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How to clean your outdoor cushions

What do you do when a bird poops on a cushion?

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Patio season is upon us! It's time to make sure our outdoor furniture is ready for some hardcore lounging. Let's be honest, a lot of people don't pack away their outdoor furniture when winter rolls around. That patio furniture gets subjected to a whole season of dampness from rain and snow. Come spring, that moisture can get converted to mildew and bad odors. After that, plenty of critters can further add stains from their calls of nature.

Most people have a good idea on how to get grass stains out of a pair of jeans. However, those same people would probably balk at the task of cleaning outdoor cushions. Don't worry, the steps are pretty simple and more familiar than you might think.

1. Remove covers and wash them on Delicate

If your outdoor cushion has a zipper, take off the slipcover and place it in the washing machine.

Turns out many manufacturers foresee the need for cleaning. To that end, many cushions have zippered slipcovers. If you see a zipper, it means you can take that cover off and toss it in the washer. Just follow the instructions on the tag. If the tag is missing, we'd suggest using the Delicate cycle.

2. Wash single-piece cushions with a solution of dish soap and borax

A bottle of Dawn dish soap, a box of Borax, and a yellow sponge sit on top of a washing machine.
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

A combination of borax and dish soap will help get rid of mildew.

Some cushions, especially from benches and chaise chairs, are one solid piece. In that case, we suggest making a cleaning solution out of dish soap and Borax. In a bucket of warm water, add a quarter cup of Borax and a generous amount of your favorite dish soap. Then mix the solution until it's full of suds.

Using a sponge, rub the cushion down, paying special attention to any trouble spots. The dish soap helps remove stains and the Borax helps kill bacteria and mildew by creating hydrogen peroxide molecules when it reacts with water.

When you're all done, hose those cushions down to wash away the solution. Also, make sure the cushions are given a chance to dry, otherwise the mildew will return.

3. Prevent mildew by using Scotchgard

Scotchgard can help protect your furniture.

If the thought of cleaning your outdoor cushions turns your stomach, we have some tips for the prevention of mildew as well. For those who keep an eye on the weather, simply bring your cushions indoors when it rains. The rest of us can spray our cushions down with Scotchgard. The spray helps prevent moisture build-up and colors from fading.

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