Fri, Jan. 17

Make A Clean Sweep

Ugh. The thought of getting out that disgusting patio set and putting it on your freshly stained deck makes you queasy. The table and chairs are dirty and dingy, and the cushions are so stained you wouldn't let your dog sit on them, let alone someone you know. That's it. You've had it with your patio furniture. Time to throw it out and start fresh. Or is it? With the right supplies, you can make that patio set gleam once again.

Nicolas Zack, manager at Verde Valley Rentals in Sedona and Cottonwood, said his company offers equipment that is handy for cleaning patio and garden furniture and equipment, as well as decks, concrete patios and garage floors. He said the company has an inventory of hot water or cold water pressure washers in either electric or gasoline. "The hot pressure washer is really good for getting up grease," Nick said. He said using a broom or brush with the pressure washer really helps clean dirty items.

The store also carries a line of sanders that can be used for decks or for tables and chairs. Nick said a buffing machine can be used for cleaning a concrete patio or garage floor.

In Camp Verde, Flag Rental & Sales also carries pressure washers. Manager Ken Davis said he has three other stores in Arizona to order equipment in from, usually within one day. He said chemicals that can be used on tough cleaning jobs are available, but he doesn't stock them and orders them from one of the other stores. "There are quite a few things we can order," he said.

With the constant abuse from the weather, it's no wonder lawn and garden furniture gets so dirty. Fortunately, you can clean it. Here's how:

• Aluminum. Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid to a pail of warm water and sponge off the aluminum. Rinse and let it air dry. Coat the aluminum with a clear wax to protect it from the sun. Don't use green wax. It will discolor the metal.

• Canvas. Throw removable canvas into the washing machine. Clean non-removable canvas with a scrub brush and some water and strong soap. Rinse off the canvas and hang it up to air dry.

• Hardwood. Grab a pail of warm, soapy water (mild dishwashing liquid works best) and scrub down the hardwood with a coarse cloth. Let it dry completely and then brush or spray on a coat of teak oil or a similar finish. After the oil has soaked in, apply a second coat, allow it to penetrate and then wipe away any excess oil with a clean, dry cloth. Let the hardwood dry for 24 hours before using it.

• Plastic. As with hardwood, a pail of warm water with a few squirts of mild dishwashing liquid will do. Wipe away the dirt with a soft cloth. For stubborn spots, use steel wool. Rinse off the plastic and let it air dry. To brighten up white plastic, add a few drops of bleach to your pail of soapy water.

• Resin. Fill a pail with warm water and a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid. Wipe off the resin with a soft cloth, rinse and let it air dry.

• Softwood. Wash the softwood with a coarse cloth and some water and mild dishwashing liquid. Rinse and let it air dry. Spray or brush on a coat of preservative stain.

• Steel. Touch up any rust spots and clean the steel with warm water and some mild dishwashing liquid. Rinse and let it air dry. Oil hinges and pivots for easy movement.

• Vinyl. Grab a pail of warm water, add a few squirts of mild dishwashing liquid and rub away the dirt and grime from the vinyl with a soft cloth. Don't use stiff brushes or bleach. You will damage the vinyl.

• Weather-Resistant Cushions. Pour a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, a teaspoon of borax and a quart of warm water into a large spray bottle. Stir the mixture well and spray it onto your cushions. Let the cushions sit for 15 minutes, rinse well and let them air dry.

• Wicker. Clean the crevices with a toothbrush and some wood oil soap. Wash the wicker with some warm, soapy water and a soft cloth. Rinse well. Dry the wicker with a hair dryer.

• Wrought Iron. Remove any peeling paint with steel wool and touch up the areas with a rust-resistant primer and paint. After the wrought iron dries, sponge it off with some warm, soapy water (mild dishwashing liquid works best), rinse and let it air dry.

Follow these tips, and in just a few hours, you'll have your lawn and garden furniture looking like new. With the money you'll save, you can buy that fountain or garden statue you've had your eye on.

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