Patio tableWith two of the three big summer holidays already under your belt, your deck or patio has probably already seen a lot of entertaining. But enjoying your backyard shouldn't be limited to just Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. Keeping your outdoor area clean and ready for everything from unexpected guests to a quiet al fresco dinner for two is easier than you think. Here are a few simple tips to follow all summer long.
1. Close your umbrella when it's not in use. When you leave it open dirt has a place to settle and droppings from trees (and birds) are more likely to stain it. If you have a cover for it, use it. The extra effort and time you put into closing and covering the umbrella now will prevent a cleaning headache at the end of the season. Trust me. It will be time well spent!
Related: Fast Fixes for a Dirty Deck
2. Store chair cushions in your garage, shed, or a freestanding container and pull them out only when you need them. This is a hard and fast rule at my house and my pads look as bright and clean as the day I bought them. Like umbrellas, cushions that are exposed to the elements will get dingy and stained in no time, even if they're covered in a weather-resistant fabric.
3. Regularly sweep or blow debris from under and around furniture and planters. A good time to do this is after the weekly lawn cutting. Piles of leaves and other matter trap moisture and promote mold growth. The tannins in wet leaves stain concrete patios and wood decks. Set heavy planters on rolling stands and they'll be easy to move around and out of the way while you're cleaning your patio or deck.
4. Tilt furniture on its side after a rainstorm so water runs off. Removing excess water helps furniture dry faster and spot-free.
Related: Party-Ready Outdoor Furniture
5. Keep good patio furniture cleaner and paper towels handy to quickly zap stains (from berries, birds, and more) from tabletops and chairs. The faster you get to stains, the easier they are to remove. In Good Housekeeping Research Institute tests, we found Magic American's Goo Gone Patio Furniture Cleaner did the best job of cleaning both wood and plastic furniture surfaces and Viva was our overall winning paper towel.
Any tips to keep your deck or patio spic and span? Let me know in the comments!
- by Carolyn Forte
More from Good Housekeeping: