There’s nothing quite as relaxing as drinking a cup of coffee on the patio, listening to the birds and bees working in harmony. But then, someone calls your name, you get startled, and you spill your coffee all over your cushions. So now that there’s a huge stain on them, what should you do?

First, don’t panic; it’s not that big of a deal. Second, get ready to read some of the best advice on cleaning cushions. Let’s see how to clean your cushion and your fabric furniture without breaking a sweat.

How to Clean Your Cushions — Stain Treatments

Now, before we get into the cleaning, you should know how to get rid of those tough stains.

Let’s go through the most common stains you can experience and see how to take care of them quickly. Then, I’m going to show you what some of my favorite products and tricks for protecting your cushions all year round are.


If you have kids, you probably know how much they love jumping on outdoor furniture in their grass-stained shoes. But what can you do — kids will be kids, right? So, instead of making them take their shoes off, just grab some laundry detergent.

Take your cushions out and set them down on your deck, sidewalk, or driveway. Use a heavy-duty liquid detergent that has enzyme-stripping properties. I would recommend using something like Persil or Gain to get the stains out. Then, use a soft-bristled brush to work the detergent into the fabric.

Once you’ve done that, you can rinse the lather and soak the cushion in an oxygen-based bleach and water solution. Make sure to only blot with the solution and don’t over-soak the area. When you’re done, rinse everything with water again and let it air dry.

Mildew and Mold

Now, I know water and mildew are a huge problem for anyone with patio furniture. One minute the sun’s shining, the weather is great, and the next moment, there’s heavy rain that leaves your cushions soaked.

Unless you dry them immediately, you could get a mildew problem. But don’t worry, you don’t have to get rid of your cushions just yet. There’s a really simple solution to the problem.

First, you need to brush your cushions to prevent mildew from spreading. I’d go with a brush with harder bristles or a carpet brush to ensure the best results.

Then, pretreat the stains using a heavy-duty liquid detergent and work it in with a soft-bristled brush. Let the detergent soak into the fabric for about 15 minutes and rinse the cushions with hot water.

Also, if your cushions are made of white cotton, you can use chlorine bleach to get the mildew out. But if you have a colored fabric, I’d go with the oxygen-based and water solution.

One thing to consider before using bleach is that it doesn’t work for all fabrics. So, before you use any solution, make sure to read the labels. If you don’t, you run the risk of destroying your cushions and furniture.

Oil and Sunscreen

Did you spray some sunscreen on your furniture cushions? Or maybe you got some bug repellent on them? Either way, cleaning an oil stain is pretty easy, and you can do it with a few household items.

First, take a microfiber cloth or paper towel and dab over the stain to soak up any excess. Next, you can take either cornstarch or powder detergent and sprinkle it all over the stain.

You can mix in some water if you want and make a paste, then let it sit 30–45 minutes. When the time has passed, you can scrape everything off with a knife; just be careful not to damage your furniture.

Now, the stain might be persistent, and you won’t be able to get it out with cornstarch or laundry detergent. In that case, you can do what you did for grass stains and apply liquid detergent again and rinse everything off. Once you’re done, let it air dry.

Tree Sap

Now, tree sap stains are pretty tricky because they stick to your cushions and don’t want to let go. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. You’re going to use a mixture of the different techniques and products I’ve already mentioned.

To start, use an enzyme-based stain remover and leave it on the sap for about 30 minutes. Then, go in with either a liquid or powdered laundry detergent.

If you want to use powder, make sure to mix it with water until you get a paste-like consistency. Use a brush with soft bristles to scrub away any excess and rinse the cushions off with warm water.

Bird Droppings

Even though it is really annoying, if you have furniture in your yard, a bird is probably going to poop on it. Just remember, it’ll be much easier to clean when it’s dry than when it’s still wet and fresh.

First, take a microfiber cloth or even some toilet paper and remove the droppings from your cushions and furniture. Next, make a solution with one teaspoon of dish soap and one of Borax, and mix it up with warm water.

You can put the solution in a spray bottle so it’s easier to clean. The dish soap will clean your cushions, while Borax will get any unpleasant smells out of the fabric.

Commercial Cleaning Products for Fabric Furniture

As you’ve seen, most of these cleaning solutions are something you can make at home with only a few items. But in case you don’t feel like going to the store to pick up Borax, I wanted to show you some of my personal favorite cleaners and brushes:

  1. Star Brite Mold & Mildew Stain Remover — This cleaner is easy to use and you can get it in a spray bottle. Just put it on the stain or mold and wait for the magic to happen.
  2. Star Brite Mildew Stain Blocker — If you want to prevent mold from growing in the first place, you can use the mildew blocker from Star Brite. The company claims it will keep your furniture mold-free for a few months.
  3. Microfiber Cloths — Now, I would recommend going for a bigger pack of microfiber cloths. They can hold a lot of water and cleaning products, they dry fast, and are easy to wash.
  4. Colourlock Leather & Textile Cleaning Brush — I also wanted to include a brush that works great for both leather and fabric furniture. It’s soft, durable, and good to have around the house.

Machine Washing Outdoor Cushions

If you have removable cushion covers, putting them in the washing machine is the easiest way to clean them. Of course, read the care instructions written on them before you put them in. Also, I recommend vacuuming the cushions if you can to get rid of any debris or dirt.

Once they’re out of the machine, you can air dry them or put them in the dryer. But a good trick here is to put the covers on the cushions before they’re totally dry. By doing so, you’ll be able to stretch the fabric out a bit so it fits better over your cushions.

Power Washing Outdoor Cushions

Now, even though I wouldn’t recommend power washing your cushions every time there’s a little stain on them, you can do it once a year. If you do want to do it, you can use a low-pressure setting and some detergent.

First, lightly spray your cushions so that they’re damp, but not fully soaked. Next, use a bucket and mix in 1/2 a cup of Borax, two tablespoons of detergent, and fill the rest with water. Scrub your cushions with the solution, turn the water again, and let them air dry.

Protecting Your Outdoor Furniture Cushions

There are a few things you can do to protect your cushions and keep them looking brand new for a long time. The most important thing is to brush them with a soft-bristled brush every few days or so.

Also, as soon as they get wet, move them somewhere and let them dry. By doing so, you’ll prevent any mold or mildew from forming in your cushions.

I would also recommend rotating them every once in a while so that they don’t fade due to sun exposure. Lastly, you can always spray some water and mildew sealant on them and prevent any damage in the first place.

Bottom Line

Those were all of the tips and tricks I had for cleaning furniture cushions and other fabric furniture. I get it, stains are annoying and sometimes difficult to clean. But they’re also pretty unavoidable. And, as you’ve seen, most of them are pretty easy to clean and you’ll just need a few products for the job.

My suggestion is to take care of the spot or stain as soon as you see it and avoid it settling into the fabric. You can also invest in a good protective sealant to keep the stains at bay for a longer time.

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