Here’s How to Pressure Wash Your Patio Cushions to Make Them Look New Again

published Jun 25, 2023
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Some household chores, like washing dishes or sweeping a floor, feel like second nature. And then there are other cleaning tasks that require a lesson or two from the School of Hard Knocks — such was the case with how to clean my patio cushions. 

I live in Florida, where the patio furniture on my screened-in porch is subject to extremely high humidity levels and plenty of rain. This translates into an ongoing battle with mold, mildew, and green algae that loves to take up residence on said cushions.

When the moldy spots were still relatively small, I used to hand scrub them with OxiClean and dish soap. While this would usually lift some of the stains, it didn’t remove them entirely, and it would also (maddeningly) leave behind a clean spot, making the rest of the cushion look dingy. 

Once any mold or mildew stains grew unsightly large or too stubborn to scrub, I’d usually just opt to replace the cushions with new ones. Neither of these methods proved to be very efficient, and one was just downright expensive. 

Feeling particularly vexed after spending over $200 on a new set of cushions only to discover they had grown moldy a month later, I was ready to toss my patio set entirely. But then I discovered that you can pressure wash your patio cushions, and it was a total light-bulb moment. 

There’s even a fabric-safe cleaner you can spray directly onto the cushions that is specifically designed to kill mold, mildew, algae, and moss. Not only does pressure washing lift the stains, but it also makes it easy to clean all of the cushions at the same time, requires much less manual labor, and, best of all, leaves them looking new. I haven’t had to buy new cushions since I started pressure washing them!

How I Pressure Wash My Patio Cushions

Now that I’ve solidified a cushion-cleaning method that’s highly effective and not overly laborious (which I wish I would’ve figured out way sooner), I’m more than happy to share my process. 

Step 1: Pick an area without dirt or grass. 

Lay the cushions in a paved area, such as a patio, porch, or driveway, which doesn’t have any grass or dirt. Although the specific cleaner I use is safe to use around lawns, trees, and flower beds, you don’t want to create a mud bath situation for your cushions while pressure washing them. 

Step 2: Add a fabric-friendly cleaner to the pressure washer.

Connect your pressure washer to a water source and add a fabric-friendly cleaner to the soap reservoir. Some cleaners are concentrated and need to be diluted first (the one I use doesn’t), so be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions before adding it to your pressure washer. 

Step 3: Wet the cushions.

To avoid tearing any fabric, set the pressure washer to its lowest setting/use the lowest pressure tip, and stand about two feet away from the cushions. Using only water, spray them thoroughly to wet the surface, then flip and spray the other side. 

Step 4: Apply the cleaning solution.

Attach the soap spray tip (which might also be called the low-pressure tip) to the pressure washer. Spray each cushion thoroughly with the soapy cleaner, and let it sit for a couple of minutes to penetrate the fabric. Flip and spray the other side. Be sure to spray around the edges of the cushions, too.

Step 5: Spot treat, if necessary.

If you happen to have any stubborn stains, scrub them with a scrub brush to work the cleaning solution deeper into the fabric fibers, and let it sit for a few extra minutes.

Step 6: Rinse with water.

Remove the soap spray tip and attach the rinse spray tip (on my pressure washer, it’s the 40-degree tip). Spray each cushion with water, working in overlapping horizontal strokes, until the soap is washed completely away. You’ll be amazed by how the dirt and stains dissolve on the spot. Flip and rinse the other side as well as around the edges.

Step 7: Remove excess moisture.

Press on the cushions with your hands to remove as much excess water as you can.

Step 8: Air dry.

Lean the cushions up against a wall, fence, or side of the house that gets sunlight, and allow the cushions to air dry completely. Then place your freshly cleaned cushions back on your patio furniture, and enjoy!

Bonus tip: Once your patio cushions are fully dry, you can spray them with an outdoor fabric protectant to help repel water and stains, and shield them from UV damage.