As the days get shorter and the temperatures cooler, we’ll soon be experiencing the fluffy white stuff. Yep, I’m talking about snow. We love sitting outside in our courtyard and on the deck, and our outdoor furniture is well used my family and our pets. It’s sad to think that soon I will have to store them away for the winter.
I noticed many of my neighbors keep their patio furniture out all year around and as a result, they are replacing them way more often than we are. In fact, we built our home 12 years ago and bought all new outdoor furniture, and ours are still in good shape. So, how do we take care of them?
Before storing your outdoor furniture, it’s important to clean them to ensure longevity. Regardless of the type of furniture you have, whether metal, plastic, wood or wicker, you should use a clean, dry cloth to rub off dirt, pollen, foliage, and spider webs first. For deeper cleaning, most outdoor furniture can tolerate a rinse with warm sudsy water. For plastics and resins, you might want to consider the addition of oxygen bleach.
Once dry, cover your furniture with a sturdy cover and move it to a sheltered and protected location. Furniture will last longer if you place it on an elevated surface. There’s nothing worse than having the legs moisture damaged or scarred from improper storage. Place a piece of lumber or plastic under the furniture to protect and keep it clean.
It’s also good to tighten any screws, replace missing nails, and sand any rough spots that have slivered over the summer months.
Outdoor cushions and umbrellas
Before you clean your outdoor cushions, read the manufacturer’s recommendation for cleaning. I find it ironic that some outdoor fabrics should not be machine-washed and many cushion fillings shouldn’t get too wet. When purchasing outdoor cushions, read the labels to confirm they’re waterproof.
To clean your cushion, use a dry cloth to first brush off pollen, dirt, etc. If your cushion covers are removable, clean them separately by hand with a sturdy brush and a mild detergent. Make sure the fabric and fillings are completely dry before storing them. I like to put mine in plastic. Cushions will last much longer if you store them in clean and dry places like the basement, attic or garage. Storing them outdoors can potentially attract bugs or mold.
Patio umbrellas should be wiped down and repaired if needed. They should be folded and placed in a cover if possible. We roll ours in a thick plastic and store it on a rack in our garage.
Outdoor play equipment
Swing sets and playground equipment, are generally left out exposed to the elements, but some allow you to remove the plastic seats. But, you can also take the time to keep them in good shape by tending to any needs. You may need to sand off any lichen or moss growth, wash plastic parts or pieces, keeping any fabric in good condition, and give it a coat of paint. Always check the manufacturer instructions for any specific maintenance tips.
Bicycles and sporting equipment
Bicycles and other sporting goods should also be wiped down in preparation for storage. They may also need be oiled and lubricated. This is also a good time to give other mechanical equipment a complete tune-up, so it’s ready to roll next spring and summer. Kayaks, canoes, golf clubs and other sporting goods should also be cleaned and free of dirt before storing. Storing these items up off the ground ensures that they won’t get knocked over or dirty during the fall and winter seasons. If you have space, hang bicycle hooks on the ceiling or store sporting goods in over-sized buckets, bins or cabinets.
Prepare Your Grill
Some people still use their grill over the fall and winter, but September is an ideal month for you to detail and season your grill. A cool grill surface should be scrubbed and cleaned. If there are any removable parts, they should be scrubbed separately with a grill approved scrub brush to remove caked on food resin. Rust is a common antagonist, so it’s best to use water very sparingly when cleaning the inside of the grill, if at all. Coals or wood chips should be emptied into a metal container and allowed to sit a few days before discarding.
Of course, the outside of your grill can also be washed and cleaned with a warm, soapy cloth along with a light lubricating oil, like WD-40. This will help both condition the exterior and lubricate moving parts. If you plan on storing your gas grill over the cooler months, then disconnect the tank and store it in a metal container outside the home. Once your grill is clean, place a fitted cover over the appliance and store in a dry area outside the home.
Taking the time to wash, repair and store your outdoor lawn furniture and equipment will keep in great shape for years to come.