We’re updating our screen porch with all fresh paint, new screens, and deep-cleaned furniture. Recently, I painted the plank floor for a second time, so instead of blue, it’s now a neutral beige. Our next project is to recondition the furniture so we can enjoy more time on the porch. When I purchased my Lloyd Flanders outdoor couch and chair in 1994, I knew that this furniture brand stood for good quality. But, I was still surprised that after having spent most of the past 27 years on a screened porch, exposed to both cold and hot weather as well as rain and a lot of humidity, the vinyl wicker material and frames are still in near perfect condition. However, after unzipping and inspecting inside the cushion covers, we found a different story. There is so much Georgia pollen and dust that, if you saw it, you’d probably think twice before being seated. So, we need to clean and re-stuff all our outdoor cushions.
Should We Buy New Pillows Or Go DIY?
I considered taking the easy way out and buying new pillows. So I compiled estimates for replacing four seat cushions and four back cushions from the original manufacturer and other online and local outdoor upholstery sources. The quotes ranged from $1200 to $1500 for the eight cushions we needed. It would have been easier to buy new pillows, but with all the other projects still to be done, we decided to go the DIY route again.
Wicker Couch And Chair Get A Gentle Scrub
However, before tackling the pillow project, I will give the couch and chair frame a gentle scrubbing. The first step is to clean the vinyl wicker couch and chair. I added a standard capful of laundry detergent, which is ¼ cup, into a bucket of water and, using a soft to medium bristle brush gently, yet deeply cleaned every inch of the couch and chair. (Make sure to check with the manufacturer of your furniture if you’re not sure of the construction material). After a thorough yet gentle soapy scrub, I used the hose to rinse off all the soap. Since it was a nice, not too hot, southern day for us, I left the furniture in the driveway to dry completely.
Bypassing The Manufacturer’s Cleaning Instructions
Can these pillows be machine washed? It appears that this is a $1000 question! The manufacturer’s instructions sewn into the seam recommend sponge washing each cushion with the covers in place. There’s no way to get out all of that dirt collected around the zippers without removing the filling and washing all eight pillow coverings. It’s time to roll the dice and take a gamble. By the way, the pillows are 26 years past the company warranty! It could probably be said that I’ve already gotten my money’s worth!
We’re celebrating here! The pillow covers came through the wash cycle with flying colors. That’s enough risk for one project, so we’re going to skip the dryer and lay them out flat to let them dry. We’ve had some success so far; the vinyl wicker chair and couch frames are cleaned and in great shape. The pillow covers survived the washing machine and are in excellent condition considering their age. Now, we’ll need to look at what we took out of the pillow and see if it is usable.
New Stuffing For Very Old Pillows
Well over 20-year old layered polyester batting fills both the chair and couch cushions. The current question is can we use any of the original batting. I unzipped the first pillow for a look inside. Then I quickly reached for a mask, which, of course, is always nearby these days. After peeling apart the top layers, I saw that the batting below the first couple of layers was perfectly fine, not even dirty.
I carefully removed two dusty layers of batting and laid them out flat to be used as a pattern. Then, I placed the new natural cotton batting on top and cut out four sets of matching pieces. I wrapped each 2-layer section of batting around a bottom seat cushion, then I carefully pulled the original, recently washed cushion cover over the pillow and zipped it up. I did that process three more times then the base cushions were complete! Best of all, they looked almost new!
New Stuffing And Buttons, Then It’s A Wrap
The last step in getting our porch seating functional again was to stuff the back cushions and reconnect the matching covered buttons. Now for the easy part of this project. Open the case and stick in the stuffing, then repeat. However, I didn’t stuff them full at this stage since I still needed to add the buttons. If the pillows were too thick and tight, it would be more difficult to sew on the buttons.
Now that cleaning and re-stuffing the outdoor cushions is complete, it time for the final touch. Sewing the buttons into the cushions was a bit tricky. The buttons that came on the furniture have a hook on them rather than a closed-loop. I’ll admit this was the part of the project that I enjoyed the least. I used the method in this video but had to improvise to secure the thread in the open buttons. It’s one of those things that as you do it, you figure it out. Happily, adding all 20 buttons back onto the cushions finished the job.
Emma Alex says
You are doing a great job!
I found this very informative and literally you’re doing great.
Keep it up.
Thanks so much for leaving your comment! I’m thrilled to be of help.
I have that same furniture that we bought in the early 90s. Mine is dark green and has held up amazingly well. I bought new cushions at some point but they of course got dirty again. We took them somewhere to be cleaned but they did a terrible job with the filling. Some are lumpy and some are just flat. And they are very dirty again.
Hi Susan. Thanks for your feedback. You might want to check the fabric content of your new pillow covers and see if you can do a gentle machine wash, then lay each cover flat to air dry. During re-stuffing the seat pillows, it seems that the cleaner you hired may have used a product like Poly-fil, instead of Batting, in the seat cushion, though I have no way to be sure. Batting is shaped into layered sheets rather than fluffy fiberfill so it provides more support and structure.
This is almost a year old but SO happy I found it !! Similar situation – Also live in Georgia and digging out from the pollen this time of year !! Purchased gorgeous, expensive furniture for the screen porch about 10 years ago….furniture looks brand new. The cushions -despite damp wiping, spraying down & even vacuuming – looked dirty, or at least not clean… 🙂 Quotes the same as you received – Our cushion covers did say washable so a little ahead of the game there. Of course the hubby wanted to put the entire cushion in the washer LOL Getting the “stuffing” out was a bear !! Restuffing them not quite as bad & now they look like new !! Thanks for giving me the confidence to tackle this job !!
Hi Hope, thanks so much for letting me know your experience washing your pollen loaded outdoor cushions. I’m thrilled it worked out well for you. It is definitely quite a bit of work but we saved a bundle by not buying new! Congrats on taking on the “stuffing” challenge.
Dianne Martin says
I was very excited to find that someone else was willing to redo their Lloyd Flanders cushions! I have emptied the seat back cushions (which were way too firm for our liking) which consisted of multiple layers of batting in a case which was stuffed in the cover with a very large amount of batting. The seat back is about 4″ in depth which seems to be a little too wide for our comfort. I’m curious, what was inside of your seatback cushions? Did you simply use polyfil and stuff it directly into the cover without using a polyfil case?
Hi Diane, our original (from 1994) Flanders seatback cushions were filled only with polyfil, no layered batting. So, when I restuffed the back cushions polyfil is all I used. No additional case was used. We have had no problems with just using the polyfil in the seatback cushions. Hope this helps. Thanks for visiting The Emerging Home blog.
Jacqueline pineda says
I am more worried about the fact if I can use the poly fill from the outdoor cushions to fill indoor pillows. Is there a way that I should wash the poly fill from the old cushions? If I buy new how many pounds will I need of poly fill to stuff a 50 x 50” pillow? Very specific can anyone help
Hi Jaqueline, I suggest you do an Internet search about how to safely wash polyfil in your washing machine. You certainly don’t want to damage your washer. The amount you will need to stuff a large cushion will depend on how dense or firm you want the pillow to be. All the best on your project!