A few weeks ago, we were asked by More Than insurance to act as ‘Agony Aunts’ to help answer some of their customers gardening questions. Never the one to turn down a spot of work, Nick fired over a reply, as quick as a flash.
“Yes, WE would love to help!”, he said, cc-ing me in to the email conversation before promptly engaging his ‘out of office’ email reply.
So, sitting at my desk, surrounded by a stack of gardening books, my mouse cursor a’ twitching over the Google search box, I patiently awaited my horticultural inquiry. As it turned out, there was to be no agony – the question, in, er, question was concerning one of my areas of expertise – poorly maintained, filthy garden furniture.
Stand down, Google, I’ve got this one covered…
My garden furniture was once gleaming white, but after a few years of having it it’s now grey and weather-stained. How can I get it back to being bright white?”
A very good question. Pristine white tables and chairs will turn fifty shades of grey after a relatively short time if left outside and unprotected against the elements. Fortunately, we have a couple of tricks up our sleeves which will see them sparkle as white as a Hollywood smile.
Place your grubby furniture on a patio or similar, and crack open a pack of soda crystals which you can buy from most supermarkets. Add your crystals to a basin of hot water and give the solution a stir. Apply the solution to the furniture with a cloth or sponge, making sure you pay extra attention to any particularly filthy areas. If you can, leave for 24 hours before rinsing off with water. Repeat this process if you’ve still got any unsightly grey patches, and make sure you avoid getting the solution on any lawn or flower beds – this stuff isn’t very plant friendly.
For those wishing to avoid going down the chemical route, you’ll need to get hold of a pressure washer. These are handy gadgets to have on call, as they are great for scrubbing patios and washing down tools. You can also use pressure washers for cleaning wooden garden furniture, but just be mindful that some of the higher powered washers on the market can be rather brutal and will damage delicate wooden finishes if you get carried away.
Before you begin, make sure you’re wearing waterproof clothes as you’ll invariably suffer a spot of splashback. You may also wish to check wind direction before turning on the water, to make sure any clothes-laiden washing lines or al-fresco neighbours are well out of soaking distance.
Cleaning is a simple process of working your way back and forth over the surface of the furniture, paying particular attention to any nooks and crannies. You’ll also want to ensure your furniture is secured before turning on the water, or you’ll send your plastic furniture flying across the garden and through your herbaceous borders. A well-placed wellington boot should hold it firm.
Of course, to ensure your chairs and tables remain pristine for the longest time possible, prevention is always better than cure. If you’ ve got the capacity, stow away your furniture in a shed or garage when not in use. If space is an issue, cover them with a tarpaulin and weigh it down with bricks to stop the weather having its wicked way.
For more great gardening advice, head on over to the More Than Blog here