How to Wash Patio Cushions (quick no-fuss method)

If your patio cushions are looking dirty or stained and you are wondering can you, (or should you) wash them, then this is the post for you!

You will be amazed at this simple no-fuss method that will get them looking new again.

If your patio cushions have gone moldy or mildewy, you might be thinking that the only place for them is the bin. Read on because I have a cleaning solution for you too.

If you can’t wait and need to know now, here is the quick answer, read on for detailed directions:

To clean your patio cushions always vacuum thoroughly first. Then make up a solution of dish soap and warm water. Work the soap into the cushion with a soft-bristled brush. Rinse off the soap with your garden hose. Lay the cushions out vertically in a sunny spot to dry.

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How to wash patio cushions

Do your patio cushions need a thorough clean up? Maybe be it’s been a while since you cleaned them? I have a simple five-step plan for you to get them looking like new again and all it really takes is some dish soap and a short amount of time.

What to use to clean your garden patio cushions:

  • A vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool.
  • Dish soap.
  • Warm water.
  • Soft-bristled scrubbing brush.
  • Garden hose, watering can, or pressure washer.
  • Fabric protector spray such as Scotchgard.

Directions for cleaning your garden patio cushions:

Step 1 – Vacuum

Begin with a thorough vacuum. Use the crevice tool to get into the cushion corners where dirt can collect.

Step 2 – Scrub the surface with dish soap

  • Make up a solution of 1/4 dish soap to one gallon of warm water.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush to work the soap into the fabric.
  • Let the cleaning solution sit for ten minutes.

Step 3 – Rinse with the garden hose

Take your garden hose or a watering can and rinse off the soap. You can also use a pressure washer to do this, but do make sure you hold the spray at a safe distance from the cushion to avoid damage.

Step 4 – Dry completely

Let the cushion covers dry. To speed up drying time press out as much of the water as possible and then prop the cushion up vertically so that air can circulate. Choose a sunny spot if you can.

Step 5 – Protect

When your cushions are completely dry you can protect them going forward by spraying them with a fabric protector such as Scotchgard. The fabric will repel water and stains.

Related reading:

How to wash outdoor cushion covers in a washing machine

garden patio chair

If your cushion covers are removable and you are wondering if it is possible to wash them in your washing machine, your best next step is to check the care label.

If you are sure it is safe to use a washing machine, always follow the washing directions if you have them. But if not here are some tips:

Tips to help you machine wash your patio cushion covers:

  1. Brush off excess dirt first or use your vacuum.
  2. Treat any stains with a small amount of liquid detergent or make a paste with some powdered detergent and water. You can also use a spray stain remover such as Vanish.
  3. If you are not sure what type of cycle to choose, always err on the side of caution and choose a gentle cycle.
  4. Allow to dry.

Pro tip: Put your covers back on the cushion before they are completely dry. That way they are less likely to shrink and lose their original shape.

How to hand wash patio cushions

If you cannot remove your patio cushion covers or they are fixed to the furniture you can get a great result too by hand-washing them.

  1. Brush off excess dirt or use your vacuum cleaner.
  2. Make up a solution of 1/4 cup dish soap and a gallon of warm water.
  3. Take a soft-bristled brush and rub the cleaning solution into the cover.
  4. Let the solution sit on the cover for at least ten minutes.
  5. Rinse with your garden hose.
  6. Allow the cushions to air-dry.

Tips for caring for your patio cushions

If you look after your patio cushions then you won’t have to spend as much time cleaning them and they will last longer.

Accidents always happen of course. If you have particular stains to remove from your patio cushions, read on for tips on how to remove all types of stains.

Clean your patio cushions before you put them away for the winter

Avoid putting your patio cushions away dirty because they will be more likely to degrade in storage.

Make sure the cushions are completely dry before storage

If you have just washed your patio cushions or they recently got caught in a shower, always make sure they are completely dry before you put them away for the winter. That way they are less likely to form mildew during storage.

I like to lay my cushions out on a sunny day and let the sun’s rays remove moisture and naturally kill off bacteria before I put them away.

Clean up stains as soon as you can

If your patio cushion has a stain on it, it will be easier to remove and less likely to be permanent if you deal with it straight away.

In most cases, all you need is some dish soap. Simply rub in some dish soap and then dab it off with a clean damp cloth.

For oily stains, an enzyme-based cleaning solution is best such as Vanish or biological washing liquid.

The sun’s rays have a very powerful bleaching effect too. If the stain remains you may find that all you need to do is lay your cushions out in the sun for a couple of hours and the stain will disappear.

Flip over to the narrow edge to speed up drying time

When you have washed your patio cushions and then rinsed them with your garden hose, they will be drenched. A sudden downpour can also result in really sodden patio cushions. It may be a day or so before you can use them again.

To speed up drying time, press out as much water as you can and then prop them up on the narrow edge so that air can circulate. Choosing a sunny spot will also help.

Cover your patio furniture when you are not using it

If you can cover up your patio furniture when not in use you will extend its life and you won’t have to wash the covers so often. Fading will be reduced and there is less chance of staining from things like bird poop and tree sap.

Here’s a heavy-duty cover from Amazon. It is waterproof, windproof and it is also vented to prevent dampness from developing inside.

Protect from rain

If you expect heavy rain, bring the cushions inside or use a patio furniture cover. If your cushions get wet, stand them up so that water can more easily drain off them.

Treat your cushions with a fabric protector

Before you use your cushions for the first time or after you have washed them apply a fabric protector such as Scotchgard. This helps to repel water and stains and your cushions will be easier to care for going forward.

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How to clean patio cushions with mildew

If your outdoor cushions have mold or mildew on them, the most effective cleaning solution is a bleach-based cleaner. However, bleach isn’t suitable for all types of fabric so you should always check for colour-fastness on an inconspicuous area.

To avoid damage always choose the most gentle cleaning solution and only try more powerful options if the others don’t work. If you risk having to throw your cushions out due to the mildew, then it is very worth trying out heavy-duty cleaners such as bleach before resorting to the bin.

Here are some options for help to bring your moldy patio cushions back to life:

How to clean off mold mildew from patio cushions with vinegar

Vinegar is naturally anti-bacterial. It can do a good job of removing mildew stains and killing off the spores.

  1. Brush off or vacuum the cushion to remove the spores.
  2. Spray distilled white vinegar onto the fabric.
  3. Run the vinegar into the stained areas.
  4. Leave to sit for at least ten minutes.
  5. Rinse with water and air-dry.

How to clean off mildew and mold from patio cushions with bleach

If you are sure the cushion fabric can withstand bleach or you think you might need to throw away the cushion due to the staining then a bleach-based cleaner could be your answer.

  1. Make up a solution of one tablespoon of bleach to one pint of water.
  2. Apply the solution to the cushion and gently rub it into the stains.
  3. Rinse with water.
  4. Leave it to air dry preferably in the sunshine for an extra bleaching effect from the sun’s rays.

How to clean bird poop from patio cushions

bird on a patio seat

If you have bird poop on your patio cushions, scrape off as much as you can first. Apply some dish soap directly to the stain and work it in. Use a soft brush for extra cleaning power. Rinse with clean water and allow to dry.

If you can, always keep your patio furniture covered when not in use.

How to get wine stains out of patio cushions

Always treat wine stains as quickly as you can. Diluting the area with white wine is one way to quickly reduce the staining.

  1. Blot off the excess wine.
  2. Make up a solution of 1/4 cup of dish soap and 1/4 of hydrogen peroxide.
  3. Test the solution on an inconspicuous area to make sure that it won’t damage the fabric.
  4. Apply the solution to the stain and let it sit for twenty to thirty minutes.
  5. Rinse with water and repeat if staining remains.

How to get blood stains out of patio cushions

If you have a bloodstain on your patio cushion you can treat it with Vanish or any other enzyme-based cleaner. Enzyme-based cleaners are the best for cleaning protein-based stains such as blood, and oils. You can also bleach out these types of stains using a bleach-based cleaner such as hydrogen peroxide. Always test on an inconspicuous area first because you could fade the fabric.

How to clean oil from patio cushions

Oily marks can result when using sunscreen, or dropping food. For oily stains, an enzyme-based cleaner is the best to use.

  1. First, dab the stain with a clean towel to make sure the excess is removed.
  2. Spray on an enzyme-based stain remover such as Vanish or use a small amount of biological washing liquid. If you have powder instead of liquid, make up a paste with a small amount of water.
  3. Apply the cleaning solution to the stain and work it in until the stain is gone.
  4. Wipe away the excess detergent with a damp cloth.

How to clean sticky tree sap from patio cushions

patio cushions under a tree

We have a huge oak tree towering over a large part of our back garden. Sticky tree sap is one of the yearly annoyances it causes.

The good news is that you can remove the sticky sap from your patio cushions with an enzyme-based stain remover such as Vanish stain remover, biological washing powder, or a dissolved dishwasher tablet.

Make up your cleaning solution using warm water and then use a soft-bristled brush to work the solution into the cushion cover. Let the cleaning solution sit for fifteen minutes and then rinse off with your garden hose. If stains remain repeat the process and then allow your cushion to air-dry.

How to clean grass stains from patio cushions

Grass stains also call for an enzyme-based cleaning solution or stain remover. My favourite is Vanish. Spray onto the stain and then use a soft brush to work the cleaning solution into the stain. If you don’t have Vanish to hand you could also use a small amount of biological liquid detergent or powder mixed with water to make a paste.

Cleaning outdoor cushions with Oxiclean

Oxiclean contains an oxygen-based cleaning agent which is a gentler alternative to bleach. If your cushions have mildew or are badly stained add a scoop of Oxiclean to the washing liquid and you should find that stains lift off more easily.

If your patio cushion covers are machine washable, treat any stains with OxiClean or add a scoop of Oxiclean powder to the wash.

How to clean outdoor cushions with vinegar

Vinegar is one of my favourites for cleaning the house naturally. Cleaning patio cushions is yet another use for vinegar.

Make up a spray bottle of one part distilled white vinegar to four parts of warm water. Spray your patio cushions and then use a soft-bristled brush to work the solution into the stains. Let it sit for five minutes and then rinse off with your garden hose.

How to clean white outdoor cushions

White patio cushions are the worst for showing marks of course. Always vacuum your white patio cushions deeply before you start to wash them. You might well find that most of the marks come up and your job is much easier.

  1. Make up a solution of 1/4 cup dish soap to one gallon of water. For badly stained white patio cushions add 1/2 cup of bleach to the cleaning solution.
  2. Use a soft-bristled scrubbing brush to work in the soap.
  3. Leave the soap to sit for five minutes.
  4. Rinse off the soap with a garden hose.
  5. Press out the excess water.
  6. Turn the cushion on its side and leave it to air-dry in a sunny spot.

Related reading:

Frequently asked questions

Can I power wash patio cushions?

If you are wondering whether you can use a power or pressure washer to clean your patio cushions, then I advise caution. Pressure washers are great for cleaning patios because they can penetrate and lift dirt with ease. However, the pressure can be too high for your patio cushions and you could damage the outer fabric.

If you are going to try pressure washing your cushions, don’t hold the spray too close to the fabric. Add cleaning solution to the pressure washer for badly soiled cushions.

If you are worried that damage might occur, your next best option would be to machine wash the cushion covers. If the cushions are not machine washable or removable, you can surface wash the cushions with some dish soap and water. Then use an ordinary garden hose to rinse off the soap.

Can I put patio cushion covers in the washing machine?

Always check the label. Don’t machine wash your patio cushion cover unless the manufacturer advises doing so. Before you wash the cover, shake out excess dirt and apply a stain remover to stained areas. Then wash according to the instructions.

Can I make my patio cushions look new again?

Yes, you can! Make up a solution of one part dish soap to four parts of warm water. Take a scrubbing brush and work in the cleaning solution until the dirt starts to lift off. Let the cleaning solution sit on the cushion for five minutes and then rinse with the garden hose.

How to clean patio cushions that don’t come off?

If your patio cushions don’t come off then you will need to clean them in place.

  1. Make up a solution of 1/4 cup dish soap to a gallon of warm water.
  2. Take a soft-bristled brush and work in the cleaning solution.
  3. Leave the cleaning solution to sit on the fabric for five minutes.
  4. Rinse with a hose.
  5. Press the cushions so that most of the excess water is released.
  6. Leave to air-dry.

How to keep patio cushions from fading?

Good quality patio cushions covers are often pre-treated to prevent fading but you should still be careful because they will fade eventually with constant sun exposure.

To prevent your patio cushions from fading:

  • Choose a shady spot for your patio furniture.
  • Cover your furniture when not in use.
  • Remove the patio cushions if you can when not in use.
This article and its contents are owned by sparklingpenny.com and was first published on 31 January 2022.
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Penny | SparklingPenny

Hi, I'm Penny. A busy mum of two boys and one dog, with the aim to enjoy life to the full.