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Outdoor fabrics: Best and easiest to clean, how do you pick the right one and how do you clean it?

Outdoor fabrics: Which ones are best for your balcony and patio and how do you clean them?

Your upholstered patio and balcony furniture and cushions need some serious resilience to stand the test of time! The fantastic news is that today's outdoor fabrics come in a wide variety of colors and styles that resist most wear and tear, including the weather. Ask Team Clean is here to help you find which fabric you're looking for, and how to clean it.

What is outdoor fabric?

Outdoor fabrics are always labeled as such because they have been treated and are resistant to water, stains, UV and other outside elements. So make sure you choose a fabric that is specifically made for outdoor use.

The most common kinds of fabric for outdoor use are:

  • Polyester
  • Solution-dyed acrylic or solution-dyed olefin
  • PVC mesh
  • Marine vinyl
Best fabrics for outdoor furniture. A group of people sit on the deck.

What you want to be looking for in your patio textiles


If you have a big family, your patio furniture will probably see some heavy use. In this case, you should take a peek at the rub count, which will tell you how much abrasion the fabric can handle before it starts to wear. Choose a rub count of 50,000+ double rubs and you won’t have to worry about replacing your upholstery anytime soon. Heavy-duty fabrics like this include PVC-mesh and marine vinyl.

Pro tip: Know the difference between outdoor fabric and performance fabric. Outdoor textiles and cushions are specifically made to withstand the elements. Performance fabric is made for high-traffic areas, but may not be the best fit for your outdoor seating.

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Color-staying power

Find out how much sun your favorite fabrics can handle before they start looking faded. Solution-dyed fabrics are a good option if you're looking to upholster the furniture on your sun deck. The color will be inherently stronger in the yarn fibers and will be able to resist more hours in the sunlight than textiles where the color is printed on. This does mean that they usually come in single block color, making fun prints and bright patterns harder to find in the store.

Pro tip: Go for a mix of fabrics. Use solution-dyed fabrics for the large upholstered cushions, and add fun prints and textures with smaller cushions made of polyester. Just make sure to take the polyester cushions indoors when you're not using them!

Waterproof or water-resistant?

Waterproof means that water cannot penetrate the fabric. Sounds great! But it also means that the fabric is not breathable; therefore, not great for cushions. Water-resistant means that water will bead on the surface, but will sink in if left long enough. So not as resistant to water, but far more breathable—handy on a summer’s day! 

How do you take care of them?

Just like anything else left outside, your cushions and upholstery will look dirty and messy after a while. Just because they are made to be resistant doesn't mean they're indestructible. Luckily, however, they are made to be easy to clean and will last a very long time if you take good care of them.

Here’s how you can keep them in tip-top shape:

  1. Your fabrics want to breathe. Use mesh bottoms or vented zippers to avoid moisture building up.
  2. Done with the outdoors? Store everything upright or bring everything inside if you won’t be using them for a longer period of time.
  3. Use a hose to wash them clean when dirty.
  4. Scrub them with simple dish soap and water at least once a season.

With these tips, you have the basics down to help you choose and maintain the perfect fabrics for outdoor furniture. Looking for ideas to spruce up your outdoor space or make your kitchen more efficient? Browse our organizing section for more tips like this. Ask Team Clean wishes you sunny days on your terrace, balcony or patio with your family and friends.