How To Clean Outdoor Cushions For Longevity

Outdoor furniture is the make or break for having a nice relaxing summer in the sun. Or, if you are lucky enough to have good weather year-round, even more reason to have spotless, clean, and comfortable outdoor furniture. But just because furniture is meant for the outside doesn’t mean it doesn’t get dirty. The elements, pollen, rain. wind and so many factors can cause your patio furniture to deteriorate and become dirty. 

Because so many people are not used to cleaning their indoor furniture as much, they may have questions about how to clean outdoor furniture. Well, we are here to help. Let this be your ultimate guide to cleaning outdoor cushions for longevity. 

    How to Clean Outdoor Cushions For Longevity

    How to Clean Outdoor Cushions

    The first step when it comes to cleaning outdoor furniture and cushions is understanding that not all furniture should be treated the same. If you are dealing with wet cushions, the cleaning process will be different than if you have pollen-covered cushions. 

    Here are the situations you are most likely to encounter with outdoor furniture. 

    • Dirt and pollen-covered furniture 
    • Humidity and mildew-covered cushions
    • Wet cushions from rain
    • Grass stains
    • Food and drink stains
    • Animal hair and marks

    In this guide, we will cover the different ways to clean your outdoor cushions with different materials. 

    Mindful Tips For Cleaning Outdoor Cushions

    • All the methods listed below are better suited for deep cleaning. Avoid doing too many deep cleans too often because it can wear down the upholstery and cushion material. 
    • You should do a light cleaning of your cushions every week, even if you don’t see dirt. Simply run a rag with water over the cushions and allow them to dry. 
    • When you can spot clean instead of cleaning the entire cushion cover. The last resort should be running your cushions through the washing machine. 
    How To CLean
    Every Week
    Wipe Down With a Rag
    Spot Clean
    Deep Clean
    How to Clean Outdoor Cushions For Longevity

    What do you clean outdoor furniture cushions with?

    So, what is the best thing to clean outdoor cushions with? You can use several store-bought products or, even better, homemade solutions. 

    Cleaning Outdoor Cushions with OxiClean

    OxiClean has been around since 1997 and is a multi-purpose household cleaner that has been a staple for most. When you are dealing with difficult-to-get-up stains, OxiClean is not a bad choice to consider. This is the best way to clean outdoor cushions. Here is what you need to do. 


    • Bucket
    • OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover
    • Soft Bristle Brush
    • Cloth


    1. Mix OxiClean Versatile Stain Water and warm water. For harder-to-get-up stains, make the mix more concentrated with OxiClean. 
    2. Since your outdoor cushions should be water-resistant, you can use a cloth to soak up the solutions. You don’t necessarily have to ring out all the water because getting the solution on the stain is important. 
    3. Next, take the soft-bristled brush and gently scrub. Some people like to use a cloth, but the bristles of the brush are better for loosening up dirty or dried-on stains. Be careful not to scrub too hard, as you can ruin some outdoor cushions by pulling the threads apart. 
    4. Rinse with clean water and allow it to sit out in the sun. 

    For more difficult stains, you can also leave the solution directly on the stain for 20 minutes and come back to wipe it down with a wet cloth. 

    How to Clean Outdoor Cushions For Longevity

    How to Clean Outdoor Cushions with Borax

    Borax is another household staple that is great for cleaning outdoor cushions. It’s a powdery white substance, but it’s best combined with dish detergent. If you are wondering if you can use Dawn to clean outdoor cushions, this is a great deep-cleaning method.  


    • Bucket
    • 1 Tablespoon Borax
    • 1 Teaspoon of Dawn or similar dish detergent
    • 4 Cups of Water
    • Soft Bristle Brush
    • Cloth


    1. Start by filling the bucket with four cups of water and mix one teaspoon of Dawn and a tablespoon of Borax. Mix well. 
    2. Remove the cushion covers if possible to be able to clean them better. Before trying to spot clean or wipe down the covers, shake the cover out of any loose debris or dirt. You can even vacuum the covers to get up all the loose debris. 
    3. Apply a generous amount of the solution with a cloth to the affected area. Then while wet, scrub the cushions with the soft bristled brush. Then let it sit for at least 15 minutes with the solution. 
    4. With clean water, you can either soak the entire cushion cover and let it dry in the natural air or get up the solution with a new cloth and clean water. 

    Tip: Give your vacuum a clean every once in a while to avoid running it down. 

    Borax and dish detergent should be able to get up most stains. It is specifically good for oil stains made from greasy food. That way you can eat your hamburgers and hotdogs comfortably on the outdoor sofa. 

    How to Clean Outdoor Cushions For Longevity

      Homemade Solutions For Cleaning Our Patio Furniture

      Sometimes, we don’t want to use store-bought materials and products because they contain chemicals and toxins that can leach into our skin when sitting down on the furniture. We also don’t want our children or animals to be subject to this either. That’s why we have a few strong solutions that are just as good as the above options. 

      How to Clean Outdoor Cushions with Vinegar

      Grab a spray bottle and simply mix white distilled vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Dirtier outdoor cushions should use more white distilled vinegar. A 2:3 ratio is good. Spray directly onto the cushions and use a brush or sponge to scrub the area. Then allow drying in a clean area. 

      Baking Soda

      Arm and Hammer is a great option if you don’t have any white distilled vinegar handy. Mix 5 parts Arm and Hammer with 1 part water. Mix thoroughly and wipe down the entire patio set or cushions. Make sure to rinse everything thoroughly with water and a sponge. Let it dry completely. 

      How to Clean Outdoor Cushions For Longevity

      How to Clean Outdoor Cushions in Washing Machine

      If you are wondering how to wash outdoor cushions, it is possible to use your washing machine if you don’t have time to do it by hand. Keep in mind that washing by hand is always the better option. 


      1. First, you need to be sure to remove the covers from the outdoor cushions. If you can’t take out the covers, then you won’t be able to use this method. If you put the entire cushion in the washing machine, you can break your washing machine and deform the pillow. 
      2. Setting the washing machine cycle to the most gentle possible. You also need to put the water settings to cold. Hot water could potentially ruin the dye. Do not wash with other clothes or towels. 
      3. After the cycle has finished, do not put the covers into the dryer. This can shrink the covers. Allow them to air dry. 

      Using a clothesline is the best way to dry the covers outside. Just keep in mind if it is windy and you live in a particularly sandy or dusty area, outdoors is not always the best solution. If your patio furniture does collect a lot of dust, try vacuuming before cleaning. 

      How to Clean Outdoor Cushions For Longevity

      How to Clean Patio Cushions with Mildew

      Mildew is a grayish-blackish dusting on outdoor furniture that happens when it is constantly exposed to warm and humid temperatures. When the furniture is always damp, this is when mildew happens. It gives a musty smell. Often this happens in basements as well. If you store your furniture indoors in a basement for the off-season, it’s possible the cushions can develop mildew. This is how to clean outdoor cushions with mold.  

      Note: Stay away from plants, as the solution will kill them if the solution comes into contact with them. 

      Tools to Clean Outdoor Cushions

      • Bleach
      • Soap
      • Spray bottle
      • Hose
      • Enzyme cleaner
      • Soft bristled brush
      • Towels
      • Gloves and eye-glasses


      1. First, make sure that you are cleaning the cushions in an outdoor or well-ventilated area. You will also need to wear protective gloves and eyewear when working with bleach. 
      2. Combine water, sleep, and bleach in a spray bottle to make the solution. Mix well by shaking the bottle once the bottle is closed and secure. 
      3. Spray the solution directly on the affected area with a generous amount. Use the brush to scrub the mildew away. 
      4. Wipe away the bleach solution and apply the enzyme cleaner. The bleach will only remove the stains from the mold but not kill it to keep it from coming back. 
      5. Allow to dry in a well-ventilated area. Afterward, be sure to take preventative measures. Cover your furniture well before storing away for the season. 
      How to Clean Outdoor Cushions For Longevity

      Frequently Asked Questions

      While cleaning the outdoor cushions, it’s pretty straightforward, with the process not varying much. However, there are still a few questions that come up, which is why we have dedicated this section to the most frequently asked questions 

      How to clean outdoor cushions Sunbrella?

      Sunbrella is one of the most common outdoor patio furniture on the market. The good news is that they are also some of the highest-quality cushions and fabrics you can get. That means they can handle the methods listed above to clean them. 

      Having said that, the company recommends using natural solutions like vinegar and dish or laundry detergent rather than other solutions bought from the store. This is the best way to keep the fabric color strong and from breaking down. They also recommend using a bristle brush to get up tougher debris and stains. 

      How do you clean outdoor cushions without removable covers?

      When it comes to cleaning outdoor cushions that don’t allow for the covers to be removed, you have to be mindful of how wet they get. Soaking the actual cushion inside or the pillow can result in mildew, mold, and permanent damage. Even the most water-resistant pillows can have a hard time drying. 

      With these sorts of cushions, it is important to emphasize on the drying stage of your process. Ensuring they don’t sit wet is key. Avoid using a hose or drenched rags directly on the pillow. 

      Can it be dangerous to use bleach?

      While bleach can be a lifesaver when it comes to getting up stains and dirt, it’s better to start with borax, OxiClean, or vinegar and baking soda. Bleach sometimes can ruin the outdoor cushions if not applied carefully. Just like some bleaches can ruin your clothes. Natural solutions are always the most preferred.