Machine Wash Those Dingy Outdoor Cushions Back To Life In No Time

Is the relentless sun, wind, and rain taking its toll on your outdoor cushions? Are your once-vibrant patio cushions looking a little lackluster these days with embarrassing food stains, mysterious splotches, and a generally grimy dullness?

Don’t despair! With the right washing techniques, you can breathe new life into those dingy outdoor cushions. Machine washing is a simple and effective way to tackle the dirt, mildew, and discoloration issues that crop up after seasons of exposure to the elements.

Should You Machine Wash Outdoor Cushion Covers?

While a spin cycle sounds enticing for reviving grubby outdoor cushions, take care before tossing the cushion covers directly into the washer. Several factors determine whether machine washing is suitable:

  • Fabric type – Delicate linens, silks may require handwashing
  • Embellishments – Items with sequins, beads, etc. could be damaged
  • Care label instructions – Provides washing guidance

Inspect cushion covers closely before washing. Machine washing typically works well for durable cotton, olefin, polyester fabrics without special embellishments. However, delicate fabrics with elaborate decorations will require more gentle cleaning methods like spot cleaning.

When to Wash Cushion Covers by Hand

Outdoor cushions with the following qualities are better suited for handwashing:

  • Delicate fabrics: Silk, linen, velvet
  • Elaborate embellishments: Fringe, beads, sequins
  • Visibly damaged: Fraying seams, tears, holes
  • Without washing guidance: No sew-in care label

Gently scrub these cushion covers by hand using a mild detergent and cool water. Take care not to snag fragile embellishments or place undue stress on weakened spots.

Preparing Covers for the Washing Machine

For machine washable outdoor cushion covers, prep work is key. Follow these tips before washing:

how to wash outdoor cushion covers in washing machine
  • Unzip removable covers from cushion inserts
  • Check for stains and spot treat if necessary
  • Close zippers, velcro, ties, or buttons
  • Don’t overload the washing machine

This prevents the covers from damage during cleaning cycles. Now let’s dive into the washing process!

Step-By-Step Washing Instructions

Supplies You’ll Need

  • Standard washing machine
  • Mild powder or liquid laundry detergent
  • Stain pre-treatment spray (optional)

Before Washing: Inspect and Pre-Treat

Give cushion covers a thorough once-over before washing. Shake off any debris and inspect for problem areas needing attention. Apply a stain pre-treatment solution to any visible stains. Let it soak in for 5-10 minutes before washing. This gives it a headstart on breaking down those stubborn stains!

Washing Time!

Now we’re ready for the satisfying cleaning cycle. To wash outdoor cushion covers:

  • Avoid overloading the washing machine
  • Wash covers separately from household laundry
  • Use cold water setting
  • Add a small amount of mild detergent
  • Select the gentle or delicate cycle option
  • Consider adding an extra rinse cycle to remove residue

The cold water preserves dyes while the gentle agitation cleans without damage. An additional rinse ensures all traces of detergent are removed, preventing dirt buildup over time.

After Washing

Make sure cushion covers are fresh and ready to fluff up your outdoor space again! Once the cycle finishes:

  • Remove covers immediately to prevent mold growth
  • Shake off excess moisture thoroughly
  • Lay flat on top of dry towels or hang to dry
  • Avoid direct sunlight to prevent fading
  • Toss a couple tennis balls in the dryer to fluff if machine drying

Take care not to let the cushion covers sit wet for long. Quick drying preserves the fabric and prevents stains from setting.

Washing Different Outdoor Cushion Materials

Outdoor cushions come in all different fabrics. Follow these tips when washing various cushion cover materials:


Durable, quick-drying, and colorfast. Wash with similar colors on cold and medium drying heat.


Resists moisture, mildew, and stains. Use cold water and medium dryer heat. Reduce drying time by 10 minutes.


Absorbent and breathable but shows stains. Wash delicates separately with cold water. Line dry or tumble dry low.

Linen and Silk

Prone to shrinking and water marks. Hand wash gently with mild soap in cool water. Lay flat on towels to dry in shade.

Stain Removal Tips and Tricks

Even with the best attempts at preservation, outdoor cushion covers end up marked with food spills, tree sap, bird poop, mysterious splotches, and more over time. Luckily, you’re not defenseless against these stubborn stains!

Stain Solutions

Whip up your own DIY pre-treatment solutions to break down different types of stains:

  • Oils: Dish soap, borax
  • Sugary foods/drinks: Vinegar, lemon juice
  • Dirt: Vinegar, hydrogen peroxide
  • Mildew: Vinegar, baking soda

Removal Process

Attack stains by:

  • Spraying on pre-treatment solution
  • Letting it sit for a few minutes
  • Blotting gently with clean towel
  • Avoiding harsh scrubbing

Combining the right DIY spray solutions with gentle blotting gives you the upper hand over all types of outdoor cushion stains.

Maintenance and Storage

Don’t let your hard washing work go to waste! Proper maintenance and storage helps outdoor cushions stay fresh and vibrant much longer between cleanings. Here are our best tips:

  • Wash cushion covers regularly each season
  • Use furniture covers when not in use
  • Store cushions flat or upright over winter
  • Keep stored cushions in a dry, well-ventilated area
  • Consider waterproof cushion covers in rainy climates
  • Move cushions to the shade when not in use

With some TLC, your outdoor cushion covers will pop with color season after season, saving you from another frantic encounter with the washing machine!

If fading, dubious stains, or moldy smells have you considering tossing out your once-beloved outdoor cushions, don’t act rashly! Machine washing offers a simple and highly effective way to tackle built-up grime, revealing the vibrant colors hiding underneath.

By checking fabric types first, pre-treating stains, washing delicates on a cold and gentle cycle, and properly drying, you can breathe new life into tired outdoor cushions. With regular maintenance like frequent washing, shade coverage, and proper storage between uses, your patio cushions will stay fresh and vibrant for many seasons of cozying up by the firepit ahead!

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