How to Clean Outdoor Cushions So They Last for Years

Outdoor cushions and fabric furniture are subjected to dust, insects, and sunscreen smears that leave them looking dirty and dull.

The best way to keep outdoor cushions looking their best is to clean away spots and stains regularly throughout the sunny season and give them a thorough cleaning before you store them away for the off-season.

Here are two easy methods to employ all summer season to clean outdoor cushions and fabric furniture.

How to Clean Outdoor Cushions With Dish Soap and a Scrub Brush

The Spruce / Almar Creative

  1. Prep for cleaning. Use a vacuum with an upholstery brush to remove loose dust and soil from the fabric.
  2. Mix your cleaning solution. Mix 1/4 cup of dishwashing liquid in one gallon of warm water in a large plastic bucket.
  3. Pretreat stains. Pretreat any visible stains, and lightly spray the cushions with a garden hose to dampen the fabric.
  4. Scrub the cushions. Dip a soft-bristled brush in the solution, start at the top of the cushion or furniture, and gently scrub the fabric. Be sure to clean the entire cushion to avoid spots and streaks. Rinse the brush often and mix a fresh batch of the cleaning solution if it becomes excessively dirty before you finish the job.
  5. Rinse and dry. Use a garden hose with a spray nozzle to rinse the cushions. Be sure to rinse both sides of the cushion. Place cushions upright so they can drip dry.

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How to Clean Outdoor Cushions Using a Power Washer

  1. Vacuum the cushions. Remove loose soil and dust with a vacuum’s upholstery brush attachment.
  2. Pretreat stains. Follow the stain removal tips to treat visible stains and give the cleaner at least 5 minutes to work before doing a thorough cleaning.
  3. Prep the power washer. Following the manufacturer’s directions, add a cleaning solution to the pressure washer reservoir. Attach the power washer to a garden hose and check that it is operating correctly. Use the cleaning/soap spray tip.
  4. Clean the cushions. Spray each side of the outdoor cushions with the cleaning solution. Keep the nozzle at least 12 inches from the fabric to prevent damage to the surface. Let the solution work for 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Rinse the cushions. Switch the power washer nozzle to the spray nozzle and empty the cleaning solution from the reservoir. Rinse the cushions well by moving the spray tip back and forth from one edge of the cushion to the other. Be sure to keep the spray tip about 1-1/2 feet from the cushions to prevent damage and rinse both sides.
  6. Dry the cushions. Place the cushions upright so they can drip dry and have good air circulation around all sides to speed drying.

How to Remove Stains on Outdoor Cushions

The Spruce / Almar Creative

  • Mildew: Mix 1 cup of chlorine bleach and 1/4 cup of dishwashing liquid in one gallon of warm water. Spray the solution onto the mildew-stained piece. Allow it to soak in for 15 minutes. Gently scrub the entire piece with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Oily Stains: Blot away as much oil as possible with a paper towel. Sprinkle the stained area with a thick layer of cornstarch (about 1/2 inch thick). Let the cornstarch sit on the stain for four hours and then vacuum it away. Scrub the stain with an enzyme-based stain remover.
  • Bird Droppings: Combine 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and 1 teaspoon of white vinegar in 1 cup of water. Dip a soft-bristled scrub brush in the mixture and scrub the stained areas. Rinse well.
  • Food Stains: Blot up liquids and lift away solids. Clean with an enzyme-based stain remover or 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid in one cup of water.

6 Additional Tips to Maintain Clean Outdoor Cushions

  1. Pick a breezy, sunny day to clean outdoor fabric furniture so it will dry as quickly as possible.
  2. Place a plastic tarp under the cushions to prevent dirty splatters from the deck or lawn.
  3. Pretreat stains before cleaning the fabric.
  4. Removable cushion covers can usually be machine-washed. Check the label.
  5. Use a water-repellent protective spray on new cushions. After cleaning or whenever water stops beading on the surface, reapply the spray.
  6. Cover or move the cushions to storage during the off-season.


  • Yes, dish soap contains degreasers and cleaners that work well to remove soil from outdoor cushions and furniture.

  • A power washer is an effective and easy-to-use tool for cleaning outdoor cushions. Be sure to use a cleaning solution approved by the manufacturer and keep the nozzle at least 12 inches from the surface of the fabric to prevent damage.

  • Getting mold and mildew off the outdoor cushions requires cleaning by hand with a solution of 1 cup of chlorine bleach and 1/4 cup of dishwashing liquid in 1 gallon of warm water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle or garden sprayer to spray the mildewed areas.

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