Follow these simple instructions once a month and neither rain, wind, sun, nor drop of bird can ruin your outdoor furniture.
Cover furniture pieces from top to bottom with all-purpose cleaner and rub with a nylon scrub brush. Next, wipe with a microfiber cloth. For extra protection, finish with a coat of car wax, says Linda Cobb, the author of the Queen of Clean book series.
Combine 1 quart warm water, 1 teaspoon dishwashing detergent, and 1 tablespoon borax in a bucket. Dip a sponge in the solution, then use it to scrub the cushions on all sides. Let the solution soak in for 15 minutes. Rinse with a hose. Stand each cushion on an edge until dry.
Hose down the umbrella. Rub a wet soft-bristle brush across a bar of laundry soap. Run it over the open canopy, working from bottom to top. Rinse with a hose. Leave the umbrella open until dry. In between cleanings, wipe off bird droppings as soon as you spot them; the high acid content damages fabric, says Don Aslett, the founder of the Museum of Clean, in Pocatello, Idaho.
Use the vacuum’s crevice attachment to dislodge leaves and bugs from the cracks. (A paintbrush works well, too, says Cobb.) Next, wet a microfiber cloth with all-purpose cleaner and glide it over the wicker. Rinse with a damp sponge. Dry with a cloth to prevent mildew.