Cleaning outdoor furniture becomes a regular task during the warm months when we are using our outdoor living areas more often. There are also plenty of birds around who leave their calling cards in the form of bird droppings on outdoor furniture and fixtures.
Prevention is the best way. By putting everything away after use you will keep it in better condition for longer. However, the fact is most of us are not going to be carting outdoor furniture backwards and forwards from storage every time we want to use it.
Bird Dropping Damage
Just like on the paintwork of your car the acidic bird droppings can cause lasting damage if left unkempt for a period of time. Besides that, it looks very unsightly and it can be a little embarrassing to be offering someone a seat covered in mess.
Bird dropping in large amounts can also pose a health risk so be sure to never try to clean while dry as the inhaled dust can make you ill.
Once a Week Habit
Getting into the routine of cleaning your outdoor furniture as you do your indoor areas. A once a week wash over with mild detergent and warm water will go a long way to keeping things fresh and only require a quick wipe over just before use in some cases. Many times your outdoor furniture will be ready to be used at anytime.
This gives you a regular opportunity to check and see if any repair work or restoration work might be needed.
Outdoor furniture is going to be made of wood varieties, metal, plastic, hardwearing materials like canvas, or a combination of these. Recycled plastic furniture is a fantastic way to help the environment and get durable affordable furniture.
You can safely know that in all cases a good wash with a mild detergent in warm water will suit all types of furniture on a regular basis to keep bird dropping under control. You may need to give vinyl cushions a wash in the basin and leave them to dry in the sun for a day or two. The sun is a natural killer of mould and mildew.
If your cleaning regime hasn't been regular use a low pressure hose and a scrubbing brush to loosen and wash away droppings. Add borax or bicarb soda to the water for a natural alternative. Dishwasher detergent has some bleach for white plastic if you want to keep them white. But don't use pure bleach or harsh cleaners on vinyl or plastic as they will gradually break it down, and also can leave discoloration.
After Clean Protection
This makes cleaning the next time so much easier. Depending on weather conditions once or twice a year is good for a thorough clean and applying other protective measures, in harsh conditions perhaps every three months is better.
* Wood/bamboo/Wicker – If these are painted, or varnished, look for chipped or worn areas to repair by sanding and touching up. If the wood is bare it will need some type of protection. This can be done in several ways. You may choose to oil it regularly by rubbing in something like linseed oil with a soft cloth. Some choose to use soft waxes which work nicely.
* Metals – like wood these might be painted, if so look for any weak spots regularly. Any mild soapy water will be fine. If the bird droppings are built up over time you may need to use a high pressure hose and wear protective gear to avoid eye and inhalation problems.
* Plastic/resin/vinyl – there are really some fantastic designs on outdoor furniture being made with these today. You'll find waterproof cushions as well, but still give them a wash over now and again and leave to dry in the sun. Soft waxes can sometimes be suitable for resins but not always good for the vinyl, so read cleaning recommendations on the product.
* Material/Canvas – again a light scrub with warm water and mild detergent will suffice here. Umbrellas can do with the same treatment. Wet down first and use a soft scrubbing brush. Be sure they are dried properly before storing away.
Show the same concern for outdoor furniture as you do for your furniture inside and you will have it for many years. You might even consider some sort of cover to drape over them while not in use. Be sure it is well fastened in windy areas.