After spending many summer nights lounging around on your patio furniture, enjoying those long summer nights and hanging out with close friends and family, it might be difficult to think about storing the furniture when the temperatures get cooler. But taking the extra time to properly store your patio items for the winter can help them last for many years to come.
Clean It Up
Perhaps the most important tip to remember before you put your patio furniture away for the winter is to clean it up. Any dirt, mud, or food left on the outdoor pieces can turn into mold or mildew, depending on the type of material.
Inspect all of the surfaces for oxidation or rust. If you find rust, treat the area with a rust-neutralizing primer. Use steel wool if needed and apply spray paint with a color that closely matches the finish. A silicone sealant will provide even more protection.
Tend to the Wood Furniture
To clean wood furniture, use a mixture of 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 gallon of water and gently scrub. Let the furniture air-dry before storing it and apply a protective sealant to protect the wood from moisture damage year-round. During the cooler months, moisture from the air can freeze inside the wood and cause it to crack.
Prepare Plastic Furniture
Unlike wood furniture, plastic pieces don’t have issues with moisture. However, the colder temperatures can make the plastic brittle enough to crack, so you should bring in these pieces before it snows. To clean the plastic furniture before you store it for the winter, use a mixture of dish soap and water, rinse the pieces, and let them air-dry.
Maintain Metal and Aluminum Pieces
When it comes to metal or aluminum patio furniture, it’s important to bring these pieces in during winter. They can rust thanks to the snow and freezing rain, and the rust can weaken the material. Use water and detergent to clean the surface, and take a brush and hose to wash and rinse. Touch-up the finish with spray paint if needed and apply a thin coat of car wax for extra protection.
Watch Your Wicker
For wicker furniture, brush all of the surfaces with a bleach-and-water solution to get rid of mildew. Gently rinse off the wicker, and let the furniture dry. Just like metal furniture, repaint the wicker with spray paint to freshen the look. Apply moisture repellant to the end grain on the feet or legs of wicker chairs and tables.
Care for Your Fabric
If you have cushions with removable covers, read the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning. If allowed, take them off and put them in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. Check the label to see if you can safely add bleach to kill mildew. For cushions that should not be machine washed, use a dry cloth and sturdy brush to apply a mild detergent. Avoid power-washing the cushions, as this can break the seams or ruin the material.
Even if the manufacturer’s instructions suggest machine drying, it’s best to let the covers air-dry. Then put them back on the cushions and stack them loosely in a clean, dry space — not on the floor. The cushions will last longer if you place them in a weatherproof storage bag or plastic box. If you live in an area with high humidity, wrap the cushions in old blankets or sheets first, since the bags or boxes will inhibit air circulation.
Wash the Hammock
For rope or cloth hammocks, put them in the washing machine with laundry detergent. You can also use warm soapy water, a scrub brush, and a liquid detergent. Place the hammock on a flat surface such as concrete or your deck, and let it air-dry. Afterward, fold it and store indoors.
Wrap Up the Umbrella
Regarding umbrella fabric, use a brush and mild detergent to clean. Let the umbrella dry while in the open position. Lubricate the locks, switches, and pivots, then close the umbrella. Wrap it up in an inexpensive plastic drop cloth, which will protect the umbrella from mildew or mold. Tape the plastic around the umbrella and store it in a waterproof area.
Put It Under Wraps
One of the most important aspects of keeping your patio furniture protected during the winter is to either store it or put a tarp over it. Some high-end furniture manufacturers create custom-made outdoor covers for their pieces. You can place the pieces in a storage shed or secure a tarp over them.
Elevate the legs of the chairs and tables off the ground so air can circulate. To do this, you can place a 2×4 wood plank on the ground and put the furniture’s legs on top of it.
Stack Your Pieces
To save space, you can stack your patio chairs and tables on top of each other. This works best if you are short on space. Once stacked, you can cover all the pieces together under one tarp. You can also easily put the stacked pieces in your garage or storage shed if you have space.
Although you may feel like it’s an inconvenience, taking care of your patio furniture before colder temperatures and inclement weather hit can help you prolong the life of your outdoor pieces. Clean the pieces and properly store them away from the elements, and once the temperatures rise, you can bring them out and enjoy time outside.