Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

How to Clean Outdoor Cushions That Are Not Removable

how to clean outdoor cushions custom graphic

With the right weather, great company, or just a good book in your hands, there’s no place like the patio to soak it all in! Being outdoors is always a more enjoyable and freeing experience, provided that you’ve got a nice space outside where you can spend some quality time. 

One of the things that make up a ‘nice’ patio is, of course, the furniture. This includes the seating arrangement that most homeowners complete with a set of comfortable patio chairs. And with them come the chair cushions (that provide the actual comfort) and perhaps some decorative pillows. Unfortunately, unlike your indoor furniture, outdoor cushions are exposed to the elements and therefore, end up pretty dirty and stained over time. Even worse, they are often subject to bird faeces, mould, and tree sap, all of which cause ugly stains that could end up marking the fabric permanently if not treated soon enough. Needless to say, outdoor cushions in such unsanitary conditions are unusable until cleaned.

So, unless the cushions have removable covers that are machine-washable, you will need to learn how to clean your outdoor cushions if you want to keep your patio chairs fresh and ready for use all throughout the year. Today, MaidForYou is sharing a simple guide to clean and remove stains from outdoor chair cushions using common household items. Read on!

Steps to Clean Outdoor Cushions

front view of 3 seater outside couch with large brown cushions

For a regular clean that is intended to remove mild dirt and stains, as well as freshen up the cushions, this cleaning method is highly recommended. The frequency of cleaning will depend on how often the cushions are used, and the level of dirt and debris they encounter on a regular basis. 

There are no special cleaners, tools, or products required for cleaning outdoor chair cushions which makes this method that much simpler!

Things You’ll Need

  • Soft cleaning brush
  • Vacuum cleaner (preferably handheld device)
  • Bucket of water
  • Dish soap
  • Borax
  • Dry towel

Gather the items above, and begin the cleaning process by following the steps to clean your outdoor cushions below.

Step 1: Vacuum

Use an upholstery attachment to vacuum the cushion thoroughly. This includes those tricky seams and corners where dust and dirt tend to accumulate. The goal here is to remove as much surface dirt, dust, loose debris, and dried mud/grass as possible. This step alone will make your outdoor cushions look cleaner and brighter which is why regular vacuuming with an upholstery brush is advised to maintain outdoor upholsteries like chair cushions and pillows. 

Step 2: Scrub

To get rid of mild stains and dirt, as well as dullness caused by exposure to outdoor elements, you will need to make a DIY cleaning solution for your outdoor cushions. For this, fill up a bucket of water, and add in 1⁄4 cup of Borax and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid; mix the water well to combine the ingredients. Then, dip your soft-bristled brush in the cleaning solution, and scrub the cushion thoroughly. Don’t forget to clean each individual side as well as the corners. At this stage, pay close attention to stains to ensure that you are applying a little more elbow grease to those specific areas. When you are satisfied with the scrubbing process, wait a few minutes before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Rinse

It’s important to rinse off the cleaning solution thoroughly as any residue left on the surface will stiffen the material. The most effective and convenient way to rinse off your outdoor cushions is with a hose pipe. Be sure to use medium water pressure as anything more intense may damage the material. If you don’t have access to a hose, take the cushion into the bathroom and rinse it under running water.

Step 4: Dry

In order for your outdoor cushions to dry faster, you will first need to squeeze out as much water (from the stuffing) as you can. This can be done safely (without causing the cushion to lose shape) by placing it down on a clean, hard surface, and gently pressing down on the fabric with both your palms and fingers. Do this on both sides, and on different sections of the cushions to remove as much water as possible from the stuffing. Finish off by standing the cushion upright and leaving it to air-dry completely.

How to Remove Stains from Outdoor Cushions

hanging outside lounge with large white cushions

For specific stains that don’t come out with a regular cleaning method (like the one shared above), spot treatment with a specific cleaning solution will be required to effectively remove them. Bear in mind, however, that the longer you allow stains to set in, the more difficult they are to get out. 

Take a look at the cleaning tips below to remove common stains from outdoor cushions:


Begin by wiping up the spores with a damp cloth. Next, spray the stain with raw white vinegar and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes. Use a soft-bristled cleaning brush to scrub the affected area thereafter. The vinegar will help break down the mould or mildew stain while a follow-up cleaning process with water and dish soap will take care of the rest.


Fresh oil or grease stains caused by sunscreen, body lotion, bug spray, etc. can be removed with the help of cornstarch or baking soda. Simply sprinkle the powder over the stain and leave it to absorb the oil. This may take up to 20 minutes. Next, take a blunt object such as a spoon, old credit card, or non-serrated butter knife, and gently scrape off the baking soda/cornstarch. If the stain is not fully removed, add a few drops of water to the affected area, and repeat the steps. 


For grass stains on outdoor cushions, the most effective cleaning solution is an enzyme-based cleaning product. All you need to do is dilute the product, apply it to the stain, and use a soft cleaning brush to scrub the stain away. Finish off by rinsing the area thoroughly.

Tree Sap

An enzyme cleaning product is also advised for tree sap stains. Apply a small amount to the stain and then sprinkle powdered laundry detergent over it. The two amounts used should make a paste that you will need to work into the fabric with the help of a soft brush. After 15 minutes, rinse the cushion off thoroughly.

Since outdoor cushions are prone to dust and dirt, they require regular cleaning which, for most homeowners, is looked upon as a dreaded task. However, when you’ve got a simple, quick, and efficient cleaning method to follow like the one we've shared above, cleaning your outdoor cushions without having to hire a pressure washer is a breeze, and the results, highly satisfactory!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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