Cleaning Your Outdoor Living Space: The Ultimate Guide
While outdoor furniture and hardscaping is designed to be durable against the elements, it can still show signs of dirt and wear. By keeping your outdoor living space clean, you can ensure it looks great and will continue to be enjoyed for many years to come.
Here are some tips for cleaning your outdoor furniture, hardscaping, and other outdoor living space features – with advice specifically for homeowners in Pennsylvania.
Cleaning Outdoor Kitchens
You will want to clean the grates of your charcoal or gas grill with a steel wire brush. Wait until it is cool, then scrape away any food residue from the grates. You may also want to get a cover for your grill, to prevent rust from forming on the grill.
Outdoor countertops should be regularly wiped down and cleaned, to prevent food contamination and sickness. Use a cleaning solution for the specific type of countertop; at a minimum, you can use a soapy rag.
Sealing granite countertops
Speaking of countertops, if your outdoor kitchen includes a granite or stone countertop, you will want to have it sealed. This keeps water from seeping in, causing cracks when it freezes in the winter. By sealing the granite countertop every few years, you will make sure your countertop will last for many more years.
Pressure wash stone
We recommend pressure washing pavers, stone, and your patio once a year. This will remove dirt, mildew, mold, and anything else that has latched on to the surface. Natural stone can take whatever you throw at it, but you will want to be careful with manufactured stone and pavers. Use less pressure when cleaning off these surfaces, and don’t hold the stream of water on one spot for too long.
Winterizing your outdoor kitchen
During winter months, you will want to disconnect the gas, electric appliances, and water lines heading to your outdoor kitchen. Otherwise, you could be in for a rude awakening when you open the kitchen next spring.
Cleaning Patio Furniture
By design, patio and outdoor furniture can handle rain, sun, and most other weather phenomena we regularly experience here in southcentral Pennsylvania. With some regular cleanings and preventive maintenance, you can keep your furniture’s colors vibrant and clean.
Outdoor furniture now comes in a variety of materials, including metal, vinyl, and wood. Each has their benefits and specific methods for cleaning and maintaining. As always, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning your furniture. Here are some basic tips for keeping your outdoor furniture looking its best.
Plastic or Poly Resin Furniture
Outdoor furniture made out of plastic or poly resin materials can be cleaned with mild soap and warm water. If your furniture has simulated wood grains, you may need to use a soft bristle brush to clean these out. Clean the furniture on a warm, dry day and let the sun do the drying for you.
Most metal furniture includes a painted or powder coated finish; you don’t want to damage the finish and expose the metal to oxidation. Clean the surface of metal outdoor furniture with a cleaning solution of 2 oz (1/4 cup) of mild liquid soap with a gallon of lukewarm water, making sure to rinse the furniture thoroughly afterwards. Waxes and specially designed outdoor cleaning compounds can be purchased to protect your furniture’s finish.
Wood or Wicker Furniture
Mild oil-based soaps and warm water works well on outdoor furniture made of natural materials like wood or wicker. You can also use commercial wood cleaning products. Be sure to wipe down wood furniture frequently to remove any dirt or standing water from the furniture.
If you have hardwood outdoor furniture, you may need to refinish it annually or every other year. A polyurethane or oil finish is common for this type of furniture.
Outdoor Fabric & Cushions
A damp sponge or soft bristle brush can take most dirt and spills off a fabric cushion, especially if you use a solution of mild liquid soap and lukewarm water. You can let the cushion air dry; don’t put it in the dryer. Make sure you also don’t use hot water, more harmful cleaning supplies, or let the cushions submerge in water.
During winter months, store cushions and pillows inside, so they get less exposure to the sun and elements.
Umbrellas can be cared for in a similar way to outdoor fabric cushions mentioned above. Keep your umbrella open while it air dries; do not close an umbrella while it is still wet.
Make sure you close your outdoor umbrella when not in use; this will help prevent damage from winds and inclement weather. During the threat of severe weather, it is best to remove the umbrella from its stand and lay it down on the ground or bring indoors.
Maintaining Pavers and Stone Walkways
If not properly cleaned, bricks, patio pavers, and concrete can attract mold, mildew, and dirt. Not only will this look unattractive, it can cause the surface to be slippery and become a safety hazard. Use a hose to wash off your hardscaping, and scrub dark spots with a brush and a bleach & water solution.
You may notice a white chalky powder forming on your bricks or concrete pavers. This is called efflorescence and it naturally occurs as the water in the pavers evaporates. It will naturally fade away, or you can use a specialty cleaner to remove it faster.
A great way to protect your hardscaping investment is to seal your pavers. This protects the pavers or bricks from stains & fading and provides a finished look to the project. Talk to your hardscaping contractor or our staff to learn more about how sealing your patio or walkway.
Wooden decks in south central Pennsylvania can be made of several types of material, including pressure-treated pine, cedar, redwood, and tropical hardwoods. These vary in appearance, durability, and in how you clean them. Follow your installer's recommendations on how to clean them.Stained decks – including pressure-treated pine or cedar – may need to have the stain and sealer reapplied every 2-3 years.
Keep an eye out for damaged or rotting boards. If you see rot, call your installer to make a repair. Failing to repair damaged wood decking can be unsafe for you and your family.
Make sure you clear snow and ice from your wood decking during winter months, and be careful with grease splatter around your grill or outdoor kitchen.
Composite decking is durable and nearly maintenance-free. You never have to stain or add a protective finish to this type of deck. It is recommended that you clean the decking once a year, in order to remove dirt, dust, and pollen. Specially-designed cleaners work best on composite decks.
PVC Vinyl Railings
If you have PVC vinyl railings or decking, it is easy to clean the surfaces. Simply use warm water and mild soap to remove dirt or mildew from the surface.
Contact Penn Stone for More Cleaning Tips
If you have any questions about how to specifically clean your outdoor living products, please give us a call or stop by our showroom. Our staff would be glad to help you care for your backyard oasis, so you and your family can enjoy it for years to come.