How to Clean Sunbrella Outdoor Patio Furniture Cushions
Sunbrella fabric is treated with a water and stain repellant when it’s manufactured. Cleaning the fabric may remove this repellant, so a re-treatment of fabric guard is recommended after you clean Sunbrella with any soapy solution.
It is not recommended that you unzip the covers on your cushions and remove the Sunbrella fabric from the inner foam. It is very difficult to get the foam back inside with the corners tightly in place and without creasing or ripping the Dacron that may be wrapped around your foam. Always clean your cushions with the Sunbrella fabric in place.
Vacuum your cushions regularly to remove surface dirt and pollen and to prevent it from becoming embedded into the fibers of your Sunbrella fabric. Fine dirt can act as an abrasive substance that tears the threads of the fabric and wears it thin. Once dirt gets through the fabric and into the foam, it needs to be drenched with water and pushed all the way through and out of the cushion.
Dirt on the surface of the fabric can be removed regularly using a quick and easy clean up process. Drench a microfiber towel in water. Use it to wipe the surface of the cushion off. Rinse the rag with clean water and continue to wipe off the surface until dirt no longer appears on the rag.
Remove this as soon as you notice it. Bird droppings are acidic and can cause permanent discoloration. If it’s dried, use a credit card or other hard edge (not a knife) to swipe across it to remove the majority of it. Vacuum the area and spot clean using the cleaning instructions below. If it’s wet, treat it as a new stain using the instructions below.
New Spills and Stains:
Blot with a clean, dry, absorbent cloth or paper towel. Cushions treated with fabric guard may repel the stain completely. If it’s an oil-based stain, apply corn starch from your kitchen pantry to it. Allow the corn starch to absorb the liquid and turn into a crumbly consistency. Use a hard edge such as a credit card to scrape the corn starch off. Vacuum and then proceed to clean.
For non-oily stains and oily stains that have been absorbed with corn starch, spot clean the area. Mix a solution of mild soap and lukewarm water. Use ¼ cup of Dawn dishwashing liquid or Woolite per gallon of water. Put it in a spray bottle and saturate the fabric in the affected area. Use a sponge or very soft bristle brush to work the soap into the stain. Rinse the area with water to clean the soap residue away. Do this by repeatedly wiping the surface with a wet sponge or rag until soap suds are no longer visible. It may be necessary to spray the area with a squirt bottle filled with plain water.
As an alternative and for particularly stubborn stains, use the only stain cleaner officially recommended by Sunbrella: 303 Products Spot Cleaner.
Be aware that cleaning only a spot on the fabric may result in a water ring. It’s best to clean the spot and then clean or at least dampen the overall surface to avoid this.
Overall Dirty Cushions:
Scrape any crusty material off with a credit hard or other hard edge (not a knife). Vacuum the cushions off. Mix a solution of mild soap and lukewarm water. Use ¼ cup of Dawn dishwashing liquid or Woolite per gallon of water. Put it in a spray bottle and spray it over the entire surface. Use a very soft bristle brush to work the soap into the fabric. Rinse the area with water to clean the soap residue away. Do this by repeatedly wiping the surface with a wet sponge or rag until soap suds are no longer visible. It may be necessary to spray the area with a squirt bottle filled with plain water.
If the cushions have been neglected for a long time, if you unzip the Sunbrella fabric and see dirt inside of the fabric and in the foam, or if there is a lot of dirt and it becomes necessary to use a lot of water, consider using a hose during your rinsing. If you have or are going to get dirt through your fabric and into the foam, the goal is to rinse the dirt out of the foam. It will be necessary to apply a large volume of water in order to push the dirt through and out the other side. You do not want to trap dirt or pollen inside of the foam. If you have reticulated foam, or dry foam, this will be very easy to do. If you have a denser foam, it will take bit of time for the water to saturate and move through. You may use a water extractor to vacuum up most of the water before setting the cushion out to air dry.
Always allow cushions to air dry with them standing on end, zipper side down. Do not put in a dryer. If you ever need to use an iron, be sure to use the setting for synthetic fabric and test it in an inconspicuous place first. Do not use a steamer to remove wrinkles.
As an alternative to soap and water, use the only fabric cleaner recommended by Sunbrella: 303 Products Fabric Cleaner. Remember to treat your Sunbrella with fabric guard after cleaning. You have just stripped away the original factory-applied repellent that was on the fabric. Sunbrella recommends 303 Products Fabric Guard. Two light applications of fabric guard is recommended. Allow the first application to dry before beginning the second application.
Mold and Mildew:
Use the same cleaning method as described above, except the cleaning solution will include bleach. The recipe is:
1 cup of bleach
¼ cup Dawn dishwashing liquid or Woolite
1 gallon of water
When you spray the solution onto the moldy fabric, allow it to soak into the fabric for 15 minutes before working it in and then rinsing. If this solution does not remove the mildew, you can strengthen it by increasing the bleach.
Always treat your Sunbrella with fabric guard after cleaning. Sunbrella recommends two light applications of 303 Products Fabric Guard. Allow the first application to dry before beginning the second application.
- Christopher Amos