Cleaning your wooden garden furniture after a harsh winter


You must treat your garden furniture with TLC to keep it in tip-top shape, especially after a Vancouver winter. Even premium softwood furniture made from pressure-treated timber needs care if you want it to enjoy the longest possible life. Give your outdoor wooden furniture the best possible outcome from a long, hard winter by keeping it under cover, cleaning it, and conditioning it so the wood can fight off rot.

Moisture creates algae

You’ve got to fight off moisture and mildew damage. Fungi and mildew will damage wooden furniture and leave it with a grey, weathered surface. The harsh temperature changes, precipitation, ice, and salt can damage the wood and encourage algae growth. If not removed, the wood can weaken, or the rot can spread. If moisture gets beneath the surface of the treated wood, the wood will take on more water and have problems with algae growth when the weather turns warm.

Finding the right cleanser

Cleaning at the end of each winter is recommended to get rid of dirt, prevent algae growth, and keep the furniture in the best possible shape.

People who live in your local area will have the best understanding of what types of algae and mildew grow nearby and how to best treat them.

Check the ingredient list of your wood cleaner thoroughly to make sure it won’t discolor the wood deck or garden tiles. Cleaners vary in intensity, and the ingredients might damage your grass. Non-detergent liquid soap like you use on your dishes is gentle enough to clean your furniture without harm. For mildew, use a mixture of diluted white vinegar and water.

Cleaning process

The first step in cleaning is to soak the wood with clean water thoroughly. You can use a garden hose to wet one piece of furniture at a time. Once the first piece is soaked, apply a water-based wood cleaner to all surfaces.

Leave the soapy water for 30 minutes, then scrub the surface with a nylon brush in the direction of the wood grain. Rinse the entire piece of furniture thoroughly with clean water when finished.

Allow the furniture to dry, ideally in the sunshine, for 24 hours. Direct sunlight drives off mold and mildew, and the heat from the sun’s rays will absorb any moisture. The clean, dry furniture should be coated with oil, paint, or lacquer to ensure maximum protection against the sun, wind, and harsh weather of another season.

Sand and refinish

If your garden furniture has developed cracks and deep grooves, you’ll need to sand and refinish the wood. Start by washing the dirt and oil residue off of the furniture as directed above, then let the sunshine kill off any organisms.

Once it’s fully dry, sand the wood in the direction of the grain with light-grade sandpaper. Remove the dust with a blower or water from the garden hose. After it dries for 24 hours, apply oil or wood conditioner to maintain the beauty and color of the wood. Keep the wood looking brand new by applying a layer of paint or sealant.

Redecorate and keep it covered

Buy new cushions or throw pillows to brighten up the garden area and invest in some breathable furniture covers. Most local garden stores or websites have a broad selection of inexpensive options.

Avoid plastic or covers that could encourage mold or mildew growth. Use the covers to keep the dust, bird droppings, and other contaminants off of the furniture if you’d like to limit your annual maintenance. With proper maintenance, your garden furniture will remain beautiful and well-protected for many years.