How to Prepare your garden for the BBQ Season
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How to Prepare your garden for the BBQ Season

As the days become longer and temperatures slowly start to climb, our thoughts naturally turn to making the most of our outdoor space. After a long winter, there's nothing quite like the promise of warm spring and summer evenings spent in the company of our nearest and dearest, with cool drinks and barbecue at the ready. Before you host that first al fresco gathering of the season, there will likely be some groundwork to be done. Over the winter it’s easy for patios to become a little grubby from the seasonal elements and lack of use. But spring cleaning isn't just for the indoors! Take this period before the warm weather hits as an opportunity to roll up your sleeves and get your patio and garden in tip-top condition for entertaining. From scrubbing down patio slabs to freshening up outdoor furniture, this article is here to share how you can spruce up each part of your patio.  

Contents

How to clean patio slabs
How to clean outdoor furniture
How to clean a barbecue
How to clean an outdoor fireplace
Spring cleaning the garden round-up

How to clean patio slabs

The first step in preparing your patio for entertaining is giving those slabs a thorough clean. Over the winter months, dirt, grime, and algae can build up, leaving your outdoor space looking less than inviting. Start by sweeping away any debris with a brush. Avoid rakes as these can damage your tiles. Once the debris is cleared away, look for stains on the tiles and tackle these next. The good news is that cleaning these stains can be very simple and you can use household products you’ll likely already have.

Start with a warm soapy water mixture by adding a squirt of washing-up liquid to a bucket and filling it with warm water. Dampen a hard-bristled brush with this solution and use it to scrub the stain. If the stain is a little more stubborn, use another simple cleaning solution comprising 50% white vinegar and 50% warm water. Pour this solution over the stubborn stains and leave for around half an hour or so. Then, just use a hard-bristled brush again with some warm soapy water to remove them.  If you have a pressure washer, you may want to use this to get rid of dirt fast but bear in mind that these aren’t suitable for all surfaces. Avoid using these powerful washers on soft, natural tiles, such as sandstone. You should also avoid using them on painted wood patios as this can easily cause the paint to chip.

Patio cleaned

 

How to clean outdoor furniture

Whether you have wooden, metal, or rattan pieces, a little TLC can go a long way towards revitalising tired-looking outdoor chairs and tables. Here are the best ways to spruce up and give new life to different types of patio furniture:  

  1. Wooden patio furniture - Begin by removing loose debris with a dry microfibre cloth, then create a cleaning solution by filling a bucket with warm water, a squirt of mild dish soap, and a cup of white vinegar. Dampen a microfibre cloth or soft-bristled brush with this solution and use it to wipe the furniture over, paying particularly close attention to any stains. Avoid over-saturating the wood by ensuring the brush and microfibre cloth are damp, but not wet. For wooden furniture, a coat of protective oil or varnish can also help to prevent weathering and prolong its lifespan. You can also create a natural wood cleaner with a solution consisting of one part olive oil, one part white vinegar, and a dash of lemon juice, which you can apply to the furniture with a lightly dampened microfibre cloth. 
  2. Metal patio furniture - If you’re looking to simply clean your metal garden furniture, start by removing loose debris, then simply wipe the metal furniture down with a microfibre cloth dampened with a solution of warm, soapy water. Avoid using hard-bristled scrubbers on aluminium outdoor furniture as this can lead to scratches. Once thoroughly cleaned, allow the furniture to air dry in a sunny spot. If your furniture has rusted, you can use sandpaper to remove this before you start the cleaning process, and top it up with rust-proof paint once the furniture has dried. For oxidation on metal furniture, you can easily clean this off with a mixture of equal parts warm water and white vinegar. 
  3. Rattan patio furniture - Removing the debris from rattan and rope style furniture can be a little tricky as there are so many grooves in this material. A good way to do this is to use a vacuum with the vacuum extension wand to hoover up trapped bits of dirt. Then simply clean the furniture with a solution of warm soapy water, using a dampened soft cloth to scrub it. For stubborn stains, you can use the same solution but apply it with a dampened soft-bristled toothbrush to tackle them. Like wood, you should avoid over-saturating rattan furniture as it is susceptible to water damage.  Whichever type of outdoor furniture you have, it’s a good idea to use furniture covers for it. Not only will this reduce the amount of times you need to clean your patio furniture, but covers can protect your pieces from the elements too, elongating the lifespan of your furniture.

 

How to clean a barbecue

No garden party is complete without the tantalising aroma of food sizzling on the barbecue. But before you fire up the grill, it's essential to give it a thorough clean to remove any leftover grease and grime. Start by removing the grates and drip tray and let them soak for 15–30 minutes to loosen stubborn grease and residue. While these are soaking, turn your attention to the interior, using a grill brush or scraper to remove any large food particles, grease, or debris from the interior surfaces. Then use a mixture of warm soapy water, a damp cloth, and a little elbow grease to thoroughly clean and wipe down the barbecue.  Once the grates and drip trays have finished soaking, scrub them with a wire brush dampened with warm soapy water to remove any stuck-on food residue. Finally, rinse all the parts you have cleaned with warm clean water to remove any soap or remaining debris, dry each part thoroughly with a cloth, and reassemble the barbecue once each part is fully dried. Just like with patio furniture, a cover for your barbecue is effective when it comes to keeping this outdoor cooking essential clean and looking and performing its best. If you don’t already have one, it’s a good idea to purchase a barbecue cover to extend its lifespan for as long as possible.

Degrease that BBQ

 

How to clean an outdoor fireplace

For those chilly spring evenings, an outdoor fireplace or fire pit can provide a cosy focal point for your garden gatherings. But like any outdoor feature, it's important to keep it clean and well-maintained. Before you begin cleaning, ensure the fireplace is completely cool. Wear gloves and safety goggles to protect yourself from debris and cleaning chemicals. Start by removing any large debris, such as ashes, charred wood, or leaves, from the fireplace, and use a fireplace shovel or brush to sweep out the interior. Using a stiff-bristled brush or wire brush, scrub the interior walls of the fireplace to remove soot, creosote buildup, and other residues. You may need to apply some elbow grease for stubborn stains. If your outdoor fireplace has a chimney, you should also inspect it for blockages or buildup of soot and debris. Use a chimney brush to clean the interior walls of the chimney, working from the top down. Be sure to wear appropriate safety gear to avoid debris falling into your eyes. Then, use a warm soapy water solution or a specialised outdoor cleaner and a sponge or soft-bristled brush to clean the exterior surfaces of the fireplace, paying particular attention to any stains, soot, or discolouration. For especially stubborn stains or discolouration on the exterior surfaces, you can try mixing baking soda and soap until it creates a paste-like consistency. Apply the paste to the stained areas, let it sit for five to ten minutes, then scrub with a brush or sponge. Finally, rinse with clean water to remove any remaining soap residue.

 

Spring cleaning the patio round-up

There’s no need to panic if your patio area is looking a little worse for wear around this time of year. With the temperamental winter weather and lack of use, it’s easy for our outdoor space to become a bit less appealing to the eye. But the good news is that this can usually be fixed with a good outdoor spring clean. When it comes to patio cleaning, white vinegar is a wonder product which can be used to help give new life to almost anything! Plus, many of us already have this cleaning supply in our cupboards, making it a low-budget, hassle-free cleaning solution. Another outdoor cleaning essential that you’ll no doubt have an ample supply of is dish soap. Mixed with warm water, this solution can be used on almost anything on your patio, meaning you can get to work straight away and refresh your outdoor living space in time for spring entertaining.

 

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