Handyman: Right products make outdoor cleanup a snap

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

Whether you stored your outdoor furniture in a shed or garage over the winter or left it outside, now is the time to give it some TLC before the summer entertaining season kicks off Memorial Day weekend.

According to Neil Mator of Labadies Patio Furniture and Accessories, (734) 676-6540,, manufacturers of most outdoor furniture suggest starting with simple cleaning ingredients you can find under your kitchen sink.

“For most outdoor furniture, it is best to use a dishwashing soap like Dawn and warm water to clean off dirt, mold or bird droppings,” Mator said. “If you have furniture made with Sunbrella fabric you can also use straight bleach if the soap and water doesn’t do the trick,” he added.

“I have a piece of Sunbrella fabric in a jar filled with bleach just to show customers it isn’t damaged by it,” he said. “But you can’t use bleach on outdoor furniture with cheaper fabric, so if it isn’t Sunbrella it is best to stick with soap and water.”

For umbrellas, Mator said most manufacturers also recommend the same soap and water mixture to clean the fabric. I have also found that the Multi-Surface Cleaner from 303 Products,, works well for cleaning umbrellas and awnings.

While outdoor furniture made with fabric is common, so, too, is wicker furniture. And Mator has a secret cleaner for that as well.

“I recommend using the bathroom cleaner Scrubbing Bubbles with a bristle brush to clean all types of wicker,” he said. “It works really well and it leaves the furniture with a nice clean smell.”

For furniture with vinyl padding, you can use Simple Green,, or Contractors’ Solvent,, to clean it.

For dull plastic resin furniture, use Meguiar's Mirror Glaze Clear Plastic Cleaner,

One item on your deck or patio that probably needs the most TLC is your grill. To clean the outside, start by washing it down with Krud Kutter,, and then hose it off. You can also use it on the grill grates and drip trays with little or no scrubbing required.

If you are looking for an exterior cleaning product that works on a variety of outdoor surfaces, including wood decks, vinyl siding, concrete sidewalks, brick and even plastic outdoor furniture, try 30 Seconds Outdoor Cleaner,, with no power washing needed.

Once you expend lots of time and elbow grease cleaning your outdoor items, I recommend that you make your life easier in the future by investing in a good set of custom-sized covers for the grill and furniture so they stay clean. Then all you have to do before the guests arrive is take the covers off and enjoy the day.

If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536, from between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.