Green Eyes On: Cleaning Cushions Naturally

As the last of the winter’s snow melted, it revealed our inviting back patio, where the sage and oregano was just beginning to poke through in the herb garden on the perimeter, bird feeders begging to be refilled so that the birds could flock in droves, and a table and chairs screaming for summertime dinners. The only problem was the uninviting mildew covering the chair cushions.

I knew I had two choices: I could clean them or replace them. Ever the eco’ist, I of course wanted to try my hardest to salvage what I already had instead of buying new.
And so it came to be that on a Thursday afternoon I donned some rubber gloves and went to town, armed with my natural cleaners, a scrub brush and a bucket. Because I know you might one day be faced with a similar chore, here’s how I did it:

I did some research about cleaning outdoor cushions and learned that a combination of bleach and detergent was the common recommendation. But when you’re a treehugger, not just any bleach or detergent will do. I turned to Seventh Generation products, because I trust it and because it’s what I had in the house.

I used 2 tablespoons of their lavender detergent and ½ cup of their natural, chlorine-free bleach in a gallon of water. It took three rounds of scrubbing and then a good rinse with a high powered hose, but the cushions look like new again.

I’m a few hundred bucks richer (because I don’t have to buy new ones) and I did the responsible thing by extending the life of something rather than running out to replace it.

Tags: Chairs | Detergents | Furniture | Reusability