How to Clean White Plastic Chairs
The advantages of white plastic chairs and outdoor furniture (often called resin outdoor chairs) are many. The furniture is less expensive than other types of outdoor furniture, the plastic material is often composed of nearly 100 percent recycled plastic and it can be recycled again, and the chairs are lightweight, usually stackable, and weather-resistant.
The downside of white plastic chairs; they get dirty and dingy very quickly when exposed to the elements if you don't clean them regularly. However, they can also be pretty easy to clean with just a few products and tools and a bit of elbow grease.
How Often to Clean White Plastic Chairs
Spills and stains from grass, mud, food, tree sap, or bird droppings should be cleaned away as quickly as possible. A thorough cleaning at the beginning of the outdoor season will often last throughout the summer. Always give the chairs a good cleaning before storing them away for the winter.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Garden hose
- Soft-bristled nylon brush
- Microfiber towels
- Rubber gloves
- Plastic tarp
- Spray bottle
- Baking soda
- Dishwashing liquid
- All-purpose cleaner
- Oxygen-based bleach
- Distilled white vinegar
- Automotive paste wax
Set Up a Cleaning Area
Spread a plastic tarp outside in a sunny spot near a garden hose. Move the chairs or other plastic furniture that needs cleaning to the tarp.
Mix a Cleaning Solution
There are several cleaning solutions that work well for white plastic chairs. Choose one for your cleaning session.
Before you do an overall cleaning, if the chairs are mildewed, mix a solution of 25 percent water and 75 percent distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. Apply to the mildewed areas and wait about 10 minutes before doing general cleaning.
- Pour one gallon of lukewarm water into a bucket and add one-fourth cup of dishwashing liquid. Stir well to disperse the soap.
- Mix one gallon of lukewarm water with one-half cup of baking soda and stir to mix well.
- Add one-fourth cup of an all-purpose cleaner to one gallon of lukewarm water.
Wash and Rinse the Chairs
Wash the chairs from the top down to catch drips of dirty water using a sponge or a soft-bristled nylon brush. For stained areas, sprinkle a bit of dry baking soda on the sponge or brush to act as a gentle abrasive to help lift the stains.
When the chairs are free from dirt and debris, rinse well with a garden hose. If the chairs are clean and white, dry with a microfiber towel or place them in the sun to air-dry. If they are still dingy, move to the next step.
Mix an Oxygen Bleach Solution to Whiten Dingy and Stained Chairs
If the chairs still look dingy and stained, an oxygen-based bleach solution is needed. Oxygen bleach is a slow-acting, gentle bleaching agent that removes stains and brightens plastics. It works more slowly than chlorine bleach, is less corrosive and damaging to plastics, and is more environmentally friendly. The oxygen bleach and water solution will not harm grass or plants while you clean.
Depending on how dirty your white chairs are, combine one gallon of lukewarm water with one-half to one cup of powdered oxygen bleach in a bucket. Stir well to mix and dissolve the powder.
Apply the Oxygen Bleach Solution
Wearing rubber gloves, use a sponge or soft-bristled nylon brush to apply the oxygen bleach solution. Start at the top and use some elbow grease to help lift embedded soil.
Allow the solution to remain on the chairs for at least 15 minutes to help whiten the plastics. Leaving it longer will not harm the chairs.
Rinse and Dry
Rinse the chairs well with a garden hose and dry with a microfiber cloth or air-dry in the sun.
Tips to Keep White Plastic Chairs Clean Longer
- Once you've gotten the chairs clean and white, keep them that way longer by applying a thin coat of automotive paste wax. Use a dry soft cloth or sponge to spread the wax over the chairs. Buff with a dry cloth. The wax helps stains and dirt to slide right off the plastic.
- Do not leave the chairs under trees that shed blossoms or leaves.
- Clean, cover, and store the chairs indoors protected from freezing temperatures during the winter season.
- Use an outdoor umbrella to help protect the chairs when placed outside.