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(Family Features) Over time, the appearance and function of any outdoor space can dull due to combinations of heat, precipitation and use. With some careful attention, you can quickly spruce up your outdoor living areas and get them back in great working order for patio season.
Take Care of Textiles
Outdoor textiles often take a beating from the elements. Freshen up often-overlooked things like outdoor rugs, lawn furniture cushions, pillows and umbrellas. A thorough vacuuming may be adequate to remove leaves, bugs or dirt. However, if stubborn spots persist and a deeper cleaning is needed, review the manufacturer’s guidelines. Washing covered furniture from time to time helps ensure it’s ready for use no matter the season.
Declare Dust Off-Limits
Dingy light fixtures and fans lend an air of disrepair in any space. Outdoors, they’ll undoubtedly collect dust and dirt quickly, but a deep clean can help make them easier to maintain. Dust and scrub as needed, and if necessary, grab a scrub brush and some soapy water to brighten up other items like decorative pieces and flower pots.
Freshen Up Finishes
From furniture to hard surfaces, the finishes can take a beating. Take time to bring these items back to their former glory by rinsing, scrubbing and brushing dirt away from your wrought iron, metal, aluminum or wicker furniture. If needed, apply a fresh coat of sealant or add a rust-preventive layer of new paint. The same applies for other surfaces with finishes that may be chipped and dull.
Blast Away Grime
A careful sweeping with a sturdy broom is a good starting point, but to get your outdoor space truly clean you may need a little more power. When used at the appropriate settings, a pressure washer can clean a wide range of surfaces from patios, decks and sidewalks to siding, windows, screens and tables.
When cleaning these surfaces, it’s important to find a power washer that can cut through the grime and rinse it away. In addition to gas-powered options, Briggs & Stratton offers a full line of electric pressure washers to help you tackle light-duty outdoor cleaning projects around the house. Some models, like the S1800, feature a turbo nozzle to give you the ability to blast away grime up to 40 percent faster than with a standard spray tip. When that power is combined with an onboard detergent tank, you can eliminate outdoor grime quickly and efficiently, so you can get back to enjoying your outdoor living space.
Getting started is simple. Just turn on the washer and begin with a rinse setting to loosen dirt and debris. Next, use the soap nozzle to apply the detergent in the tank. You may want to let the detergent sit for especially grimy areas, depending on the detergent’s directions for use. Rinse thoroughly and repeat the process if needed.
7 Safety Tips for Operating a Pressure Washer
As with any power equipment, it’s important to know how to operate a pressure washer safely and correctly. Even if you’ve had your unit for a while, it’s a good idea to refresh yourself on how to use it properly before you get started on your outdoor to-do list.
1. Dress for the task. Wear indirect-vented (chemical splash) goggles for eye protection and a pair of closed-toe shoes such as sneakers or boots.
2. Before getting started, be sure to remove all electronics, cords and wires, and place them safely away from water.
3. Perform routine maintenance. Prior to each use, check the oil level and top off if low. Check the water screens to ensure they can freely move water. Inspect hoses and couplings; if they are cracked or brittle, replace them.
4. Know your equipment and where it can or can’t be used. Never operate your gas pressure washer indoors or in enclosed structures. When operating a gas pressure washer, use it outdoors away from occupied spaces to prevent a potentially deadly buildup of carbon monoxide.
5. When operating a gas pressure washer, know the signs of potential carbon monoxide poisoning (dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea or irregular breathing), and if you experience these symptoms get to fresh air right away and seek medical attention.
6. Always point the nozzle in a safe direction. Never operate a pressure washer near small children or pets.
7. Before storing, relieve the pressure in the system. Also run a cycle of water through the machine to eliminate any detergent residue and give the unit time to cool down before storing.
The Powers of a Pressure Washer
A pressure washer can provide up to 75 times more cleaning power than a standard hose for deep cleaning. They are ideal tools to clean the following areas:
SidingDriveways and sidewalksDecksPatio furnitureWindowsBrick or stone stepsTrash cansVehicles or boatsGrillsFire pitsGarage door
Find more cleaning solutions and a limited-availability discount code for a S1800 electric power washer at Briggsandstratton.com/OutdoorCleaning.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (empty patio furniture)