Sprucing up for Spring

By Kendra Miller

Spring is coming.

The days will be getting longer and the temperatures milder, even though they never get too cold here in Florida. It’s going to be tempting to spend more time outside. But what if your outdoor space has gotten a little dingy since you last used it? Not to worry! We’ve got some quick and easy ways to spruce up your outdoor living space in time for those first days of Spring.

First, we need to understand the types of stains or funk we are dealing with. A lot of the stains you’ll encounter
in your outdoor spaces will likely be dirt or dust blown in by wind or lawn maintenance. But, given our humid climate here in Florida, particularly shaded areas or areas that stay wet, around planters or under gutters for example, mold, mildew and algae can develop. The last type of issue you may encounter may not be a stain at all. We live in the Sunshine State and the sun can fade the colors of certain materials, particularly plastics, fabrics and painted surfaces.

How do we address these problems? Let’s take a look!

Algae

For those green patches of algae in damp area, follow the same steps as mold and mildew. However, if the stain persists, popular home renovation and DIY website This Old House recommends bringing a power washer to
the fight. Be careful with the pressure however, as you can damage concrete at extreme pressure. The power washer can also damage plants, furniture, paint, stucco, window screens and wood finishes.

Dirt and Dust

For painted surfaces, plastics, wicker, or other hard, smooth surfaces, you can easily get rid of these stains by wiping down with a damp cloth. More stubborn stains may require a general purpose cleaner and some scrubbing, but be sure to spot test in an inconspicuous area to be sure your cleaner won’t damage the paint or finish.

Mold and Mildew

For mold and mildew, Home and Garden Television’s blog recommends a simple wipedown with a cloth and household cleaners for plastic surfaces such as patio furniture. For mold on other surfaces, even patio slabs and pavers, they recommend dry- scrubbing with a brush to remove surface mold and then tackling with full-strength white vinegar and a hard scrub brush to remove the rest. Diluted bleach may also be used but be cautious around fabrics and surfaces with color.

For items that have been faded by the sun, there’s unfortunately not a quick fix. Bob Vila recommends a hands-on approach with new DIY cushion covers, spray paint for faded or oxidized plastic or metal furniture, or a light sanding and new coat of sealant for unpainted wood items such as tables, stools and chairs.

Mother Nature, it seems, can be our worst enemy when it comes to the upkeep of our outdoor spaces, but these quick cleaning tips should have your porch or patio looking like new in no time.

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