How to Clean Outdoor Fabrics

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How to Clean Outdoor Fabrics

If you’re wondering how to clean outdoor fabrics, it’s easy! In Charleston our beautiful pine trees begin blooming in March. From March through April we endure layer upon layer of sticky, noxious yellow pollen dust on our patios and patio furniture. Most people are highly allergic to this type of pollen, and if left for long on any surface, it begins to mildew. As a result, the end of April is patio cleaning time in the Lowcountry. This weekend it’s time to clean all the fabrics on our bed swings. Here’s how we do it:

For removable covers, we machine wash in cold water with a normal amount of detergent then allow to air dray. We’re never tempted to iron anything, but please resist ironing outdoor fabrics if you’re more industrious than we are. For outdoor cushions that don’t have removable covers, we use a mild laundry detergent like Ivory in a bucket of lukewarm water.

Spray or brush off dirt and pollen

  • Use a sponge or soft bristle brush to scrub fabric with cleaning solution
  • Rinse with a hose
  • Air dry

If anything has mildewed, we go for the Clorox. We use 1 cup of bleach and ¼ cup of Ivory to each gallon of water. Then, using a spray bottle, we soak the fabric for 20 minutes then hose off and air dry. Our Laurie Bell fabrics are bleach-safe, but if you’re not sure test a small patch with a Q-tip of solution first.

While the fabrics are off the swing, we wipe down the wood and the ropes. This is so rewarding that we end up taking everything off the patio and wiping or hosing it down so it’s ready for our first outdoor party when the mood strikes. Inevitably somebody gets inspired and adds a fun pillow or spray paints a weary planter or side table. By sunset, everything is dry, the flavors in the salsa have blended and we’re ready for a big sweet tea sundowner together – pollen free.

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