While we’re packing away our winter wardrobe and opening up the house for a good spring clean, we’re dreaming of summer days (and oh, those summer nights!) 😉
We’re more than ready to stretch out in the sun with a bestselling book, and to entertain friends with a barbie out the back. We’ve been hermits for far too long this winter.
Our outdoor spaces have been neglected. Hello dead leaves, long grass, and dirty rain damage. If looking out your back window makes you cringe, you’re gonna need to get cleaning (yeah, we’re not thrilled about it either).
Here are our top tips for making your outdoor space spectacularly beautiful again – you’ll be lazing in the sun in no time, we promise…
Clean your floor area
Clear all your big and bulky stuff out of the way first. You’ll need to start cleaning from the ground up – literally.
Timber decks should be swept thoroughly, lightly mopped, and re-oiled or stained if necessary (best to talk to an expert or visit your local hardware store if you’re not confident in doing it yourself).
Tiles and concrete spaces can also be swept prior to a good pressure hosing. If you’re renting, see if you can get your landlord to organise a professional to pay you a visit. Otherwise, you can hire a pressure hose (or buy one).
When the floor surface is clean, wipe down balcony rails and give your glass windows the spray-and-squeegee treatment.
Clean (and protect) your furniture
Whatever your outdoor furniture, we’ve got some handy hints for giving it a spruce without doing any damage.
Most outdoor furniture is weather-protected to withstand the rain and the UV rays of the Aussie sun. You wouldn’t want your cleaner to strip the protective layers off the furniture.
Store-bought cleaners are ideal as these are specially made to clean the dirt found in the timber grains without tarnishing the surface. You can buy tinted or untinted care kits, depending on your timber.
You can also brush down the timber (always going with the grain) for a quick clean. And if you’re comfortable with DIY cleaners, use warm water with a few tablespoons of white vinegar.
Never use bleach on timber as this can affect the colour.
While teak is a kind of timber, it’s a little bit special. Teak has more natural oils than regular timber, so it’s well-suited to outdoor use and may require different treatment.
Teak timber will weather with time, turning a soft grey tone. This is totally normal, and a lot of people prefer that look.
You can buy specialised teak sealers and cleaners, but these should be used sparingly so as not to saturate the wood.
The simplest DIY solution is mild detergent (the least caustic one you can find) scrubbed gently with a brush. Don’t use pressure hoses on your timber as this might cause it to split!
Metal outdoor furniture should be protected from rusting with a sand-blasted or powder-coated finish, so you don’t want to damage that layer! For powder-coated metals, simply wipe clean with a damp cloth.
For wrought iron or aluminium, use a non-abrasive cloth and a metal polishing paste which can either be bought from the store or made with a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water. (P.S. don’t apply water to a rusty metal surface!)
It’s important to remember that alkaline cleaners will cause quicker oxidisation, so be careful with your chemicals.
You can also wipe clean with a mix of detergent and water using a soft cloth so as not to cause scratches, then finish up with paper towel to avoid streaking.
If your table is scratched or chipped, head to the local auto-shop for a glass repair kit to patch it up.
To prolong the life of your glass table, cover it up when not in use and clean both sides regularly.
We generally wouldn’t recommend leaving your cotton canvas or polyester-upholstered pieces outdoors. While these outdoor cushions are weather-safe, they’ll last longer if you bring them inside pending thunderstorms or hail.
Upholstered sofas shouldn’t be left outdoors or in direct sunlight (unless you’re keen on that patchy faded look).
But otherwise, canvas can be cleaned with strong detergents and a stiff scrub. We’d steer away from bleaching, unless your fabric is white 😉
Ah, those old plastic lawn chairs that break unexpectedly once you’re a few beers in… Plastic outdoor chairs are great for casual areas but they’re prone to dirt and scuffs, which is fine if you’re not too fussed!
For your standard plastic chairs, hose down and wipe clean with a cloth or give them a once-over with some detergent or WD40 spray.
PU wicker outdoor dining sets may have protective outdoor coatings, so make sure not to scrub with anything abrasive.
Coloured plastic can be cleaned with a vinegar and water solution, or you can use baking soda for stubborn stains.
Clean your outdoor rug
Outdoor rugs are generally made from plastic or synthetic fibres that are designed to last despite living a rough-and-tumble life.
If you’re rug shopping, go for colour-fast dyes so your outdoor space looks fabulous for years to come.
Most outdoor rugs these days are pretty good if you take care of them properly (i.e. bring them inside if the weather turns nasty).
But since these rugs are basically immortal, you can hose them down, scrub them up, and hang them out to dry, and they’ll still look (and feel) amazing.
Give your rug a clean a few times a year, especially in summer when it’s used most.
Tidy pots and plants
Once you’ve done all the messy mixing of cleaning solutions, hosing, scrubbing, wiping sweat from your brow, sighing dispiritedly, etc. you’ll be on to the little things (ah, finally).
If your outdoor space is graced with green, give it a little attention. And we don’t mean watering.
Take a look at the pots and urns your plants call home and give them a wipe down. Invest in some nice hanging planters or new pots if your old ones are looking a bit shabby.
Re-pot overgrown plants and trim their leaves and stems so they’re neat and tidy (think of it like giving your plants a haircut).