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How to Clean Canvas Furniture

by C.M. Mackenzie

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Patio chair in the grass

Things You Need:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Scrub brush
  • Garden hose
  • Outdoor-furniture protecting spray

Canvas furniture can be casual, sporty or elegant. It is used indoors and outdoors, in the home, the patio and on yachts. Canvas is a fairly durable fabric, but some colors will show dirt easily, and the fabric can mildew. Clean canvas patio furniture twice a season (when bringing it out of storage and before returning it to storage) and other times as needed. Indoor canvas patio furniture may require fewer or more cleanings per year, depending on usage.

Cleaning Canvas Furniture:

  1. Clean your canvas furniture outside. Remove the canvas furniture covers (if covers are removable). Shake them to remove loose soil. If the label states the covers can be machine washed, do so using mild laundry detergent. Wash the covers in cold water on a gentle cycle. Hang them up to dry.

  2. Hand-clean non-removable canvas covers. To do this, choose a mild, clear day to clean the furniture. Move the canvas furniture outdoors if it is not there already. For easiest cleaning, the furniture should be on a solid surface, such as a patio or driveway. Cleaning your furniture on dirt or grass may create mud puddles.

  3. Prepare a cleaning solution. Mix 2 gallons of warm water and approximately 1/2 capful of mild liquid laundry detergent (without bleach) in a bucket.

  4. Wet and scrub the canvas. Wet a clean sponge in the bucket and wipe it over the canvas. Follow with a scrub brush, scrubbing the seams and dirtiest areas first.

  5. Rinse. Spray the furniture with a garden hose to rinse off the soapy water. Allow the furniture to air-dry. Place the furniture in the sun to speed up the drying process; however, be aware that sunlight may fade colored furniture.

  6. Protect the fabric. Spray an outdoor-fabric protector and water repellant on the canvas after it has dried. For removable covers, spray them with the fabric protector while they are still hanging. This will help the canvas repel water and stains. Spray the fabric from two to three feet away, spraying in a sweeping motion to give thorough, even coverage. Place the covers back on the furniture when the product has dried.

Warnings and Tips:

  1. Sap and dirt from trees may fall onto outdoor furniture, resulting in difficult-to-clean stains. To prevent this, avoid placing the furniture beneath trees and protect it with patio furniture covers when not in use.

  2. If a stain or soiled area is particularly difficult to remove, pour soap or detergent directly on the stain. Scrub the detergent into the canvas with a brush and rinse it with warm water.

  3. Use dishwashing liquid on grease or oil stains.

  4. Avoid using bleach on canvas as this may discolor and weaken the material.

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