How We Keep our Outdoor Furniture Clean

May 22, 2017

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 




We're Chris + Julia

read more

What we're                   right now


browse the shop

Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.

browse all

browse all

browse all




Popular Posts




Top Categories

Since we’ve been sharing a few sneak peeks of our deck lately (we’ve added a few more pieces and will be sharing the full reveal next week), the number one question we are getting on Instagram right now is how we keep our outdoor sofas clean. They all are very light white or ivory, and while that usually can mean they would get dirty–fast, we somehow have kept them clean for over a year now. Here’s what we do.

First, every climate is different and each piece of furniture or fabric will react differently. If you live in an extremely wet climate, you may have to worry about mold. We live in the desert of Idaho. It’s very dry here, rains very occasionally, but it is extremely windy. And that can sometimes mean dust, dirt and debris everywhere.

Here’s a glimpse of what our couches looked like after a wind storm.

Our first line of defense is this Exterior Scotch Guard. Even if something is made for outdoors, we give it one coat of this, and it not only protects it from water damage, it also resists stains and makes clean-up a lot quicker.

Next, and this may seem silly, but we use our leaf blower to blow all the dirt and debris off the furniture and rug. I used to use a small hand broom, but occasionally I would catch a piece of dirt and it would almost rub it in more while I was trying to remove it. This is a lot faster, and bonus, Chris gets to use his leaf blower in the summer.

The last thing we do is spot clean. The covers on our World Market couches are removable and washable, and I’ve done that twice. But they take so much muscle to get back on (it’s really not that easy!). So much so, that I prefer to just spot clean them now. Maybe if they got really dirty, it would feel worth it again. But for now, we just use this product called 303 Outdoor Multi-Surface Cleaner.

Spray it on the dirty spot and, depending on how soiled it is, you can let it sit for a couple minutes or just go right into scrubbing.

They may not look new after a year, but they look pretty dang good! And the best part about a light colored outdoor sofa is the sun is your friend! It will bleach out any imperfections over time–a beautiful thing.

Do we have sofa covers? What do we do if it does rain? What about over the winter? We do have two sofa covers. We got these from Amazon that we cover the wood sofas with and we pile on all the cushions and throws from the other sofa and chairs on top before covering. If we know it’s going to rain or there’s any other type of storm coming through, we will cover the sofas. But day to day, we leave them uncovered. I suppose this could work for winter, too, but the winters here are so harsh that we feel better about putting all of the outdoor furniture in a storage unit over those months.

As for our dining area, We do crank down our umbrella most days (#windycity) unless we’re out there using the area. And it’s good practice to leave our black chairs tipped forward, as they are not made for outdoor use and can rust if they have water left on them. They have held up amazingly well for us, and the only care I have given them is wiping them with a damp cloth to remove dust every so often.

So that’s how we do it, but we’d love to hear any additional tips that you have in the comments! Especially if you live in a different climate–that could really help others out!

PS! Our World Market Sofas are 15% off through today only! Plus Free Shipping. Use the code MAYSAVE!


Sala White Rattan Lounge Chairs | Tall Basket | Area Rug String Lights (similar) | Wood Sofas | Black Sofa | Outdoor Blue Slash Pillows | White and Black Tassel Lumbar Pillow | White Pinstriped pillows | Tall concrete planter (similar)|  Black planter | Small concrete planter | Dining Table | Black Dining Chairs White Wire Dining Chairs | Black and White striped umbrella | Firewood Storage | DIY Fireplace Tutorial | DIY Tiered Planter Boxes Tutorial

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

What do you think?

  1. Eileen Haas-Linde says:

    We live in Florida, where everything fades and gets dirty from our three dogs. I finally gave up cleaning our outdoor sofas. I bought yardage of a tropical print that I store folded under the sofa cushions. When I want to entertain, I pull out the yardage and wrap the cushions and pillows. The cushions wraps stay in place by themselves, and I use a few well-placed safety pins on the pillows. After the party, I pull them off and fold them up again. They always look brand new!

  2. Ellice says:

    Hi! Now that you have had your light outdoor furniture for a few years, I wanted to see if you still like or regret the lighter fabric? I love white/light outdoor cushions, but I’m nervous about the maintenance and I have a toddler! I do live in Southern California and don’t need to worry about intense weather.

    Please let me know!

    • Julia says:

      I feel like the sun actually bleaches a lot of imperfections right out of light fabric. Don’t know if we’d ever do anything different now!

  3. ES says:

    This was so helpful! I’ve been wanting to update our outdoor space, but hesitated because I wasn’t sure how to keep it clean! Thanks for this!

  4. Meg says:

    Hi There –
    I remember you had a large cover that you showed in your IG stories at a certain point – do you have the link to that one? Time to cover everything!

    Thanks so much!

  5. I live in London, a very wet climate. During the few days ; ) of summer we have a year I end up dragging my outdoor cushions in and out and storing them in the bathtub! I’m going to try covering them with a tarp and see if I can make that work for rainy days.

  6. Great advice! Regardless of how much money you spend on patio furniture, everyone wants their tables, chairs and umbrellas to last more than a single season. If you’ve already bought your furniture, it’s critical to understand how to clean different materials. If you’re still shopping, it’s good to know how woods, metal, plastics and other materials react to different environments.

  7. Melissa says:

    Do you guys use the small or medium cover for your couches from amazon?

  8. Katy says:

    I want to get my husband a leaf blower for Father’s Day because we just moved and now have a great outdoor space that we could use the blower for like you. What do you have?

    • Chris says:

      It’s an electric Toro leaf blower. It works really great, though the 100ft extension cord can be annoying to deal with in our long yard.

  9. Erin P says:

    I have last year models World Market wood sectional/white cushions and live in the midwest where it hasn’t stopped raining & it’s too hard to get all the cushions out for the small amount of time we’d be using them at night so far. Sadly, we’ve been known to all sit around on the wood slats. ???? Rain is an issue but birds seem to be our bigger problem lately too if you get my drift. Thanks for the tips!

    By the way, World Market makes an outdoor wood protection oil product that I’ve used. It darkens the wood a bit but I did it in intervals and you could see the rain bead off the sections that were covered so it works!

  10. Jordana says:

    Hi Julia – How do you care for the wood of the outdoor sofas? Did you apply any sealant? Not sure how these WM wood furniture hold up. Thanks!

  11. Kathleen says:

    I’m obsessed with your deck, the fireplace is one of my #dreamgoals.
    I had a question though, what size is your outdoor rug?

  12. Erin says:

    Have you done anything to treat or weatherize you Applaro table?

  13. Wow — I would never have the courage to buy WHITE cushions for outside, but I also don’t live in the desert…. Haha. Great tips and I LOVE that outdoor scotch guard. It saves so much of our outdoor fabrics. I love the indoor version, too. Your deck is definitely a dream!

  14. This is helpful because we just got a new white outdoor couch from Target. While we love the couch, it wasn’t maybe the smartest move to get a white couch with a dog who likes to get dirty. We live in NJ and it gets really humid during the summer and the spring is really rainy. We should be covering the couch to protect it from all the elements but we haven’t yet. In the winter, we bring in all of our outdoor furniture. These spot cleaning tips will be really helpful. Thanks!

  15. Natalee says:

    Hold the phone. I am listening to the most recent podcast. (love ’em BTW) and had to stop listening to weigh in on an IMPORTANT HOT TOPIC:

    Dear Preston: When a host asks if you have any dietary issues, it doesn’t mean preferences. (Does it!?) I re-listened to that section to see if Preston mentioned an allergy. If there is an actual allergy or disease – sure, I want to accommodate you. If you just dislike vegetables, or a particular food – tough luck sucka. Have fun with your life of picking through your food like a child. Picky eating is so weird, and if you are a grown up with the palate of a 4 year old I got no pity for you.

    I love you Preston (in a podcast stranger/type of way) and loved your Hawaiian pizza analogy and then you drop this incongruous bombshell! I’m perplexed ;)

  16. Swain says:

    Julia! This is off topic but I am curious what color of Roman shades you have ordered from Amazon? I followed the shop our house link but ordered the first option which is dark. Whoops!

    • Julia says:

      There’s two we normally get and both look really similar. Amazon tends to change their links all the time, unfortunately. :/ Sorry about that! Here’s the ones we always order from Overstock (in our living room) which are identical.

  17. denilauren says:

    Thank you for the Scotchgard and 303 recommendations! I was also curious, are there any go-to cleaning products for your indoor rug? We just put down a natural rug that has a small cotton twill border and already I can tell that our dogs are going to leave a trail where they track over it. Many thanks for the help! -D

  18. kacey says:

    I didn’t know that tipping chairs to avoid rust was a thing! I bought an outdoor sofa and was totally crushed when I went to move them and rust just poured out of the legs. I was considering putting silicone cupcake liners underneath but I knew that wouldn’t actually help with drainage.I’m outside of Baltimore and the rain in MD in the summer can be so random.

  19. Shanda says:

    I use that spot cleaned and it gets the stain up but then leaves a stain from where I sprayed?! Or maybe it’s just cleaner than the rest of the cushion after spot cleaning. Not sure how to remedy this?! Thanks for all the advice!

  20. Shannon says:

    I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see that you guys use a leaf blower for cleaning. We do the same on our deck and breezeway. I’ve told my husband to do it when the neighbors aren’t home so we don’t seem lazy. Who has time (/patience/inclination) to sweep when you can BLOW it off?? ;)

  21. Devlin says:

    Thanks for the great tips, Julia! We live in sunny Grand Cayman so the sun is definitely our friend, but the salty sea air is our enemy. I’ll have to give the multi-surface cleaner a try!

    Ps love Chris’ sirarcha shirt! ????

  22. This post is so incredibly helpful! Our deck and pergola are almost finished being built, and I’m coordinating the finishing touches on the furniture and decor (in time for my baby shower! :) I’ve been procrastinating on taking all the outdoor furniture and rug outside because I’m so scared that it’ll get ruined quickly – like before the shower can even take place, ha!

    So, two questions: what about your rug – do you treat it with anything before leaving it outside? Ours is an outdoor rug from Safavieh, but I’m still so hesitant to just leave it out there… It does rain quite a bit down in Tennessee, and the summer humidity isn’t helpful either. And second, how is your IKEA dining table holding up? We’re thinking to buy the same one but with all the chairs included and wanted to hear an honest opinion on how well it lasts.

    • Julia says:

      The Ikea table is holding up great after our first full year using it! No complaints or issues there. Our rug we haven’t treated with anything. It’s an outdoor rug, but quite soft, so I wonder if in more humid areas you’d have to worry about mold and things like that. We had a rain storm over the weekend and the rug got drenched, but because of the dryness here, I’m hoping it dries out pretty quickly. I wonder if just draping it over a few chairs or a railing would allow yours to dry out quicker?

  23. Mary says:

    We’ve had these sofas (and the chairs) for two years now… they are amazing, but why world market didn’t just make those zippers extend a few more inches on each side is beyond me. ????
    Very glad to know about the scotch guard!

  24. Roxie says:

    We’ve had the same couches for two years and I just sprayed them this year, but in the past we would put the cushions under our eave (it’s really deep) in big storms and we have also been known to use the leaf blower on them! Also, why are they so hard to remove!?! Such a pain!

  25. Kesha says:

    Hi Julia! How long have you had your Ikea outdoor dining table, or do you have a different one? I’m wondering the durability if it is the Ikea table. The legs on yours in the picture appear black though.

    • Julia says:

      The dining table is IKEA! We got it last year

      • Kesha says:

        Thanks Julia! What would you say is the durability like for this table? With outdoor heat, direct sun in morning, and obviously rain? I’ve never had a wood outdoor table before. Thanks again!

      • Julia says:

        We’ve only had it a year and it’s been great for us. However, some wood oil never hurt.

  26. Jessica says:

    We have the same World Market couches and I have to chase down the cushions from the neighbors yard whenever there’s the slightest breeze! Do you do anything to keep them attached to the wood frame?

    • Julia says:

      Odd!! We don’t. But they are pretty lightweight cushions. Maybe Velcro would work?

    • Gabi says:

      Jessica, I had the same problem with mine (different couch, but it doesn’t matter actually), and I solved it with Velcro. First, I had some ribbons on each corner because they looked pretty nice with the design, but they kept untying, so I cut them off and used Velcro instead.

  27. Hi Julia! I was just about to purchase the black and white striped umbrella and noticed you originally had it tagged as being from home depot and now it is marked as pottery barn.
    Did you purchase both, or have a preference?

    • Julia says:

      This is originally from Home Decorator’s, but I’ve gotten numerous emails that it was sold out our they didn’t have the black and white anymore, so I linked to a similar one

all the latest

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

HI! We're Chris + Julia

read more

Load More

Reader Faves

SHop all

What We're                     Right Now

What We're                 Right Now

Looking for our favorite things? A place to shop our home room by room, or just catch up on what Julia's wearing / loving right now? Browse the CLJ shop. 


looking for inspiration? 

There was a 10-year-period where everyone (including me) was doing black or almost-black rooms or walls. These days, we want something moody and romantic, but we want warmth back in our lives. We want the “grown-up” version of that look. If you are craving a rich, moody paint color that’s a warm, inviting neutral, then […]

Can We Send You Our Love Letter?

Another way for us to stay in touch! Joining our weekly newsletter gives you access to exclusive content, never-before-seen photos, your questions answered, and our favorite DIYs. Sign up below!

Follow Along on Instagram

Welcome to our online community where we've posted home, DIY, style, renovations, and family since '09. Renovating our #cljmoderncottage in Idaho and headed for new adventures in Raleigh, NC. #cljfam #cljtransformations