An Uncomplicated Life Blog: DIY Outdoor Furniture Cleaner


Monday, March 30, 2020

DIY Outdoor Furniture Cleaner

Spring is here and it's time to be outside! Clean off your deck or patio furniture with this easy cleaner.

Spring in the South means one thing and one thing only: POLLEN. So. Much. Pollen. Everything gets covered in a thick layer of greenish yellowish residue that starts in mid-March and lasts for about a month. It's so thick that you have to clean off your outdoor furniture everyday. For this post's photos, we had literally just cleaned off our table the day before to eat dinner outside. By 1pm the next day, when I took these shots, it was already disgusting! The good news is, not only is this an easy cleaner to make, it's multipurpose. It's also an excellent glass/window cleaner too. Odds are good you might even have these things in your pantry, so let's go make our outdoor furniture cleaner.

The table had just been cleaned not but 12 hours earlier, and was already that dirty. Oh, pollen season.

Quick note, as of the publishing date of this post, the world is under a pandemic and some of these supplies are hard to come by. I linked some that are currently available, but that may change. I never thought I'd see a run on white vinegar, but here we are. I recommend keeping white vinegar and rubbing alcohol on hand at all times, because pandemic or not, they always come in handy! That said, these items should be cheap. If they're not, you're being price gouged.

DIY Outdoor Furniture Cleaner
- Spray bottle (for this recipe, a 16oz bottle)
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (replace this with Borax if your outdoor furniture is wood! Never use rubbing alcohol on wood as it will ruin the finish)
- 15-20 drops lemon essential oil
- hot water

Fill the bottle with the vinegar, alcohol and essential oil. Top off with hot water. Rubbing alcohol kills fungus or mildew that may be growing. The vinegar cleans the surface of your furniture, along with the lemon essential oil (plus it adds a lovely scent!)

12 hours of pollen on my glass table

Simple spray and wipe with this cleaner

If your furniture has grooves like my Adirondack chairs, get a scrub brush. Spray down with the mixture and lightly brush away the dirt and grime. It comes off SO easily! For flat surfaces, like my glass table, all you need is some paper towels. Spray down and wipe off - again, all the pollen and dirt will come off easily! This cleaner (with the rubbing alcohol) is also an EXCELLENT window cleaner. We have floor to ceiling windows, which are great for light but constantly covered in little hand prints, mouth marks, and general kid goobers. Takes everything off easily, doesn't leave streak marks and you can feel good about letting your kid lick the window again without icky residue from conventional cleaners like Windex. Also, why does Windex smell like that?! I can't stand that smell.

Before cleaning

Close up of the grooves and dirt pre-cleaning

After spraying with cleaner and lightly scrubbing with a brush. I did all 4 chairs in less than 10 minutes.

Pro tip:
Want to clean outdoor pillows or cushions? If they're light colored, sub out the rubbing alcohol for hydrogen peroxide. That will clean, lighten and brighten your fabric! If your cushions are darker, sub out the rubbing alcohol with Borax and use a plastic scrub brush to clean it, then hose it down. If your cushion covers are machine washable, wash per directions but make sure to put them back on your cushions while damp, so the covers don't shrink.

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It's crazy how easy it was to clean off all my patio furniture with this cleaner! And nope - it doesn't leave anything smelling like vinegar. In fact, I cleaned the inside of my windows with it too and all that was left behind was the lemon scent of the essential oil. I kid you not, this stuff cleans better than Windex! It takes pollen, dirt, hand prints and whatever else gunk my kids leave when they touch things, and you don't have to wipe it a hundred times to get the streaks out. This DIY outdoor furniture cleaner is great for glass, plastic and windows but be sure to adjust the recipe if your patio set is wood. Happy cleaning!


  1. Great! You solved my hygiene problem at home, thank you for sharing it!
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  2. Awesome! No words. You always go one step beyond.

    There is so much great, useful information here. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    Read our guide if you wish.

    Thanks again :)

  3. Thanks for sharing this process! I was recently given some plastic and cushioned patio furniture from my friend who was moving, and it needed some major cleaning work. I usually just get all my indoor and outdoor upholstery cleaned once a year by a local carpet cleaning company and they do great work. But for just some old patio furniture, I thought I could clean it myself. Your method worked very well and I will definitely use it again. Thank you so much!!

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