How to clean polywood furniture – outdoor experts explain what and what not to do

 A pair of white Adirondack chairs outside a contemporary building
A pair of white Adirondack chairs outside a contemporary building

Polywood patio furniture is a popular choice thanks to its simplicity and durability, so it is unsurprising that it is easy to clean and maintain – even after a long harsh winter.

While cleaning outdoor furniture can be laborious, polywood's weather-resistant materials mean that it is quick to wipe down without intense scrubbing, or the need to remove rust stains.

Here, outdoor experts have explained how they clean polywood furniture to restore it for summer in only four steps.

How to clean polywood furniture

A wooden Adirondack chair on a paved patio
A wooden Adirondack chair on a paved patio

There are a few different cleaning tips you can use for polywood furniture depending on how heavily soiled it is and how deep a clean you desire. The method for each solution remains the same, however, making cleaning your best outdoor furniture easy and quick – exactly what you need when the sun starts to make an appearance.

You will need:

1. Remove any loose debris

As with any backyard cleaning, it is a good idea to start by removing any loose debris from polywood furniture, such as leaves, dirt, cobwebs, or dust, says Zahid Adnan, professional gardener at The Plant Bible. You can do this with a clean brush or cloth, working from the top of the furniture and working down towards the legs to prevent brushing dirt back onto cleaner areas.

2. Prepare the cleaning solution

There are two main options you can use when cleaning polywood furniture: using mild dish soap and water, or opting to clean with vinegar, says Ben McInerney, DIY expert and founder of home blog, HomeGardenGuides.

Mild Soap and Water: For light cleaning, you can mix a small amount of mild soap with warm water and use a soft cloth or sponge to gently wipe down the surface of the polywood furniture.

Vinegar and Water: If there are tougher stains or grime buildup, you can mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water to create a cleaning solution. Use a soft cloth or sponge to apply the mixture to the surface of the furniture and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a damp cloth. This method can be particularly effective for removing water rings or other stains.

With either solution, be sure to clean all surfaces, including the back, seat, arms, and legs, and rinse the brush or cloth frequently to prevent spreading dirt around, reminds outdoor expert Zahid Adnan.

After both cleaning solutions, rinse the furniture thoroughly with fresh water to remove all residue. 'This can be done using a hose or a bucket of water, making sure to rinse all surfaces, including the undersides and crevices where cleaning solutions can gather and form stains or exacerbate the growth of algae,’ he adds.

3. Ensure the furniture is fully dry

To help prevent the development of algae or leave unsightly water stains behind, it’s important to thoroughly dry it off after cleaning using a clean microfiber towel before sitting it to dry completely in a sunny spot of your yard before you cover it again with a furniture cover or move it back to storage.

4. Optional: apply a protective sealant

As with any wooden outdoor furniture, it never hurts to apply a specialized sealant or polish to help prevent weather damage over time, says Zahid Adnan, professional landscaper. He recommends opting for either a polywood protectant or a wax-based product and following the manufacturer's instructions for application and drying time.

Alternatively, you can buff the polywood furniture with a wood polish to keep the surface looking shiny and new, adds DIY expert Ben McInerney.

‘All you need to do is apply a small amount of the polish to a soft cloth and wipe it evenly over the surface of the furniture.’

Need new polywood furniture? These are our favorite picks?

Shawboro Adirondack Chair - Threshold

Made from genuine polywood, this comfortably sculpted outdoor seat is ideal for yards that experience even the harshest of weather

POLYWOOD Vineyard 2-person swing

Constructed of genuine Polywood, this swing has a reclined back making it perfect for relaxing in your yard or on your porch after a long day

POLYWOOD Grant Park 7 piece set

This all-weather dining set is made from genuine Polywood and offers spacious dining space for up to seven guests - perfect for entertaining with ease


Is white polywood furniture hard to keep clean?

White polywood furniture is made from a highly durable plastic material meaning it is largely simple to keep clean and fresh by wiping it over with soap and water. One exception to this is if algae begins to grow if it is left in wet or humid conditions. You can try to use a power washer to remove this, or alternatively opt for a cleaning solution specifically for outdoor algae to kill the growth and restore the furniture to bright white again.

Can polywood stay outside in winter?

Polywood is a great material to leave in your yard year-round, however, it is best to cover it at least with a furniture cover to help protect it from the elements such as harsh rain and frosts. This can help to extend its lifespan overall and makes it easier to clean come spring and summer.

Cleaning polywood furniture is simple and can help to keep it looking its best in your yard for years to come, especially when you avoid some harsher cleaners such as bleach and ammonia, or tools such as steel wool and rough sponges, says Ben McInerney, DIY expert. Not only are these unnecessary for cleaning such a durable material, but they can cause damage and weather the surface more quickly, reducing how long it can serve your yard.