When sanding wooden furniture, use a 120 pad to remove the graying layer and reveal the original color of the wood underneath. Apply stain (or paint) with an old cloth and let it dry for an hour. Repeat this if necessary. Once the stain is completely dry, which can take an hour or two, apply an outdoor sealant to protect against the elements.
Loose spanking can be an ongoing problem with wicker. "If a customer has invested in higher quality woven furniture from a retailer, they can sometimes order additional material that can then be woven into their existing area and secured," said Brad Schweig, vice president of operations at Sunnyland Outdoor Living in Dallas. However, mass-produced basket and resin items do not offer parts or materials. So he suggested gluing this type of pipe again if it came off.
Look for rust in metal furniture. "If you see any, rub them onto bare metal with steel wool and matching paint," said Mr. Bateman. But don't forget the pegs, wheels and hinges, said Herr Schweig. "From time to time it is recommended that all moving parts be lubricated to extend life and minimize squeaking or noise," he said. He recommends using WD-40 or a "similar lubricating process" for these parts to function properly.
Deep cleansing pillows, frames and fabrics
Some outer pillows have removable zippered covers that can be washed. Remove and vacuum these protective sleeves, or most can be tossed in the washing machine with some color-safe bleach and then air dried. Foam trays can also be vacuumed and hose cleaned before air-drying. For pillows without removable covers or for cleaning pillows without removing the foam insert, Ms. Shaughnessy suggests a solution of warm water, one to two tablespoons of liquid dish soap and a quarter cup of borax.
"Soak the pillows thoroughly with a garden hose," she said before applying the solution liberally to the pillows with a nylon brush. Let the solution sit for 10 to 15 minutes, scrub to loosen stains, and use a powerful garden hose spray nozzle to spray the pillows until the water runs clear. Let the pillows air dry for about four to 12 hours, depending on the weather. (Put them on their side for quicker drying.) Fabrics, Ms. Hollier said, also benefit from "an ounce of prevention." "Wipe off dust weekly to prevent mold from developing and staining the fabric," she said.
For cleaning wooden, metal and resin frames, Ms. Shaughnessy is said to have filled a large bucket of warm water with a quarter cup of washing-up liquid. Remove dirt with a cloth or brush with soft bristles. In stubborn areas where the dirt won't peel off easily, let the soapy water sit for a few minutes before scrubbing. Rinse off soap residue with clean water.
You can also make a more harsh cleaning solution by using one cup of bleach, one cup of water, and one cup of laundry detergent. (Don't use this on metal as it may stain.) For wicker or resin, use a long, soft-bristled brush, as well as an old toothbrush that you can use to lift back anything that remains.