Fast Ways to Wash Outdoor Furniture Covers (And How to Keep Them Clean!)

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Keeping the aesthetic and clean look of your outdoor furniture is important, especially since they’re exposed to harsh outdoor conditions like dusty winds, downpouring rain, and sunlight.

That’s where your outdoor furniture covers come in handy. These covers are affordable, widely available in multiple colors and styles, and removable so you can clean them separately.

Furniture covers are useful in keeping your furniture clean and dry, while also protecting against fading.

In today’s article, we’ll show you how to wash outdoor furniture covers properly, so they can continue helping keep your patio upholstery in pristine condition. Let’s dive right in!

Are Outdoor Furniture Covers Machine Washable?

Patio furniture covers are specifically designed to handle rough outdoor conditions. Since they’re left outdoors, these fabrics are bound to get dirty much quicker.

Additionally, outdoor covers are designed to be easy to clean, so they’re usually made from specific materials, such as:

  • Nylon 
  • Polyester 
  • Polypropylene 
  • Vinyl

Ideally, all these materials are quite durable and water resistant, and therefore, they can withstand machine washing.

However, every fabric is different, and some might get ruined if they’re machine washed, so it’s always best to check the tag or the label of the cover and make sure that they’re good to go.

Although it’s okay for some fabrics to be cleaned in washing machines, it’s generally not recommended to dry them in a dryer.

This is because dryers use excessive heat to dry the fabrics quickly, which can shrink them, which may prevent them from fitting nicely over the furniture. 

Instead, you should typically allow the covers to air dry, so that the process is stretched over several hours, protecting the fabrics from shrinking.

How to Wash Outdoor Furniture Covers 

In the following section, we’ll show you how to properly wash your outdoor furniture covers using two methods, depending on the fabric of your covers:

Using a Washing Machine

Throwing your outdoor furniture covers in the washing machine saves you a lot of effort and time while cleaning them.

Ideally, this method should be reserved for highly durable fabrics, especially if they are heavily soiled because excessive machine washing can fray the fabrics and fade the colors:

Step 1: Check the Cover’s Label 

Start by removing the covers off the furniture and checking the label to find the care tags. You can also check this guide to find out more about the laundry care label symbols. 

If the care tag indicates that the fabric is not machine washable, you’ll want to skip to the next method of hand washing.  

If the tag indicates that it can be machine washed, you can follow the next steps.  However, always heed any specific machine washing instructions indicated by the manufacturer.

Step 2: Pick a Suitable Detergent/Cleaner for the Covers

Choose a relatively mild detergent or a cleaning solution to clean the cover unless it’s very heavily soiled. 

This is because harsh detergents can fray the fabric and also irritate the skin if not washed properly. Ideally, you should go for non-dyed laundry detergent for most types of covers.

Step 3: Choose the Right Washing Cycle

After loading the covers into the washing machine, choose the suitable temperature and settings for the washing cycle.

To increase the efficiency of the washing cycle, it’s highly recommended that you choose a mild temperature that isn’t too high or too low (unless the label warns against using hot water).

Step 4: Allow the Washed Fabric to Dry

When the washing machine cycle is finished, take out the washed fabrics and allow them to dry by hanging them in a relatively dry and breezy spot.

The drying process may take up to 12 to 24 hours, but it’s highly critical that you don’t rush the drying process to prevent shrinkage.

You can finish up the cleaning process by applying an optional coat of UV protection spray to prevent sun damage.

Hand Washing

If your covers are not machine washable, you’ll be left to wash them the good ole’ fashioned way –by hand! 

Hand washing is also ideal if the covers aren’t heavily stained and you want to extend their life by not exposing them to the harsh conditions of a washing machine.

To make sure that the hand washing process is mild yet effective, here is everything you need to do:

Step 1: Prepare the Cleaning Solution and Tools

To save yourself the hassle of going back and forth while cleaning, it’s usually best to gather all your tools and prepare the cleaning solution beforehand.

Ideally, you need to use a mild solution to clean your covers. The simplest solution is created by adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of dish soap or detergent to a bucket of lukewarm water. 

Some might also add 1/2 a cup of Borax to the mix, but that’s entirely not necessary for mild stains.

Step 2: Shake the Debris Off the Fabric

Before using the solution, start by shaking the covers to remove all the loose dust, leaves, and other debris from the fabric.

You can also use a shop vac or a vacuum cleaner with a brush accessory for the job, but make sure that you go over all the crevices and stitching parts where dust is trapped.

Step 3: Scrub the Fabric with the Solution

Apply the cleaning solution to the fabric using a sponge, then gently scrub the surface in a circular motion using a soft bristled fabric brush.

Continue working the entire surface until you create a generous amount of lather. You might need to add more of the cleaning solution as you go, especially on stubborn stains.

Step 4: Rinse off the Cleaning Solution

Once you’re done washing all the stains off the covers, start rinsing the covers with a garden hose or submerging them in a bucket of clean water.

While washing, continue scrubbing the covers with the soft bristled brush. If lather and soap are still coming off the fabric, you still need to rinse it more.

Step 5: Allow the Washed Fabric to Dry

After getting rid of all the soap and detergent used to clean the fabric, you’ll need to let the covers dry.

Ideally, you should hang the covers on a line outdoors or leave them in any other spot with low humidity.

If you’re in a hurry and you want to use the tumble dryer, make sure that you use it at the lowest setting and temperature possible.

How to Store Outdoor Furniture Covers

When the covers are not in use, it’s important to properly store them in order to keep them ready for their next use.  Here are some simple steps that walk you through everything you need to do:

Step 1: Remove and Inspect the Covers

Start by removing the covers from your patio furniture. While removing the covers, make sure that you shake them to remove any dust and debris that might be on the fabric.

After shaking off all the dust, you’ll need to check the covers thoroughly in order to find any stains that require special care.

Step 2: Clean the Covers

A good rule here is to always clean the covers before storing them. This is because storing them with food, drink or other debris leftovers can cause mold to grow.

Depending on how clean the covers are and the durability of the cover fabric, your cleaning process will range from rinsing the covers to a full machine washing cycle.

Follow the guide above to properly wash the covers and store them fresh and clean.

Step 3: Dry the Covers Thoroughly

Never store the covers or any other fabrics while they’re still wet, as they can end up growing mold and mildew all over.

Instead, make sure that they’re all dry storing. You can speed up the drying process by applying a dry towel to the wet areas or by ironing the covers (if the laundry tags permit ironing).

Step 4: Fold the Covers Neatly

Folding the covers neatly before storing them might take some time, but it allows the covers to be ready to use immediately as you take them out.

To fold the covers, lay them on a table or any flat surface, and fold one half of the cover on itself. You can continue folding the covers until they’re neatly packed in squares.

This trick can also work if the covers have elastic sides, although you can also fold it on itself once and then roll the rest of the cover.

Step 5: Choose a Suitable Spot for Storing the Covers

You can store your covers in any spot that is quite dry and not exposed to the sun, such as in the garage or a shed.

Ideally, you’ll need to store the packed covers inside a storage bag to protect them from moisture. Make sure that you spray a repellent near the bag to keep insects and rodents at bay.

How to Wash Outdoor Furniture Cushions

Although patio furniture covers might keep the cushions fairly clean, you still may need to wash the cushions from time to time. 

Here’s a simple guide that shows you how to wash those outdoor cushions, even if they don’t have removable covers:

Step 1: Remove the Loose Debris

The best way to remove dust and debris from a cushion is by vacuuming it. Make sure that you go through all the crevices too. It’s also much faster and more effective than removing dust by hand.

Step 2: Inspect the Cushions for Stains and Clean Them

Check the cushions thoroughly for any hard or stubborn stains. If there aren’t any, you can wipe off the cushion with a wet towel or a brush and let it dry.

If there are some stains, you might need to use some lukewarm soapy water with scrubbing to get them off. Make sure that you use a soft bristled brush while cleaning the cushion. 

You might need extra rounds of soapy water if the stains are a bit stubborn, but don’t use harsh chemicals or detergents to remove them.

Additionally, avoid using power washers to clean the cushions because the powerful jet of water may end up fraying the fabrics of the cushion.

Step 3: Rinse the Cushions Thoroughly

The best way to rinse a cushion is by wiping off the soapy water with a sponge and adding clean water along the way.

You can use a garden hose to rinse it down faster, but the cushions will require more time in order to dry up.

Step 4: Dry the Cushions Completely

Start by pressing the cushion gently in order to squeeze more water out of the cushion, and dry it up with a clean, dry towel.

After removing all the excess water from the cushions, let them air dry for 24 hours on either side.

It’s important that you don’t place the furniture covers back on until the cushions are completely dry.  Otherwise, you may end up with a musty or moldy surprise next time you uncover them!

How Often Should I Clean Outdoor Furniture Covers?

This mainly depends on the type of furniture question as well as the outdoor conditions where you live.

For example, synthetic materials that are resistant to moisture and sun damage can be cleaned once every 6 to 12 months.

However, outdoor covers that are light colored, exposed to a lot of dust, or used excessively will need some cleaning every 2 to 4 months.

Keep in mind that cleaning the covers more frequently can actually preserve their life, as you won’t need to apply harsh detergents while cleaning them.

How to Get Rid of Mold on Furniture Covers

There are plenty of methods to get rid of mold and mildew on furniture covers, here’s a simple one:

  1. Fill a spray bottle with a mold disinfectant solution. Instead of using bleach, you can use white vinegar as a non-toxic and safer alternative.
  2. Spray the covers on the mold riddled sides thoroughly, and allow the wet fabric to sit for 10 to 15 minutes to kill the mold.
  3. Create a warm soapy solution in a large bucket that can fit the cover, and soak the cover in it for 20 to 30 minutes
  4. Rinse the covers, and allow them to air dry.
  5. Inspect and repeat if necessary.

Final Takeaway

As you can see, different cover materials have unique properties, and therefore, the process of cleaning them can vary slightly from one another.

Sometimes a quick rinse with the garden hose is enough to keep the covers fresh.  Other times, a bit of scrubbing or even machine washing can provide a deeper clean.  

Just remember, always ensure that the covers are thoroughly dried before packing them away to avoid unpleasant mildew when you pull them out next time!

Happy (fresh & clean) Lounging!

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