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How to properly store your outdoor furniture for the winter

Sherri Kuhn writes about raising teenagers, the perils of a clean home, wistfulness over babies, and anything else that makes her laugh (or cry) in the years between changing diapers and wearing them. With a son just starting college and...

Protect your furniture from the elements

During the summer months, your outdoor patio furniture gets a lot of use. If you live in a place that has a cold or wet climate in the winter, you will need to make sure that your patio furniture is properly protected from damage.
Outdoor furniture in winter

The days are getting shorter, and there's a chill in the air. Now that you aren't spending as much time outdoors, it's time to prepare your furniture for the winter months ahead. With outdoor living spaces becoming more popular than ever, most people have at least a few pieces that need to be stored. Even furniture that is treated to be weather-resistant or is under a patio cover needs to be cared for and maintained. Spend a bit of time now, and you will be able to enjoy your outdoor living area when spring rolls around — and your furniture will be in top shape.

Clean it up

The most important step in preparing furniture for storage is to get it clean. Moisture and dirt left on outdoor items can cause mold or mildew to grow in the winter months. Mold can grow and spread quickly, leaving your furniture in bad shape by the time you are ready to use it again. Pieces made from wicker, wrought iron, mesh or plastic can be cleaned with a simple dish soap and water solution.

For wood furniture you can use Murphy Oil Soap and water, then rinse and let dry. If there are stains that are difficult to remove, make a mixture of 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 gallon water. Use a soft brush to work on the stains, then rinse and let dry completely. Take time to work on stains now, to prevent problems in the spring.

Cushions also need to be clean and dry before you put them away for the winter. If you have cushions covered in fabric or canvas, prepare a solution of 1/2 cup Lysol and 1 gallon hot water and use a soft brush to scrub them clean. Rinse cushions thoroughly and let dry. More serious stains may respond well to a solution of 1/2 cup bleach and 1 gallon water, but test first on a small area.

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Give it a coat

After your furniture is clean, a protective coating will help keep it looking good for next spring. Aluminum or plastic pieces can be covered with a thin coat of car wax to protect them and use a coat of paste wax for wicker furniture. Check metal furniture for any signs of rust and remove with a wire brush, then spray metal furniture with a silicone sealant.

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Under cover

Furniture covers are great for additional protection from the elements, even if you are storing your pieces in a shed or garage. Covers come in a wide range of sizes and weights, depending on whether you will be storing items outside or under cover. We found several options to suit most needs.

stackable chair outdoor cover

This stackable chair outdoor cover (Crate & Barrel, $25) covers several chairs stacked together for extra easy storage. Made from polyester with reinforced, piped edges, this cover is UV resistant and waterproof.

outdoor sofa cover

This outdoor sofa cover (The Cover Store, $90) is water resistant, and has a draw cord and buckle straps for properly securing the cover over your sofa. These covers are available in sage green, gray or tan.

Terrazzo patio table and chair set cover

The Terrazzo patio table and chair set cover (Amazon, $46) is an efficient way to cover your whole table set. Available in two different sizes, it features elastic loops to secure it over the legs and an elastic cord in the bottom hem.

Take great care of your outdoor living area furniture, and you will be able to enjoy it for years to come.

More outdoor winter living

Preparing your garden for winter
How to create a winter garden with kids
Dress up a drab winter garden with these ideas

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