Step 1: Roll up your rug and take it outside, then unroll and give it a good shake. (Consider putting on a face mask to avoid inhaling dust particles.) If you’re in an urban setting where a backyard is not an option, run a vacuum to suck up dirt, or use a dry brush to release loose debris.
Step 2: Drape your rug over a railing or lawn chair to prevent water from pooling on the surface. Once flat, scrub the rug gently with a natural fiber scrub brush dipped in soapy water. Although most outdoor rugs are made from materials that can withstand a scrub brush, a soft sponge or washcloth can be used for more delicate rugs. Rinse suds with clean water. Repeat the process as necessary. Leave out in the sun to dry.
Step 3: Once dry, place the outdoor rug on a clean surface. “Furnishings on top of rugs can make dents that are hard to get rid of,” Barnard says, so you might play musical chairs with your lighter furniture every few days to keep dents from settling in. Reversing the effects of heavier imprints can be more challenging; however, a “combination of steaming and fluffing affected areas can help minimize imprints from rugs,” Barnard says.
Step 4: When the outdoor rug is not in use for an extended period of time, store the rug away from moisture and direct sunlight. Make sure to clean it again before putting it away for the season.
Clean the grill
“Cleaning the grill before firing it up is necessary for food safety,” Chris Ager says. A paste of baking soda and water is perfect for soft abrasive scrubbing. Finishing with a vinegar-based cleaning solution further combats lingering bacteria and germs, he adds.
For deep cleaning, Diaz recommends using a wire brush to scour gunk and residue on the grates. “You can use a degreaser for the hood, interior, and firebox to help break down any grease or food residue,” she says. Let the grill dry completely before using it again.
Debug porch lights
Debug light fixtures using a toothbrush dipped in vinegar. It might be helpful to carefully remove the light bulbs, so you have more wiggle room to clean the crevices—just be careful not to get liquid into the light bulb socket. For a deep clean, grab your gloves and opt for a diluted bleach solution to tackle stubborn dirt or built-up grime. Wipe away the vinegar or bleach solution before replacing the light bulbs, Diaz says.
For Devin Shaffer—lead interior designer at Decorilla, an interior design firm in San Francisco that uses virtual and augmented reality technology—commercial glass cleaner Zep Ammonia Free Glass Cleaner is the secret weapon of choice. “I use it on all glass surfaces, including mirrors, light fixtures, photo frames, and kitchen appliances, as well as on outdoor lighting, outdoor tables, and exterior window surfaces,” he says.
Focus on faucet traps and outdoor hoses
Check outdoor hoses for leaks. If you do have a one, the trickling water will slowly erode the soil around your house and can cause serious damage, Diaz says. “Faucet traps should be cleaned periodically because they can accumulate a lot of dirt and bacteria over time,” she adds. Her method of choice: Fill a bucket with hot water and vinegar, and let the traps soak for a few hours. After they have soaked, scrub them with a brush and rinse with clean water.
Spruce up the sitting area
The elements—rain, wind, and sun—can tarnish your furnishings, primarily through accumulated dust and mold damage. To deep clean these items, Barnard suggests using a dry cloth to remove any surface dust. Then vacuum to remove stubborn muck (think wicker crevices) before starting a soap treatment.
“A mild, environmentally-safe soap and water is often enough to wipe down furnishings,” she says, noting that a vinegar-and-water solution is extra helpful when dealing with mildew. For fabric items—like upholstery and pillows—a solution of soapy water, applied with a scrub brush, helps treat stains on textiles that can not be machine-washed. To keep the fabric from growing more mold, leave the fabric in bright sunlight to dry. Make it a habit to vacuuming outdoor cushions at least every few weeks to preserve your hard work, Barnard suggests.