Say goodbye to dusty, dirty, and sometimes mildewy.

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Outdoor Cushions with Dog
Credit: Getty Images

One of the perks of living in the South is being able to make use of your outdoor spaces almost year-round. By now, we’re accustomed enough to the sultry summer heat to still enjoy cocktail hour on the porch; and any real winter chill is practically just a blip on the radar. Outdoor living isn’t an afterthought down here, and for that we are known to have a porch swing or two, as well as plenty of outdoor seating and furniture upon which to perch with a spiked sweet tea mule while nibbling on dinner from the grill and visiting with loved ones.

To keep your outdoor entertaining space in tip-top shape, it’s important to give those dusty, dirty, sometimes mildewy outdoor cushions a thorough cleaning each year. With a few household items and an hour of your afternoon, those outdoor cushions will be looking brand-new. Pick a sunny day (to ensure each cushion dries quickly!) and get to scrubbing. 

Here's how to clean outdoor cushions.

Supplies You’ll Need:

Water hose (with spray nozzle)

Bucket 

Sponge

Bristled brush 

Detergent liquid 

Borax powder

Fabric protectant spray

Optional: pressure washer 

Step 1: Spray down the cushions

Pick a spot that isn’t on grass or dirt to ensure you have the cleanest workspace (like your driveway or porch). Dampen each cushion thoroughly with the spray nozzle on your garden hose. 

Step 2: Mix the cleaning solution

Add 3 tablespoons of laundry detergent liquid, as well as ½ cup of Borax powder (we have been using this all-natural option!), to an empty bucket and fill with water.

Step 3: Apply the cleaning mixture

Using a kitchen sponge, apply generous amounts of the detergent mixture to each cushion. Using a hard-bristle brush, scrub the mixture into each surface until good and lathered. After thoroughly scrubbing, let the cushions (still covered in lathery detergent mixture) sit for five minutes. This lets the detergent and Borax do their job. 

Step 4: Spray down the cushions

After five minutes of soaking, do a quick scrub-over of the cushions once more and then rinse with the spray nozzle on your garden hose. Make sure all suds and cleaning mixture is gone. 

Step 5: Repeat on all sides

Repeat steps 1–4 on other side of the cushion, plus the ends. 

Step 6: Let cushions dry

Squeeze out any excess water with your hands or a towel. Stand cushions up on their sides in the sunlight to dry thoroughly to ensure no mildew begins to form. 

Step 7: Spray the fabric

Using fabric protectant spray of your choice, coat all the sides of each cushion and let dry once more. This makes sure that any stains or mildew is kept at bay all season long. We’re loving Scotchgard’s Water and Sun Shield for outdoor-specific protection. 

Optional: Use pressure washer to clean outdoor cushions

Instead of using your garden hose, dampen cushions with pressure washer from safe distance to loosen stains and dirt. Too close and you’ll risk damaging the fabric. Put cleaning solution into pressure washer before spraying onto cushions (again, not too close). Scrub with hard-bristle brush for good measure. Rinse cushions with water from either hose or pressure washer. Let dry and spray with fabric protectant. 

Just like that, your outdoor furniture is ready for all the popsicle-licking, porch cocktail-sipping, sunset-watching fun. An afternoon spring-cleaning chore has never been more satisfying. 

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