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5 Tips on How to Clean Dirty Outdoor Cushions

Castlery|Mar 15, 2024

Adding cushions to your outdoor lounge is a fantastic way to introduce a splash of colour and comfort to your alfresco entertaining area.


However, with sun, rain, and wind - as well as accidental food spills - to contend with, your outdoor cushions have a lot to cope with. So, it’s no surprise that the cushions need a little TLC every once in a while to keep them looking good.


If your outdoor cushions are currently looking a little worse for wear, take a look at our top tips on how to clean and maintain them.

Tips for outdoor cushion care


Have a regular cleaning routine


Just like any other furniture, outdoor furniture and cushions benefit from a routine cleaning schedule. You don’t have to give them a deep clean every single time, as small and occasional cleans can also keep them looking their best.


Give your outdoor cushions a brush down whenever you have time to remove any dust, leaves, or other loose debris that’s landed on them.


For any stains or spills, tackle them quickly through spot cleaning. Blot them with a clean microfibre cloth and use a mild cleaning solution.


If you have pets, you should vacuum your sofa and chair cushions a few times a week. This will help to prevent a build-up of fur and ensure your outdoor dining and lounge area is always ready for action.



The Maui Outdoor Lounge Chair in Taupe. Picture credits: @tinadoodles


Take note of the material


The material of your outdoor cushions matters. Whether they are made of fabric, polyester, or a blend, these materials require different cleaning approaches that ensure their longevity and maintain their appearance.


Here's a breakdown of the best cleaning methods for common outdoor cushion materials:


Fabric cushions


Fabric cushions are popular for their comfort and aesthetic appeal. However, they can be prone to stains and moisture absorption. To keep them clean, regularly vacuum them to remove loose dirt and debris. Address stains promptly with a gentle cleaning solution so that the liquid doesn’t sit in and cause permanent stains.


Vinyl cushions


Vinyl cushions are known for their durability and resistance to moisture. However, they still require proper care to maintain their appearance. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down vinyl cushions regularly to help prevent the buildup of dirt and grime. For more stubborn stains, use a mild cleaning solution of mild soap and water and gently scrub the stained area with a soft brush or cloth.


Polyester cushions


Polyester is a common material used for outdoor cushions thanks to its durability, resistance to fading, and ease of maintenance. To clean cushions with polyester material, regularly vacuum and shake the cushions to remove loose dirt and debris to prevent particles from settling into the fabric.


Like fabric cushions, you should address stains as soon as they occur. Blot the stain with mild soap using a clean cloth or sponge to absorb as much of the spill as possible.


Synthetic fibres and blended materials


Some outdoor cushions feature a combination of materials, such as a fabric cover with a vinyl lining or vice versa. In such cases, a combination of cleaning methods may be necessary, so check the care labels for specific cleaning instructions.



Some of our outdoor lounge cushions are made of the synthetic fibre olefin, also known as polypropylene fibre. Pictured: The Maui Outdoor 2-Seater Sofa in Charcoal.


Generally, it's wise to also regularly clean them and treat stains with mild soap solutions to prevent permanent damage.


Recommended read: 8 Most Durable Outdoor Patio Furniture Materials


Avoid harsh chemicals and cleaning solutions


Avoiding harsh cleaners is essential for preserving the integrity and appearance of outdoor cushions, as harsh chemicals can damage the fabric and compromise their longevity.


Instead, opting for gentler, more natural cleaning solutions is a safer and more effective approach. Here are some alternatives to harsh cleaners:

  • Mild soap and water: Great for all-purpose routine care and spot cleaning

  • White vinegar solution: Great for tackling stains, mould, and mildew spots

  • Baking soda paste: Helps with absorbing odours and lifting stains

  • Lemon juice and salt: This combination helps to naturally bleach and lift stains

  • Cornstarch for oil stains: Sprinkling cornstarch on oil-based stains can help to lift the oil


Limit sun exposure


Exposure to sunlight is one of the primary factors that can impact the quality and lifespan of outdoor cushions. Sunlight contains UV rays that can fade the colours of fabrics over time, which is especially true for vibrant or dark-coloured cushions.


UV rays can also weaken and degrade the fibres of cushion materials, making them more susceptible to wear and tear. Furthermore, the filling material within cushions, such as foam or polyester fibres, can break down and lose resilience when exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods.


If possible, it’s best to arrange your outdoor seating area under the shade, such as on your deck or patio. Alternatively, use outdoor furniture covers to protect your outdoor sofas and chairs that act as a shield to prevent direct exposure to sunlight, minimising the risk of fading.



Our furniture covers are made of polyester to remain durable and tear-resistant.


It’s also wise to opt for outdoor cushions made from UV-resistant materials to prolong the lifespan of your cushions.

Do moisture control


Moist conditions create an ideal environment for mould and mildew to thrive, which not only damages the cushions but poses health risks. Damp cushions can also develop unpleasant odours over time, making your outdoor space less inviting and relaxing.


When not in use, remove the cushions and store them in a cool dry place. If the cushions are not removable, store the furniture pieces or use waterproof covers.



The Malta Outdoor 3-Seater Sofa.


Consider the location when cleaning


It may seem strange to have to think about location when cleaning outdoor patio cushions, but with a lot of garden plants sensitive to cleaning products, it’s pretty essential.



The Sorrento Outdoor Sofa, Coffee Table, and Lounge Chairs. Picture credits: @ashleyfultz


Try to choose a spot where the runoff from your deep clean won’t head towards flowerbeds or grassy areas. Patios, driveways, and other paved areas are ideal cleaning spaces, especially as they can be easily washed down afterward.


How to clean outdoor cushions without removable covers


Cleaning outdoor cushions without removable covers requires a bit more care, as you'll be working directly on the cushions themselves.


Here's a step-by-step guide to help you clean non-removable outdoor cushions effectively:

1. Preparation: Start by using a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove loose dirt, dust, and debris from the cushions. This prevents particles from embedding into the fabric during the cleaning process.

2. General cleaning: Mix some mild cleaning solution and use a soft brush or sponge to gently scrub the surface of the cushion. For stubborn stains, mix a paste using baking soda and water, allowing it to sit for a few hours.

3. Rinse the cushions: Rinse down the cushion thoroughly to remove all the soap residue. Go over the cushion with the same sponge or brush to remove any impacted soap residue.

4. Air dry thoroughly: Letting the patio cushions dry thoroughly is extremely important, especially if you are washing the entire cushion. The cushion filling can absorb water and take a longer time to dry. Allow the cushions to air dry completely in a well-ventilated area before storing them away or using them.


How to clean mouldy outdoor cushions


Cleaning mouldy outdoor cushions requires a thorough and careful approach to not only remove the visible mould but also prevent its return. Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning mould off your outdoor cushions:

1. Wear protective gear: Mould spores can be harmful when inhaled or when they come into contact with the skin. That’s why when dealing with mouldy cushions, wear protective gear such as gloves, a mask, and safety goggles.

2. Remove loose mould: Use a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove loose mould from the cushions. This initial step helps prevent the spreading of spores during the cleaning process.

3. Clean with vinegar solution: Use white vinegar solution to tackle mould. Generously apply the solution to the affected areas with the vinegar solution and let the solution sit on the cushions for at least 15 to 20 minutes to give it time to penetrate the mould and break it down. Then, gently scrub the mouldy areas with a soft brush. For stubborn mould, you may need to repeat the process until the mould is entirely removed.

4. Rinse thoroughly: Thoroughly rinse the cushions and ensure you’ve removed all traces of the vinegar solution.

5. Sun-dry the cushions: Allow the cushions to air dry completely in direct sunlight. Sunlight helps to kill any remaining mould spores and prevents future mould growth. Flip and rotate the cushion to ensure both sides receive sunlight and promote even drying.

6. Preventative measures: Once the cushions are clean and dry, consider applying a fabric protector or a water-repellent spray. This helps prevent mould growth and protects against future stains.


Recommended read: Mould on Furniture: Causes, Removal, and Prevention


With these tips, your outdoor cushions will not only withstand the elements but also breathe life into your outdoor space. So, the next time you settle into your outdoor haven, let it be a moment of pure bliss, surrounded by cushions that not only look clean but also embody the hidden secrets of longevity and care.

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