What Is The Easiest Outdoor Furniture To Clean?

Outdoor furniture can be subject to all manner of environmental factors – such as wind, rain, snow, and heat – and as such, they can soon come to look a little worse for wear.

What Is The Easiest Outdoor Furniture To Clean?

Some types of furniture are easier to maintain and keep clean than others, and luckily, there are now countless options for consumers to choose from – all based on what you value most from a piece of outdoor furniture.

One of the easiest outdoor furniture materials to clean and maintain is HDPE, commonly known as poly lumber. Dirt can easily be sprayed off, or it can be washed with warm water, soap and a soft cloth or brush. Plus, they never need to be painted or stained.

But which exactly is the easiest to keep clean, and which methods can be used?

Outdoor Funiture Material Cleaning Requirements

When it comes to outdoor furniture, there are certain types that are more popular than others, each offering its own pros and cons when it comes to upkeep and maintenance.

Wooden Furniture

This has historically been one of the most common forms of outdoor furniture and is great for achieving that pleasant, rustic, country-yard feel.

Wood has a lot of benefits, including aesthetic beauty, but requires a lot of upkeep and treatment to maintain its strength, looks, and longevity.

So for most wood furniture more than just cleaning is required to keep them looking good. Requires sanding and repainting whenever the paint begins to flake off, crack, peel or fade from the sun. Often needing to be done annually.

This is especially true if you live in a region with frequently changing weather – wherein the wood will be exposed to changes of extreme hot and cold on a seasonal basis.

Poly Lumber Furniture

Poly lumber is a fairly new addition to outdoor furniture and offers a sturdy, long-lasting, environmentally friendly alternative to standard furniture materials.

Made from recycled plastics, it is incredibly tough and resilient against weather conditions, not to mention being heavy and firm – making it equally resistant to theft and damage.

Poly lumber only requires being sprayed off with a hose when dirty.

For real hard-to-clean spots. Warm water, dish soap and a med stiff brush can be used. Just make sure to scrub with the grains, not against them.

Aluminum Furniture

Aluminum furniture has a lot of benefitsOpens in a new tab. for homeowners, including weather resistance, anti-rust properties (or at least, anti-oxidation), and no need for treatment or maintenance.

This is perhaps the most common, modern material with which outdoor furniture is made, and remains popular due to its affordability, recyclable reputation, and the amount of punishment it can take.

Like poly lumber, it also requires little effort to clean. Simple spay off with a hose or wash with a cloth and warm water and soap.

Wrought Iron Furniture

With wrought iron, you get toughness, weight, and durability, not to mention longevity – due to the sheer strength and resilience of the core metal.

However, with any iron product, exposure to the elements and moisture in the air can cause rust to form – creating the telltale orange/red colouring that is associated with the oxidation of iron.

For this reason, iron furniture requires regular treatment and upkeep, namely sanding and coating with specialty-resistant paint.

Plastic Furniture

One of the cheapest and most readily available forms of outdoor furniture is form moulded plastic.

Extremely affordable, but lacking much of the strength and resilience of other materials, this is more suited to the fair-weather outdoor person, who wants somewhere comfortable to sit in the summer months, and something easy to stow through the winter.

Easy enough to clean off with soap and water, but durability may make cleaning, not of value.

Environmental Factors that Dirty Your Outdoor Furniture

Before we take a look at which furniture is easiest to clean, it is important to acknowledge what exactly they are exposed to when out in the elements.


Firstly, outdoor furniture can be exposed to rainfall, which can be extreme depending on the region or part of the world.

If the furniture is not properly covered, then the rain can cause staining, the accumulation of dirt, rot in wooden furniture, the formation of moss and lichen, or even corrosion – depending on the material the furniture is made of.


Likewise, the wind can bring all manner of dust, dirt, and debris into contact with your outdoor furniture, and can soon make any pristine piece look worse for wear.

Snow & Ice

Snowfall, ice, and frosts can also cause outdoor furniture to become brittle, warped, stained, or faded – depending on the material, and the severity of the weather.


If you live in a rural area, or even if you are in the suburbs, animals can be a regular sight in your yards, and on your garden furniture.

Unfortunately, if there is one thing that animals are good at, it is making a mess – be it in the form of poop (birds and mammals), urine, food mess, or the remnants of prey they have caught and consumed.



Likewise, slugs, snails, and other insects can all crawl across outdoor furniture, leaving trails or various stains on furniture.

This might not be much of a problem if the furniture is dark, but lighter colours will show up everything.


Of course, as the people sitting on the furniture, we humans are hardly exempt from this list, and we are more than capable of making a mess all by ourselves.

Maybe you were eating out there and spilled some food, or maybe a tipsy friend spilled some wine at last week’s barbecue?

Or the most common spilled ice cream. Melting, dripping and drying on your table or chair.

Either way, humans are messy and more than capable of staining garden furniture.

Why Poly Lumber is the Easiest Outdoor Furniture To Clean

When it comes to which type of outdoor furniture is the easiest to clean, it is fair to say that, while each has its merits, there is a clear winner amongst the above-mentioned materials.

The easiest type of outdoor furniture to clean is poly lumber furniture – the reasons for which are numerous.

Weather Resistant

Firstly, poly lumber is extremely resilient and resistant to adverse weather conditions, meaning that it gathers less damage and wear and tear from exposure to such things.

Smooth Finish

Poly lumber also has the smoothest finish, which goes a long way to making it so easy to clean.

It is also highly resistant to chips and dents, meaning that it is less likely to let water, grime, and frost inside, making it easier still to wipe down and dry off.

What makes poly lumber such a great material is that the paint colour is also mixed throughout the material, meaning that there is no definitive ‘layer’ between the top coat and the materials inside – with the whole thing being one solid entity.

No Wood Grain

While you can have poly lumber made to resemble wood, it is still plastic, and thus the grain is purely cosmetic.

This means that water and dirt cannot permeate the surface layer, allowing you to wipe it down with the proper cleaning supplies – like bleach or white wine vinegar – and hose it off to make it good as new.

No Rust

The hardest part about cleaning materials like iron and aluminum is the corrosion and rust that can form on the surface after exposure to the elements.

Iron turns red/orange when exposed to oxygen and moisture, and while aluminum doesn’t corrode in the same way, it does form a tough outer ‘crust’ or sorts, which while strong and beneficial, ruins the finish of aluminum.

Luckily, with poly lumber, you get none of these problems, meaning that cleaning is just as simple as wiping it down and drying it off.

How To Make Cleaning Easier?

When it comes to cleaning your outdoor furniture, there are also several ways you can do to make the whole process easier.

Wet It First

This might sound basic, but the best way to clean your outdoor furniture is to hose it down first.

This is the best way to remove existing dust and grime and to remove any other loose particles from the surface.

This can make it much easier to get a clean finish when it comes to scrubbing.

Use Products

The tools maketh the man, and the same goes for the right cleaning products.

This can make the whole process much easier, and there are any number of things you can use, ranging from harsh chemicals like bleach to home cleaners like white wine vinegar, and natural abrasives like baking soda.

For more products to help clean plastic furniture, both polywood and moulded plastic. Click the link.

Dry Afterwards

Once you have cleaned your outdoor furniture, the important thing is then to hose down the residue and dry the furniture with a soft cloth – ideally microfiber or some other equivalent.

This will stop new grime from being attracted to the surface and will give it the best finish for use in the future.

Safety First

The best way to keep yourself and your skin safe during cleaning is to wear rubber gloves – especially when using harmful chemicals like bleach and some detergents.

Bleach, in particular, can cause skin irritation, redness, cracking, and sores, and as such, it is much better to protect yourself and your skin from unnecessary, unpleasant chemicals.

Ventilation is also a good tip when handling bleach.

Not always an option but safety is one reason why I favour organic and natural cleaning products. Good for the earth, good for me.

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about outdoor furniture, and which types are the easiest to maintain and keep clean.

It’s true that any outdoor furniture can be a pain to maintain, especially if you live in a region with unpredictable and temperamental weather conditions.

However, with the right tools and products for the job, and with the right choice of furniture, you can pick something that works for you, and keep it looking clean and pristine in the process.

Ryan Nickel

A Red Seal carpenter, passionate about building decks to be enjoyed.

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