Mary Huffman, RE/MAX of Boulder

Mary Huffman, RE/MAX of Boulder

Outdoor living is one Colorado’s top perks. To make the most of it, your outdoor furniture needs to be worthy of center stage, but the Colorado sun, wind and temperature fluctuations quickly degrade items left outside.

Maintenance is the key to keeping your outdoor furniture looking fabulous, whether you just bought new furniture or need to refurbish last year’s. Try these easy maintenance tips recommended by Install It Direct and Outdoor Elegance.

Clean regularly even if your furniture is new or already looks clean. Every two weeks use a cleaning method suited for the type of furniture.    

For aluminum, vinyl and plastic, scrub gently with hot, soapy water. Then rinse with the hose and let it sun dry.

If your furniture is wooden, use plain water without soap. To loosen dirt, spray with a hose and then wipe with a clean sponge. Then, spray again and let dry.

Canvas can be cleaned with upholstery cleaner. Since you’re washing outside, protect streams by washing on the grass instead of the driveway. Choose a brand that won’t harm your grass and follow the directions on the can.

Glass tabletops
Glass tables are popular, but to look good, the glass must be clean. Cut through grease and grime with everyday glass cleaner or a little vinegar and warm water.  Remove melted wax by first softening with a hair dryer and then scraping it off the glass with a card. Any remaining smudges can be wiped away with rubbing alcohol.

The power tool: pressure washing
Pressure washers are the miracle of outdoor cleaning. The spray is strong, so use caution.

A low setting is suitable for most furniture. When using a power washer, detergent is usually not needed unless fabric stains are stubborn. If detergent is needed, avoid discoloration by selecting a cleaner suited for the material and always read the label before use.

The super hero: paste wax
Metal furniture is strong and durable, but metal rusts. Get a jump on preventing rust spots by applying paste wax.

Begin a regular paste wax regime when your furniture is new. Then, simply reapply after washings.

Got rust? Remove it!
If rust has already appeared, no worries – just remove it right away. Scrub rust away with a wire brush. Be sure to remove all of the rust, but don’t scrub the metal that is rust-free. The wire brush can damage the finish, which would allow more rusting to begin.

Periodic inspection is the key to managing rust. When spring begins, look closely at your patio furniture. Then, check it again throughout the season.

Detect mildew early
Even in Colorado’s dry climate, mildew can form and leave stains and odors on fabric. To detect mildew early, periodically sniff your cushions and pillows for mildew odors. If you detect mildew, promptly clean fabric with a cleaning solution of three-fourths cup bleach added to one gallon of water and rinse with cold water. Test a hidden area of the fabric for bleaching or staining before washing the fabric.

Cover furniture all year long
Whether you buy custom furniture covers or use a tarp, it pays to cover your furniture throughout the year. Custom covers can be ordered online or at your favorite outdoor home goods store.

If you use a tarp, plastic will work, but vinyl is usually better. Any fabric used for covering furniture should be waterproof and breathable. Tarps can be tied down with a bungee cord and corners secured s with stones, bricks or cinder blocks.

Stow away for winter
Colorado’s cold winters, ice and snow can damage outdoor furniture. Store furniture in a shed, garage or basement, or rent a storage shed for the winter.
The protection from the elements can be worth the expense.

Read the full article at

Mary Huffman is a Realtor at RE/MAX of Boulder. Call 303.441.5634 or e-mail [email protected]. Visit