Type to search

How To Clean Wooden Garden Furniture


After being cooped up indoors over the long chilly months of winter, most of us are eagerly looking forward to warmer weather so we can spend as much time as possible outside in the sunshine. You may even have a gorgeous set of wooden outdoor furniture gracing your garden. However, after not being used for several months, you will need to know how to clean wooden garden furniture so you can use throughout summer.

If you’re lucky enough to keep your garden furniture in the garage or the shed over winter, you won’t have much to clean. However, if your wooden garden furniture was left outside in the wind, rain and snow, your cleaning task can be quite detailed. 

Whether you’re giving your garden furniture a thorough cleaning after winter or just maintaining it over summer, you need to do it right to maintain the strength and beauty of your outdoor set. We asked the experts for tips on how to clean wooden garden furniture, so it’s perfect for your next gathering.

How Often Should You Clean Wooden Garden Furniture?

As a general rule, you should clean your wooden garden furniture at least three or four times a year. It will need a thorough cleaning after the winter so that it’s ready for you to use in the spring when the weather warms up. You will need to clean it at least once during the summer. If you leave the furniture out in the wind and rain, you may need to clean your furniture more often. You should also ensure your furniture is clean before you pack it up for the winter, as any stains or spills will have several months to set, which could spell disaster for your wooden garden furniture. 

You Will Need:

  • Safety goggles to prevent dust, debris and detergent from spattering into your eyes. 
  • Gloves to protect your hands. 
  • A garden hose to rinse off dirt and soapy residue while you clean.
  • A stiff brush to remove excess or cakes on dirt and debris.
  • Sandpaper to remove stains and splinters. 
  • A bucket with warm water and a mild detergent.
  • A soft dry cloth. 
  • A product to kill any wood mites or worms that may have taken up residence in your furniture.
  • Wood stain to protect your furniture for another year.

Prepare Your Furniture

Before you get down to the business of cleaning your wooden garden furniture, you need to remove any dirt and grime that may have accumulated on the furniture during the winter. So grab a good stiff brush and start removing any excess debris. A good brush is especially effective at cleaning ingrained dirt from wood as the bristles can get into the wood grains. 

The next step is to lightly sand down the surface of your furniture. Grab a piece of sandpaper and go over the surface. This will remove the final minute traces of dirt as well as any splinters that may have appeared while your furniture was hibernating. 

Once you’ve completed these steps, rinse off your furniture to remove the dust you created during the first two steps. 

How To Clean Wooden Garden Furniture?

There are many different ways to get your wooden garden furniture clean and you can use these methods at the start of the warmer season and during the summer while your furniture is in use. Some of these methods include:

  • Warm water and a mild detergent: Using a soft cloth or a sponge, work in small areas to clean off any scuff marks or other stains. If some of the grime is difficult to remove, use a stiff brush and work with the natural wood grain. 
  • Mildew spots – Unfortunately, winter often comes with rain or snow and this moisture can find its way onto your wooden garden furniture. You can easily clean this with undiluted distilled vinegar. Simply spray it on the mildew or dab it on with a sponge. You can also use a solution of ammonia, vinegar and sodium bicarbonate for difficult mildew stains. 

You can also use commercial products to get your wooden garden furniture nice and clean. Some of these chemical products also include substances that will kill any mites or worms that have taken up residence in your furniture. If you are using these products, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and preferably in a well-ventilated area or outdoors. 

Here’s how to clean wooden garden furniture:

  1. Use a brush to remove excess debris and when cleaning ingrained dirt from wood.
  2. Use sandpaper to smooth rough edges and remove any splinters that may have appeared.
  3. Treat mildew spots with vinegar, ammonia or a product especially for this purpose. 
  4. Hose off all the dirt and grime you have removed and allow the wood to dry completely.
  5. Treat the wood for parasites.
  6. Protect the wood with a wood stain. 

Maintaining Wooden Garden Furniture

We’ve gone through how to clean wooden garden furniture and while this is important, it’s all for nothing if you don’t maintain your furniture. Regular maintenance will keep your wooden garden furniture looking like new and it will extend the life of your furniture. Here are some maintenance tips you should consider:

Protect your furniture from harsh weather conditions

Many people only think of protecting their wooden garden furniture from rain or snow, but the wind and sun can wreak havoc on your furniture as well. Strong wind and sun can cause the wood to dry out, resulting in splitting. 

Add a layer of extra protection

Many products available on the market have been specially formulated to protect the wood from the elements. For example, you can paint your furniture with special wood paint or use a stain or a varnish. The idea is to add a water-resistant layer over the wood to prevent water seeping into the wood grains. This coating will make it easy to keep your furniture clean and protected at the same time.

Proper storage 

Good quality wooden garden furniture does not come cheap but it will last if you take care of it. Before the cold weather hits, it’s a good idea to store your furniture in the garage or the garden shed during those months when you won’t be using it. If you don’t have a shed or room in the garage, try to bring your furniture under the patio cover if you have one. If all else fails, purchase a good quality waterproof cover for furniture. Also, keep it covered during the winter. Preferably, you should keep it up against a wall of your house to minimise the exposure to the elements. 

Even if you do have an indoor storage facility for your wooden garden furniture, it’s still a good idea to invest in waterproof covers so you can protect your furniture during the summer months in case of rain or other weather issues. 

Regular checks and tightening 

Wood is a natural product and, as such, it can and will shrink or expand, depending on the weather. This may cause the nuts, bolts and screws to loosen. If you don’t address this problem, the furniture will move and wiggle, resulting in the furniture becoming damaged. Every so often, give your furniture a bit of a jiggle and if it feels loose, grab some tools and start tightening the hardware. 

How Long Does Wooden Garden Furniture Last?

Wooden garden furniture can last for quite a long time with an average of about 15 years. However, depending on wood type and maintenance, your furniture could last 25 to 50 years, perhaps even longer!

Keep in mind, though, that the first factor in the life expectancy of your wooden outdoor furniture is the quality and type of wood it is made of. This is where it really pays to invest a little extra for a product that will be around possibly longer than you. 

Choosing Wooden Garden Furniture

When it comes to wooden garden furniture hardwoods are an infinitely better option. Teak is one of the hardwoods used to make outdoor furniture, and is so stunning because it has a straight grain with natural streaks. Other hardwoods include; walnut, maple, mahogany and several others. So if you are shopping for a new outdoor bench, make sure it is a hardwood garden bench to really get your money’s worth. 

The most important thing to remember when cleaning your wooden garden furniture is cleaning it regularly and storing it properly. Then, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to keep your furniture looking fantastic for years. 

Although this may seem a big task, you can go for decades without replacing your furniture if it’s well maintained. 

It’s almost time to get your wooden garden furniture read for another season of warmth and sunshine. 


Anna Sharples

Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches - a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.

  • 1

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *