How to care for garden furniture

Garden furniture comes in lots of different materials, such as wood, metal, rattan effect and plastic, and each of these has different care needs.

This guide will help you you care for your garden furniture, whatever the material. It covers cleaning and maintaining garden furniture and shares some best practice tips on cleaning, storing, and repairing it.

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How to clean garden furniture

Cleaning garden furniture regularly is necessary to keep it pristine and prolong its life.

Here’s a few tips on how to clean your chairs, tables, and benches, depending on the material they’re made from:


Scrub with hot soapy water using a soft bristle brush. Teak or other hardwoods (except eucalyptus) can also be cleaned using a pressure washer.


Wash with hot soapy water using a soft cloth. Alternatively, use a pressure washer on a low-pressure setting but avoid using pressure washers on glass tabletops.

Rattan effect

Sponge clean with warm soapy water.


Use a pressure washer or garden hose or wash by hand with a washing-up sponge and soapy water. Stubborn stains can be wiped away with white distilled vinegar or baking soda.

We recommend cleaning garden furniture twice a year, once at the start of the spring/summer season and again at the end.

Top tip: To avoid discolouration, don’t use harsh chemicals

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Protect your garden furniture from the elements

Over time, weather can do severe damage to garden furniture. For example, persistent rain can rust metal and rot wood. And sunlight can fade colours. So, it’s essential to protect it from the elements.

The best way to do this is with garden furniture covers. They’re available in various sizes and shapes to cover any furniture type, from small coffee tables to large dining sets.

How to care for teak garden furniture

Teak is a naturally weather-resistant hardwood, so it’s excellent for garden furniture. We also use Acacia hardwood, which is almost as good and more affordable.

Left untreated, Teak and Acacia will weather naturally and develop an attractive silvery-grey finish. But, if you’d rather maintain the wood’s honey-gold colour, treat it with teak oil. Apply three coats to the wood with a cloth or paintbrush.

How to care for wooden garden furniture

To care for wooden garden furniture, follow the same steps as above; start by regularly cleaning it with a soft brush or cloth to remove dirt and debris. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that could damage the wood. Apply a protective finish such as varnish or oil to help prevent moisture from penetrating the wood and causing it to rot or warp (continue reading for more information on protection). Cover or store your furniture during harsh weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow or extreme heat to prevent damage. Lastly, inspect your furniture regularly for signs of wear and tear and make necessary repairs as needed to prolong its life.

Check any metal for rust or corrosion

Rust and corrosion affect metal garden furniture and metal parts of other types.

Rust and corrosion look unsightly but can also eat through metal, making furniture dangerous and causing irreparable damage. So, it's essential to check all metal parts regularly.

Rust looks like red, black or white deposits on the metal’s surface. Remove it using rust removal methods. For example, there are liquid treatments, or you can grind it off using steel wool or a rust removal brush.

To prevent rust from returning, polish your metal garden furniture with car wax to make it water-resistant.

Don't forget to apply protection

Another way to prolong the life of garden furniture is to apply protection. There are several options:

  • Exterior wood varnish: Protects against water damage and gives wood a durable finish while retaining its original colour. Apply one or two coats annually using a brush.
  • Exterior wood stain: Enhances wood by adding colour and protecting it from the elements. Apply one or two coats using a brush. Depending on the brand, wood stain can last up to 10 years.
  • Exterior wood oil: Protects, feeds, and nourishes dried-out and cracked wood. Apply one coat annually using a brush, cloth or roller.
  • Exterior wood preservatives and treatments: Protects new or restores old garden furniture. Apply with a brush once a year.


Keep cushions and upholstery clean

Outdoor cushions and upholstery get dirty and dusty, so washing them at least once a year is essential.

If your cushion covers are removable, pop them in the washing machine on a low cycle with a mild detergent.

If they aren’t removable, scrub them with diluted detergent and a soft brush. Wipe away excess water with a soft cloth and blot them with a dry towel.

Dry cushions outdoors or place them in a warm airing cupboard.

Also, protect upholstery by keeping it out of direct sunlight to avoid fading. And take cushions in at night or when it’s raining as the dampness will cause mould to grow.

Take care when moving furniture

Don’t drag garden furniture across the ground if you need to move it, as this can weaken joints and damage the legs. Instead, always lift the furniture.

Also, don't allow furniture to sit in water as this will rot wood or make metal rust. Instead, move it where water doesn't collect and use a garden furniture covers to protect it.

Repair any damage immediately

If you spot damage on your garden furniture, it's essential to address it immediately. Leaving it in a state of disrepair leads to irreparable damage. It could also make the furniture unsafe.

Store furniture away where possible

The best protection you can give your garden furniture is storing it inside in autumn and winter. This keeps it away from the elements, which can cause rot, decay, and rust. A garage or shed is ideal.

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Safety First 

When cleaning garden furniture, wear protective clothing, such as goggles, rubber gloves and overalls, to shield yourself from flying debris and dirt.


You can use a pressure washer to clean hardwood, metal, and plastic furniture. But keep the pressure low and avoid glass tabletops.


Clean garden furniture at least twice yearly, at the start and end of spring/summer.

Wooden garden furniture should be oiled once per year.

Use varnish on garden furniture if you want to keep its original colour. Use stain to enhance the colour if the wood has faded or to change the colour to something different.

We don’t advise using bleach on rattan garden furniture as it can cause cracks in the material, which attracts dirt.

To get mould out of outdoor cushions, spray them with 50% water and 50% white vinegar. Leave it to work for one hour, rinse and spray again. This time, allow the vinegar to dry without rinsing.

To stop garden furniture from rotting, apply protection, such as wood varnish, stain, oil or preservative yearly.

Yes, you should cover your garden furniture during wet or cold weather. And, if possible, store it inside during the winter.

Yes, you can leave garden furniture out in the rain. But, to prolong its life, cover it with garden furniture covers if the rain is heavy or persistent over a long time.

With a little effort and by following these simple tips, you can ensure your garden furniture looks great for years.