How to clean and restore metal garden furniture

Getting your metal outdoor furniture clean is not too complicated; you just need to follow a few simple steps each season to keep your furniture looking great for years.

A woman using the STIHL RE 130 Plus high-pressure cleaner on a metal chair on a patio in a garden

Metal garden furniture: choosing the right cleaning method

We recommend that you routinely clean your metal garden furniture thoroughly at the start of every gardening season. As your plants burst colourfully to life, you will enjoy it even more with somewhere clean and smart to sit! The good news is that metal garden furniture is designed to last and to be easy to clean. That said, the various types of metal furniture have different characteristics, so first identify if yours is cast iron, wrought iron, powder-coated or painted metal.

A metal garden chair being cleaned with a jet of water from STIHL RE 130 Plus high-pressure cleaner

How to clean metal garden furniture: cast iron and wrought iron

Iron garden furniture is really easy to clean using a pressure washer with a rotary nozzle, which offers powerful cleaning and quickly removes stubborn dirt on non-sensitive surfaces. If you wish, you can add CU 100 universal cleaner for an extra boost. If you do choose to use an additional cleaning agent, you can attach a cleaning agent spray set to your high-pressure cleaner and use this to apply the cleaning agent all over your garden furniture. Leave it to act for a few moments, and then rinse with clean water using the fan jet nozzle. Now you can just leave it to dry. 

Close-up of a STIHL high-pressure cleaner nozzle

How to clean metal garden furniture: powder-coated and painted surfaces

It’s no more complicated to clean powder-coated and painted garden furniture than iron items; a high-pressure cleaner will still make light work of the job. However, you do need to be aware that the strongest jets are extremely powerful and risk damaging these surface finishes. To avoid problems, use the lower pressure settings and a fan jet nozzle rather than a rotary nozzle.

When should I clean my metal garden furniture?

For coated and painted metal garden furniture, you should give it a thorough clean at the start of the gardening season; a quick clean to remove dirt every four weeks or so through the season; then another thorough clean before it goes into storage. This will make sure that there is no contamination that will damage the finish over time.

You should only clean cast iron garden furniture once a year, at the start of the gardening season.

Removing rust from metal garden furniture

If your solid iron furniture has gone beyond “rustic” and is simply looking rusty, it’s time for a little restoration work. Your STIHL high-pressure cleaner can easily tackle this too, teamed with the wet sandblasting device and the appropriate SB 90 blasting granulate, which is compatible with all compact high-pressure cleaners.

You can use the same method to easily remove old paint from your metal garden furniture too. Be sure to wear a mask for this type of work and, as always, when using high-pressure cleaners, you should also remember to wear safety glasses.

Storing metal garden furniture after cleaning

There is no need to put cast iron garden furniture away at the end of the season. It's so robust - it's happy to spend the entire winter outside. If your furniture is powder-coated or painted metal, though, it should be protected from harsh conditions. Dry it thoroughly after its final cleaning at the end of the gardening season and then store it in a dry place for the winter.

Summary: how to clean metal garden furniture

  • Metal garden furniture is easy to clean.

  • Cast iron garden furniture stands up to any settings from a pressure washer – but you should be more cautious when using a tool to clean powder-coated or painted furniture.

  • Your STIHL pressure washer is not only great for cleaning metal garden furniture, but can also remove rust or old paint.

  • Powder-coated or painted metal garden furniture should be stored in a dry place after its final cleaning at the end of the gardening season.