Caring for Outdoor Fabric, Patio Cushions and Umbrellas

woman sitting alone on porch

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The wonderful thing about cleaning and maintaining outdoor fabric, patio cushions, ​and outdoor umbrellas is that it is not very labor-intensive. You do not need to do it very often, but as with most furniture, a little TLC goes a long way.

The easiest and simplest thing that you can do to keep all your outdoor cushions looking good for a long time, is to simply cover them up when not in use. You can also choose to store them away in a safe dry place if you have long cold winters and won't be using them for several months on end.

Outdoor Fabrics

Outdoor fabrics that cover your slings, chairs, and pillows are mostly weather and mildew resistant, but an occasional wash will help keep them looking their best. It is best to refer to your manufacturer's instructions for care, but here are some general guidelines.

  • Machine-wash outdoor fabrics using the gentle cycle.
  • You may want to add bleach for white items.
  • It is best to dry them outdoors instead of dryers.
  • For hammocks and chair covers, etc. you may want to stretch back over the frame while drying to retain shape and avoid shrinkage.
  • It is best to store fabric furniture indoors during wintertime.

Acrylic Patio Cushions

Acrylic is one of the most common materials for covering up outdoor furniture, mainly because it is forgiving and is very easy to clean. While it is mostly mildew resistant, you may want to take these steps to help it along even more.

  • Remove cushions from the frame before you begin cleaning. First spot clean with mild soap and water using a sponge if there are any spots or stains. Rinse with clean water.
  • Make sure to dry completely before using or storing acrylic cushions to prevent mildew formation.
  • Even though some types of cushions are mildew-resistant, they are not mildew proof. You can still get it if there is a lot of moisture. To get rid of mildew, clean with a solution of one cup bleach, two cups laundry detergent and one gallon of water. Mix thoroughly and spray on the entire cushion. Let the mixture soak the cushions for 30 minutes. Scrub with a sponge or clean rag. Rinse with clean water and allow to dry completely.


As a safety precaution, always wear protective eye goggles and gloves when spraying with bleach.

  • Contrary to how it may appear, plastic wraps don't help, so never wrap cushions in plastic when getting ready to store them. While it may keep dust out, plastic does not allow the cushion to breathe and in case there is any moisture, you may find nasty mildew when you bring them out of storage.

Patio Umbrellas

Umbrellas need a little bit of care too. Covers need occasional washing and the frame joints do well with oiling from time to time. It is always a good idea to put umbrellas away when not in use or if there is a high wind advisory, as they can turn into projectiles causing damage to humans and property. There are also products available that keep them anchored to umbrella bases.

  • You can wash most covers using a soft-bristled brush, mild soap, ​and cold water.
  • Use a spray lubricant on the joints of a wire-frame umbrella. For a wooden-frame umbrella, use paste wax to restore its shine.