Whether you’ve just refreshed your decking with a swanky new garden dining table and chairs, or you’ve decided to invest in a luxurious swinging seat nestled amongst the trees at the end of your lawn, it’s safe to say that all garden furniture needs a touch of love from time to time to keep it in tip-top condition.

But that’s not to say that a simple dust and sweep of stray leaves is going to be enough to protect your latest piece of outdoor garden furniture from the elements – especially when winter rolls around.

Instead, you’re going to need to put in a little bit of elbow grease to make sure any garden chairs, benches, and outdoor table sets you own not only resist any bad British weather but come out the other side looking better than ever.

Keep reading to learn our top tips for how to care for garden furniture, including advice on how to cover garden furniture for the winter, as well as caring for garden furniture made from different materials.

How to care for garden furniture

First things first, let’s touch on some basic garden furniture care tips that you can apply to all your outdoor furniture to ensure they stay in excellent condition throughout the year:

1. Clean them on a sunny day

While it might be the perfect weather for a spot of pottering in the garden, a day of glorious sunshine is also the ideal time to tackle whatever garden furniture care plans you have on your to-do list.

Firstly, it will make it easy to spot and clean all the dirt and grime that’s built up on your furniture over the last few months, including any parts of the material that might need a more thorough touch-up. And secondly, it means that all your outdoor accoutrements will be dry and ready to use by the time you’re done!

And best of all, sunny days aren’t just restricted to June and July. In fact, if the sun rolls out in early spring or autumn, then you can start cleaning your garden furniture early instead of losing a good day of weather when you’d rather be relaxing over lunch.

2. Sweep away garden debris

Before you get started wiping down your furniture’s frame, you’ll first need to make sure it’s clear of any garden debris, i.e., leaves, grass, loose mud, etc. This is particularly important to do with any natural rattan or woven furniture you own, such as our Richmond lounge garden furniture set, where fluff could get stuck between the weave on windy days.

Fortunately, sweeping away such debris is very easy to do. All you need is a soft-bristled brush that won’t mark your furniture. Then simply brush away the leaves and debris onto the floor to be cleared up later.

Generally, we recommend brushing your furniture regularly throughout the year to ensure it looks beautiful for every occasion. This will also prevent the build-up of loose debris in the first place, reducing the need for harsher scrubbing or more vigorous cleaning.

3. Wipe your furniture down

With any debris removed, it’s onto the main event – cleaning your outdoor furniture with a rejuvenating mix of hot, soapy water!

Using a soft cloth or sponge that’s been thoroughly wrung out, gently wipe down every part of your furniture’s frame and surface to remove unsightly blemishes, dried dirt, stains, and anything else that shouldn’t be there. Then, once dried, double-check for any remaining marks and give these a second scrub to make sure they’re gone for good.

Naturally, the type of cleaning product you use here will vary based on your outdoor furniture’s material, and we go into all the specifics relating to this later on in our guide.

4. Check and treat any surface damage

Now that your furniture is clean and looking its best, it’s a fantastic opportunity to check it for any surface damage that may have occurred over the previous seasons, such as hairline cracks on wood, rust on metal, or fraying weave on rattan.

If you spot any of these, then the best solution is to buy the appropriate outdoor furniture repair product relating to your problem and follow the instructions that come with it. Of course, if this wear and tear is more severe than you first thought, then you may need to hire the help of a specialist to repair the damage.

Either way, it’s always a good idea to give your garden furniture a revival before going into storage for that extra protection and peace of mind, as well as minimising the chance that any current surface damage will be made worse in the future.

5. Clean your fabrics

Having finished the main part of your outdoor furniture cleaning, the last bit to do is to take any cushions, covers, or fabrics that come as part of your furniture and give them a thorough clean, such as the cushions that come with our Sherwood rocker garden rocking chair.

Assuming, you can remove any cushion covers or fabrics you own, we recommend washing them on a delicate cycle to remove any marks, stains, or blemishes. Just make sure you read the care label inside for full washing and drying instructions as per your furniture set.

Alternatively, if you can’t remove the fabric on your furniture, then check its label for cleaning instructions and follow them accordingly.

6. Store your furniture

Lastly, with your entire garden furniture set now buffed to a shine and looking spectacular, it’s time to think about storing it for the winter months – even if it’s still the height of summer, it’s worth thinking about it now to make storage easier in the future.

So, take the time to decide where in your garden will be best suited to storing your furniture and make plans to open up the space accordingly. For example, be sure to make room in your shed for any tables and chairs you want to place inside.

On top of this, we also recommend storing both the cushions and cushion covers of your outdoor furniture inside during autumn and winter to ensure they stay in the best condition possible and smell fresh for next season.

How to care for garden furniture materials

Now that we’ve looked at the basics of garden furniture cleaning and care, let’s touch quickly on how to spruce up the various types of garden furniture materials out there – specifically rattan, wood, and metal.

As you’ll soon see, much like when cleaning indoor furniture, it’s best to use natural cleaning products here, rather than harsh cleaning chemicals, which can lead to discolouration or even damage your furniture:

Cleaning rattan outdoor furniture

By far, the simplest outdoor furniture material to clean, rattan that’s only lightly dusty can be gently hosed down. This is quick and efficient, saving you plenty of time compared to wiping it down by hand.

Of course, if you’re rattan furniture is much dirtier than expected then you will need to wipe it down using warm water and a mild washing-up liquid, though we’d still recommend hosing it down first to remove the majority of muck, that way you only need to wipe off what visible dirt remains.

Cleaning wooden outdoor furniture

Much like rattan, wooden outdoor furniture, such as our Repton classic queen garden bench, can certainly be cleaned by warm soapy water. However, you will need to wipe down the entirety of its frame to ensure a deep clean of its grain.

Unfortunately, if your wooden furniture is old or not properly protected to begin with, you may find certain stains are too ingrained to remove with washing up liquid and water alone. Instead, you might want to try a paste of one part water, two parts white vinegar, and 3 heaped teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda.

Once mixed, simply apply this paste to the affected areas, leave it to work for a few minutes, and then wipe it off. If staining still persists after this, you could also try sanding the stain away if it’s only surface level – just remember to re-stain or varnish that area of wood after doing so.

Lastly, it’s important to note that, when cleaning your wooden garden furniture, you don't want to over-saturate it with water. If you do, it will take a long time to dry and could encourage the growth of rot and mould. That’s why it’s essential to wring your washcloth out fully before wiping.

Cleaning metal outdoor furniture

Finally, when it comes to cleaning metal outdoor furniture, such as our Richmond dining garden furniture set, you again want to use a very, very mild washing-up liquid and warm soapy water, wringing your cloth out to the point where it’s nearly dry, wiping your furniture down, and then drying it immediately.

This last part is absolutely essential as leaving your furniture to dry naturally could lead to rust. But if you do find that any of your metal furniture has started to flake or brown, then you can clean away such blights by wiping it using a cloth soaked in white vinegar or an appropriate anti-rust cleaning product.

Protecting garden furniture all year round

As useful as it is to know how to clean garden furniture properly, it’s also true that a lot of potential effort and long days can be saved by learning a few tips on protecting your garden furniture after you’ve bought it.

That way, you can be sure it’s ready to face all manner of British weather:

Protecting wooden garden furniture

Starting with one of the more vulnerable garden materials, protecting wooden garden furniture, like our Repton classic lounge garden furniture set, is a lot easier to do than you might think, provided you’re willing to put in the right amount of time and effort to do it properly.

This is because one of the best methods for protecting wooden garden furniture is to coat it with a layer of varnish or oil finish. Both of these are excellent at preventing moisture from seeping into the wood, which can cause warp and rot.

On top of this, some oils and varnish can even minimise the fading effect caused by sunlight, though it’s still best to keep wooden furniture in a shaded area to maximise its longevity.

Unfortunately, even a thorough coat of varnish or waterproofing oil is only good at protecting wooden garden furniture for so long, and a harsh winter or snowstorm is liable to strip it off quickly. Therefore, in the colder months of the year, it’s best to store your wooden furniture away or protect it with an appropriate covering.

Protecting rattan garden furniture

Thanks to its toughened and woven nature, rattan garden furniture doesn’t need as much dedicated protection as other garden furniture. However, that’s not to say it won’t fade or mould rapidly if exposed to the wrong conditions.

For sunlight protection, we suggest applying a UV protection spray or wax to your rattan and woven furniture. This acts like furniture sunscreen, helping it to retain its colour for many years to come.

Alternatively, you can simply protect your rattan using a parasol or shaded location, keeping the sun off it for most of the day but still letting you enjoy those bright days when they roll around.

Finally, much like wood, rattan garden furniture is best stored inside during cold weather or shielded with a cover if you’re unable to move it.

As an aside, if you do use a cover, be sure to regularly lift and waft the cover to allow air circulation. Doing this will prevent condensation from forming, which in turn can lead to mould and mildew growth on your patio furniture.

Protecting metal garden furniture

Last, but not least, metal furniture can be easier or harder to protect than other garden material types, depending on the metal used. For example, powder-coated aluminium is all but immune to adverse weather and rust, making it a fantastic low-maintenance furniture option for your garden.

Other metals, on the other hand, do need a tad more care and attention, such as requiring regular wax and polish to create a temporary moisture barrier against rust.

Naturally, you also want this barrier to last as long as possible, so you should look to keep your metals dry, even on bright days. And as you may have guessed, it also means covering all your metal garden furniture in wet and cold weather, again storing it indoors whenever possible or not in use.

How to cover garden furniture for the winter

As the keen-eyed readers amongst you may have noticed, one of the core pieces of advice we keep promoting is to cover your garden furniture over the winter months – assuming it can’t be moved indoors.

This is primarily because of the level of dampness and moisture your furniture will be exposed to during this season, much of which can be mitigated with a good waterproof cover.

And the good news is that these are very easy to find. Just be sure to measure your furniture properly so you can buy one that fits properly and protects as much of its frame and surface as possible.

Where to avoid placing your garden furniture

Finally, let’s touch on what areas of your garden you should avoid placing furniture in altogether. And if we’re being honest, there’s really only one space that should be furniture-free – your lawn!

Simply put, placing garden furniture directly onto your grass creates two core problems.

First, it can damage and even kill your grass, minimising its growth and potentially even leaving you with bald patches. And second, it increases the level of dampness and moisture your furniture is exposed to, which as we all know by now, is the main reason for the appearance of damp, rust, and mould.

Invest in quality garden furniture from Gardenesque

Having ticked off all of our must-know tips and advice points, you should hopefully now have a much better idea of how to properly care for your garden furniture at all times of the year.

Of course, in order to look after garden furniture, you’ll first need to own some, which is exactly why you should take your time looking at what we have on offer in the Gardenesque range!

From lounge sets and garden benches to our full range of gazebos and canopies, we’ve got all of your garden furniture needs covered. Get in touch with our team to learn more about our range, and don’t forget to visit our inspiration blog for more helpful guides like this one.


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1 comment

We bought the Paxton garden set. Although we put the cushions away each night we do not put the furniture away. Should we be covering it? Is the rattan able to stand the rain on a daily basis? We will put away in autumn and winter. We bought the covers from you. How waterproof are they. Love the furniture and have been leaving it out uncovered. Please let me know best thing to do. Thank you

Yan MacKay February 21, 2024

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