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How to Clean Patio Cushions: Expert Tips for a Spotless Outdoor Space

Cleaning patio cushions may seem daunting, but with the right tools and materials, it can be a simple and efficient process. Proper storage and preventative measures can also help keep your cushions in great shape for years to come.

We’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of cleaning your patio cushions, how to address stains such as mold and mildew, and essential care to extend the life of your outdoor cushions.

How to Clean Patio Cushions

Preparation for Cleaning

To prepare to clean your patio cushions, gather all necessary supplies. You will need:

With all your supplies in order, it’s time to get the outdoor furniture ready:

Remove any accessories or attachments, and if the cushions have removable covers, unzip them and set them aside. Remove loose dirt and dust by shaking or using a vacuum.

Time to Clean

partial view of maid in white gloves cleaning sofa with duster in hotel room

Now that the cushions and outdoor furniture have been prepped, you can begin to clean!

Fill the bucket with warm water and add the appropriate amount of detergent or soap. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper water-to-cleaning-agent ratio.

For a DIY cleaning solution, mix mild soap with lukewarm water, or add bleach for tougher stains, mold, or bacteria. Be cautious when using bleach, as it can cause discoloration on certain types of fabrics. Always test a small, inconspicuous area before applying bleach to your patio cushions.

Alternatively, use white vinegar to eliminate mold and mildew and neutralize odors, baking soda to remove stubborn dirt, or a combination of borax, warm water, and soap to eliminate stains and combat mold growth.

Giving the cushions a final once-over with the bristle brush is good practice. This will remove all remaining loose dirt, dust, and debris before scrubbing.

Machine wash them for removable covers according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For those without zippers, a garden hose can help rinse off dirt before cleaning more thoroughly.

Use a soft-bristle brush or sponge to apply the solution and rinse the cushions thoroughly with clean water. Scrub the fabric gently in a circular motion, paying attention to stained areas. Don’t forget to rinse the cushions thoroughly with clean water to avoid any residue.

Removing Stains from Your Patio Cushions

Cleaning sofa cushions with a special electric brush. Dry cleaning of upholstered furniture, close-up.

Cleaning outdoor cushions can be challenging, especially when dealing with various types of stains.

Mildew and Mold

Mildew and mold can be persistent problems with outdoor cushions. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle to combat this issue. Spray the solution onto the affected areas and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a soft brush. Rinse the cushions well and allow them to dry in direct sunlight, which helps prevent further mildew growth.

Tougher Stains

For tougher stains like grass, red wine, or bird droppings, an enzyme-based stain remover or a mix of cornstarch and water applied to the stain can be effective. Use a microfiber cloth to gently dab at the stain, being careful not to rub or spread it. Rinse the treated area with a clean cloth dampened with water and let the cushion air dry.

Additional Staining

Some stains may require specialized cleaning products like rust removers or upholstery cleaners. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the specific type of stain. When using harsh chemicals like bleach, dilute them with water and test a small, inconspicuous area of the cushion to ensure they won’t damage the fabric.

Rinsing and Drying the Cushions

To properly clean outdoor patio cushions, you should thoroughly rinse them. Ideally, use a garden hose with adjustable pressure to remove dirt, debris effectively, and any detergent residue from the cushions.

If a garden hose is not available, a bucket of water can also be used to rinse the cushions. Be sure to rinse them completely, paying special attention to areas with hidden moisture pockets to avoid mildew growth.

Once the cushions have been rinsed, remove excess water to promote quick drying. If the cushion covers are removable, use a washing machine to extract as much water as possible thoroughly – a high-spin cycle is recommended. For cushions without removable covers or for those that cannot be machine-washed, gently press towels against them to absorb the excess water.

Then place the cushions in a sunny spot with plenty of airflow. Hanging to dry on a laundry line is ideal if possible. Sunlight and wind not only speed up the drying process but they can also help prevent mold and mildew from forming.

Take note of the outdoor conditions; if it’s too humid, it might take longer for your cushions to dry thoroughly. Position the cushions to promote optimal air circulation, such as standing them on their sides or propping them up at an angle.

Periodically check on the cushions to ensure they’re drying evenly. Should any damp or shaded spots be found, adjust the cushions accordingly to ensure all areas are exposed to sunlight and airflow. When the cushions feel completely dry to the touch, they are ready to be placed back on your patio furniture, looking clean and refreshed.

Seasonal Cushion Maintenance

Regular maintenance is essential to prolong the life of your outdoor patio cushions and keep them in good shape throughout the changing seasons. Following a few simple steps can help you prevent common issues on your furniture.

Spring and Summer

During the spring and summer months, make it a habit to regularly inspect your patio cushions for signs of dirt, grime, or mildew. If your cushions have removable covers, take them off and launder them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This helps to keep the fabric clean and fresh. For cushions without removable covers, use a soft bristle brush to clean the surfaces and remove accumulated dirt from crevices gently.

Rain can also lead to the growth of mold and mildew on outdoor cushions. After a rainy day, it’s essential to air out the cushions, ensuring they dry thoroughly before storing them away or using them again. Unzip the cushion covers for better air circulation, and, if possible, place them in direct sunlight to speed up the drying process.

As wicker patio furniture is a popular choice for outdoor spaces, it’s essential to take good care of it. Ensure you dust off the wicker surfaces and vacuum any debris to keep the furniture in top condition. Make sure to inspect for loose or frayed strands, and repair them as needed.


Fall maintenance requires a more thorough cleaning in preparation for the winter months. Clean the patio cushions using a solution of water and mild detergent, then rinse them with a hose. Allow the cushions to air dry completely before storing them indoors for the winter. This can save your cushions from mold and mildew growth caused by the damp, cold weather.


In winter, storing your patio cushions in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight is essential. Check them occasionally to ensure they are still in good condition, and promptly deal with any signs of mold or mildew.

Additional Tips to Care for Your Cushions

To maintain the appearance and longevity of your outdoor cushions, follow these expert tips and techniques.

  • You may use a gentle cleaning solution made with mild dish soap, vinegar, and water for spot cleaning. Apply the solution to a clean cloth or sponge, gently scrub the affected area, then rinse thoroughly with a garden hose or clean water.
  • When using any stain-removing product, always test it on an inconspicuous part of the cushion first to ensure it does not cause damage or discoloration.
  • Always wear protective gloves when working with bleach, and take care to avoid damaging nearby plants or surfaces.
  • A pressure washer can also be used to clean outdoor cushions if handled with care. Use a low-pressure setting and the appropriate nozzle for your cushion material to avoid damage. Be sure to hold the pressure washer at a distance and use a sweeping motion, not concentrating on one spot for too long.
  • Once your cushions are clean and dry, you may choose to apply a fabric protector spray designed for outdoor fabrics. This can help repel water, prevent mildew growth, and extend the lifespan of your cushions by providing extra resistance against wear and tear.
  • Proper storage is also important for maintaining clean patio cushions. When not in use, store them in a cool, dry location to prevent dirt, debris, and moisture from accumulating and causing damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

A cozy corner of an outdoor living space with modern porch windows, patio furniture, cushions and pillows. Woods in the background.

What is the best method for cleaning outdoor fabric cushions?

To clean outdoor fabric cushions, first, use a mild detergent to create a soap and water solution. Use a soft brush to scrub the cushion surfaces gently, and then rinse off the solution using a garden hose. Allow the cushions to air dry completely before returning them to the patio furniture.

How can I wash patio cushions with non-removable covers?

For patio cushions with non-removable covers, mix a mild detergent with water to create a cleaning solution. Using a spray bottle, apply the solution to the cushions and scrub them with a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse the cushions with a hose to remove the soap and allow them to air dry.

Can outdoor cushion covers be cleaned in a washing machine?

Yes, outdoor cushion covers can often be cleaned in a washing machine. Check the cushion care tag to ensure they are machine-washable. If they are, remove the covers from the cushions, and wash them in cold water on a gentle cycle with a mild detergent. Allow the covers to air dry rather than using a dryer.

What is the most effective way to use baking soda for cleaning patio cushions?

Baking soda is an effective natural cleaner that can help remove stains and odors from patio cushions. Create a mixture of water and baking soda, and apply it to the stained or soiled areas of the cushions. Let the mixture sit for 15-20 minutes, then scrub the cushions with a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse the cushions with water and let them air dry.

Are there professional services available for cleaning outdoor cushions?

Yes, professional services specialize in cleaning outdoor cushions and patio furniture. These companies use specialized equipment and techniques to clean and restore outdoor fabrics. Hiring a professional service can be a convenient option if your cushions require deep cleaning or you prefer not to tackle the process yourself.

Wrapping up Cleaning Patio Cushions

We hope with the process, tips, and care instructions in this guide, your patio cushions will look refreshed in no time! And if you’re looking for additional ways to spruce up your outdoor spaces, check out our backyard living page.