How To Clean Polywood Furniture

As the weather starts warming up, it’s time to uncover that Polywood patio set you stashed away last fall and get it cleaned up and ready for backyard barbecuing and lounging. But after sitting out in the elements all winter, your Polywood probably needs more than just a quick wipe down to have it looking fresh and ready for company.

Not to worry – restoring your Polywood furniture to its original glory is easier than you think. With a little bit of elbow grease and cleaning know-how, you’ll have your Polywood pieces looking brand new again.

In this handy guide, we’ll walk through all the steps and best practices for deep cleaning Polywood patio sets, chairs, tables, and more. From routine wipe downs to removing stubborn stains, mold, and built-up grime, we’ve got you covered. Armed with the right techniques and supplies, you can have your Polywood looking showroom ready in time for summer. Let’s dig in!

Gather Your Supplies

Before tackling the job of cleaning your Polywood furniture, take a quick inventory to make sure you’ve got all the recommended supplies on hand. This will save you from having to stop mid-clean to make a run to the store. Here’s what you’ll need:

Cleaning Solutions

  • Mild dish detergent or eco-friendly outdoor cleaner
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Optional: Outdoor sealant/protectant

Cleaning Tools

  • Soft-bristle scrub brush
  • Old toothbrush for crevices
  • Microfiber cloths/sponges
  • Garden hose with adjustable nozzle

Other Items

  • Bucket
  • Clean rags or towels
  • Optional: Power washer (under 1500 psi)

Know Your Polywood

Before grabbing the scrub brush, take a minute to familiarize yourself with the care and cleaning requirements for Polywood materials.

Polywood is a proprietary outdoor lumber made from 90% recycled plastic resins. It has a wood-like look and feel but is resistant to cracking, peeling, insects, and moisture damage. This durability makes Polywood ideal for outdoor furniture, but it still requires proper maintenance.

According to Polywood, their furniture can be cleaned using a power washer up to 1500 psi. Higher pressure can potentially damage the material. Mild detergents, liquid cleaners, or a vinegar-and-water solution can be used safely.

Bleach and abrasive cleaners should always be avoided, as they can discolor or scratch the Polywood surface over time. Be sure to test any cleaners on an inconspicuous underside area first.

Routine Polywood Cleaning

For periodic cleaning or quick touch-ups, a simple soap-and-water scrubbing does the trick. Here’s how:

Step 1: Rinse

Use a garden hose to give your Polywood a preliminary rinse, spraying off any loose dirt or debris. This prevents you from just rubbing it around in the next steps.

Step 2: Make a Soapy Solution

In a bucket, mix together:

  • 2-3 capfuls of mild dish detergent or eco-friendly cleaner
  • Warm water

Step 3: Scrub Away

Use a soft-bristle scrub brush and microfiber cloth dipped in the soapy solution to gently scrub down all surfaces of your Polywood furniture. Get into crevices with an old toothbrush.

Step 4: Rinse Thoroughly

Rinse away all soap residue using your hose or a bucket of clean water. Be sure to rinse every surface that was cleaned.

Step 5: Air Dry

Allow your Polywood to completely air dry before replacing any cushions or covers. The sun will help speed up drying time.

And just like that, your routine Polywood cleaning is complete! For a deeper clean, keep reading.

Restoring Weathered Polywood

Over time, Polywood can start to show dirt buildup, fade from sun exposure, develop mold/mildew, or turn chalky. Here are some tips for restoring Polywood’s like-new look:

Power Washing

For a deep clean, lightly power wash Polywood using a 1500 psi or lower pressure washer. Keep the nozzle 6-8 inches from the surface and use sweeping motions rather than focusing on one area. Rinse and let dry completely.

Removing Mold/Mildew

Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water in a bucket. Use a soft brush to scrub this solution onto affected areas. Let sit briefly before rinsing. Improve drainage near furniture to prevent future mold growth.

Fixing Faded Sections

Lightly sand faded spots with 220 grit sandpaper to refresh the Polywood surface, then apply a protective outdoor sealant per manufacturer instructions. Replace slats or lumber if damage is too severe.

Cleaning Chalky Residue

Mix a solution of 2-3 tbsp oxygen bleach powder per 1 gallon of warm water. Use a soft brush to gently scrub powder onto chalky areas. Rinse thoroughly.

Cleaning Polywood Parts and Accessories

In addition to the main furniture pieces, don’t forget smaller Polywood components need cleaning too!

Hardware

Mix mild dish detergent with warm water. Use a soft brush to scrub away dirt and grime from stainless steel hardware like bolts, screws, and nuts. Rinse and dry completely.

Umbrellas

Use a dry vac to remove loose dirt from canopies. Mix detergent, bleach, and water then scrub into the fabric with a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly and leave open to air dry.

Cushions

Brush away loose debris from cushions. Mix detergent and warm water then scrub cushions. Rinse thoroughly and allow to completely air dry before replacing.

Wicker Accents

Use a dry vac and soft brush to remove dirt from wicker. Mix detergent and water then scrub. Get into crevices with an old toothbrush. Rinse and dry fully.

Protecting Polywood After Cleaning

Once your Polywood looks pristine again, take a few simple steps to keep it that way:

Apply a Protective Coating

1-2 times per year, treat your Polywood with an outdoor sealant or polish. This protects the plastic lumber from UV damage, prevents staining, and adds a lustrous finished look. Carefully follow product instructions.

Check for Damage

Inspect Polywood for splinters, cracks, loosening hardware, or other defects that may need repair. Addressing problems quickly keeps furniture safe and extends its lifespan.

Furniture Covers

Invest in custom covers or weather-resistant wraps to keep your Polywood protected when not in use. This prevents exposure and keeps dirt, leaves, and debris off surfaces.

Proper Winter Storage

Before winter, thoroughly clean Polywood and allow to dry completely before covering or stacking away in storage. Keeping Polywood dry over winter prevents future mold growth.

FAQs About Caring for Polywood

Still have some questions about keeping your Polywood patio furniture looking its best? Here are answers to some common queries:

How often should it be cleaned?

  • For outdoor furniture that’s used frequently, aim to clean Polywood every 2-4 weeks during peak seasons. Annual deep cleans are also a smart maintenance step.

Can you use bleach for stubborn stains?

  • Bleach is not recommended by Polywood since it can potentially discolor the lumber over time. For stubborn stains, use a diluted bleach-and-water mix sparingly, then rinse extremely thoroughly.

What’s the best way to clean Polywood cushions?

  • Use a mild detergent and soft brush on cushion covers, then rinse completely. Allow to air dry fully before replacing to prevent mold growth. For removable cushion covers, machine wash on gentle when needed.

How can I get rid of mold or mildew?

  • Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water. Apply it to mildew stains and let sit briefly before scrubbing with a soft brush. Ensure proper drainage around furniture to prevent the mold from recurring.

How do I fix severe fading issues?

  • Try sanding affected areas lightly and applying a new coat of outdoor sealant. For extensive fading or damage, replacement of the lumber may be required.

More Polywood Pointers

  • During peak summer months, aim to deep clean Polywood at least 1-2 times per month.
  • For convenience, try mixing up a larger batch of soapy water cleaning solution ahead of time and storing it in a labeled spray bottle.
  • Always test cleaning products in an inconspicuous spot before applying them to the entire Polywood surface.
  • Wipe spills immediately to prevent staining on Polywood furniture.
  • Routinely inspect and tighten any loose Polywood hardware to prevent safety issues.
  • Allow Polywood at least 24 hours to completely dry before applying any protective coatings or treatments.

The Takeaway

While Polywood is an ultra-durable outdoor lumber made to withstand the elements, it still benefits tremendously from proper care and routine cleaning. With just a few cheap household ingredients and cleaning tools on hand, you can remove built-up grime, rejuvenate faded color, and restore your Polywood furniture to like-new condition again so you can enjoy relaxing and entertaining outdoors.

Remember to clean Polywood at least monthly during prime seasons, prep properly for winter storage, and address any maintenance issues promptly. Follow these Polywood cleaning and care tips, and your outdoor furniture will provide many more years of lasting beauty and comfort for your deck, patio or backyard.