How to Winterize Patio Furniture in 4 Easy Steps

Originally Published on September 27, 2023. Last Updated on May 13, 2024.

If you take your entertaining indoors during the winter months, set a few hours aside toward the end of patio season to prep your furniture for a long winter’s nap. Properly winterizing patio furniture will keep it safe from harsh weather conditions and ensure a longer lifespan. 

Follow our guide to learn how to winterize your patio furniture and get a better return on your investment.


Jump to Section
Cleaning
Repairs & Replacements
Protection
Storage
FAQs


1. Cleaning

First things first: Give your furniture a thorough cleaning before putting it away for the winter. Removing dirt, debris, moisture, and stains now will decrease the chances that mold, rust, and other damaging effects will develop. Plus, spring cleaning will go much faster.

 

Mild dish soap, a bucket of warm water, a sponge, and a bit of elbow grease are all you need to get the job done for most furniture materials, but there are exceptions. If you have natural wicker furniture or your seating needs an extra deep clean, you’ll want to seek alternative methods. 

Fortunately, we have a bevy of cleaning guides for various patio furniture materials, cushions, grills, and other outdoor essentials at the ready so you can keep all your backyard spaces sparkling.

Click to Read all POLYWOOD Cleaning Guides


2. Repairs & Replacements

Well-loved furniture gets plenty of use, so give your furnishings a once-over at the end of the season to see if anything needs to be fixed before putting it into storage. If left unattended, minor issues can turn into major problems down the road. Irreparable damage, time-consuming repairs, and costly replacements can all be avoided by addressing problems early. A great time to check for repairs is during cleaning since you’re already up close and personal with the furniture. 

  • For wooden furniture, replace any parts that have soft spots, holes created by pests, severe cracks, or splintered areas. Use wood filler to cover minor dents and smooth out scratches.
  • Remove rust from wrought iron furniture with a wire brush, then cover the area with touch-up paint.
  • Remove foot caps from aluminum furniture to let out any accumulated water, and brush a layer of touch-up paint over scratches.
  • Repair or replace broken fibers on wicker furniture to prevent snagging and further damage.
  • Cracked glass tabletops should be discarded. Fluctuating temperatures can cause the fissures to expand and eventually break.
  • Sew up tears in cushions and fabric seats. 

  PRO TIP:  
Check the manufacturer’s warranty
before making modifications. You may discover that the repairs you were planning could void the warranty or that they’re actually covered under it (which means less work for you).


3. Protection

POLYWOOD Long Island Adirondack in Lime and Long Island Upright Adirondack Chair in Green
Featured: Long Island Adirondack in Lime and Long Island Upright Adirondack Chair in Green

Once your furniture is clean and repairs are made, the next step is all-over protection in the form of a coating or weatherproof cover. This step isn’t necessary for some furniture materials such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or teak, but others that are more sensitive to seasonal changes (e.g., natural wicker, pine, and wrought iron) will greatly benefit from it.

Protective Coatings

  • Apply lemon oil to natural wicker to keep the fibers moist and prevent cracking.
  • Fine car wax or a silicone spray like WD-40 offers great protection for injection-molded plastic, wrought iron, and aluminum. 
  • Sand and reapply exterior paint, stain, and sealant to wood furniture.
  • Use a spray-on fabric protector on outdoor pillows and cushions to repel moisture.

Outdoor Covers

Durable, weatherproof covers will protect your furniture and accessories against a majority of wintertime woes such as snow, rain, ice, wind, and wildlife. If a cover wasn’t included with your furniture purchase, measure your furniture and search online for covers that match the dimensions. 

If you can’t find a cover that fits, a heavy-duty vinyl tarp is the next best choice. Just make sure to use one that’s breathable, UV-resistant, and waterproof. If your furniture stays outside, anchor the tarp to the ground so it won’t be blown away on a blustery day.

POLYWOOD Modern Folding Adirondack in Black
Featured: Modern Folding Adirondack in Black

  PRO TIP:  
Cover furniture when it’s fully dry. Otherwise, uncured coatings will adhere to the covers, trapping residual moisture and turning into an ideal environment for mold and mildew.


4. Storage

The final step is storing your furniture in a sheltered area like a garage, attic, shed, or closet. If you don’t have that kind of space, prioritize storage for pieces that won’t endure winter weather as well (e.g., cushions, wicker side tables, cast iron planters). If room is limited, another option to try is furniture with built-in storage. A bench with a storage compartment will hold smaller pieces and still provide a place to sit, while an outdoor console table will keep cushions and pillows safe while effortlessly displaying your decor.

Here are some tips for the best ways to store outdoor furniture in winter:

  • Only stack pieces that the manufacturer labels as stackable.
  • Lean folding chairs against walls, slide them beneath tables, or hang them on hooks.
  • Prevent fabric tears by leaving seats free of objects.
  • Disconnect propane tanks and gas lines from fire pit tables.
  • Either dismantle tables or store them in their upright positions.

FAQs

POLYWOOD Seashell Adirondack in Black
Featured: Seashell Adirondack in Black

Can patio furniture be left outside in winter?

Certain patio furniture materials handle winter weather better than others. HDPE and hardwood, for example, are highly durable and can withstand wet and cold conditions. Other materials like wicker and softwood are more delicate and have a higher chance of sustaining damage from the harsh elements. Using covers and spray-on sealants will increase your furniture’s defense against winter weather.

What to do with outdoor furniture cushions in winter?

If you don’t plan to use your outdoor cushions in winter, store them in a dry place safe from weather and wildlife. Place seat cushions and pillows in a heavy-duty plastic bag or storage tote, and keep it on a shelf in your garage or shed. You can also invest in outdoor cabinets or console tables with built-in storage that will protect your pillows from the brunt of winter weather.

Should I bring my patio cushions inside in the winter?

While outdoor fabrics are meant to withstand nature’s elements, it’s a good idea to bring them inside in the winter. Not just for protection, but to also make cleanup much easier in the future as you won’t have to worry about mold and mildew buildup, or wildlife getting to your accessories when it’s safe inside your home.

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