How to clean, maintain and recover your old garden furniture seat cushions

garden furniture seat cushions

It is not as difficult as you might think to ‘make-do-and-mend’ and restore your well-used patio furniture instead of throwing them out for a new set. Most of the time, all they need is a little face-lift to freshen things up. It could even be that your garden furniture is only a couple of years old, but you left the cushions out for a few months and they’ve faded in the sun or developed a few unsightly mold and mildew stains. Garden furniture is not cheap and you need to give it the same care and attention you would the sofa in your living room. If your outdoor furniture has seen better days or if you have no choice but to leave it outside all year round, then the elements can wreak havoc on your cushions even though they are usually designed to stay outside.

Recovering your old garden furniture seat cushions

So why not recover your patio furniture seat cushions and bring them back to life or create something a little more unique for your garden furniture? After all, you just need some good quality outdoor canvas, some scissors, pins, a tape measure, new latex foam if the existing is damaged by mold/mildew, a sewing machine, thread and an iron/ironing board. Start by removing the old cushion covers from the seat cushions. Cut the parts of the seat cushion covers along the seam lines to separate them if need be as many are not zipped/removable. Check the condition of the foam. If it is still in good condition, then you can reuse it and save a little money. If not, and especially if there is any mold/mildew staining, replace it with new foam of the approx. same density and thickness. And if in doubt take a piece with you when you go to purchase the replacement and ask the assistant for the closest thing.

Fold over your canvas/material to make two layers of the fabric. Lay the old cover pieces on top and mark their outlines with some pins, or simply cut around the old covers to make the new ones exactly the same size, so that you’re basically using them as a template for the new cushion covers. Lay the new fabric face down on a flat surface and place the old fabric face down on top. Pin the old fabric to the new fabric with sewing pins and use scissors to cut out the new pieces of fabric. Cut out both a top and bottom piece for the cushion.

Remove the sewing pins and pin the new pieces together with right sides together leaving one side open. Sew the front and back fabric pieces together with a 5/8 inch seam, removing the pins as you sew. Turn the covers inside out and insert the foam into the open end of the cover and sew it closed with a simple hand stitch. Finally, trim the corners of the patio furniture seat cushions off between the seam line and the edge of the fabric and this will prevent the canvas from bunching up at the corners.

Press the seams of the new cushion covers flat with a hot iron and damp tea towel and then flip the covers inside out. Place the foam inside the new cushion cover and pin the opening closed by folding in the raw/unfinished edges of the fabric and bring the two sides together. Stitch the opening closed with a sewing machine or carefully by hand if it is proving a little difficult to feed through. Simple as that to be honest… You can now place the new patio furniture seat cushions onto your garden furniture. Another tip is to wash them on a 40 degree cycle, iron again and then leave them time to dry as this can help shrink/fit the fabric to the foam if it’s a little on the loose side.

In order to maintain your patio furniture and extend its life, we always advise our customers to only put the cushions on the furniture when you’re going to use them. Do not leave them outside for an extended period of time, even though they look nice when your garden furniture is all set up. Our aluminum garden furniture can stay outside regardless of the weather, but the cushions will fade if left in the sun for a prolonged period of time. If they do get caught in a sudden downpour, then bring them indoors to dry out before using again. After use, wipe down your patio furniture cushions to remove any dirt, dust or salt deposits before storing them and always give them time to dry to prevent mildew from forming.

Cleaning your garden furniture seat cushions

Regular cleaning is vital if you want to keep your garden furniture cushions looking like new. Don’t just wait until summer to give them a good clean, get them ready now and they’ll be looking their best and ready for the first rays of sunshine. Now is the time to obtain tips for cleaning patio furniture cushions, so you will be ready before the summer comes.

Regular Basic Cleaning

If your cushions are fairly new or they’ve been well taken care of, then you will only have to do a little gentle basic cleaning. At least once a year, you need to give your cushions a basic clean to help retain their appearance. If your cushions are zipped as per the type we retail at Lazy Susan or a Velcro fastening, then remove them and place them in the washing machine using a low cycle and a mild detergent. To preserve the life of your patio furniture cushions, do not to wash the foam insert. If you saturate the foam inner, you run the risk of causing mildew or mold growth. If your foam inserts do get wet or you can’t remove the covers and therefore you have to wash together, then make sure you dry them completely before replacing the cover. Best way to do this is place between two towels; walk on the cushions to squeeze any moisture out and leave to dry against a radiator or in an airing cupboard if you’ve got one. Do not tumble the foam or covers!

Heavy Cleaning

If your patio furniture cushions are heavily soiled, then you might want to consider soaking them first to loosen the ingrained dirt that build up over time (especially in any seams). Prepare a solution by mixing equal parts of washing up liquid and Vanish Oxi-action powder with a liter of warm water. Place the solution in a spray bottle and have a garden hose at the ready. Use the spray bottle to apply the cleaning solution to the soiled cushions. If you are dealing with a large or tough stain, be sure to liberally saturate the cushions with the cleaning solution, paying special attention to the cushion’s creases and seams where the dirt tends to build up. The more solution you spray onto the cushions the less scrubbing you will have to do as the Oxi-action will fizz away and take care of things. Allow the cleaning solution to sit for a good 15 to 30 minutes, but do not let it dry out, re-spray if need be. Once a sufficient amount of time has elapsed, place the garden hose on high (a pressure washer is even better), spray the cushions thoroughly to remove the dirt/cleaning solution and then follow the gentle cleaning process and wash in the washing machine.

Cleaning garden furniture cushions made from outdoor canvas

Cushion covers made from canvas are extremely durable and stylish. However, they take a little extra effort to clean I’m afraid. While some canvas cushion covers can be removed and machine-washed using a gentle cycle and mild detergent, others cannot be removed. If your canvas cushion covers can’t be removed from the foam, then you need to wash them by hand. To do so get a medium-bristle scrubbing brush and mix a solution of equal parts washing up liquid and Vanish Oxi-action powder with a liter of warm water. Using your brush soaked with the solution, gently work the brush back and forth on the cushion cover. You don’t have to be too gentle; the canvas is tough and will take a bit of elbow grease. Finally, rinse the cushions with a garden hose and leave to dry.

Take a little preventative action!

In order to reduce the amount of cleaning you will have to do on your patio furniture cushions (and prevent the need to replace them), it’s a good idea to be proactive. For example, consider spraying the cushions with Scotch Gard Outdoor Fabric Protector before using them. This forms an invisible barrier which repels water-based liquid such as rain, wine and coffee and helps protect against stains, making them easier to clean in the future. Another way to cut down on cleaning time is to properly store the cushions during the winter. Consider using airtight containers to store your cushions. Please, whatever you do, don’t wrap your cushions in plastic or store them in bin bags, because mold and mildew will grow rapidly if air is trapped inside the plastic. At Lazy Susan we always advise our customers to store in an airtight container with a few Cedar Balls in the container alongside your cushions. This is the most effective way to prevent spiders/bugs etc. (especially if you’re storing in a shed), it will give a long-lasting fresh fragrance to your cushions and prevent build-up of mustiness and mildew.

Thelma Anderson

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