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Freshen Up Outdoor Cushions and Pillows for Spring

March 4, 2024

Freshen Up Outdoor Cushions and Pillows for Spring

Spring is here and it’s time to freshen up your outdoor living space. Making sure your outdoor cushions and pillows are clean and vibrant will ensure your patio, porch or deck looks its best for the new season. Here are some tips to get your outdoor soft furnishings ready for spring.

Assess the Condition of Cushions and Pillows

The first step is to take a close look at all of your outdoor cushions and pillows.

  • Check for stains, mildew, or other signs of damage. Mildew in particular can be an issue after cushions have sat outside all winter. Discoloration or fading from sun exposure is also common.
  • Any cushions or pillows that are excessively dirty, stained, or damaged may need to be replaced rather than cleaned.

  • Feel the insert and fill of the cushions.

  • Inserts that are matted, lumpy, or misshapen may need new filler. Down or polyester fiberfill loses loft and support over time.
  • For fiber or foam filled cushions, clumping or inconsistent fill levels mean it’s time to add or replace filler.

  • Inspect zippers, seams, ties, and other components.

  • Broken zippers, detached or ripped seams, frayed ties, or missing buttons can often be repaired. But if damage is extensive, replacement may be best.

  • Consider the age and overall quality of cushions.

  • Low quality cushions may only last 1-2 seasons before needing replacement. Higher quality cushions can often be freshened up and last for years.

Clean Stains, Mildew, and Debris

For cushions and pillows that just need surface cleaning, there are a few options:

  • Hand wash with mild detergent and a soft brush, then rinse thoroughly and air dry before replacing covers.
  • Spot clean stains with a diluted vinegar or bleach solution (test for colorfastness first).
  • Power wash cushions and pillows – but use lowest pressure setting and keep nozzle at least 12 inches away. Allow to fully air dry.
  • For mildew stains, spray with 1:4 bleach/water mix. Rinse and allow to dry fully in sunlight.

Avoid soaking foam cushions as this can damage or misshape the filler. Down and fiberfill inserts can be soaked but must dry fully before reuse or covers will develop mildew.

Freshen up Cushion Fillings

Cushion inserts and loose fillings like down or polyfill can be freshened up between deep cleanings:

  • Fluff fiberfill, down, or feathers inserts by massaging the filling to break up clumps.
  • Add new filler to boost loft – a foam topper or more polyfill for fiber cushions, or feathers to replenish down.
  • Replace misshapen, matted, or deteriorating inserts.

Tip: Store cushions upright over winter so fill settles evenly. Rotating and flipping periodically also helps maintain even distribution.

Wash Removable Covers

For cushions and pillows with removable covers:

  • Machine wash in cold water on a gentle cycle. Air dry to avoid heat damage.
  • Hand wash delicate outdoor fabrics if needed. Allow to fully air dry before reusing.
  • Spot clean covers rather than fully washing if possible to preserve fabrics.
  • Use mild detergent – never bleach outdoor fabrics. Vinegar, OxyClean or specialty outdoor cleaners are good options.

Check care labels and test for colorfastness on an inconspicuous area before washing.

Make Adjustments for a Fresh Look

A few easy updates can give your outdoor soft furnishings a brand new look:

  • Switch out your throw pillow inserts to change the look – solids, patterns, or new colors.
  • Recover cushions in new outdoor fabrics.
  • Add ties, tassels, fringes or trims for decoration and style.
  • Use outdoor-safe glue to re-apply any loose trims.
  • Get new outdoor slipcovers to instantly change the color scheme or style.

Store Properly Until Outdoor Season

Once cleaned and freshened up for spring, store cushions and pillows properly to keep them looking their best:

  • Allow cushions to fully dry before placing back in covers or storing.
  • Store in a dry, well-ventilated area – not on damp patios or decks.
  • Use breathable garment bags or outdoor furniture covers.
  • For loose fill, store upright and distribute fill evenly before covering.
  • Avoid excess heat, humidity, or moisture which can lead to mildew.

With some simple spring cleaning tips, you can bring your outdoor cushions and pillows back to life. And they’ll be ready to provide comfort and style for lounging and entertaining outdoors all season long.

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