How To Clean Wooden Outdoor Furniture

How To Clean Wooden Outdoor Furniture

Having a backyard can be a great advantage to your house. However, if the garden has not been set up correctly, you may not be taking full advantage of it. Wooden outdoor furniture not only serves to turn your garden into an excellent area for lounging and spending quality time with friends and family, but it also adds a decorative factor to an otherwise bare and dull garden.

However, wooden furniture requires a little bit of maintenance so that it doesn’t lose its look or longevity. Since the furniture is outdoors, the chances of it being covered by dirt, dust, and debris are more than indoor furniture. Depending on the type of wood used in the furniture, the maintenance and cleaning requirements and frequency may vary. For example, Teak wood outdoor furniture is generally considered more resistant to external elements than other woods.

Cypress, Cedar, and Redwood are other types of woods commonly used to make outdoor furniture. However, no matter which type of wooden furniture you get, there are a few universally applicable rules for maintaining your outdoor wooden furniture and keeping it clean. Here are our top tips on ensuring that your wooden furniture remains clean and looks brand new!

Wash Your Furniture With Warm Soapy Water

One of the best qualities about outdoor wooden furniture, besides its elegant looks, is that you don’t require any additional hi-tech tools to clean it. All that most wooden furniture requires for a thorough cleaning is some mild laundry detergent mixed in with warm water and a little bit of elbow grease! Here is everything you may need to give your wooden furniture a thorough scrub:

Things You May Need

  • Clean warm water
  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Splash of vinegar or bleach (optional)
  • Wood Cleaner

Once you’ve created your warm soapy water mixture, you can add a splash of vinegar or bleach in it to get rid of any moss or mould on the furniture. This works well for certain types of furniture, such as Teak. But, if you simply want to use a ready-made solution specifically for cleaning wooden outdoor furniture, you can use one of the many commercially available wood cleaners.

However, it is not recommended to use harsh chemicals on the wood to strip away the wood’s natural oils. Furthermore, while washing the wooden furniture, ensure you use a soft cloth, or medium bristled brush to scrub and always scrub in the direction of the grain. This will prevent unwanted scratches and dulling down of wood.

Many people advocate using pressure or jet washers for cleaning outdoor wooden furniture. Although this may be an attractive choice, it is best to steer clear of these. This is because the pressure washers strip away the wood's natural oils and destroy its internal cellulose structure, leaving it looking lacklustre.

Furthermore, the high pressure from such jet washers may cause the furniture joints to become loose as well. Instead, you can simply use a garden hose with steady pressure to wash down the furniture. This will not only do the job of washing off any dirt, residue, or suds well, but it will also prevent any unwarranted damage to the furniture. We've also added a guide including the best treatment for wooden garden furniture.  

Once you have washed the furniture, ensure it has enough time to dry off properly in the sun before you begin to use it. Moisture retained in the furniture could lead to mold. This is especially common in areas with high humidity.

Lightly Sand Away Stubborn Dirt And Stains

Simply washing furniture off with warm water and soap may not be enough. There may be some stubborn stains that have seeped into the wood and now seem to have made their home there permanently. Additionally, outdoor furniture that has aged over time develops a silvery patina that is difficult to remove with simple washing.

For these stubborn stains, the silvery patina, or any roughness that may have developed on the wooden furniture due to external elements, the best thing to do is to lightly sand away the top surface of the wood.

Things You May Need

  • Medium rough grit 80-grade sandpaper
  • Fine grit 120-grade sandpaper
  • Soft lint-free cloth or duster

Before you begin sanding, ensure that the furniture has dried off evenly. This will give you a nice, glossy, and even surface area and more control during the sanding process. You can start off sanding your outdoor wooden furniture with rough 80-grade sandpaper.

However, make sure that you use light, even force overall. If there are some particularly stubborn stains, you can focus on these areas more. Do not apply excessive force as it may damage the furniture. Once you’ve gently sanded the entire furniture adequately enough with the 80-grade sandpaper. You can move on to the next fine-grit sandpaper of 120 grit. This will help to restore smoothness and lustre in the furniture.

You can vary the grit of the sandpaper used in accordance with the type of wooden furniture in use. For example, for hardwoods, rough and medium rough sandpapers would be adequate. However, for softwoods, fine-grade sandpaper would remove the top surface of the wood without causing excessive damage to the furniture.

While sanding wooden furniture, it is important to remember to sand in the direction of the grain. Going against the grain may cause the furniture to lose its sheen and develop scratches.

Many people use power sanders while sanding wood. Although electric and power sanders are a convenient way to sand furniture, the excessive heat generated by them may cause damage to the wood and leave black marks. Therefore, it is preferable to use manual sandpaper instead. Here’s a video explaining how to sand wood with sandpaper.

Protect The Wood With Paint, Oils, Or Stains

Protecting wooden garden furniture is essential for prolong it's lifespan. Once you have washed your outdoor furniture and have sanded it down to reveal the smooth and shiny surface underneath, you can coat it in some protective solutions. There are many advantages to this. Using protective paints, oils or stains can help make the colour of the wooden furniture more vibrant, help to maintain this natural colour, and offer a layer of protection against external elements.

Things You May Need

  • Wood Polish
  • Wood Paint
  • Wood Protector
  • Wood Sealer
  • Wood Stains
  • Wood Oil

Garden furniture enthusiasts often use wood protectors to ensure that their wooden furniture maintains its rustic natural colour and remains protected from UV rays. However, you can also use wood stains to add a protective coating while ensuring that the natural wood can be seen from underneath. Here’s how to stain and finish wood furniture.

Wood sealers, polish, and paint cover the top layer of the wooden furniture and protect it from external elements. However, this layer of paint or polish may chip or wear away and will need to be refreshed over time. Wood oils, though used commonly, may not always be recommended for outdoor furniture.

This is because, in some cases, the use of wood oils may lead to the growth of mold on wooden furniture. Therefore, checking for the manufacturers' instructions is always recommended before applying wood oils.

Should Outdoor Wooden Furniture Be Covered?

Covering outdoor furniture can be an excellent way to protect it from unpredictable outdoor conditions. Whether it is rain, insects, or small pests that could potentially damage your furniture, using covers for outdoor furniture is an excellent way to protect it from damage.

But, choosing the right type of furniture cover is of paramount importance. Ensure that the fabric used is of good quality and is breathable (and if you're looking for the best fabric for outdoor furniture, we've written a guide). Fabric that does not allow cross ventilation may cause the furniture to sweat, leading to mould and mildew under hot and humid conditions, and if you have gone for metal materials as an alternative, we've written a handy guide on how to repair rusted patio furniture too. 


You can spruce up a backyard or outdoor area by using good-quality wooden outdoor furniture. Elegant, eye-catching wooden furniture is a popular addition to numerous backyards and outdoor areas. However, regular cleaning of the wooden furniture will ensure that it looks new over the years, retains its colours and characteristics, and is protected from external elements.