Your outdoor furniture should be treated as an investment. This means caring for it properly so that it lasts many seasons. The following tips can help you do just that, while also ensuring the furniture looks almost as good as new year after year:
Tip #1: Store it undercover
In most locations, outdoor furniture is only used for part of the year, generally from late spring through early autumn. This means that it should be stored during the winter months. Choose a location that is well out of the elements, since snow, ice, and the moisture that comes along with them are very damaging to outdoor furniture. A garage or even indoors, such as in a basement, is the best location. If a covered location isn't available, you should at least bring in any cushions and then cover the rest of the furniture with a tarp. Cover the top of the furniture with a tarp, but leave the bottom open so air can circulate. Otherwise, moisture may build up underneath the tarp and cause mildew growth.
Tip #2: Avoid UV damage
UV damage is another concern and one that is hard to avoid during the summer months when the furniture is in use. There are UV protectants available that you can apply each year to provide some barrier against sun damage. Just choose one for fabric, wood, or plastic, depending on the materials in your furniture. Another option is to leave furniture beneath a patio covering or at least in a shaded location when it isn't in use.
Tip #3: Clean with the right supplies
Not all cleaning supplies are suitable for outdoor furniture. Plastic and resin furniture should only be cleaned with non-abrasive all-purpose cleaners. Avoid anything that contains an acid, though, including vinegar, as it can etch the finish. Metal furniture only needs a soft sponge and water to come clean. Wood furniture should be cleaned with a wood detergent or oil soap, or in the case of teak, a cleaner formulated for the specific wood type. As the finish on wood ages, you can sand it off and reapply. In fact, for the best longevity, refinish wood outdoor furniture each time the paint or finish begins to flake or wear off. The cushions usually are wiped clean with a wet cloth or gentle soap, but check the care tags to be sure.
For more help, contact a patio furniture store in your area like Think Outside... The Outdoor Great Room Store.