Cleaning Up for the End of Summer: The Exteriors

Cleaning Up for the End of Summer  Exteriors

We’ve looked at cleaning up inside the house for the end of summer. Now, however, we need to venture outside–yes, where all the dirt is usually found. We’ve had a busy three months of banging up our exteriors, and now it’s time to face the damage while getting ready for winter…  [image via wikimedia]

We were tempted to include the issue of the summer’s dirty tennis shoes for interior cleaning–but we’re trying to keep the exterior out, right? Take the most popular shoes of the summer and let them dry out completely. Go outside for the traditional banging of the soles to try and knock off as much dirt and crud as possible. Then–in what’s also a thrifty move–you can use warm water and dishwashing liquid to scrub down those shoes to get them ready for next summer. A toothbrush really gets into pretty much any tread pattern. Sometimes, we’ve had to resort to a scrub brush. Then wipe the shoes down with a damp sponge and let them dry naturally. It can’t hurt to stuff the shoes with paper towels to maintain the shape.

Now it’s off to the porch and a look at the proverbial plastic tablecloth. Sometimes we just buy these things to be disposable. Still, they can be saved. A lot of plastic tablecloths are easily wiped clean, of course, but you need to go to your washing machine to take care of the backing–which is usually some kind of flannel. Machine-wash on the gentle cycle, and then give a very light drying on Delicate. 15 minutes should do the job. You mainly want to get rid of the folding and creases from the washing machine. Too much time in there will harm the vinyl–and it might fall apart and make a new mess to clean.

Then it’s on to the patio furniture before it goes into storage. You’ll want to wipe those pieces down with a mild detergent and warm water. Don’t use anything abrasive. You’ll probably also be looking at some dirty outdoor cushions to clean. Martha Stewart might use nice ones made out of linen, but we’ve never had any that weren’t acrylic–or a polyester/cotton mix for really fancy occasions. Those can be spot-cleaned with warm water and dishwashing detergent. Then rinse them well with clean water and let them dry under what’s left of the summer sun. If you’re planning to leave your patio furniture outside, then buy some cheap tarp to cover them–and spray paint any chips or rust on metal furniture.

It’s tempting to throw away the plastic pool toys, but we should really be thrifty there, too–with a 3/4 cup of chlorine bleach added to a gallon of warm water. You’ll want that much because you’re going to soak the toys for about five minutes. Then do a little more scrubbing as needed and let them dry naturally. Then put them in a container for the rest of the year.

Are you ambitious enough to go ahead and clean the deck, as well? You can buy deck cleaner at any home improvement store. It’s really not difficult to use. Just get a good push broom to make the scrubbing easy. Don’t get carried away and rent some kind of power washer. Those can do some damage.

And if you’re like us, your driveway has seen a lot of action over the summer. This is another good reason to get that push broom, too. Asphalt driveways can benefit from a good scrubbing of  a scoop of laundry detergent mixed with every gallon of water. Concrete driveways do better with gallons of water each mixed with a 1/4 cup of dishwashing detergent. Don’t forget the old kitty litter trick for any grease stains–and we still recommend avoiding power washers.