Weekend Projects

This Fall Cleaning Task Is More Fun if You Finish It Before the End of Summer

published Sep 11, 2020
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Out for an after-dinner walk with the family last week, I think I felt a tiny, distant chill in the air. We live in north Florida, so to taste a hint of cooler weather deep in the 88 degree evening was possibly a stretch, but exciting nonetheless.

For us, the temperate fall season offers a relief from stifling humidity and heat, but it’s still pleasant enough to enjoy the outdoors. Fall is when our screened-in porch gets used the most, thanks to cooling temps and long evenings (at least before the time change).

This not-quite-fall weather, I think, gives you the best backdrop to deep clean your outside furniture—no matter where you live. Your outdoor pieces have seen a summer of heavy use, no doubt, and the stains and dirt are apparent. But it’s still seasonable enough to clean your furniture outside comfortably and let it dry completely in the sun before it gets put away for the winter season. Not only that, but there’s still just enough time left in the season to fully appreciate an outdoor space that’s looking its best.

This Weekend: Clean your outdoor furniture.

If you don’t have outdoor furniture, you get to take this week off from your weekend projects. But for everyone else: Here’s how to get your outdoor pieces clean…

1. Vacuum your outdoor furniture.

This is especially pertinent to soft furniture components like cushions, but will also help remove dirt and dust from the harder components of furniture like wicker and wood.

2. Spot clean any major stains.

I prefer Folex for this. Spray and scrub with a white rag and watch most stains dissolve before your eyes, no rinsing required.

3. Wash cushions and pillows.

There are several ways to do this. You can use a power washer if you have one, or an upholstery cleaner. You can also soak your pillows and cushions and then rinse them with a hose. No matter which method you use, be sure to put everything out in the sun to fully dry.

4. Clean outdoor rugs.

Vacuum and treat stains first. Many outdoor rugs can be hosed down or power washed. Check labels to make sure the rug can handle getting wet. Hang over a fence or railing to fully dry.

5. Hose down or wipe down hard furniture.

Whether your furniture is wood, metal, wicker, or plastic, wet cleaning methods will get them their cleanest. Water from the hose (or a pitcher) might be enough to get them clean, but if not, you can introduce a scrub brush or microfiber towel (for some abrasive action) or regular dish soap (if there’s a film, grease, or stubborn dirt). Allow these pieces to dry completely before replacing pillows or cushions.

6. Clean outdoor umbrellas.

If you have umbrellas, bring them to a shady area and use a stiff brush to clean off soil and other dirt. Use a solution of water and a squirt of dish soap for set in dirt and follow with a hose-down. Keep the umbrella open to fully dry.

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Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.