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Tips & How-to's10 min read

How To Clean Outdoor Cushions: A Step-By-Step Guide, Plus Expert Tips

How To Clean Outdoor Cushions: A Step-By-Step Guide, Plus Expert Tips

We know outdoor cushions get dirty  — it’s just a part of life. But when it comes to how to clean outdoor cushions, what’s the best method?

Our team of outdoor living experts has step-by-step instructions and their best cleaning tips for outdoor cushions below.

From how often to clean your outdoor cushions to getting rid of stubborn stains like coffee and condiments, we’ll cover it all!

Choosing The Right Outdoor Cushions

When it comes to outdoor cushions, not all are created equally. The ideal first step in cleaning your outdoor cushions is choosing the right fabric from the get-go. This ensures that cleaning is simple and straight-forward.

If you’ve yet to purchase your outdoor cushions, we recommend looking for a few key features prior to buying.

Purpose-Built

Selecting any old sofa and hoping for the best? Not a good idea. The best outdoor fabrics are purpose-built to withstand life outside, so it’s important to select the right one.

All Outer outdoor cushions are custom-made from a solution-dyed performance fabric. We designed this fabric specifically for outdoor living to make sure it’s soft enough to enjoy every day but durable enough to last for years to come.

Removable Covers

While it may not seem like a big deal, trust us when we say you’ll be thanking yourself later for choosing an outdoor cushion with removable covers!

Removable covers make cleaning your outdoor cushions a much simpler task, as they’re able to be thoroughly washed without compromising the cushion insert.

All of our outdoor cushion covers are easily removable to make cleaning a breeze.

Showing how to clean outdoor cushions

Machine-Washable

One of the best added features you can find in an outdoor cushion is its ability to be thrown in the washing machine.

Having cushion covers that are able to go through the machine is life-changing — it helps get rid of deep stains, and you can wash the covers seasonally to bring freshness back into your cushions.

All Outer cushions included in our sofas, sectionals, and armchairs are all completely safe to throw in the wash. Just be sure to run them on the gentle cycle in cold water and lay them flat to dry!

Stain-Resistant

Possibly the most important feature of your outdoor cushions is their level of stain-resistance.

From the sun’s harsh rays that might fade your cushions to the inevitable spills and messes that come with everyday life, your cushions should be able to stand up to it all.

Our outdoor cushion covers are specially designed with a nano-coating to be resistant to UV rays, stains, mold, water, and bleach. This means your Outer sofa can handle pretty much anything you throw at it!

How Often To Clean Outdoor Cushions

Woman putting away cushion covers

How often you should clean your outdoor cushions will usually depend on how often you’re using them and how messy they’re going to get.

Those with pets, kids, or a love of ketchup may need to clean their cushions more often than others!

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend cleaning your outdoor cushions during times of peak usage, like the warmer months when you’ll likely be entertaining guests or enjoying more family time outdoors.

Try to clean your outdoor cushions at least once a season. This can be done by removing the covers and washing them by hand or in the washing machine. We also recommend washing your cushion covers before packing up your outdoor furniture for the cooler months.

And, of course, it’s best to clean your cushion covers as soon as possible after noticing any stains (more on that below).

It’s also important to note that with the right outdoor cushion protection, you could find yourself needing to clean your outdoor cushions a lot less often than you might anticipate.

Our OuterShell™ is a built-in protective cover that sits discreetly behind every Outer cushion, ready to be rolled out to protect your outdoor furniture from weather conditions at a moment’s notice. They also create an easy-to-carry handle so you can transport your cushions inside as needed.

Our All-Weather Covers are available in all shapes and sizes for whatever Outer configuration you have in your outdoor space. They fit snugly on your Outer sofa to protect your outdoor cushions from heavy rainfall, snowfall, and whatever other weather you’re facing.

And like all of our fabrics, the All-Weather Covers are stain- and fade-resistant, recyclable, and easy to get on and off.

The in-built vents prevent excess moisture from building up (goodbye, mold and mildew!), and we’ve added wind straps so they won’t move around once they’re attached.

What’s not to love?

How To Clean Outdoor Cushions After Everyday Use

Kid laying on clean outdoor furniture
 Outer Wicker Outdoor Sofa

When it comes to how to clean outdoor cushions after everyday use, we suggest spot-cleaning your outdoor cushions after entertaining guests or simply enjoying the great outdoors with your family.

It comes in handy when you’re unable to remove your cushion covers and put them through the washing machine, but it’s also useful if you’re in need of a quick and simple cleaning technique for minimal, everyday stains.

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Bucket of warm water
  • Soft rag
  • Gentle cleaning solution such as detergent
  • Garden hose
  • Bleach for removing mold (if needed)

Step-By-Step:

  1. With a soft rag, wipe any loose dirt from the spot you plan on cleaning
  2. Mix the appropriate solution as needed (for spot cleaning, mix 1:3 detergent-to-water) Dip your rag and gently rub, making circles from the center of the spot outward
  3. Absorb any moisture from the area
  4. If necessary, repeat until the spot is clean, dabbing dry after each pass

How To Clean Outdoor Cushions To Erase Tough Stains

Coffee spilled on outdoor cushion
Outer Wicker Outdoor Armless Chair

For those tougher stains — you know, the ones that make your life flash before your eyes when you spot them — like ketchup, mustard, and coffee, the process is a little different.

Your first inclination might be to grab the nearest wet rag and start scrubbing, but we’ve got a better way!

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Garden hose
  • Dry, soft rag
  • Gentle cleaning solution such as detergent (just in case!)

Step-By-Step:

  1. Lay eyes on the horrifying stain — stay calm!
  2. Grab your garden hose and rinse the stain as much as possible
  3. Use your clean, dry rag to wipe excess water from the outdoor cushions
  4. Repeat this step if needed to firmly wipe any residual stain off of the cushions
  5. Let them air dry. Voila!

If the stain is particularly tough, we recommend using a gentle cleaning solution like our 1:3 detergent-to-water solution mentioned above.

These handy tips also come in video format! To watch our Chief Design Officer and Co-Founder, Terry Lin, show you this simple cleaning method in real-time, click here.

Keeping Outdoor Cushions Looking New

Wicker sofa and love seat
Outer Wicker Outdoor Loveseat with Armless Chairs - 4 Seat

Removing pesky stains is simple when you choose the right cushion. But how do you protect your outdoor furniture from inclement weather and fading caused by sunlight?

Here are a few easy tips to keep things looking new year after year.

Rotate Your Pillows

Is there anything better than a long day in the summer sun? It’s hard to beat that kind of rest and relaxation!

But while the sun makes your day better and brighter, too much of it can drain the color from your furniture’s fabric. Especially when it comes to your pillows, rotate them regularly to limit exposure to harsh sunlight.

Outer cushions have a UV lightfast rating of 2,000 hours, but not every option will offer this high level of protection. If your cushions are reversible, then follow the same practice of rotating them to keep them lasting longer.

As a last resort, UV protection sprays are available. It’s like sunscreen, but instead of using it on your skin, you spray it on your outdoor furniture to prevent short-term sun damage.

Be sure to check with the furniture’s manufacturer before spraying. There might be sprays they recommend for their product or certain ones they advise against.

Consider Your Furniture’s Placement

Outdoor patio furniture overlooking water
Outer Wicker Outdoor Sofa 

Another method for UV protection is to place your furniture where there’s limited sunlight.

Deciding on your furniture placement is one of the most exciting parts of setting up your backyard oasis. After all, this is the spot where you’ll be spending most of your (comfortable) time outside.

Start by finding a few places that you would like to put your furniture. Once you have some options, determine how much shade each spot gets during the day and consider the location that receives the least amount of sunlight.

Does your yard have an awning or a pergola? Then you’re one step ahead. These fixtures provide plenty of shade while beautifully complementing your outdoor setup.

Even if the area is a bit more open, you still have plenty of options to choose from. Natural features like tall trees are an excellent way to block the sun for parts of the day, and a little bit of shade can go a long way toward extending your furniture’s lifespan.

Don’t Forget The Frame

Believe it or not, another simple way to keep your cushions looking brand-new is to make sure the frame is in the best condition as well. Some frames are easier to keep clean than others, so opting for aluminum, teak, or wicker will save you the most time.

Teak’s natural oils protect it from rot, pests, and more. This wood also requires no regular maintenance and will naturally develop an attractive silver-gray patina if left unmaintained.

Wicker sofa and love seat on a blue rug
Outer Wicker Outdoor Sofa with Armless Chairs - 5 Seat

Synthetic resin wicker, also known as All-Weather Wicker, is designed to withstand tough winters while also being stylish and suitable for warmer climates.

Cleaning this kind of wicker is best done the same way aluminum is cleaned — with a soft bristle brush and a thorough rinse with a hose.

When cleaning your wicker, be sure to avoid bleach and any other abrasive cleaners. Harsh cleaners can permanently damage your frame and cause more dirt to build up over time.

With spotless cushions resting on easy-to-clean frames, there’s no doubt that your space will look showroom-ready. Visit our website to learn more about how to clean wicker, teak, and aluminum furniture.

Know When To Store Inside

One of the best practices for keeping your outdoor furniture safe and lasting well beyond its warranty is storing it indoors when the weather becomes severe.

From everyday moisture like rain and humidity to common debris like dirt, dust, and coffee stains, outdoor furniture is designed to withstand some pretty tough conditions. Still, knowing when to store it inside and out of the elements can make a big difference.

Keep an eye on weather alerts, and be prepared to bring your furniture inside before the storm picks up. Depending on where you live, this can prevent snow from accumulating on your cushions or stop heavy hail from causing damage.

Most importantly, moving everything inside before the inclement weather starts keeps you safe and protected in your home.

Clean Immediately

Outdoor patio furniture covered in snow

We know it’s not always easy to be ready for every major storm or heavy snowfall. When your furniture is subject to unexpected conditions, there’s certainly no need to panic. But the best course of action is to clean it as soon as you can.

For example, placing your furniture on its side helps it dry faster after heavy rains. For the frame, let it dry in filtered sunlight or partial shade rather than intense sun.

If there’s snow piling on top of your cushions, then you’ll want to brush it off to prevent it from freezing into ice. And once you’re finished, consider a storage method for keeping everything in tip-top shape for the rest of the season.

Clean At The Season’s End

It’s tempting to leave your furniture outdoors year-round, but this might not be the best choice depending on the climate where you live. Once winter approaches and the snow starts to come down, it’s always a safe bet to store your cushions for the season.

Before moving them into storage, check the cushions for spots that you might have missed during the year.

Find a stain? Use the steps listed above to remove it before putting the cushions away. Leaving the stain to sit for a few months will only make it harder to remove.

If you have Outer furniture and everything looks good, simply remove the OuterShell® from your cushion fabric before washing, and give the covers a quick cleaning in the washing machine. Just be sure they’re dry before storing them.

If keeping your outdoor cushions covered or placing them indoors isn’t an option, make sure you buy covers that are designed to withstand the elements. Our All-Weather Covers will keep your Outer furniture in great condition during the harsh winter seasons.

Cleaning Outdoor Cushions Is Easy With Outer

Outdoor furniture with wood table and cute dog
Outer Wicker Outdoor Sofa - 3 Seat

Now you know how to clean outdoor cushions, and we’re willing to bet it was a lot more simple than you might have originally thought!

Investing in outdoor cushions with removable covers and easy-to-clean fabrics is your best defense against excessive cleaning duties. If you’re on the lookout for new outdoor cushions and outdoor furniture, be sure to check the ins and outs of the fabric before purchasing.

Each and every Outer sofa, sectional, and armchair comes with our patented performance fabric to ensure your outdoor cushions are soft, durable, and most importantly, easy to clean!

Whether you’re looking to get rid of a small stain on your cushion, revitalize your 3-Seat Aluminum Outdoor Sofa, or give your Eco-Friendly Outdoor Rug a spring cleaning, Outer takes the worry out of all life’s messes.