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How To Clean Plastic Outdoor Furniture

16 September 2019 | 1 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in Constructive Criticism

Cleaning tips plastic outdoor furniture

South African's love spending time outdoors and I don't mean hiking and braaiing I mean just sitting around and enjoying the amazing weather we have and just soaking it all in. This is why outdoor furniture is a table for many a South African home. People often leave the patio furniture outside during the whole year, subjecting the chairs and tables in the sun, the rain, the snow and sleet. Add to that the dirt and grime that attract outdoor furniture, chairs and soon will be dirty and unattractive.

This is especially true with white plastic patio chairs. The plastic patio chairs that are made are resin. These chairs have resin that traps dirt and grime which is highly visible in a white chair.

So how do you keep your white outdoor furniture in tip-top condition? Here are a few tips that might help

Basic cleaning instructions

White plastic deck chairs are an affordable option for outdoor furniture. However, since they are relatively inexpensive, you don't want to have to spend an excessive amount of money keeping them in tip-top shape. 

You can do a simple wipe down, or if needed, there are some options you can try to get rid of stubborn marks or stains.

For a simple clean up that should handle most issues all you need to do is follow the following six steps

1. Hot water and liquid dish soap

Pour a few litres of water into a bucket and use three or four squirts of soap to create suds for scrubbing your plastic lounge chairs

2. Wipe down the plastic lawn chairs with a sponge or rag

Use a generous amount of your cleaning solution to soak the plastic outdoor chairs. You may need to scrub your plastic outdoor chairs for a few minutes if dirt and leaves are covering the chairs.

3. Allow the chairs to soak for 10 to 15 minutes if the soil doesn't automatically come off

Letting the solution soak in will help to loosen dirt and stains on your plastic chairs.

4. Rinse the chairs

Spray your plastic patio chairs off with a hose to rinse off the soap and remaining dirt. Use a nozzle or extra water pressure to ensure you've gotten your outdoor patio chairs clean.

5. Repeat as needed if there is any remaining dirt or staining

Use a gentle brush, such as a soft toothbrush, to clean any hard-to-reach crevices on your outdoor chairs. A thick scrub brush can also remove dirt from the seats of your chairs, especially plastic chairs.

6. Place the chairs upside down and allow them to dry

If you intend to use your plastic patio chairs right away, you can dry them with a clean towel. You can also use paper towels on smaller plastic patio chairs.

Stubborn stain cleaning instructions

Bleach method

Use this recipe to restore your white plastic chairs to their original brilliance.


  • 1/4 cup bleach
  • Bucket
  • Hot water
  • Rubber gloves
  • Scrub brush


  1. Combine 1/4-cup of regular household bleach in a large bucket with warm water.
  2. Slide on a pair of rubber gloves and then dip a scrub brush into the hot cleaning solution.
  3. Scrub the chairs with the solution making sure you wipe away any bird droppings that may have settled in the chair's seams.
  4. Allow the solution to sit on the chairs for a few minutes, then rinse them down with clean water from a garden hose.
  5. Dry the chairs with a cloth or place them in the sun to dry.

Note: Whenever you use bleach to clean plastic deck chairs, it is vital to spot test the solution before disinfecting. Bleach can stain coloured deck chairs. It can also cause yellowing on white plastic deck chairs if it is left on for more than 10 minutes. Never apply straight bleach on white plastic deck chairs. Also, when cleaning with bleach, be sure to protect your hands with gloves and wear old clothes in case of accidental spills. Remember that plastic deck chairs are not the highest quality patio furniture on the market.

Vinegar method

Whether you are deep-cleaning your white plastic deck chairs or you want to spruce up their look before placing them out for the season, plain vinegar can help.


  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • Bucket
  • Hot water
  • Soft bristle scrub brush


  1. Use a hose to wet the chairs thoroughly.
  2. Pour 1/4-cup of vinegar into a bucket of hot water.
  3. Use a soft bristle scrub brush to remove dried-on food, sticky soda, dirt, dust and grime.
  4. Rinse the chairs with freshwater and allow to dry outside.

Note: To get rid of mildew or mould stains on patio furniture, spray the spots with undiluted white vinegar.

Dishwashing soap method

Use this method for extra tough stains. Before using this method, check to make sure the dishwashing soap does not contain ammonia. Mixing ammonia with bleach could cause chlorine gas to be produced and released. Chlorine gas is hazardous if inhaled.


  • 3/4 cup bleach
  • Two tablespoons liquid dishwashing soap
  • A couple of litres of hot water
  • Rubber gloves
  • Sponge


  1. Combine 3/4-cup standard household bleach and two tablespoons of liquid dishwashing soap with the warm water.
  2. Put on some rubber gloves and wash the chairs with a sponge dipped in the hot liquid cleaning solution.
  3. Work on one chair at a time and rinse each with clean water before proceeding on to the next. It's not a good idea to let the bleach solution to sit on plastic chairs for too long, as prolonged exposure may cause discolouration.

Laundry detergent method

Liquid laundry detergent can also be a great stain fighter on dirty chairs.


  • One tablespoon liquid laundry detergent
  • A couple of litres of warm water
  • Soft scrub brush or sponge


  1. Combine one tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent with lukewarm water.
  2. Apply the cleaning solution to the dirty plastic chairs and scrub all affected areas with a soft scrub brush or sponge.
  3. Allow the solution to sit on the chairs for about 15 minutes before spraying them down with a hose and drying them with a clean towel.

Cleaning tip

Keep in mind that scrubbing the synthetic surface too hard may compromise the integrity of the chair. You are better off using gentle strokes when cleaning.

Impossible stain removal

If you can't get rid of the stains on solid plastic pieces, make your furniture look like new by painting it. Buff the plastic with steel wool or fine sandpaper to rough up the surface so the paint will adhere better; then apply to spray paint specialised for use on plastic, available at your local home improvement store.

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Recommended reading

If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts on cleaning.

Tags: Cleaning, Furniture

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