Tips for Maintaining Your Outdoor Chairs

Over the past couple of years, we have all increasingly come to appreciate the joys of being outdoors when socialising or dining.  To benefit from fresh air and lower the risk of spreading germs, increasing numbers of people are opting to choose an outdoor table at their favourite restaurant or invite friends to enjoy the ambiance of their garden spaces instead of meeting indoors.  As we move into the colder, wetter months, however, our outdoor furniture is likely to start to get neglected.  To help you keep your outdoor chairs in good condition ready for next Spring and Summer, we have compiled our list of top tips for how to maintain them!

There are a variety of different methods you can consider when thinking about cleaning and maintaining your outdoor chairs, depending on what material your chairs are made from.  Making sure you are well-informed about the best way of treating each material can ensure that you keep your outdoor chairs in the best condition throughout the year.  Keeping your furniture clean can help stop long-term stains and damage, meaning that you can keep using your outdoor furniture set for years to come!

How to look after… wooden outdoor chairs

Because of its rougher texture and absorbent quality, many people worry about cleaning wooden furniture, especially when it has been exposed to the elements! 

How you choose to clean and maintain your wooden chairs can depend on the look you want to achieve.  For example, if you are keen for your wooden furniture to keep its natural colour, it is important to clean it on a regular basis, treat it with furniture oil and even consider adding a layer of sealant.  All of this will help your furniture keep its natural wooden hue.

Wood can expand over time and multiple cleanings, sometimes creating a rough texture, so you may need to sand down your furniture as part of its maintenance, to keep the surface smooth. 

It is also important to check your furniture for potential loose joints which may be caused by the expanding and contracting of the wood.  Tighten any loose joints to keep your chairs in top condition. 

Top tips for cleaning

  • Clean your wooden chairs about 4-5 times a year depending on how frequently they are being used.
  • During the Spring and Summer, if your chairs are being used more frequently, wipe them down with a damp cloth at least once a week. 
  • Use a soft nylon brush to remove any light debris which may have found its way onto the surface of your wooden chairs.
  • Use lukewarm water with a small amount of household dish soap to wipe down your chairs.  You can use a sponge or a cloth to do this.
  • To clean away any hard to reach or hidden particles of dirt, use a toothbrush!
  • Whatever you do, don’t leave excess water on the surface of your wooden chairs!  Excess water can soak into the wood grain and cause the pores to expand and the wood to warp.  To keep your chairs in the best condition after cleaning, wipe away excess water using a lint-free cloth or microfibre cloth.  After doing this, you can then safely allow the wood to dry naturally.

Don’t forget…

Although you can get away with cleaning your wooden chairs just a few times per year, it is really important to act quickly when it comes to spillages!  If anything is spilled onto your wooden chairs, clean the spillage as soon as possible to prevent staining which may become impossible to remove in future!

By following the tips and tricks above, you can make sure that your wooden chairs remain in great condition all year round!

How to look after… metal outdoor chairs

The biggest worry when it comes to keeping metal outdoor chairs in good condition is the problem of rust.  Patches of rust can really ruin the sleek and shiny appearance of your metal chairs, so are best avoided at all cost!  One of our biggest tips for keeping your metal furniture rust-free is investing in waterproof slipcovers.  These can be used to protect your chairs from the elements and keep them rust-free.

How to get rid of rust patches

If rust patches do appear on your metal chairs, don’t fear, as long as you act quickly there are some simple ways to get rid of them!

A homemade mixture of water and vinegar can be just the thing to remove patches of rust from your metal furniture.  Brush your chairs with this mixture using either a steel wool pad (as long as this does not cause scratches to the surface of your metal chairs) or another metal cleaning material. 

Top tips for cleaning

Notwithstanding the issue of rust, metal chairs should be cleaned regularly to help keep them in the best condition.  Wash them approximately 4-5 times per year. 

  • Remove any cushions or decorative items before cleaning your metal chairs
  • Use a garden hose to lightly spray down your metal furniture, removing dirt and debris from the surface of the metal
  • You can use a soft rag with dish soap or any other mild exfoliating product to clean away scuffs or hard-to-remove dirt from your metal chairs.  Scrub these dirt patches gently until the stains are removed.
  • Finally, rinse off your cloth, and wipe down your chairs fully with clean water, then dry with a microfibre cloth.

Don’t forget…

Abrasive cleaning products (including those containing acid or alcohol) and rough brushes and pads can sometimes damage the surface of your metal furniture.  Avoid using these unless you have first carried out a test patch and have seen that there is no damage or disfiguration to the metal.

Also don’t forget to clean the underside of your metal chairs, and check any joints for hidden dirt!

If your chairs have a painted finish, make sure to find the correct paint (following manufacturer’s instructions) to touch up the painted surface of your chairs as soon as any paint cracks away.  With wrought iron chairs, it can be particularly important to do this quickly, as the iron underneath the paint can rust and degrade if left exposed to the elements.

Caring for stainless steel chairs

Although stainless steel is likely to remain rust-free, you will need to look out for greasy smudges which may ruin the sleek appearance of the steel.  Remove these with white vinegar and a soft cloth.

Caring for wrought iron chairs

Wrought iron can often collect dust which can be hard to reach when cleaning.  Use a vaccum cleaner (with the brush attachment) to get dust out of those difficult to reach places. 

Making sure you follow all the tips above, taking care to note any specific instructions depending on the type of metal your outdoor chairs are made from, you can ensure that your metal outdoor chairs stay spick and span all year long!

How to look after… plastic outdoor chairs

Plastic furniture is generally easy to clean and maintain, however it is important to make sure you choose the correct cleaning products to avoid damage to your plastic chairs.

Top tips for cleaning

  • Use a bleach free, chlorine free cleaning product for your plastic chairs.  Check the label to make sure the product you choose is not corrosive, and dilute it with water before use.
  • If any mould patches have appeared on your plastic chairs, scrub them with a dry brush.

How to look after… wicker or rattan outdoor chairs

Wicker chairs can be great for providing your outdoor space with a quaint, rustic look.  They can be tricky to clean however, but follow our top tips for some easy ways to make sure you keep your wicker chairs in great condition!

Top tips for cleaning

  • Remove debris from the chairs using a soft bristled brush.  Then look for any large pieces of dirt, twigs or leaves which may have become lodged in between the weave of the wicker, and either remove these by hand or by using the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner.
  • A high pressure washer can be used to remove any debris that is otherwise not possible to remove.
  • Use soapy water to wash down the surface of the wicker, then rinse the soap away using water and wipe dry. 
  • If possible, let the chairs dry outside in the shade. 

Following the tips above can really make a huge difference when it comes to keeping wicker chairs in good condition!

Maintaining your upholstery

 In most cases, it couldn’t be easier to keep your outdoor furniture’s upholstery clean and in good condition.  Check the laundry label for details, and if possible, remove cushion covers and wash them on a gentle spin in the washing machine.  Wiping down your cushion covers regularly between washes can also help to keep them in great condition.


We hope these tips have helped give you some ideas about how you can keep your outdoor furniture in the best condition all year round.  By taking care to clean and maintain your outdoor chairs, you can ensure that they remain usable and look great for many years to come!


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