How to clean your garden furniture, patio and windows

From winter drab to spring fab, here are some top tips for bringing your outdoor space back to life. By Sam Wylie-Harris.

Now is the time to spruce up your garden for summer
Now is the time to spruce up your garden for summer (Ozgur Coskun / Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo)

As anyone with a patio, garden or outdoor seating area will agree, one of best things is sitting back, relaxing and basking under blue skies.

The only thing is, you need to do some prepping before you can plant yourself outside, boost your mood and not be put off by messy debris, fallen leaves and anything that’s accumulated over the past few months.

As home expert, author and ‘Queen of Clean’, Lynsey Crombie (@lynsey_queenofclean), puts it: “This will give you a clean slate to work with.”

Here, she shares her garden checklist to give the green light to outdoor living, so everything looks spick and span…

Clean the patio or decking

Start by using a stiff bristle broom and sweep away any waste, remove any pots and furniture, so you have a clear canvas to clean, says Crombie.

Pay attention to corners as this is where most debris will sit, she notes. If you notice any stubborn stains, pre-treat using a specific patio/decking cleaning product suitable for the type of surface.

“A product I highly recommend is Wet & Forget, but sometimes good old washing-up liquid can work,” suggests Crombie. “Once pre-treated, either use a jet wash (ensure the pressure’s not to high), or a stiff brush with warm soapy water.

“Once complete, rinse and allow to dry before putting items back.”

Clean and check garden tools

Inspect your gardening tools and equipment to ensure they are clean, knock off any mud, and check they are in good working condition, advises Crombie. “Hand wash your garden gloves and any knee boards in warm soapy water.”

Clean up garden furniture

“Sweep away cobwebs, debris, and leaves. If you have plastic, metal, or rattan furniture, wash them over with warm soapy water and a dash of white vinegar.

“For any bird poo stains, pre-treat these first using a bird poo remover or white vinegar so it disintegrates,” says Crombie.

“If you spot any rust stains on metal furniture, if mild, use tomato ketchup – rub in, leave a few hours and then rinse away.”

(Elton Law / Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo)

For anything worse, she suggests a specific rust cleaner. Once your metal furniture is dry, you can add a metal polish or wax to restore the shine which you can get from any DIY shops, she adds.

As far as wooden furniture goes, she says to clean the same way, but once air dried fully, use an orange oil to protect and nourish, or a wood sealer.

Spruce up garden cushions

Check the care label before cleaning, notes Crombie. “Most are machine washable and come off. But if they don’t, give them a vacuum to remove any dust and debris, and spot clean any stains using white vinegar.”

(Ozgur Coskun / Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo)

“If machine washing, avoid adding bleach or fabric conditioner as this can weaken the fabric – and allow to air dry.”

Do not tumble dry, she warns, in case of shrinkage. “They are hard enough to put back on as it is, so you don’t want them any smaller.”

Freshen up garden rugs

Clean these using a hard bristle brush and warm soapy water, then allow to air dry, says Crombie.

Cleaning windows

Cleaning windows outside requires careful attention to detail, to ensure streak-free and sparkling results…

Avoid cleaning in direct sunlight

“When cleaning windows, it’s important to choose the right time of day – cleaning windows when the sun is shining directly on them can lead to streaking.

“This happens because the intense heat from the sun can cause the cleaning solution to dry too quickly on the glass,” explains Crombie. “Leaving behind unsightly streaks and marks.”

(Ray Kennedy / Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo)

Even after thorough scrubbing and polishing with microfibre cloths, she says streaks may still persist.

“It’s advisable to clean windows on cloudy or overcast days when the sun’s intensity is lower,” says Crombie. “This allows the cleaning solution to remain wet for longer, making it easier to achieve a streak-free finish.”

Use warm soapy water with white vinegar

“The most effective way to clean window glass is by using a solution of warm, soapy water with a splash of white vinegar.

“White vinegar is a versatile and an affordable household cleaner which works wonders on windows,” she says. “Its acidic nature helps to break down stubborn dirt, grime, and oily residue that can accumulate on glass surfaces.”

By adding a small amount of white vinegar to the soapy water mixture, you can enhance its cleaning power and ensure a streak-free shine; using circular cleaning movements, says Crombie.

“Additionally, the warmth of the water helps to loosen dirt and makes it easier to remove during the cleaning process.

“With a little effort and attention to detail, you can enjoy crystal-clear windows that let the sunshine in without any streaks or smudges,” highlights Crombie.