A full set of patio furniture is a significant investment, even if you find a set at a bargain price. The budget-conscious homeowner wants to know how to make that investment last. For a good answer, ask a hotel manager.

Hotels have been dealing with the care of vinyl furniture for decades. They must balance the need to keep costs down with the need to make their guests happy. Stains and wear detract from the patio’s ambiance and makes the resort seem cheap. Here are some simple furniture care tips and secrets that commercial property managers use.

Caring for the finish

Vinyl has a finish on it that protects the material from the elements and protection of this finish is critical to increasing the life of your outdoor furniture.

Pool chlorine causes this finish to break down, so one simple step is to thoroughly towel off before lounging in the sun. Putting a dry towel between you and the furniture prolongs its life.

However, even with careful attention, the vinyl will still come into contact with chlorine. Periodic cleaning is important, but this can actually reduce the life of the fabric. The reason is that many cleaning solvents also degrade the finish. By using only cleaning products approved for use on vinyl you can double the effective life of the fabric.

Vinyl needs to breathe

Vinyl is porous and if those pores are clogged, it reduces the life of your vinyl outdoor furniture.

Suntan lotion is one of the leading causes of clogged vinyl pores, and when it gets baked in by the sun the problem is even worse. Other culprits are mildew from improper cleaning and natural body oils.

Unfortunately, self-proclaimed vinyl protectants often cause more problems than they solve. Although they help in the short term, if they combine with other chemicals they form compounds that seriously degrade the vinyl and shorten its life.

Keep your patio furniture stain free

Unfiltered water is a source of staining substances such as iron oxide. Although hosing down the furniture is easy, it is better to use a bucket of filtered water. Also, keep an eye on nearby sprinkler systems to see if the wind is blowing the water onto your outdoor furniture. If necessary, relocate the furniture to another part of the patio where it remains dry.

Another common source of environmental stains is the tannic acid found in many plants. If you get yellow or brown stains on your patio or walls, then the vinyl is going to get stained as well. Common sources of tannic acid are oak, palm, mangrove, and hickory trees. If in doubt, ask your local nursery for information on the plants in your yard.

Clean the top surfaces your outdoor furniture every week or two with a mild soap and warm water. Every four to six weeks, thoroughly clean the undersides as well.

With a little care in use and cleaning, your patio furniture will look beautiful for many years.