How To Protect Your Garden Furniture Over Winter

garden table and chairs covered in snowHow to prepare garden furniture for winter storage so it’s ready to use during warmer weather. Various materials such including metal, wood and rattan discussed.

Ensure your furniture is in tip top condition when warmer weather returns

Good quality garden furniture is a worthwhile investment and means you can enjoy your garden and the open air during the milder weather months. Come the spring, you don’t want to find your furniture has deteriorated during the winter months to the point it requires extensive renovation, or worse total replacement.

Adhering to some basic maintenance and storing carefully will mean your furniture is ready to use as soon as the thermometer rises.

Different types of furniture

By definition most types of garden furniture can take some degree of punishment from the elements; even in spring and summer cooler and wetter weather can strike but well constructed furniture can cope. That said, all types of furniture will benefit from some degree of ongoing attention while in use and before storing for the winter.


The beauty of metal garden furniture is its durability and longevity. Some basic attention will ensure your furniture lasts for decades.

Ensure any dirt especially is removed as this can harbour moisture that promotes rust – the same applies to excessive damp. So before storing for the winter ensure any dirt is thoroughly washed off and inspect and treat for rust spots as these could worsen if left unchecked.

Clean warm water may suffice to remove dirt or a mild detergent such as washing up liquid can be added. Rinse off after with clean water using a sponge or maybe a hose.

Rust that’s just beginning may be rubbed away while more established spots may need an abrasive material like wire wool to remove them. A repaint or touching up may be necessary before winter storage – ensure you use paint formulated for use on metal.


A durable material but in certain cases it can be vulnerable to mildew; white plastic or other pale shades may need more than a quick wipe or warm water clean up. Most detergents can be used on plastic; car shampoo or washing up liquid is fine, and a dash of bleach (maybe a quarter of a cupful in a bucket of water) will help restore colour and remove mildew.

Don’t forget the underside; use an old toothbrush to get at awkward to access areas, and rinse thoroughly before drying especially if bleach has been used. A handy tip is to apply some car wax to shine the furniture up and make it water repellent.


A popular garden furniture material thanks to its ‘natural’ look and light weight, rattan is pretty durable but some TLC will pay dividends before winter storage.

Hoovering is a good first step – debris can get in between the weave so leading to a build of dirt over time. Cleaning with warm water and maybe some added detergent such as washing up liquid and a using a stiff hand brush is effective.

While polly rattan can stand up to higher doses of water, natural rattan can’t cope with too much of a dousing so use water sparingly when cleaning this type.


A very durable material that won’t rust, rot or discolour. Pitting can occur where the surface has several little marks but these can be cleaned off easily enough with some warm water and a bit of elbow grease – but avoid using abrasive materials as they can harm the finish.

As with plastic above, a worthwhile idea is to use a thin layer of car wax to give aluminium extra protection during winter storage.


Good quality wooden furniture can withstand some punishment but it’s fair to say it requires the most attention and care in storage of all the garden furniture types.

As with other furniture materials above, it’s important to ensure wood is clean and free of dirt and debris especially before winter storage. Cleaning with warm water comprising of two parts washing powder with one part bleach and using a soft bristled brush should remove surface dirt.

Rinse off with clean water – a hose is fine but don’t use a pressure washer – and leave it to dry naturally. If you’re happy for your furniture to be naturally ‘weathered’ you can then store it once it’s fully dry; otherwise apply a coat of stainer and allow to dry off.

Whatever furniture type you have don’t forget to clean your garden furniture cushions.


In all cases, you’re advised to store your garden furniture when the full onset of autumn and winter is upon us. Ideally, internal storage is the answer if you have somewhere such as a shed, garage or outbuilding to house your furniture.

If not, then putting it under secure covers such as tarpaulin or, even better, covers made especially for the items of furniture and storing outside will do. Try and use coverings that will stay in place and not slip off or become detached from the furniture – some have ‘anchoring points’ such as eyelets to hook around chair or table legs to help them stay in place.

Inspect furniture stored outdoors periodically to ensure the coverings are still doing their job, especially after periods of bad weather such as snow, very heavy rain or high winds.

Cushions should ideally be stored indoors – perhaps in the loft.

Enjoying the benefits of cared for furniture

Some attention during the warmer weather and just prior to storing properly for the winter will pay off when the weather warms up as your furniture will be instantly ready to use.