Your plastic outdoor furniture looked great at first, but now it looks faded and chalky. You may wonder if you need to replace it or if there’s a way to make it look like new again. We’ve done the research, and we’ve got some refinishing suggestions for you.
When most plastics are exposed to the sun, they will start to look faded or chalky. That chalky appearance is oxidation, and there are several things that people use to make them look new again. These include:
- Plastic rejuvenator
- Mild abrasive cleaner and car wax
- Heat gun
- Spray paint
We discuss each of these in more detail below, so please read on! We’ll also cover how to prevent oxidation and how to clean your plastic furniture to remove stains and mildew.
Removing Oxidation From Plastic Outdoor Furniture
No matter how good your plastic outdoor furniture looks when you buy it, it can become oxidized and chalky looking over time. When that happens, your options are to live with it, fix it, or replace it. If you’re willing to do a little work, you can try out some of the techniques detailed below to make your plastic outdoor furniture look new again. There’s no reason to replace the furniture that you still like; instead, you can save some money by simply removing the oxidation.
There are many products available that can help your plastic outdoor furniture look new again. With most of these, the process is pretty simple. The application instructions are usually similar to this:
- Clean the furniture and allow it to dry fully.
- Wipe the rejuvenator on with a microfiber cloth or other soft cloth.
- Allow the furniture to dry well before applying a second coat, if needed.
Each brand may have different application instructions, so be careful to read them well before applying your particular brand of rejuvenator. Examples of plastic rejuvenators:
Rejuvenate Outdoor Color Restorer
Here is a video showing this method:
Mild Abrasive Cleaner And Car Wax
If you don’t want to try the plastic rejuvenator, you may want to give this method a try. One of the best parts of this is that you may already have what you need to do it. All you need is a typical mild abrasive cleaner and some car wax. Typical mild abrasive household cleaners will work. You can even use some baking soda in place of the cleaner.
To make your furniture look new again with this method:
- Using a mild household abrasive cleanser (or ½ cup baking soda mixed in a gallon of water), scrub the furniture well.
- Rinse your furniture.
- Let dry completely.
- Apply a light coat of automotive paste wax following the instructions on the container.
- Once the wax has dried the appropriate amount of time (usually until hazy), buff the wax away.
If your furniture is especially dirty, for step one, try sprinkling a bit of baking soda directly onto a damp sponge or rag to scrub. Here are some examples of the type of automotive paste wax you can use for this process:
Meguiar’s Gold Class Wax
Turtle Wax Paste Wax
One thing most people would probably never think to clean their plastic outdoor furniture with is WD-40. But WD-40 actually has directions for this on their website. Basically, you use WD-40 to renew the look of your plastic furniture like this:
- Clean your furniture well and allow it to dry.
- Spray WD-40 onto your furniture and rub it in with a cloth.
- Wipe away any extra WD-40.
You can use Vaseline or other petroleum jellies to make your plastic furniture shine again. It’s a fairly simple process.
- Clean well with a mild household abrasive, like those we’ve mentioned above.
- Rinse and let dry completely.
- Apply the Vaseline.
- After about a minute, wipe the Vaseline away completely.
Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
Solimo Petroleum Jelly
Here’s a video of someone using petroleum jelly on his plastic outdoor furniture:
This one is a bit more complicated, so you should probably be familiar and comfortable using a heat gun before you attempt it. If you try this and you aren’t familiar with using a heat gun, you could hurt yourself or damage your furniture. To complete this process:
- Set your heat gun to low or medium, depending on your heat gun. When in doubt, go with the lower setting so you don’t damage the plastic.
- In a small section, repeatedly move the gun over the plastic to evenly heat the area. As you do, you should see the look of the plastic improve.
- When satisfied with that section, move to another section and repeat step 2.
- Repeat until you’ve completed all of your furniture.
This process could take a while. If it seems to take a very long time in each small section, you could try turning the heat gun up a small amount to speed the process. Be careful not to overheat the plastic, or you could damage your furniture. Examples of heat guns:
SEEKONE Heat Gun
Porter-Cable Heat Gun
When all else fails, spray paint your plastic outdoor furniture. What’s great about this process is that you can also change the color if you’re sick of the old one. The basic process is:
- Clean your furniture well; you may need to use a degreasing cleaner.
- Let the furniture dry completely.
- Place the furniture upside down on a drop cloth, old sheet, or newspaper.
- Spray the bottom of the furniture in even coats, holding the can about eight inches from the surface. Some paints will require many coats to cover well, and they will specify the time between coats on the can.
- When the bottom has dried to touch (often around an hour), turn the furniture over and repeat step 4 on the furniture’s top side.
Here are some examples of the types of paint that you can use for this method:
Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch
Krylon Fusion All-In-One
If you’re unsure how to paint your chairs, this video may help:
As you can see, there are several options to renew the look of your plastic outdoor furniture when it becomes faded and chalky. If you are willing and able to put in a little effort, one of the methods mentioned will likely work for you.
How Can Plastic Oxidation Be Prevented?
You can help prevent a lot of oxidation to your plastic when you leave it outside. One method is to make sure to bring your plastic inside as much as possible. This prevents a lot of damage from the sun. But that may not always be possible, especially if you have several large pieces of plastic patio furniture.
Many people have good luck using a quality plastic protectant to prevent UV damage from the sun to their plastic items. Some examples of these are:
Star Brite Patio & Outdoor Furniture Protectant
303 UV Protectant Spray
How Do You Get Stains Out Of White Plastic?
There are times when plastic items become stained and discolored, and no amount of scrubbing will clean the stains away. There are a few things you can try to get the stains out.
One of the best methods for getting stains off of white plastic is to use chlorine bleach. To use this method:
- Mix 1 part bleach to 4 parts of water to create a cleaning solution.
- Let the plastic item soak in the solution for one hour. If it is impossible to submerge the item, apply a rag soaked in the bleach to the stained spot and let it sit. If you use a rag, you may need to occasionally resoak it if it dries out.
- Remove the item from the bleach or remove the rag and rinse the item thoroughly.
This is similar to the bleach method:
- Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water to create a cleaning solution.
- Let your plastic soak in the solution for about an hour. You can use the rag method mentioned before on this as well.
- Remove the item from the solution and rinse it well.
You can also use baking soda to remove stains from your plastic:
- Make a thick paste by mixing a little water with baking soda.
- Apply it to the stain on your plastic item and let it sit for about two hours.
- Wash the baking soda paste away.
How Do You Remove Mildew From Plastic Chairs?
There are a few methods that can be effective in removing mildew from your plastic chairs.
Bathroom cleaners are usually very good at removing mildew. They work well in a wet environment, like the shower, where mildew is a common problem.
Bleach has been a go-to cleaner for mildew for decades. To use bleach:
- Mix a solution with half water, half bleach.
- Clean your plastic furniture with the solution.
- Rinse well and let dry.
Lemon juice kills mildew effectively.
- Wipe or spray lemon juice on the area.
- After letting it sit for 10 minutes, wash the chair with soap and water.
Vinegar is both effective and pretty safe in small quantities around most plants, which is a bonus when cleaning plastic patio chairs.
- Spray full-strength white vinegar onto plastic chairs.
- Let sit at least a full hour in a shady spot.
- Use a sponge with soap and water to wash the plastic chairs.
If you like your plastic outdoor furniture, then there is no need to toss it out when it starts to look chalky with age. Using one of the methods we’ve described above, you can make your furniture look new again.
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