How to remove water stains from outdoor cushions?

How to remove water stains from outdoor cushions?

How to remove water stains from outdoor cushions?

If you’re anything like us, you’ll go straight for the garden or whatever outside space you have as soon as the sun shines. Grab a cup of coffee, a good book, and a set of clean outdoor cushions and you’re set for the next few hours. You’ll know how fantastic it looks when it’s set up precisely and filled with enough soft furnishings to make it feel like an outdoor living room space, whether you have a covered balcony turned plant paradise or a fancy-pants patio space in your backyard loaded with the greatest garden furniture.

However, if you’ve owned your throws and cushions for at least a year and through all four seasons, you’ll be well aware of how grubby and dirty soft furniture can become when exposed to the weather.

Consider mould, mildew, and mud (oh, the mud!) not to mention pet hair and other messes if you have pets or children – whether yours or not. Cushions go through hell: we sit on them, nap on them, embrace them, drop them, and so on. Knowing how to clean outdoor cushions is essential to their survival. Thankfully, restoring them to their former splendor doesn’t take long, and there are plenty of techniques to keep them from becoming so filthy in the first place. Cleaning yours in the washing to treating patio and non-removable outdoor cushion covers by hand – removing stains with cleaning solutions such as vinegar, baking soda, and more.

Outdoor cushions, whether on their own or as part of a patio set, aren’t always the same as typical cushions you’d find in your home, since many will have been treated with UV-protective and other weather-resistant coatings. Check the labels for any advice on how the maker recommended you clean your products before you begin cleaning or washing.

A spray bottle filled with 4 cups water, 1 teaspoon clear dishwashing liquid soap and 1 tablespoon borax should be kept on hand. Spray the problem area with the solution, let it soak for 15 minutes then rinse with cool water to remove soap residue.

So, what’s the best way to get stains out of outdoor cushions?

Cleaning on the Spot

  1. In a spray bottle, combine 1 tablespoon borax, 1 teaspoon dish-washing soap, and 4 cups lukewarm water.
  2. Spray the stain with the solution.
  3. Blot the stain with the solution.
  4. Allow 15 minutes for the solution to soak.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with cool water to eliminate any remaining soap.
  6. Dry cushions by placing them on their edges.


If cleaning instructions aren’t included, most cushions can be cleaned with a solution of 1 teaspoon Dawn dish soap, 1 teaspoon Borax, and 1 quart warm water. Fill a spray bottle halfway with the solution and liberally wet both sides of the cushions, making careful to get into all of the grooves and crevices. Allow the solution to sit for about 15 minutes, but don’t let it dry completely. Spray the cushions with a yard hose and set them on edge to dry.


If your cushion coverings are removable, machine cleaning is a convenient choice. If there aren’t any, examine the manufacturer’s website or read all of the care instructions offered, and follow any special suggestions for your pillows. Give the pillow coverings a thorough shake before washing to get rid of any loose particles, or vacuum with the upholstery attachment. Pre-treat any stains and wash the covers according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the covers to air dry before re-placing them on the cushions while still slightly damp to re-stretch the material. If you do decide to put your cushion covers in the dryer, make sure you remove them before they are totally dry. To avoid shrinking or losing their shape, place them back over the inserts for the final drying.


Both stains on outdoor cushions can be removed with white vinegar. This approach is particularly beneficial for non-removable outdoor cushion covers. Simply combine lukewarm water, 1/2 cup dish soap (omit if desired), and a few tablespoons white vinegar in a gentle brush and apply to the cushions. Scrub both sides thoroughly then set aside for a few minutes. Then, using a sponge and extra warm water, thoroughly clean the covers, being careful not to let too much water penetrate the filling – this is less of an issue if your covers are waterproof. Finally, lay the cushions out in the sun to dry thoroughly.


Many manufacturers advice against power washing pillows since it can harm the fabric and cause seams to break. Although I don’t use this method for routine cleaning, I do power-wash our cushions once or twice a season because it’s the quickest and most effective way to clean them. If you do decide to power wash your pillows, use a low-flow water setting and avoid getting too close to the seams. Once the cushions have been washed, turn them on their side to dry and then flip them to allow for complete drying on all sides.


If you reside in the Pacific Northwest, chances are your patio cushions will be caught in a rain shower at least a few times. If they do become wet, quickly turn them on their edge, seam side down, to speed up the drying process. Unzip the cushion coverings if they are zippered to allow for improved drainage.


Use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to wipe up liquid spills and BLOT don’t rub as much as possible. If the stain persists, mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid with a spray bottle of water and squirt it on.