Imagine that you’ve just spent a long day outside and are ready to unwind on your porch. But as you sit down, you see spots on your outdoor furniture that don’t look good. Whether they come from spilled drinks, muddy steps, or even bird droppings, these stains can be a real eyesore. But don’t worry, my fellow nature lovers!
In this article, I’ll talk about how to get rid of stains and give you some tips on how to keep your outdoor surfaces clean. So grab a cool drink and let’s get started!
Common outdoor stains and cleaning solutions
Surfaces that are outside are subject to many things that can stain them.
To choose the right cleaning product, you need to know what kinds of spots can happen and how they happen.
Kinds of Marks:
- Mold, mildew, algae, moss, and lichen can cause stains that appear green, black, or red, depending on what is growing. They occur through exposure to moisture and organic matter.
- Rust occurs through oxidation, a chemical reaction that occurs when iron encounters water and oxygen. Rust occurs when metal fixtures are exposed to the elements.
- Foot traffic, harmful UV rays, and mold and mildew can cause stains on exterior wood surfaces.
Stains for outside wood:
There are many different kinds of paints for wood on the outside.
Some are semi-transparent and sink into the wood surface to add color without making a film that can crack and peel over time.
Some are solid colors that make a film that covers up the wood grain.
Even though exterior wood stains don’t last as long as other exterior wood finishes, they are special in that they are easy to apply and take care of.
Oil-based stains tend to work best on decks, fences, and walls that are outside.
Oil-based dyes are messier and harder to work with, but latex gloves and mineral spirits make them easier to apply.
Solutions for cleaning:
For outdoor areas, there are several ways to clean them.
It’s important to use a method of cleaning that won’t be too hard on the surface underneath and cause lasting damage.
- 30 Seconds Outdoor Cleaner: One of the most popular products, it is a concentrated formula that cleans outdoor surfaces in 30 seconds or less. It can clear up almost every type of algae, mold, and mildew on surfaces like concrete patios, wood decking, concrete sidewalks, asphalt driveways, bricks, canvas awnings, plastic furniture, and vinyl siding. It is easy to use and strong enough to skip pressure-washing.
- Wet & Forget Outdoor Multi-Surface Cleaner: Our top choice for removing mold and mildew, it continues to remove and repel stains for up to a year. It comes with a sprayer, has a no-rinse formula, and can be used on a variety of surfaces. It kills mold, mildew, and algae. However, it may be harmful to foliage and doesn’t deliver immediate results.
- Jeyes 4-in-1 Patio and Decking Power, Pro-Kleen Ready to Use Simply Spray & Walk Away, and Star Brite Non-Skid Deck Cleaner are other outdoor cleaning solutions.
When picking a cleaning solution, it’s important to think about how it will affect the chemicals.
Some cleaning products contain toxic chemicals that can hurt the ecosystem of nearby dirt and water sources, kill wildlife, bleach your yard, and even hurt children and pets.
To keep surfaces from getting stained, it’s also important to carefully read all directions, use only scrub brushes with natural bristles or plastic heads, and wet surfaces before using cleaning solutions.
Don’t let cleaning products dry out on surfaces.
Say Goodbye to Rust Stains on Your Outdoor Surfaces
If you have outdoor surfaces like patios, driveways, or walkways, you know how frustrating it can be to deal with rust stains.
Rust stains can be caused by a variety of things, including metal furniture, tools, or even fertilizer.
But don’t worry, there are ways to remove those pesky stains and restore your outdoor surfaces to their former glory.
One effective method for rust removal is using a mixture of lemon juice and salt.
Simply mix the two ingredients together to form a paste, apply it to the stain, and let it sit for a few hours.
Then, scrub the area with a brush and rinse with water.
Another option is using a commercial rust remover, which can be found at most hardware stores.
It’s important to note that rust stains can be stubborn and may require multiple attempts to fully remove.
But with a little patience and persistence, you can say goodbye to those unsightly stains and enjoy your outdoor spaces once again.
For more information:
Removing specific outdoor stains
Whether it’s oil stains on concrete or rust stains on metal furniture, it’s easy for things to get dirty outside.
But with the right tools and techniques, these spots can be taken care of.
Here are some tips and tricks for getting rid of certain spots in the outdoors:
Removing Oil Stains from Concrete
Oil stains on pavement can look bad and be hard to get rid of. But there are several ways to get rid of them:
- Powdered laundry detergent or baking soda paste: Mix powdered laundry detergent or baking soda with water to create a paste. Apply the paste to the stain and let it sit for a while before scrubbing it with a broom or brush. Rinse it off with water.
- Grease-cutting dish detergent and stiff broom: Use a grease-cutting dish detergent and a stiff broom to scrub the stain. This method is best for small oil stains.
- Poultice method: Mix an absorptive material such as baking soda, sawdust, or kitty litter with a strong solvent like acetone, xylene, or paint thinner to make a dense paste. Apply the paste to the oil stain, cover it with a piece of plastic and tape, and leave it overnight before washing it off with hot water.
- Degreaser: A commercial concrete cleaner or degreaser can be used to loosen and remove the oil. The soap in the cleaner acts like ball bearings, loosening up the oil stain. A more aggressive method is to use a concrete degreaser, which is an organic alkaline soap that’s scrubbed into the concrete surface.
When you want to get rid of oil spots on concrete, you should act quickly.
How hard it is to get rid of an oil spot will depend on how big it is and how long it has been there.
To find the best way to do something, you may have to try a few different things.
Removing Rust Stains from Outdoor Surfaces
Rust stains on outdoor objects can be hard to get rid of and can stick around for a long time.
Some ways to get rid of rust spots are listed below:
- Abrasive pad: For metal outdoor furniture, clean the area and remove the rust itself, taking the metal back to its bare, unpainted surface using an abrasive pad such as wire wool or sandpaper.
- White vinegar or lemon juice: Spray a small amount of white vinegar or lemon juice onto the affected area. For the best results, soak the surface for up to 15 minutes in lemon juice, before cleaning with a brush in a circular motion.
- Commercial rust remover: Special commercial cleaners are available for removing rust stains from concrete.
- Coca-Cola: Pour Coca-Cola directly onto the rust stain and start to scrub away at it with a clean microfiber cloth or sponge.
Before using any of these methods, you should wash the surface with soap and water to get rid of any grease or dirt on the surface that could get in the way of removing the mark.
Cleaning mold, mildew, and graffiti
Mold and mildew can grow on things like furniture, clothing, and the outside of homes that are left outside.
It’s important to get rid of them as soon as possible so they don’t grow more and become health risks.
Here are a few ways to get rid of mold and mildew on surfaces outside:
- Outdoor Furniture: For mild cases of mold, mix water, soap, and a little bleach and scrub the affected area. For plastic patio furniture, use a cleaning product designed for removing mold or vinegar and water. For teak furniture, gently scrub the affected area. For outdoor fabric, use a spray bottle with equal parts water and white vinegar, followed by gentle scrubbing with a soft-bristled brush.
- Home Exteriors: Clean gutters to prevent mold and mildew growth. For exterior siding, spray and scrub with a cleaning solution. For decks, use old-fashioned treatments for mildew on wood decks and porches or Wet and Forget, a highly rated mildew stain remover that can be used without scrubbing or bleach. For unpainted cement, patio stones, or stucco, use a solution of 1 cup chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water to remove mildew and other stains.
Make sure to use bleach and other cleaning products safely, and test for colorfastness in an unnoticeable spot before using on the whole surface.
Removing Graffiti from Outdoor Surfaces
Graffiti on outdoor walls can be ugly and bothersome.
Here are some ways and things that can be used to get rid of graffiti on outdoor surfaces:
- Pressure Washing: Use a pressure washer with just enough pressure to remove the graffiti. If there are areas where the graffiti is still visible, spot clean those areas with chemical while working on the next section of the tag. Some foam and paste cleaners work well on vertical surfaces, while abrasive cleansers can sometimes fade scratched-in graffiti. Ordinary cleaners and disinfectants can remove pencil and some pen graffiti, while citrus-based cleaners often work on inks on wood surfaces.
- Power Washing: Use a power washer set to a low pressure to remove the graffiti without causing unnecessary structural damage. For textured surfaces, scrub the graffiti with a nylon brush after applying a graffiti remover. VIVX Graffiti Remover is an eco-friendly product that can remove graffiti from wood, brick, paint, and more. Shake the can vigorously before use and pretest it on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire stain. Spray VIVX directly onto the graffiti from 6-8 inches away. For smooth surfaces, immediately wipe off using a clean cloth. For textured surfaces, scrub the graffiti with a nylon brush after applying VIVX. Rinse the area with water to reduce stain residue and repeat the cleaning process as necessary until the stain is completely removed.
- Preventing Graffiti: The easiest way to simplify graffiti removal is to prevent it from bonding to the surface in the first place. This can be done by protecting the surface with an anti-graffiti product that is breathable and penetrating, and provides both water resistance and graffiti resistance in one for maximum protection. PROSOCO SC-1 is a sacrificial product that can cut the removal time to a fraction of what it would be on an untreated surface. It is recommended to work with a product manufacturer that has local field support who will come out and do a test panel to ensure the product is effective and won’t damage the surface.
Maintaining and cleaning outdoor furniture and surfaces
Outdoor furniture and surfaces are subject to many things that can change how they look and how long they last.
To keep them looking good and to make them last longer, they need to be cleaned regularly.
Here are some tips for keeping outdoor chairs and surfaces in good shape and keeping them clean.
Cleaning Outdoor Furniture
Different materials need different ways to clean them. Here are some tips for cleaning different kinds of outdoor furniture:
- Coated Wood Furniture: Use a mixture of soapy water (dish soap and water) in a bucket to gently wash the furniture with a sponge.
- Wood Furniture: Use a mild oil soap formulated for wood or soapy water to clean the furniture.
- Metal Furniture: Use a soft plastic scrub brush to sweep away any caked-on dirt. Dish detergent and home cleaning solutions are the most effective cleaners for metal furniture. After an initial cleaning, white vinegar or glass cleaner can be sprayed on the surface and wiped away with a microfiber cloth or paper towel.
- PVC, Resin, or Plastic Furniture: Use hot water and mild dish soap to scrub the surface with a soft-bristled brush.
To keep from having to clean too much, furniture can be covered or brought inside when it’s not being used.
When cleaning outdoor furniture, you should take off any cushions or colorful pillows and wipe down the metal with a soft cloth soaked in soapy water.
Powder-coated metal patio furniture that has scratches can be cleaned with a soft cloth and a liquid cleaner that doesn’t scratch.
Maintaining Outdoor Surfaces
It’s important to take care of outdoor surfaces to avoid stains and extend the life of outdoor furniture and surfaces.
Here are the best ways to take care of outdoor areas so they don’t get stained again:
1. Start with a clean surface. It’s important to start with a clean surface whether you’re painting, coloring, or fixing something. This makes sure that your project sticks well and can help it last longer. Think about the stains as well as the area that needs to be cleaned. Rust and rusting need cleaners that are different from grease and oils. Organic spots like algae, mold, and mildew will also require a different kind of cleaner. No one cleaner will be able to handle all of these problems well. Make sure to rinse the area well after you’re done cleaning it.
Use the right cleaner for the job.
Think about both the surface and the spots that need to be cleaned.
Rust and rusting need cleaners that are different from grease and oils.
Organic spots like algae, mold, and mildew will also require a different kind of cleaner.
No one cleaner will be able to handle all of these problems well.
Make sure to rinse the area well after you’re done cleaning it.
3. Use a non-abrasive cleaner to clean glass surfaces. To avoid scratches, use a non-abrasive cleaner to clean glass surfaces.
4. Vacuum or sweep outdoor furniture. Before you clean outdoor furniture, vacuum or sweep the area to get rid of excess dirt.
5. Use light Cleaners: To clean wood and wicker furniture, use light cleaners like dish soap and warm water. Spray an all-purpose cleaner on plastic furniture and wipe it down with a sponge or wet cloth. Mix 3 tablespoons of dishwasher detergent, which has a mild bleaching agent, with warm water to get rid of tougher spots.
6. Dry the Surface: Once the surface has been cleaned, let it dry completely. Once it’s dry, just follow the directions on the package to finish your project.
Safe and effective outdoor cleaning
Cleaning Outdoor Carpets and Rugs
There are a number of ways to get spots out of outdoor carpets and rugs.
Most mistakes can be cleaned up by mixing a few drops of liquid dish soap with warm water.
You can also use dish soap that has been watered down, white vinegar, or baking soda.
Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda can be mixed together to make a paste that can be used to clean up greasy messes.
Club soda is another popular choice, especially for spots like red wine that are acidic.
It’s important to get rid of spots as soon as you can.
Baking soda can be used to clean small spots.
Spread baking soda over the spot and rub it in with a spoon or small cup.
After a few minutes, you can clean the rug.
For spots that won’t come out, mix a little bleach with water and spray it on the rug with a spray bottle.
Let it sit for a few minutes, and then use a hose to rinse the rug well.
Bleach can hurt plants and change the color of wood, so it is best to do this on ground.
Rinse the rug well with water to get rid of all the soap and make sure the water that runs off is clear as glass.
Before you put the rug back down, make sure it is completely dry.
Lay the rug flat and let it dry all the way through.
If you can’t take the rug off, pat it down with some dry blankets to soak up some of the water, then let it dry in the air.
Cleaning Outdoor Surfaces
There are a number of safe and effective ways to clean outdoor areas like concrete patios, sidewalks, and driveways.
You can sweep or use a hose to get rid of loose dirt and trash.
Vinegar mixed with the same amount of water can be used to clean tougher spots.
Vinegar can be used on concrete without hurting plants close.
Baking soda is also a natural way to clean.
Commercial cleaners can be used for spots that won’t come out, but it’s important to choose one that won’t hurt the surface or plants nearby.
When it comes to oil spots on porous concrete, cleaners or degreasers work well.
But it’s important to remember that bleach shouldn’t be mixed with other cleaners and should be used carefully.
Pressure washing can be a good way to clean outdoor areas, but if it’s not done right, it can also damage the surface.
Fine hard surfaces can also be damaged by the way professionals clean them.
Instead, you can use a product like 30 SECONDS to clean a wide range of outdoor areas in a safe way.
Final analysis and implications
So, there you have it: a full guide to getting rid of stains. But before you leave, I’d like to give you a different way to think about cleaning outdoor areas.
We usually worry about getting stains out of our clothes or off of surfaces inside, but what about spots on our outdoor spaces? Oil spills on our drives, rust on our fences, and algae on our decks are all stains that can be just as unsightly and hard to get rid of as any other.
But here’s the thing: these stains also remind us of what goes on outside of our houses. The oil spills come from our cars, which take us on trips. The rust on our fences comes from the rain, which feeds our gardens, and the algae on our decks comes from the sun, which warms our skin.
So, while it’s important to keep our outdoor spaces clean and presentable, let’s also remember to welcome the flaws and stains that come with living a full and adventurous life. After all, the most important memories are the ones we make outside.
So go ahead and clean those spots, but don’t forget to enjoy the stories they tell. Good luck cleaning!
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So I created this quick, newbie guide to help you focus on what is really important to you:
What are some ways you can keep the outside of a house clean?
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Links and references
- Technical report from the National Park Service
- Use and care guide from Ethan Allen
- Operator’s manual for Varatti cleaning product
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