Spick and Span

runktrun(z7a MA)April 8, 2010

Cleanliness maybe next to godliness but frankly the older I get the more likely I am to ignore the tumble weeds of dog hair blowing across the livingroom. So the idea of cleaning patio furniture each spring rarely even makes it to my list of outdoor chores. This year however prompted by a change in hardscape I decided it was time to spiffy up the neglected mish-mash collection of patio chairs and tables.

I thought we might use this thread to post cleaning & maintenance tips for hardscape decks, patios, driveways, ect., as well as cleaning & maintenance tips for patio/deck furniture, pottery, BBQ grills, ect. So below are a few tips I thought I would share.

1. When I bought a teak patio table a number of years ago the selling point that allowed me to swallow the ridiculously high price tag was that it was presumably maintenance free should I allow it to weather to a soft gray. A few years ago after cleaning the teak on our boat Joe used the marine cleaner on our table and frankly it left me unimpressed. This year after finally springing for the chairs that go with the table I bought the manufacturers (Kingsley Bate) cleanser that comes with a special scrubber. The actual process involved nothing more than applying the cleanser, scrubbing off and hosing down. This did not restore the wood to its natural brown tone but removed all of the mold and dirt the table was holding on to. The visual results were identical to when a house or deck has been power washed less the damage to the wood.

2. Scotchgard - YIKES, YIKES, YIKES,ÂPlease speak up even if you rarely post I would love to know if you were aware of 3M dropping Scotchguard from their product line back in 99 because it was well documented that PFOS were showing up in shocking levels in the blood streams of most Americans and in higher levels of employees. I stumble on this a mere 21 years later when I was at the patio furniture store buying the teak cleaner and asked the salesperson if they sold Scotchguard for the patio chair cushions, her response was that it was found to be toxic and is no longer on the market but they had something else I could try. Back at home what did I find in my pantry but an old (certainly not 21yrs old) half full can of Scotchgard. Where have I been? Why didnÂt I know about Scotchguard earlier?

3. I hope I can sa*ve someone from making the same mistake that I did. If you are buying your patio furniture in stages like I did you will want to make sure you buy ALL of your fabric selections (chair cushions ect) in one order. I learned the hard way that the fabric mills have cut Way back and dropping a large percentage of what they were offering in a better economy. Many of the retailers can no longer get even some the more basic popular fabrics.

So do you have any maintenance/cleaning tips?

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spedigrees z4VT

I usually tackle everything outdoors that needs cleaning with a bucket of chorine bleach solution and the hot water hose. (Like the pvc siding on the north side of the h*ouse that is so due for a good scrub down!) I wouldn't use this on my wrought iron outdoor furniture because bleach and metal do not usually play well together and the metal gets the owrst of it. But I do use it on plastic and wooden lawn chairs. Bleach kills mildew and mold, so it's my weapon of choice where practical. Letting bleach sit on an item or surface for 20 minutes or so usually loosens the most stubborn grunge.

I laugh at your description of apathetically watching dog hair tumbleweends blow across the floor! Many such tumbleweeds inhabit my house, along with the critters who produced them, and I care less and less the older I get.

I was completely unaware of the scotchguard toxin issue. I bought a can of the stuff intending to treat an antique hooked rug given to me by my sister. Now I'm not so sure that's a good idea. They may have changed the ingredients, but I'm dubious now.

For sure I've noticed the lack of any fabrics in stores, and even on the internet a dwindling selection. VERY annoying!! Calico patterns are all but extinct and I had to search long and far to find material with yellow butterflies on it.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 2:30PM
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A timely topic!

My first reaction to the recalled Scotchguard was "huh?" because I've bought it in recent years. Evidently it's still sold but has been reformulated. The manufacturer has info. about the chemical change on its website, at http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Scotchgard/Home/Resources/Environmental/

Teak furniture: that's a tough decision on whether to try to keep it the original gorgeous color, or let it go gray. We bought a teak bench several years ago for our semi-sheltered front porch and I've been cleaning and applying new teak oil about twice a year in the likely losing battle to keep it pristine. For cleaning, I've used an inexpensive teak cleaner I bought at Christmas Tree shop. I'm out of the original teak oil and need to decide whether to buy a new can, or use the Penofin Hardwood Formula I just bought to treat an old cedar glider. I'm tempted to go with the Penofin since I think it has more UV screening than teak oil, but it does seem to leave a pretty dark finish. I used it last night on the cedar glider, after sanding off as much of the failed spar varnish as I could, but it's never going to look new.

We bought a very inexpensive teak bench for our shady backyard, and I'm not even going to try to keep it looking new. It's already grayed and splotchy, but that's OK--it looks right for its setting and is sure a lot less work.

Other furniture: I've sworn off anything steel. If it isn't wood or aluminum I'm not buying it, no matter how attractive or a good buy it is, because eventually it will rust. I also try to resist buying anything with cushions since they're so much aggravation.

I don't have the space to store furniture; the glass and aluminum table stays on the deck all winter and the chairs fold up and get tucked in a not terribly sheltered corner. The gas grill has a good cover on it. Our deck is made out of a PVC material that never needs refinishing and the railing is oiled wood rails and aluminum balusters.

It's tough: we have a short season, there's ALWAYS something coming down (oak flowers, winter moth droppings, green pollen), there's always mildew ready to attack, even on the south side of the house. We have other warm weather hobbies that compete for our time. I think lowered expectations may be the best approach!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 3:12PM
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"I think lowered expectations may be the best approach! "

That pretty well sums up my attitude. My husband takes care of the outdoor furniture, and as far as I'm concerned the rain does an acceptably decent job of cleaning up our teak table and chairs.

I shy away from anything like scotchguard; you just can't assume the testing has been done before these chemicals go on the market. Even chlorine bleach is too much trouble to use - it inevitably lands where you didn't want it. DH uses it on the walls of the outdoor shower, but it's just not that environmentally friendly - and the fumes give me a royal headache.

We have a half dozen pine adirondak chairs that my son made; the wood looks pretty awful after spending the winter out of doors, so I am hoping son and/or husband get out there and do something - not sure what - to spiff them up. Soon. The way they look bothers me, but not enough to make me do anything about them myself.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 7:47AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Or you can take pride in having inadvertently created a work of art - this is one of two Adirondack chairs left over from my parents' era which are rarely used and which serve mostly as "garden features". The new adornment appeared at the end of March this year - the photo was taken today.

I doubt if anyone will be sitting in this chair any time soon.


    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 1:25PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Beautiful just simply beautiful.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 7:39AM
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Yes, I agree, beautiful. I wouldn't touch those - and not just because I'm lazy.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 8:41AM
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That chair is too cool. . .I have a 14-year-old cedar bench that has started
developing lichen in the last year or two - and I wouldn't replace it for the
world ! Well, since it's used a lot, maybe a new bench in that spot, but the
beautiful older version will take up residence nearby as an "object d'art".
Claire, how about planting a tiny sprig of a variegated euonymous at the
base of one leg, and letting nature take over? I've tried this on a fallen
log in my garden and the effect is remarkable. . .

As for cleaning tips: no one here has actually recommended power-washing
for wood or plastic-coated furniture, which I was considering trying for the
first time - is this a no-no?


    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 2:19PM
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how ironic... my two 4-5 year old cedar adirondack chairs are headed in that direction. splotchy just starting.

I was thinking that this year, if I plan to keep them viable, I better do something. Originally, I planned on grey and weathered and zero maintenance. But they are really comfy and I like sitting in them. I want to protect them from above "beautiful" fate awhile longer.

Any recommendations?

As far as spick-and-span in general, I give a quick swipe with a 10% bleach solution to patio furniture (mostly plastic wicker over steel) and hoses and hose reels and anything else with visible mildew.

In the fall I clean my too-porous limestone stoop and put sealer on.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 2:25PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

After I read your post I tried to clean my older cedar adirondack chairs with the teak cleaning product I boasted about above. After a fare amount of muscle power I was still unable to remove the fungi-moss/lichen? The overall effect was the wood was a little cleaner but the wood grain was still raised. I will post some before and after photos as soon as I have a free moment but I think your recipe of 10% bleach might be the better choice for cleaning cedar.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 6:42PM
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This article doesn't give me a lot of hope for cleaning/restoring it. Although maybe staining it afterwards is the missing piece.

Here is a link that might be useful: cleaning and restoring link

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 11:44AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

I cleaned and stained my ten year old deck last year and the results were incredible. I wish I had before and after pictures for dramatic effect. A lot of people say that you should stay away from bleach because it damages the wood and any plants that are in the vicinity. They also recommend avoiding power washers because they also damage the wood. The general recommendation is to use what is known as oxygen bleach which contains sodium percarbonate as the active ingredient.

I bought a product called Deckbrite that contains this compound and used it on my deck. The wood went from looking intensely gray to looking like brand new wood straight out of a sawmill. My wife and I were both speechless. I then sanded down a few rough spots and then stained the deck a mahogany color and painted the railings white. The cold weather caught me last fall before I could finish the railings so I still have some work to do this spring. After everything is finished, I'll post a picture of it.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 8:11AM
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