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Caring for outdoor furniture

(ran HL edition)

For best results, wash your patio furniture often. Treat it as you would your car.

"If you wash your car once a week, it's easy, quick and looks good," said Gary Ecoff, president of Carl's Patio in South Florida. "If you don't do it for six months, then it's an ordeal."

Ecoff's advice for cleaning mesh furniture _ the most popular material today _ is to hose it off weekly. For more thorough cleaning every four to six months, Ecoff recommends washing mesh with hand dishwashing detergent in warm water.

Here are more care and maintenance tips from manufacturers:

+ Outdoor wicker: Apply a quality car wax on frames to keep them looking new.

Vacuum the wicker and cushions with a soft brush or upholstery tool.

Both the frame and the wicker can be washed with mild detergent and water when they become soiled. Use a wet sponge to wipe the soil from the surface, rinse and allow to dry thoroughly.

+ Acrylic cushions: Spot wash by sponging briskly with soap in lukewarm water. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove soap; air dry.

+ Vinyl straps: Protect with a quality car wax.

Clean with mild laundry detergent and warm water.

To remove mildew, use a solution of warm water, mild laundry detergent and chlorine bleach (no more than \ cup to 3 gallons of water).

+ Aluminum frames: Clean with warm water and mild soap.

Protect with a quality car wax.

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