The quality of your outdoor furniture is what can make or break your summertime enjoyment out in the yard. Unfortunately, while your favorite backyard chairs and table start gorgeous, they can take some serious abuse from the elements, especially if you can’t store them off-season. After a few years exposed to drenching rain, bitter cold, blistering sun, and the dirt, grime, and algae that can build up over time, outdoor furniture can quickly go from beautiful to neglected. Even after a single year’s worth of exposure, it might be time for a thorough cleaning.
Though a pressure washer is a fantastic tool to use to clean your outdoor furniture, consider a few of the following tips to make sure you do it right.
Don’t Wash Your Outdoor Furniture Too Frequently
A common mistake when pressure washing outdoor furniture is that people love doing it a little too much. While there’s something satisfying and cathartic about blasting away dirt, it’s not something you want to do every day. Indeed, pressure washing too frequently will erode the surface of your furniture, especially if it’s made out of stained wood.
The best thing to do is only pressure wash your furniture once or twice a year as needed — or, at the very least, in spring. This way, you can get rid of any crud built up from the year before while getting your furniture ready for use for the summer ahead. While life and mother nature are both unpredictable, your furniture might require an extra wash — especially with heavy use. Just remember that highly pressurized water can cause more harm than good if used irresponsibly or, in this case, too frequently.
Know Your Surface
Not all surfaces are made equal. This is especially true when it comes to pressure washing. For example, hard plastic and metal can take quite a beating, but paint can be stripped and aged wood can break apart under pressure. While new wooden outdoor furniture is pretty sturdy, that heirloom bench from Grandpa’s youth might not be as strong as it once was. If you’re ever unsure of how well a piece of furniture will withstand pressure washing, contact a professional before potentially causing some irreparable damage to your favorite furniture.
Use a Cleaning Solution For Extra Help at Lower Pressure
While a jet of pressurized water usually is enough to take on any dirt or grime, a little extra help never hurts. Adding a non-toxic cleaner that’s safe for the material you’re cleaning can elevate the washing further. This method is excellent for older furniture or more porous, aged materials since the added cleaner will allow you to spray at a lower pressure. Just as each material has its own composition, be sure to use the right cleaning mixture for the job.
Be Sure to Clean at the Correct Angle
Just as the surface material, cleaner, and pressure settings are all important factors to consider, so is the angle you hit the surface with the pressurized water jet.
By washing from a slightly off-angle rather than washing perpendicular to the surface, you can minimize the potentially damaging force away from your furniture while still taking the grime to task. Washing at a 30º-45º angle from above can peel away dirt without spraying dirty water everywhere and preserve the surface better underneath.
Choose the Right Pressure Washing Nozzle
The final factor to consider while pressure washing outdoor furniture is selecting the proper nozzle. Many people make the mistake of using a narrow, high-pressure tip that concentrates the force of the washer in one area. While great for pavement, these nozzles can wreak havoc on outdoor furniture. When it comes to nozzles for more fragile materials, wider is better. By dissipating the force over a wider area, you decrease the risk of damage while even speeding up the process of cleaning. This nozzle type also pairs well with a cleaning solution, coating a wide area evenly for a more effective wash.
Keeping your outdoor furniture looking great is important to enjoying it. However, some things may need more than a bit of elbow grease, needing the help of a pressure washer. While pressure washing can be its own kind of summertime relaxation, these are still very powerful — and potentially dangerous — tools. By doing your research beforehand, you can safely clean your furniture so you and your family can enjoy another season of fun in the sun. Of course, if you’re unsure where to start or nervous about doing it yourself, you can always call on a helpful professional.
Photo by Natural Goods Berlin on Unsplash