get a compact blower.

White furniture will stain once you let soot sit on it for a while, so you want to make sure you’re constantly chasing dust away from your outdoor seats. One easy way to do that is to invest in a compact electric blower like the Ryobi Workshop Blower. Just step outside each morning or every other day, and blast the dust away from your cushions. It will take you all of one minute, and it will ensure your patio is always looking fresh and inviting. While a vacuum might work just as well, using an attachment might embed some of the dust deeper into the fabric, which is why a blower might be safer. 

Follow the tip that resonates best with your lifestyle and cleaning habits, and you can keep your white patio set spotless and dust-free all summer long!

This piece is part of Get Outside Month, where we’re covering all things out-of-the-house, from curb appeal tips to al fresco hobby ideas. Whether you have a backyard, a patio, or 1 square foot of a fire escape. Head over here to read more!