How to Clean Outdoor Cushions in Your Washing Machine

Post Summary: This is an easy-to-follow guide that will show you how to wash outdoor cushions in washing machine, as well as how to get rid of any mold, mildew, and stuck-on dirt.

how to wash outdoor cushions in washing machine

This week we’ve been focusing on preparing our home for winter, taking advantage of any remaining warm days to put away things like outdoor furniture, and toys, and finish the yard work. It’s an annual routine, that makes our job easier in the spring. But I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for cleaning outdoor cushions and getting rid of any mold, mildew, and dirt along the way.

I know that keeping your cushions looking vibrant and fresh can be a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, with the right tools and our tips below, you can easily clean outdoor cushions, even with the toughest of stains. The best way, in many cases, is to make use of your washing machine, but we’re going to go over how to spot-treat the worst of the worst! 

Keep reading for our best tips on how to wash outdoor cushion covers using your washing machine for the best results.

How to Wash Outdoor Cushions in Washing Machine

I’ve had so many questions after I posted the video below, that I wanted to answer some of them here on the blog as well. 

Can you put Patio Cushions in the Washer and Dryer?

The best way to take advantage of your washer and dryer when cleaning patio cushions is to first remove the covers. If possible, separate the foam from the cushion cover, reading the labels to see how the manufacturers recommend washing the material. Most likely outdoor furniture has a durable material, that will hold up in the washer. If you need to you can place in the dryer in the low or air dry only. However, I recommend hanging the cushion covers to dry.

How do you get Mildew out of Outdoor Cushions in Washing Machine?

Similar to getting rid of mold and mildew of clothes, wash cushions in a normal cycle with hot water (not a mix of cold and hot) because that will kill the mold pores. Add vinegar, and regular detergent, followed by a clean water rinse. You need to avoid washing the foam part of the outdoor cushion, getting it wet will only encourage mildew and mold. 

how to clean outdoor cushions

How do you Wash Dirty Patio Cushions in the Washing Machine?

If you have really dirty, or stuck on stains, the best advice is to spot treat. Start by creating a paste with 1/4 cup of borax, 1 tbsp of dish soap, and water in a small bucket. Using a scrub brush and the paste, work on getting the majority of the stain out. Then soak with a scoop of Branch Basic’s Oxygen Boost, and a cap of Concentrate in a bucket for 24 hours. After that follow the steps we’re sharing below to wash the patio cushion in the washing machine.

What is The Best Way to Wash Outdoor Cushions?

Let’s dive into exactly how to wash outdoor cushions in washing machine. 

1. Preparation

Inspect the Care Instructions

Like anything else, it’s all about preparation. So before doing anything, check the cushion tags or the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions on your type of fabric. This can give you insights into whether the material on your outdoor furniture is machine washable or better suited for hand washing.


Using the upholstery attachment of your vacuum cleaner, gently vacuum the sides of the cushions to remove loose dirt and debris. We want to make sure we can pick up as much dust and dirt as possible.

Spot Cleaning for Specific Stains 

When it comes to stubborn stains like bird droppings, tree sap, or grass stains you can spot clean. For tougher stains, mix together 1 tbsp of mild dish soap and cold water in a spray bottle. For specific stains, a soft-bristled brush or a soft brush can be used to gently scrub the affected area.

2. Creating the Perfect Cleaning Solution:

The Easiest Way

Combine a bucket of warm water with a mild detergent. For an added boost, add a cup of borax or oxygen bleach, ensuring that you steer clear of harsh chemicals that might damage the outdoor fabrics.

Branch Basics Starter Kit

Branch Basics is a multi-purpose, eco-friendly cleaning solution you can use for any cleaning job in your home (or out of your home)

Check it out >

Alternative Solution for Tougher Stains

If there’s a tough stain, there are a few ways to clean it. The first is by filling about a gallon of warm water, mixing a cup of white vinegar, and soaking for a few hours. This is especially effective for stains that are harder to remove.

The next is to mix 1 scoop of Branch Basics Oxygen Booster, with 1 cap of concentrate in a bucket of hot water. Let it sit for 24 hours and then scrub the stain. If it doesn’t lift (which is super rare, mix 1/4 cup of borax with 1 tbsp of dish soap in a bucket of water. 

3. Machine Washing

Removable Covers

If you have removable covers the best method is to gently take them off to avoid the foam from getting wet, which could lead to mold and mildew. However, if they don’t you will just need to spot clean as best you can while making sure the cushions and foam are fully dried after washing.

Washing Cycle

Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle with lukewarm water. Even though hot water might seem like a good idea, it could potentially damage the cushion fabric, especially if it has special coatings. I suggest only using hot water if you have mold or mildew on the cushions.


The detergent isn’t too big of a deal, I like a non-toxic or mild liquid detergent, making sure that it’s appropriate for the type of cushions you have of course.

4. Drying

Remove Excess Water

When it comes to drying them, you’ll need to press the cushions or cushion covers to remove excess water.

Dry Naturally

Lay the cushions or outdoor cushion covers flat in an area away from direct sunlight. UV rays can be harsh and fade the colors. It’s also a good idea to flip the cushions periodically to ensure both sides dry evenly.

5. Additional Cleaning Methods

For Non-removable Covers

If you’re unable to remove the cushion covers, hand washing is recommended. Using a garden hose or a pressure washer on a low setting can also help. Just make sure to give special attention to stained areas.

Deep Cleaning

For a deep cleaning session, especially after long periods of neglect, consider a cleaning solution of mild detergent, a gallon of warm water, and some white vinegar in a spray bottle.

how to spot clean outdoor cushions

6. Preservation Tips


In colder months or harsh weather conditions, it’s a good idea to store your cushions indoors. This reduces the risk of water damage and preserves the fabric.

Regular Cleaning

To prolong the life of your outdoor pillows and cushions, indulge in regular cleaning. This ensures that your seating area remains inviting for a long time.

Protect from UV rays

Consider special coatings or covers that protect against UV rays, especially if your outdoor space receives a lot of sunlight.

Scotch Guarding Outdoor Cushions

One of my biggest tips for keeping your  Scotchgard Outdoor Water & Sun Shield Fabric Spray.

Scotchgaurd Sun and Water Shield

Helps repell the elements from harming or wearing away at your outdoor furniture and cushions.

Check it out >

Remember, while machine washing is convenient for many types of outdoor patio cushions, always be on the safe side and check the care label or consult the manufacturer’s instructions. With the right care, your patio or garden furniture will be an inviting part of your outdoor space for years to come.

Let us know what other tips you want to see or if you have any cleaning hacks to share.

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