To sand wood furniture, use a 120-grit pad to remove the graying layer, exposing the wood’s original color beneath. Apply stain (or paint) using an old cloth and allow it to dry for one hour, repeating if necessary. Once the stain is fully dry, which could take one to two hours, apply an outdoor sealant to protect against the elements.
Loose caning can be a persistent problem with wicker. “If a customer has invested in higher quality woven furniture from a specialty retailer, they can sometimes order additional material that can then be woven into their existing area and secured,” said Brad Schweig, vice president for operations at Sunnyland Outdoor Living in Dallas. Mass-produced wicker and resin items, though, he said, don’t offer parts or materials, so he suggested gluing this type of caning back in place if it comes loose.
In metal furniture, scout for rust. “If you spot any, rub it down to bare metal with steel wool and paint to match,” Mr. Bateman said. But don’t forget about swivels, wheels and hinges, Mr. Schweig said. “From time to time, lubrication of all moving parts is recommended to extend the life and minimize squeaks or noises,” he said. He recommends using WD-40 or a “similarly lubricating process” to keep these parts moving smoothly.
Deep-clean cushions, frames and fabrics
Some outdoor cushions have zippered, removable covers that can be laundered. Remove these protective covers and vacuum, or most can be tossed in the washing machine with a little color-safe bleach and then air-dried. Foam inserts can also be vacuumed and cleaned with a hose before being set out to air dry. For cushions without removable covers, or to clean cushions without removing the foam insert, Ms. Shaughnessy suggests a solution of warm water, one to two tablespoons of liquid dish soap and a quarter cup of Borax.
“Thoroughly soak the cushions with a garden hose,” she said, before using a nylon-scrubbing brush to generously apply the solution over the cushions. Allow the solution to sit for 10 to 15 minutes, scrub to loosen stains and spray the cushions with a high-powered garden hose spray nozzle until the water runs clear. Leave the cushions out to air dry, about four to 12 hours, depending on the weather. (Place them on their sides for faster drying.) Fabrics, Ms. Hollier said, benefit from “an ounce of prevention,” too. “Brush off dust weekly to keep molds from developing and staining the fabric,” she said.
For cleaning wood, metal and resin frames, Ms. Shaughnessy said to fill a large bucket of warm water with a quarter cup of dish soap. Using a cloth or soft-bristle brush, remove dirt. In stubborn spots where the dirt does not lift easily, allow the soapy water to sit for a few minutes before scrubbing. Rinse off any residual soap with clean water.
You can also make a more aggressive cleaning solution, using one cup of bleach, one cup of water and one cup of laundry detergent. (Don’t use this on metal because it can cause discoloration.) For wicker or resin, use a brush with long, soft bristles, as well as an old toothbrush, which will help excavate anything left behind.