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How to Clean Outdoor Patio Cushions in 4 Easy Steps

Summer is just around the corner, and you’re probably dreaming about long, pleasant evenings spent on your outdoor patio set.

Before you can get busy relaxing, though, you’ve got to give your patio cushions a good cleaning. Over the winter, patio cushions absorb moisture and allergens, leading to a crusty, less-than-pristine appearance in the spring.

Here at ServiceMaster of Lake Shore, we specialize in helping people clean and restore the things they love the most. As a skilled outdoor patio cushion cleaning company in Chicago, IL, we know exactly what it takes to remove stains and make your patio cushions look and feel great.  

In this blog, we’ll share our top tips on how to clean your outdoor patio cushions and enjoy a pristine, comfortable patio set all season long.

Let’s dive in. 

outdoor patio furniture cleaning

Before You Get Started, Do This:

If you want beautiful, clean outdoor cushions, it’s essential to prepare before you dive in. 

Here’s what we recommend:

  1. Choose a Cleaning Method. This will be based on the type of cushions you have and the material they’re made from. Some cushions can be power-washed, while others need to be hand-washed. Check the labels on your cushions to figure out what they’re made from and how best to clean them.
  2. Prepare Cleaning Supplies. Once you’ve identified the material of your cushions, prepare your cleaning supplies. We like to use a solution of dish detergent and borax, so we’d recommend grabbing those ingredients, a bucket, a stiff-bristled burhs, and some warm water. You may also want to wear long pants and rubber boots to protect yourself as you clean the cushions. 

How to Clean Patio Cushions in 4 DIY Steps

Now’s the exciting part: it’s time to clean your cushions!

Here are the exact steps to follow for beautiful results:

1. Start by brushing off surface debris

Using a soft-bristled brush, brush off any loose dirt. 

If you have a shop vac, you might also want to consider vacuuming your cushions to remove loose dirt and debris and make the cleaning process easier. Make sure to vacuum along the seams of the curtains and around any decorative details or buttons.

If you’re using a brush, work in a circular motion to bring dirt to the surface and prepare the cushion for cleaning. 

2. Create your cleaning solution

How you clean your cushions depends on what material they’re made of. 

We like to use a cleaning solution of ¼ mild soap (like Dawn dishwashing soap or Woolite) and a gallon of lukewarm water mixed with a tablespoon or two of Borax. 

Using a soft-bristled brush, apply this mixture to the cushions in a circular movement. Allow it to soak the fabric of your cushions.

3. Rinse the cushions

Once the cleaning solution has soaked the fabric for about 10-15 minutes, rinse each cushion thoroughly with a garden hose. 

You can also use a power-washer set to the lowest setting to remove all soapy residue if your fabric will tolerate it.

4. Dry the cushions

Finally, set the cushions in the sun to dry. When they’re fully dry, arrange them on your patio furniture and enjoy your clean, fresh cushions all season long!

How to Clean Sunbrella Outdoor Cushions

how to clean sunbrella

Sunbrella fabric is a long-lasting, vibrant fabric commonly used in outdoor furniture.

Designed to maintain its color, even in harsh sunlight, Sunbrella fabric tends to be more durable than other types of outdoor material.

If you have Sunbrella cushions, cleaning them is simple.

In fact, the process is pretty similar to cleaning any other type of fabric, except that this fabric is more durable and can stand up to routine cleaning with bleach. 

Here’s what we recommend:

1. Get rid of surface debris

Use a shop vac to suck up surface debris on your cushions, and then give them a once-over with a garden hose. This process rinses off dust and dirt and prepares the cushions for cleaning.

2. Make your cleaning solution

Mix up a solution of ¼ cup of mild liquid soap and a gallon of lukewarm water. 

If you have mold or mildew on your cushions, you can also add a cup of bleach to the solution (just be sure to test it on a hidden area of the cushion first!). 

Wear old clothing that you don’t mind getting bleach splashes on. 

3. Clean the cushion

Using a sponge or soft-bristled brush, apply the cleaning solution and gently agitate the fabric.

Work in a circular motion to help the cleaning solution penetrate the cushion’s fibers. Make sure to scrub the sides, seams, and back of the cushion, as well. 

4. Let the cushion sit

After applying the cleaning solution, let the cushion sit for about 5-10 minutes.

This allows the cleaning solution to sink deep into the cushion, attack any mold and mildew that may be present, and remove set-in stains. 

5. Rinse the cushion

Next, the covers thoroughly with a garden hose. Be sure to remove all detergent residue, especially along the zipper area (which can be damaged by detergent residue). 

6. Let the cushion air dry

Finally, set your cushions in the sun to air dry. If you have zippers on your cushions, open the zipper and place the cushion zipper-side down.

This encourages any leftover water to drain through the zipper and guarantees a dry, clean, fresh cushion for your warm-weather use. 

How to Clean Heavily Soiled or Stained Cushions

dirty cushion

If your cushions are looking heavily soiled, you may want to purchase a commercial cleaner formulated for outdoor fabrics.

Follow the directions on the package of the cleaning product you bought to remove heavy stains on your outdoor cushions. 

How to Clean Patio Cushions with Mildew or Mold

If you have mold or mildew on your patio cushions, you may need to add bleach to your cleaning process. 

If you plan to do this, you’ll need to test the bleach on a hidden spot of fabric before you start the full clean. You’ll also want to dress in old clothing that you won’t mind getting bleach splashes on. 

Here’s the bleach cleaning method we recommend:

  • Mix one cup of bleach with ¼ cup of mild liquid soap and a gallon of water.
  • Transfer the mixture to a spray bottle and mix well.
  • Spray the mixture onto the surface of the cushion and allow it to soak the fibers of the fabric for 15-20 minutes.
  • Blot the stain with a sponge or clean towel or agitate it gently with a soft-bristle brush. 
  • Rinse the cushion with a garden hose or a low-pressure power washer to remove all bleach residue. 
  • Allow the cushion to air dry.

How to Wash Cushions That Don’t Come Off

If your patio cushions don’t come off, you can use distilled white vinegar to clean them. 

Here’s how:

  • Add ¼ cup of vinegar and 4 cups of warm water to a spray bottle. Shake the bottle to mix it well. 
  • Vacuum the cushions to remove any surface dirt.
  • Spray the cushions thoroughly with the vinegar solution. 
  • Allow the solution to sit for 15 minutes. 
  • During this time, use a soft-bristle brush to scrub stained areas. Allow the cushions to air dry.

This process will deodorize and refresh the cushions and remove surface stains for a fresh, new feeling and appearance. 

How to Keep Outdoor Cushions Clean

When it comes to outdoor cushions, keeping them clean is easier than removing a bunch of stains once they’re already dirty.

Follow these steps to keep your outdoor cushions stain-free and fresh:

  • Cover them when not in use. When you’re not using your outdoor cushions, cover them with a waterproof cover to resist moisture and debris.
  • Air-dry wet cushions. After a heavy rain, open the zippers on your cushions (if they have them) and allow them to stand seam-side down to help expedite drying.
  • Apply a fabric guard. Give your cushions an extra kick of life by applying a commercial fabric guard. This product helps the cushions repel stains and withstand the elements.
  • Spot-treat spills. When spills happen, spot treat them with a gentle detergent designed for use on outdoor cushions. Even if this process doesn’t get the stain out entirely, it’ll make it easier to remove later.
  • Invest in professional cleaning. Professional cleaning helps make your outdoor cushions easier to maintain. Here at ServiceMaster of Lake Shore, we offer cleaning for outdoor cushions to remove stains and refresh your outdoor furniture. 

Looking for Professional Outdoor Patio Cushion Cleaning in Chicago, IL, or Suburbs? We’re Here to Help!

Are you dealing with heavily stained outdoor cushions? You don’t have to spend all summer looking at those unsightly stains. Our team is here to help. 

We provide professional outdoor patio cushion cleaning for customers throughout Chicago, IL, and the suburbs. Our patio cushion cleaning services will remove ground-in dirt and stains and restore your outdoor cushions to like-new condition. 

Ready to learn more? Contact us today to speak with our team or book your patio cushion cleaning appointment: (312) 707-8597