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After a few seasons on you deck or patio, your outdoor furniture may begin to show some wear and tear. Especially if you aren’t doing regular maintenance. No matter the material, good quality pieces are manufactured with outdoor use in mind, but remember that stain-resistant does not translate to stain-proof.

First things first. To keep your furniture looking its best, stay on top of things. Brush surfaces clean regularly and rinse stains with water before they set. A combination of mild dishwashing soap with water is often all you’ll need. If stains are set in, familiarize yourself with care instructions from the manufacturer. Using unrecommended or unsuitable products may do more harm than good and can void your warranty. Never power-wash or use bleach or abrasive cleaners unless directed.

Most wood furniture pieces are constructed of species that naturally resist decay and withstand the elements. Regular application of sealants will preserve the original color of the wood and prevent stains. If you choose not to seal your teak, eucalyptus or ipe’ furniture, the wood will fade to a silver-gray patina. Clean up spills and dirt right away with mildly soapy water and a soft brush.

Aluminum, steel and other metals can be wrought, cast or formed into tubing. With the exception of aluminum, metal furniture can rust over time, so it’s important to inspect the pieces regularly for chips and scratches and touch them up quickly. A seasonal application of automotive wax to iron pieces will protect the finish. And silicone-spray will keep swivels, glides and pulleys working smoothly. Remember to check chair and table legs for lost or worn foot glides.

High quality, synthetic wicker is generally made with a plastic weave on an aluminum frame. The plastics are formulated with additives that resist fading and prevent mildew and stains. Use that mild soap solution for spills, making sure to rinse well. As with metal furniture, remember to check the glides on the bottom of the chair and table legs, replacing them when necessary.

And don’t forget to maintain your fire pits and tables before you light them this spring. Remove debris like twigs and cobwebs from the glass beads and burners and make sure that the burner port holes and gas lines are clear of any obstructions. And while you are looking at the working parts, make sure that valves are in good working order and that starter batteries are replaced.