Do’s and Don’ts of Preparing Your Cushions for the Season

Are you ready for spring and summer? I don’t know about you but I am so ready for the warmer weather to stay. I know, I know, it’s only the end of March and though technically it is “Spring”, we still can dip into the lower 30’s, not to mention the gusty cool winds creating a “wind chill”.

While the list is long to actually get ready for spring, I will focus specifically on getting your cushions ready.

If you live in a colder climate with more than one season, you most likely bring them inside for the winter or store them in some sort of shed or container. Hopefully before you did that, you cleaned them. It’s always so much more exciting to put your cushions out without having to go through the cleaning process and you really do not want to store dirty cushions.

No matter what the fabric is on your cushions, you will want to take special care. Too often we are tempted to pull them off, throw them into the washing machine and possibly even the dryer. Not only is this not a good idea, but more often then not, the stains or dirt are not being addressed and throwing them in the dryer may damage the fabric. I will be focusing on Sunbrella, Revolution Fabrics and other solution-dyed acrylics for cleaning purposes. Fabric that is polyester dyed (prints and such) will have a different process as the bleach cleaning method described below will likely damage your fabric and remove your print. Be sure to check out your particular manufacturer of store bought cushions on how to clean them.

Below is my recommendation on how I clean my cushions. If there are bird spots (you know what I am talking about), lightly brush them off with a damp cloth and a gentle rubbing. This will usually do the trick. I do not recommend a bristle type of brush as this could damage the fiber strands. Then lightly spray with a spray bottle filled with a solution of 30 oz of water, 2 oz of bleach and a tiny drop of Dawn dish soap. Sunbrella, Revolution, Outdura and other solution dyed acrylic fabrics respond well to this treatment.

Should you put your covers in the washing machine? Personally, I do with precautions. First, I close all the zippers and attach the ends of Velcro tabs together. After pretreating them as mentioned above, I place them in the washing machine on a gentle cycle, cold water, low spin cycle. You can use a tiny amount of mild laundry detergent, but sometimes I don’t even do that. I then remove them and let them air dry. NEVER PUT THEM IN THE DRYER. They dry very quickly on their own.

Below are detailed instructions on how to clean your Revolution Outdoor Fabrics and Sunbrella Outdoor Fabrics.

Revolution Outdoor

Blot stain with clean cloth

Loose stains like dirt should be vacuumed off first.

For most stains use a bleach solution of 30 oz of water to 2 oz of bleach in a 32 oz spray bottle.

For stains such mustard, replace the bleach with Dawn dish soap

Once stain has been treated, spray area with clean water. Rinsing is critical especially if you have used the bleach solution

Do not over rub and NEVER USE A BRUSH or vacuum attachments

Air dry

Do not dry clean as the solvents will damage the fabric

Do not expose to temps over 250 degrees.

Sunbrella Fabrics

Blot (don’t rub) liquid spills with a clean, dry cloth. For oil-based spills, apply an absorbent such as corn starch, then remove with a straight edge.

Spray on a mild cleaning solution of soap (such as Woolite® or Dawn®) and water.

Rinse the fabric thoroughly to remove all soap residue.

Air dry

Hand Wash by soaking fabric in a solution of 1/4 cup mild soap per gallon of lukewarm water. Use a sponge or very soft bristle brush to lightly agitate the stain. Then rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue and allow fabric to air dry.

If you have a specific stain that needs to be addressed, check out the Sunbrella Stain Guide

Mold and Mildew

Sunbrella and Revolution Outdoor fabrics do not promote mildew growth, however, sometimes you still see it. Why? It’s because mildew may grow on dirt and other foreign substances if not removed from the fabric. Here’s how to treat it if you see it. And remember it’s best to treat it as soon as you see it and before it gets out of control.

  • Spray the fabric with a solution of 1 cup bleach, 1/4 Dawn soap and 1 gallon of water and let it soak for 15 minutes. To avoid soap rings, spray the entire surface of your cushion.
  • Gently clean area with a clean soft towel or sponge
  • Rinse to remove all soap residue and allow to air dry.

303 Multi-Surface Cleaner

Did you know that Sunbrella fabrics are actually treated with a water and stain repellent finish that can last for several years. It is recommended that after a very thorough cleaning you reapply this treatment. The good news is that this treatment comes in a spray bottle you can find on Amazon. 303 Fabric Guard is a relatively inexpensive ($30) way to protect your investment. Follow the instructions on the bottle on how to apply.

I hope this information is helpful as you prepare to get your outdoor spaces ready for the warmer months. When I make your custom cushions, I will always provide you with specific cleaning instructions for your specific cushion covers.


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