How to Clean Outdoor Cushions

Originally Published on July 27, 2022. Last Updated on October 11, 2023.

You may not realize it, but your outdoor cushions and pillows have to withstand a lot. Direct sunlight, pouring rain, dirt and dust, wine spills, greasy sunblock splatters, and the list goes on and on. While they’re constructed out of fabric made to endure harsh outdoor conditions, your cushions are still susceptible to stains and damage — especially if they’re left out during winter or a rainstorm.

We’ve put together a how-to guide below to help you clean up your cushions based on different types of stains and damage.

How to Clean Spills & Bird Droppings

Did you accidentally spill your glass of red wine? Or maybe a bird left you a special surprise on your outdoor pillow? Don’t fret! You can treat these types of stains with a spot clean. Remove these stains by following the steps below:

Steps for Removing Spills and Bird Droppings

  1. Create a cleaning solution with one teaspoon of Borax, one teaspoon of mild dish soap, and one quart of warm water. Pour the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well to mix.
  2. Spray the solution directly onto the stain and allow it soak for a few minutes.
  3. Use a clean cloth to work the solution into the stain. 
  4. Let it stand for 10–15 minutes.
  5. Rinse away all the soap residue with a garden hose.
  6. Allow the cushion to air dry on its side.

 Additional Tips 

  • For bird droppings, clean off as much of the stain as possible with a microfiber cloth before spot cleaning. Make sure not to rub it deeper into the fabric.
  • For spills, time is of the essence, so clean them up as soon as possible.

How to Clean Oil-Based Stains

Whether it’s from sunscreen, bug spray, or food, oils can make their way onto outdoor cushions and pillows. These oils can also attract more dirt and grime. Don’t worry, though! You can remove these stains with a dry absorbent powder like cornstarch or baking soda. Follow these steps to tidy up your cushions.

Steps for Removing Oil Stains

  1. Blot any excess oil with a microfiber cloth.
  2. Apply cornstarch or baking soda onto the stain.
  3. Allow the powder to stand for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Use a straight edge like a ruler to scrape off the powder.
  5. Reapply powder if needed.
  6. If a mark remains, blot the spot with a natural cleaning solution and a damp microfiber cloth.

How to Remove Mold & Mildew

While some fabrics like solution-dyed acrylic don’t promote mold and mildew growth, it still might show up on dirt and other foreign substances that aren’t removed from the fabric. If you see grime on your cushions, follow these simple steps, and you’ll have your all-weather outdoor cushions looking as good as new. 

Steps for Removing Mold and Mildew

  1. Use a dry cloth to remove as much mold and mildew as possible. Afterward, vacuum or shake your cushions to remove any remaining debris.
  2. Mix one cup of Borax into four cups of warm water. You can also try hydrogen peroxide instead of Borax.
  3. With a spray bottle or sponge, generously apply the solution to the cushion.
  4. Allow the solution to soak for 15–30 minutes.
  5. Use a microfiber cloth to blot out the stain. 
  6. Use a garden hose rinse off all the solution.
  7. Allow your cushion to air dry. Put the cushion on its side for quicker drying.

How to Deep Clean Outdoor Cushions

It’s always recommended to deep clean your cushions before storing them for the winter. Once spring rolls around, all you need to do is dust them off and place them on your outdoor furniture. Here’s how to deep clean your cushions. 

Steps for Deep Cleaning

Prepare a solution of ¼ cup of mild soap and one cup of bleach per gallon of lukewarm water. Laundry detergent can work, too, but use less of it.

  1. Before using your homemade solution, grab your garden hose and rinse off your cushion to remove any loose dirt, dust, or debris.
  2. Grab a clean sponge or cloth, dip it in your solution, and scrub down the cushion.
  3. Let your cushion sit for about 5–10 minutes so that the solution can soak into the fabric and deep clean your cushion effectively.
  4. Rinse thoroughly to remove all the soapy residue. If applicable, be sure to rinse the zipper area because the cleaning solution can damage it.
  5. Let your cushion air dry on its side with the zipper area on the bottom. It usually dries better and faster by doing it this way.

 Additional Tips 

  • Not all fabric materials can handle bleach. Always test cleaning solutions on a small section of fabric first to ensure it’s safe for your cushions.
  • Try undistilled white vinegar if you want a natural alternative to bleach.

Can I Fix My Cushions if They’re Faded?

Most outdoor cushions and pillows made of durable fabrics are UV resistant. But no matter how tough the fabric is, it can fade over time when exposed to direct sunlight. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about it once the material starts to fade.

There are a few ways to increase the color lifespan of your cushions for at least five years. When not in use, bring your cushions inside, place them in a storage bag, or put them in the shade. If you have some pillows that are always exposed to the sun and others that are in the shade, rotate them around to equalize their sun exposure.

Can I Reverse Water Damage?

Like fading, you can’t fix water damage. If your cushions and pillows get drenched from a storm, you need to dry them properly. Plus, the sooner you dry them, the less risk for mold and mildew.

If your cushions have covers, unzip them and drain out the water. Put the cushions on their sides so they can dry quicker. If it’s still wet outside, bring your cushions and pillows inside and blow dry them.

The Bottom Line

We get it. Accidents happen. Maybe you spilled some wine, or your kids got a little too messy with their food. Whatever the case may be, the best way to keep your cushions and pillows looking great is to take proper precautions.


Use a whisk broom or vacuum with an upholstery attachment regularly to clean up dirt, dust, and other debris. Focus on the crevices and grooves, as this will help maintain the durability of the fabric. Also, consider spraying your cushions with a fabric protector, which helps repel dirt and stains for many months.

During times like winter, when you’re not using your outdoor cushions and pillows, put them in a storage bag and bring them inside your home. When spring comes, they’ll be ready for brunches, family game nights, and other fun outdoor activities! 

Do you have a particular way of cleaning your outdoor cushions and pillows? Let us know in the comments below!

34 thoughts on “How to Clean Outdoor Cushions

  1. I am very happy with the quality of your cushions that I purchased for my porch swing. However, the seat cushions slide forward every time I sit; wished there was some type of Velcro tabs or ties to keep in place.

    1. Hi Janet!

      Thank you so much for reaching out about your cushions. We have found that the “grippy” no skid drawer mats that you can place in a silverwear drawer are great in helping your cushions from sliding.

      I hope this helps!

  2. Is this information available as a PDF? The blog for cleaning the Polywood Furniture as a PDF would be helpful as well.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Great question! At the end of the blog prior to the “thoughts” section, there is a print symbol. You can click this and choose to save the blog as a PDF.

      Thanks for taking the time to ask!

      1. Why do the outdoor cushions not have a zipper!!!!!!! It makes no sense not to have them for cleaning purposes!!!
        I bought 2 chairs n a loveseat with the plaid cushions. 1st day my grandson accidentally spilled juice on both chair seat covers. It was a pain to attempt to clean them!!! I am a seamstress, I opened 3 seams on every pillow n sewed in outdoor zippers. Now they are all nice n clean n my daughter can remove the cushion inserts to clean the material if n when it happens again. Very disappointed, I spent a good sum of money on them

        1. Hi Maureen,

          We understand life happens! Our cushions are made using an all-weather outdoor performance fabric that can be easily cleaned following the steps in the post. We appreciate your comment and will share your feedback with the team via our Customer Feedback Program. This input is regularly reviewed when adding product to our line.

          Thanks for sharing,

  3. Please made zippered cushions so we can put the covers in the washer. So much work to continually spot clean them.

    1. Hello CJ,

      Thank you for reaching out, we do not have zippers in our cushions as our fabric is not machine washable. Spot cleaning is the manufactures suggested method.

      Best wishes,

  4. We have purchased deep seating pieces: 4 chairs, 2 ottomans, a sofa, two end tables and a coffee table. We LOVE everything and have enjoyed them throughout the Spring, Summer and into this wonderful Fall. Countless compliments from family, friends and neighbors. I’m with CJ Gehlke regarding wanting machine washable zippered all cushion covers. PLEASE strongly consider making these available in the near future. Your company would be the leader in this and it would enhance the demand for your outdoor furniture! It’s extremely practical and helpful to have these and I’ll be first in line to order them! Thank you for your time and consideration which I hope will materialize soon (no pun intended)!

  5. I have two deep seated polywood love seats and our cushions have zippers. Why are there no instructions on how to gently machine wash the covers since they are designed to be removed? It would be so much easier to just throw them in a gentle cycle to give them a freshening up, can you give me any advice? Thanks!

  6. Is it safe to use Silicone Water-Guard spray on my pillows and cushions as an extra protectant?

  7. Is it okay to use a small Bissell machine with Bissell cleaning solution, to clean the cushions?

    1. Hi Tana,

      We recommend following the steps in the blog post to keep your cushions fresh!

      Thanks for asking,

  8. Is spraying the cushions with a product like scotch guard outdoor recommended or not? I was going to as an added protection but if it would void the fabric’s natural repellent I don’t want to mess with it & potentially have issues!

    1. Hi Sara,

      We recommend following the steps highlighted in the blog post to keep your cushions looking great!

      Thanks for asking,

  9. When trying to keep the Polywood outdoor cushions clean, would you recommend a product like “Scotch Guard” to be applied before any spot cleaning is necessary.

    1. Hi Ray,

      We recommend following the steps in the article to keep your outdoor cushions in their best condition!

      Thanks for asking,

  10. Do you sell covers for your deep seating sets? I’ve been really disappointed in the performance of these outdoor cushions for my Edge sofa and chairs. Just a little rain, and they take days to dry, even when propped up on their edges with the zipper side down. My furniture with Sunbrella cushions handle the weather much better.

    1. Hi Joanna! Since POLYWOOD furniture is all-weather, it does not require a cover. However, covering your furniture will make seasonal cleaning easier while also prolonging the life of your furniture. We recommend

  11. Love my furniture. Only issue is it’s very windy where we leave and there are no fabric ties so everyday I am having to go pick up the back cushion because it has fallen down. Any suggestions on how to tie it to the chair

  12. My edge deep seating cushions have gotten ruined by mildew from rain (my fault). How can I replace the cushions? Or even just the cushion covers? I can’t find where these cushions are sold on the site. Thanks!

    1. Hi Brittany! We do not sell our cushions separately, however, we do sell replacement cushions to customers who already have a deep seating set and need to change their cushions. We’d be happy to assist with this. Please reach out to us via phone or live chat on our website to discuss options.

  13. I purchased covers from your recommended supplier. After several months my cushions have mold spots on them. Evidently the heavy duty covers are holding in moisture and causing the mold. I’ve tried your cleaning suggestions. However I do have a question on the hydrogen peroxide cleaning. Do you dilute that or use it straight? I have the light cream colored cushions. – if there is a better alternative to clean the mold spots – please let me know!!

    1. Hi LeAnne! We would recommend applying the 1:4 ratio for peroxide. Additionally, we recommend a solution of ¼ cup of mild soap and one cup of bleach per gallon of lukewarm water.

  14. I need to have my cushions recovered. They have withstood a lot! But it’s time to replace the fabric and I’d like a different color. If they were zippered and I could buy replacement covers that would be awesome! But I don’t think that’s an option. Where can I go to get them recovered? Does Polywood have any ideas?

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