cleaning an outdoor bench

How to Clean an Outdoor Wood Garden Bench

A Step-by-Step Guide: How to Clean and Maintain Your Outdoor Wood Garden Bench


Your outdoor wood garden bench is a treasured piece of furniture that adds beauty and functionality to your outdoor space. To ensure its longevity and keep it looking its best, regular cleaning and maintenance are essential. In this article, we will provide you with a  guide on how to effectively clean and maintain your outdoor wood garden bench, allowing you to enjoy its natural beauty for years to come.

Having owned both natural wood and painted wood benches, we know that keeping them looking their best helps curb appeal.  A clean bench is more inviting to sit on and actually use regularly.


Understanding the Cleaning Process

Before diving into the cleaning process, it's important to understand that wood garden benches require special care. Unlike other materials, wood is susceptible to damage from harsh cleaning products and excessive moisture. Therefore, it's crucial to use gentle cleaning methods and appropriate supplies.

Gather the Necessary Supplies

To clean your outdoor wood garden bench, you will need the following supplies:

  • Soft-bristle brush or sponge
  • Mild dish soap or wood cleaner
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Old towels or rags
  • Sandpaper (if necessary)
  • Protective finish (optional)

Preparing the Bench

Start by removing any loose debris or dirt from the bench using a soft-bristle brush or a sponge. This step helps prevent scratches during the cleaning process. If the bench has any loose or peeling paint, consider sanding the affected areas gently to create a smooth surface for cleaning and refinishing.

Cleaning the Wood Surface

Create a cleaning solution by mixing mild dish soap or a specialized wood cleaner with water in a bucket. Dip the soft-bristle brush or sponge into the solution, then scrub the entire wood surface of the bench. Work in small sections and use gentle, circular motions to remove dirt, grime, and any remaining residue. Pay extra attention to corners and crevices.

Using a pressure washer on its most gentle setting can help loosen and remove stubborn grime and dirt. Just remember to use a low setting so as not to damage the wood.

Treating Stubborn Stains

For stubborn stains or mold and mildew growth, mix a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. Apply the solution to the affected areas using a sponge or cloth. Let it sit for a few minutes to break down the stains, then gently scrub the spots. Rinse thoroughly with water afterward.

Rinsing and Drying the Bench

Once you have finished cleaning, rinse the bench thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap or cleaning residue. Ensure that no standing water remains on the wood surface, as excess moisture can lead to damage. Use old towels or rags to dry the bench completely.

Applying a Protective Finish

To protect your outdoor wood garden bench from the elements, you may choose to apply a protective finish. Consult the manufacturer's recommendations for the appropriate finish and application method. Follow the instructions carefully, applying the finish evenly to the wood surface. Allow it to dry completely before using the bench.

Regular Maintenance Tips

  • Regularly remove debris, such as leaves or branches, from the bench to prevent accumulation and potential damage.
  • Wipe the bench with a damp cloth regularly to remove surface dust and dirt.
  • Avoid placing hot items directly on the bench to prevent heat damage.
  • Apply a fresh coat of protective finish as recommended by the manufacturer every few years or when the bench shows signs of wear.

Enhancing the Bench’s Beauty Naturally

Consider using natural products like lemon oil or teak oil to enhance the beauty of your outdoor wood garden bench. These products nourish the wood and help maintain its natural luster. Apply the oil following the manufacturer's instructions for best results.

Teak benches will weather to a silvery-grey over time.  This can give them the appearance of being dirty.  Keeping the bench clean will dispel that impression.


Cleaning and maintaining your outdoor wood garden bench doesn't have to be a daunting task. With the right approach and gentle care, you can keep your bench looking beautiful and extend its lifespan. Remember to use appropriate cleaning supplies, follow a step-by-step process, and consider applying a protective finish to safeguard the wood. By following these instructions and implementing regular maintenance, your outdoor wood garden bench will continue to provide a cozy and inviting spot for relaxation and enjoyment.