outdoor living space

How to Refresh Outdoor Furniture

Colby Coward Cleaning and Organization

Are you hesitant to schedule outdoor parties because your beloved patio furniture has lost its luster? If age, rain, sun, and/or scratches have left your patio furniture looking shabby or rusty, don’t feel like you have to cancel parties or buy new furniture. Whether you own plastic, metal, or teak sets, you may be able to renew and refresh your outdoor furniture (and its cushions) in an afternoon! Use these tips to refresh your outdoor furniture.


Despite its durability in all weather conditions, plastic (vinyl) furniture, slings, straps, and furniture components won’t stay fade-resistant and squeaky clean forever. The vinyl’s UV protection is often compromised by:

  • oils in suntan lotion
  • fertilizers
  • pesticides

Sunshine also fades plastic, and mildew and dirt cling to it. To refresh outdoor furniture made of plastic, wash it with a mild dish soap and then rinse.

If dish soap simply won’t cut through the grime, spray a plastics cleaner (found in any supermarket) on a cloth, and wipe down your plastic furniture and its components. Protect renewed chairs with towels so they’re safe from sunbathers using suntan oils.


Metal’s ultimate downfall is rust. As soon as even a scratch appears on your metal furniture’s frame, touch it up with paint!

According to This Old House, renewing a faded or even slightly scratched aluminum chair frame can be a manageable do-it-yourself project:

  1. If necessary, remove any vinyl slings and straps from the furniture.
  2. Sand the area(s) using 100-grit sandpaper.
  3. Finish sanding the area(s) with a 220-grit sandpaper.
  4. Apply exterior-grade acrylic enamel paint to the area(s) using a small brush or by using a spray can for larger sections or scratches.

While metal furniture may still be salvageable when covered in or structurally weakened by rust, you made need to hire a professional to sandblast the furniture, repaint, switch out any components, or weld some of the areas. While a repair may be less costly than replacement, you’ll obviously want to take care of your furniture as much as possible in future to avoid extra repair costs and improve longevity.


Teak furniture can be brought back to life with just a little bit of work. Get the teak wet with a hose, then apply teak cleaner with a scrubbing pad. If needed, rough up the surface carefully with paint scrapers and #3 steel wool. Sand with 220-grit sandpaper and 00 steel wool. Coat the dried surface with teak oil using a cloth, and reapply if necessary.


To refresh outdoor furniture cushions, the DIY Network suggests that you mix one teaspoon each of dishwashing liquid and borax in a quart of warm water and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Then:

  1. Liberally spray each side of the cushion.
  2. Let the mixture soak in for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse off the soap and borax with a garden hose.
  4. Allow the cushions to dry.
  5. Apply a fabric protector.

What other ways can you prevent deterioration and refresh outdoor furniture and cushions in the future? Store furniture during off-seasons in a dry place indoors. Remove and clean all cushions. Let the cushions dry completely, and store them in clear plastic bags. After cleaning or dusting furniture frames and other components, place them indoors when dry. If indoor storage isn’t possible, purchase vinyl covers. Merely drape covers over the furniture so the pieces can still breathe while preventing mildew growth.

Refresh outdoor plastic, metal, and teak furniture (and cushions) with proper cleaning methods, preventative repairs, and storage. Your patio set can truly weather any weather. If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves now, you can enjoy outdoor patio fun later.

Create More Space

Would you like to create a new outdoor area for sitting, dining, or entertaining? Take a look at our project photos for inspiration.