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Michigan State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500295

Outdoor Wood Furniture--Care and Cleaning

Redwood Care
Redwood naturally resists weathering and rot. However it should be coated with a sealer to keep out moisture and thus retard cracks. Colored sealers restore redness to grayed redwood. Scrub with detergent and water, rinse, and dry thoroughly before sealing; sometimes sanding is also necessary.

In winter, cover and store in a sheltered area.

Wipe with a sudsy sponge, followed by a damp sponge.

Before storing, and when needed, scrub with detergent suds, rinse, and dry.

For grease and soot stains as from outdoor cooking, wash with solution of 1 cup trisodium phosphate in 1 gallon water, and rinse.

Reseal as needed.

Finished White Wood
This is used for camp stools, directors chairs, parts of some metal frame chairs.

Seal completely with penetrating sealer for exterior use. May also coat with exterior varnish. If cracks develop in finish, refinish to prevent mildew from moisture getting in. Store indoors when not in use outdoors. Do not leave out in rain.

Wipe with damp cloth and dry, when soiled, and before storing. On painted wood, can wash with mild detergent solution, rinse, and dry.

Unfinished White Wood
Used for "rustic" furniture, tables, benches, etc.

Treat with exterior penetrating stain containing wood preservative and mildew inhibitor. Soak bottom 4 inches of legs that touch ground in wood preservative, or shield with thin aluminum covering. Cover and store in sheltered area in winter.

Wash with detergent solution rinse and dry when soiled, and before storing.


This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus with references from Illinois Extension bulletin Interior Design/Home Furnishings - Care of Outdoor Furniture.

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MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

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