How Do You Clean Outdoor Furniture Fabric


Outdoor furniture fabric is made of woven fabrics, such as Sunbrella, Olefin, and acrylic. When you purchase outdoor furniture or patio furniture with a fabric seat or back cushion, the sales representative will likely ask if you want water-resistant or water-repellent fabric. Water-resistant exterior fabrics can be wiped clean with a damp cloth but not wet.

Water repellent fabrics are treated to resist moisture penetration, making cleaning easier by allowing spills or stains to effectively bead up for easy removal using mild soap and water. In this article, I will discuss “how do you clean outdoor furniture fabric. ” So let us get started.

How Do You Clean Outdoor Furniture Fabric

Materials Needed to Clean Outdoor Furniture Fabric:

  • Hose with outdoor spigot attached
  • Mild soap (i.e., dishwashing liquid)
  • Sponge
  • Bucket of warm water

A Detailed Guide on How Do You Clean Outdoor Furniture Fabric:

1. Spray your piece of furniture fabric with water from a hose, then pull it away from the cushions to spray underneath as well. If there are any large pieces of dirt on your furniture fabric, remove them now before they’re ground into the fibers.

Don’t use a power washer or anything that would damage your cushion fillings, though! Instead, hose everything off until no more big pieces of dirt are visible on either side of your furniture fabric. Then allow it to air dry.

2. Mix equal parts soap and warm water in a bucket, then sponge the furniture fabric down just as you did with the hose. Again, don’t saturate the cushion fillings. Just clean all surfaces of your outdoor furniture fabric with this soapy mixture.

Once everything looks nice and clean, rinse it off with the hose again until no soapy bubbles remain on any side of your furniture fabric. Allow airing dry once more.

3. Shake out any excess water from your cushions before putting them back into place for storage or re-installing on the piece of outdoor furniture they came from originally or are meant for now. This will help keep your furniture clean and dry, and prevent any damage from weathering.

4. Sprinkle baking soda all over your cushions to help keep them smelling fresh, if desired, before storing them away for the season if you live in a climate where outdoor furniture can’t be left outside throughout the winter.

Otherwise, put your cushions back into place on whatever piece of outdoor furniture they came from or are meant for now that it’s time to use that particular one again.

5. Shake out your outdoor furniture covers before putting them back into place to protect your outdoor furniture for the next season or year, depending on your climate.

6. Don’t forget to clean the dirtiest areas of your piece of outside furniture at least once a week throughout the summer to keep it looking nice and inviting all season long. This means cleaning underneath cushions regularly, too, so they don’t get dirty or mildewy even faster than other parts do.

Important Tips Regarding Cleaning Outdoor Furniture Fabric:

Tips Regarding Cleaning Outdoor Furniture
  1. Use an old toothbrush if there are any stubborn dirt spots on your patio furniture fabric that won’t come off with either water or soap/water mixture alone. Don’t scrub too hard, or you could damage the fabric!
    Instead, brush lightly until the spot is gone. If necessary, repeat the step after rinsing everything off with the hose again and allowing it to air dry. If the spot comes back after doing this, just let your furniture fabric air dry without rinsing it off a second time before proceeding to step 3.
  2. Always use warm water when cleaning with soap or doing any other part of these steps. You can use cold water for everything else, but not when using actual soap! Warm water dilutes the soap better for outdoor furniture fabric so that there’s less risk of damaging it while still getting rid of dirt stains effectively enough.
  3. If your furniture fabric is too big to bring inside for the night when it rains, you can move all the cushions off and cover it with a tarp or something else that will keep the rain from getting through.
  4. Dry any wet areas of your outdoor furniture fabric with a towel immediately after rinsing them so they don’t get mildewy or discolored.
  5. Always store away your outdoor furniture over winter break if living in a climate where you can’t leave it outside throughout this season. This way, you’re less likely to forget a piece and end up losing it to mold, bugs, mice, etc.

Precautions While Performing How Do You Clean Outdoor Furniture Fabric:

Check the fabrics for any damage before starting the process of cleaning. If there is any wear or tear, it may increase after cleaning; therefore, check whether they can sustain more damage.

Check the fabrics which are resistant to water and clean only those that require cleaning. Cleaning with the wrong chemicals may attract molds and mildews, which produce toxins harmful to humans, so always ensure you use the right products.

Do not leave wet clothes on furniture after washing as this will result in the rotting of wood, thus causing damage to it and your clothes. While drying off water from fabric, wait sometime before obliterating wet clothes else. There is a chance of mold formation later due to moisture.

You need to follow certain steps before starting the cleaning process, like first checking whether the fabric is resistant to water and, if so, only proceed with it. If fabrics can be dry cleaned, then do so to prevent discoloration and color loss resulting from using wet cloths and detergents.

Check out labels before buying anything for cleaning purposes, as these indicate the right ingredients needed for proper cleaning, including any specific instructions.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Products Should Not Be Used on Fabrics?  

Products such as bleach, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and ammonia should not be used on fabrics as they damage colors and clothes. It is always best to use mild products which are designed for cleaning purposes.

What Kind of Products Can Be Used?  

Products with enzymes or antibacterial characteristics are best cleansers for fabrics and detergents if required. For removing stains, you can use non-toxic solutions, with soap as the preferable option.

Key Considerations While Buying Outdoor Furniture Fabric:

Type of the Cloth:

Different types of outdoor furniture fabrics have different characteristics. However, the most common choices are polyester, acrylic, and cotton.


Polyester is probably the least expensive option available among these three. It is a solid fabric and resistant to water penetration, making it perfect for humid environments. Though not as soft as cotton or acrylic, polyesters provide a very comfortable seating surface because of their dense construction.

Key Considerations While Buying Furniture

However, being stiffer than the other two materials, you will have to go through the hassle of removing the creases from this fabric more frequently. Also, polyesters fade easily in sunlight, leaving your furniture dull looking over time if they aren’t treated with UV protectants regularly.


Acrylic provides a luxurious feel and is often used for upholstery purposes but is also a good option for exterior fabric. It has a high resistance to stains and moisture, so you can actually use it without a cover on your outdoor furniture.

Acrylic materials can be easily cleaned using a hose or power washer. Also, you will find them in bright colors that look vibrant enough to suit any decor style; however, these fabrics tend to fade over time if not treated with UV protectant regularly.


Cotton provides unmatched comfort and softness against the skin, which is why they are most commonly used as upholstery fabrics indoors; however, cotton is also suitable for outdoor usage, too though it’s more expensive than other textiles.

It’s also very comfortable to sit on and provides vibrant color options to transform your outdoor into an intimate retreat. Thus, cotton is the best fabric you should choose if you want comfort without compromising quality.

Stain Resistance:

Every fabric available in the market has a degree of resistance to stains; however, not all are equally treated with a protective coating. The main purpose of these coatings is to make fabrics resistant enough to repel liquids – both oil & water-based – from entering the surface.

Suppose your sofa or chair has these protective treatments. In that case, it will be easy to remove any spills before they sink deep within, which will allow you to enjoy years of unhindered use outdoors without worrying about getting stuck with dirty furniture all the time.

On the other hand, if your fabric isn’t treated with staining inhibitors, they absorb water and oil-based liquids like a sponge, causing stains to appear on the surface. Also, once these stains set in, they will be hard to remove, and that’s when you’ll need professional help, which may actually save you from buying a new sofa or chair altogether because it’s no longer worth fixing such stained outdoor furnishings.

Anti-Static Coating:

This coating is most often used with polyester fabrics because static electricity can cause major discomfort while sitting on them for long hours. Thus, anti-static treatments also provide protection against this problem – another great advantage of choosing polyesters over other textiles for outdoor furniture pieces.


The most important factor to consider while buying any product is its durability. Of course, all of these fabrics have their pros and cons. Still, if you ask us, we recommend going for a good quality acrylic fabric because it provides the perfect balance between comfort, staining resistance, and durability, as well as being straightforward to clean.

Also, since you’ll need to cover your furniture pieces during the winter months anyway, investing in a long-lasting outdoor fabric will be worth your money in the long run.

How to Repair Outdoor Furniture Fabric?

Step 1:

Remove all the cushions and pillows. Vacuum the surface of your couch or chair for loose soil that can act as a nest to insects, dirt, weed seeds, molds, and fungus that might cause damage to the fabric. However, these steps are unnecessary if you have one of those fabrics that don’t get dirty so quickly, i.e., water-resistant materials like Polyester Strap Fabric or Outdoor UV-Resistant Faux leathers.

How to Repair Outdoor Furniture Fabric

If you notice any large stains, then remove them before proceeding further with the above procedure. For this, use a clean cotton cloth dampened with peroxide solution (equal parts of 3% hydrogen peroxide and water) or mineral spirits (OMS). Wipe away the stain with gentle circular strokes.

Clean all the buttons of your chairs and couches because they accumulate dust over time which causes indents on the furniture surface. Then, brush away any dust or debris using a clean cloth or toothbrush.

Step 2: Fixing scratch marks-

Scratch repair is necessary if you have pets in your home who are fond of scratching on furniture while playing on it. Or else dirt can accumulate beneath this area, resulting in a tough stain removal process.

To fix scratches on upholstery, buy some leather glue from the marketplace or DIY stores like Michael’s craft store or Hobby Lobby, etc.; clean the surface with a damp lint-free cloth, apply some glue only on the scratched portion evenly inside outwards, and wait for about 30 minutes.

Step 3: Preparing the surface-

Before cleaning outdoor furniture fabric, remove all your wet cushions and pillows from your couches or chairs and let them dry overnight. If there is any dried dirt on the surface, scrub it off before proceeding with the next step.

This will help in easy cleaning of fabric later. For this use, a loofah sponge which is cheap and found everywhere in home depot stores or Amazon, etc., Use a soft-bristled brush if you are dealing with tough stains like oil paint remnants, glue spots, etc.; after every wipe, allow some time for furniture’s original freshness to return before moving onto next step.

Now make sure that the damp cloth should be in a bucket filled with water and a few drops of dish soap. Also, keep a dry clean cloth to dry the surface after the cleaning process is over.


I hope this article has provided you with all the relevant information regarding “how do you clean outdoor furniture fabric.” Ensure all the necessary precautions while following the process. Thank you, and have a nice day!

Check out our article How to Restore Dried Fabric Paint

Jennifer Branett
We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

DIY Quickly