How to Clean Wrought Iron Patio Furniture

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Cleaning wrought iron patio furniture requires only some basic tools. You might need to do some touch-ups if you begin to see flaws in the paintwork such as chipping and rust. Regardless, it should not take too much time when you know how to repaint and clean wrought iron patio furniture.

How to Clean Wrought Iron Patio Furniture

Cleaning wrought iron furniture in the patio involves few simple steps. The tools you will need are most likely available at home. Here are the tools for cleaning outdoor wrought iron furniture:

  • Garden Hose Or Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Soft-bristled Brush
  • Mild Soap
  • Dry Cloth
Wrought iron patio furniture in need of cleaning

Note: Make sure you clean wrought furniture during fine weather if you can. Cleaning at this time will help in the drying process, especially when doing some restoration and paintwork. If possible, clean the wrought iron pieces in the garage, where dirty water would flow away from the work area.

Steps for Cleaning Wrought Iron Patio Furniture

Anyone can finish the job in a few minutes. Here are the steps on how to clean wrought iron patio furniture:

Step One: Prepare The Things You Need

Prepare all the tools that you will need for cleaning. Remove all cushions and ensembles from the furniture. Clean these items on a separate occasion.

Step Two: Make a Water And Soap Solution

Fill the bucket with clean water and add a small amount of mild soap. You can use Ivory flakes or liquid soap, just make sure the product you are going to use does not contain bleach. Bleach has an active ingredient that will encourage rust. Avoid using antimicrobial soap as well.

Step Three: Rinse Well To Remove Dirt

Using a garden hose, rinse the furniture to get rid of any loose dirt. Do not miss this part or you will have to replace your water-soap solution every once in a while.

Step Four: Clean All Areas With A Sponge

Dip the sponge into the bucket to absorb the water and soap solution. Clean the surface of the furniture using the sponge. It is best that you don’t wring the sponge to let the water flow down the furniture together with the dirt.

Step Five: Clean Hidden Areas Using A Brush

Some patio furniture has small details that are difficult to reach with a sponge. Use a soft-bristled brush to clean these tight spaces. If you have a pressure washer, this should also wash away deep-seated dirt in hard to reach areas.

Step Six: Rinse To Remove Soap

After cleaning with soap and water, use the garden hose to rinse the furniture. If a garden hose is not available, you can use the same bucket, fill it with clean water, and dump it gradually on the railings or furniture. Repeat if necessary.

Close up of a clean wrought iron patio furniture

Step Seven: Dry The Furniture In Open Air

If you want to save time, you can just leave the furniture to air dry. Alternatively, you can use a dry cloth to remove droplets of water which may leave a residue. Drying the furniture should not consume too much time in nice weather.

Step Eight: Return the Cushions and Other Decorations

Return the furniture to its original place as well as the cushions and pillows. Do this only when you are sure that the paintwork is dry or you risk staining paint on the decorations.

How to Tell It’s Time for Wrought Iron Furniture Restoration

Wrought iron is a type of metal that has low carbon content. Although it is not as hard as steel, it is tough and malleable, which makes it great to make decorative fixtures. However, it will begin to show signs of damage with frequent exposure to harsh weather conditions

When you begin to see any of the following, then your wrought iron furniture could be signaling it is time for restoration.


All furniture made of wrought iron will develop rust eventually. This is because of the chemical reaction referred to as oxidation. Oxidation happens when the iron gets exposed to oxygen. Exposure to water and air causes wrought iron to rust since both elements have iron in them.

It is important to treat rust immediately because it spreads quickly and this is an irreversible process. Sanding can get rid of rust as well as some products. However, these options may no longer work for serious rust issues.


Old paint loses adhesion and elasticity in the long run. As it hardens, it begins to crack. Before you know it, water has already found its way through the metal surface. If you leave it longer, rust could develop. Sometimes, you would not notice that rust is already present when it is time to scrape old paint.


Do not assume small cracks to be harmless. All paint chippings begin this way. No matter how small, these cracks are the reason why water gets in contact with the metal surface.

How to Restore Wrought Iron Paintwork

Similar to cleaning wrought iron, the restoration process should not be a pain, because this just involves some basic DIY procedures. You might need to spend more time and some doubled effort on sanding for severe rust problems though.

Iron furniture set in the garden

Before things get worse, you should start restoring your wrought iron fixtures. The things you will need to restore wrought iron patio furniture are as follows:

  • cleaning tools mentioned above
  • sandpaper
  • paint
  • primer
  • paintbrush
  • old newspapers and cardboard for the shield

Steps for Restoring Wrought Iron Paintwork

The only procedure that is quite demanding with time and work is sanding. That is why you should not ignore the early signs of damage to avoid developing rust. Now, use these steps to restore wrought iron outdoor furniture:

Step One: Remove Old Paint And Sanding

To achieve the best results when renewing wrought iron furniture and railings, you must start deep down. Remove the old paint and rust by using sandpaper. If you have a sander, this will help speed up the process.

Another way to simplify sanding is by using a rust dissolver such as Naval Jelly. Follow the instructions for the proper use and do not forget to wipe the area after removing any leftover particles.

In case only a small area of the furniture is affected with rust, chipping, or cracks and the rest looks good as new, you can just concentrate on the spots with visible damage.

Step Two: Clean The Wrought Iron Furniture

After sanding, use the tools and procedures for cleaning to remove fine particles from the old paint. Make sure to rinse the wrought iron structure thoroughly with clean water.

Step Three: Dry The Furniture

Let the furniture dry completely before you proceed to paint. Check that even the hidden areas have dried completely. Applying paint on a wet surface will result in finish failures such as flaking and chipping.

Step Four: Cover The Work Area With Newspapers

Before you start painting, prepare the area and use old newspapers or cardboard to protect surfaces against paint drips and splatters. Additional protection like a shield may be necessary if you are going to use spray paint.

Wrought iron chair outdoors on lawn

Step Five: Apply Primer And Let Dry

Use a primer intended for metal. Like paint, you should only apply the primer on a dry surface. You need to apply another coat before the first layer has dried completely. Allow the primer to dry for 24 hours. The primer is not yet ready when it still feels sticky the following day.

Step Six: Apply Paint

First, it is important to use only paints specifically made for wrought iron. Using paint for other types of surfaces will not take long before cracks and chipping reappear. 

Apply a layer of paint on the surface of the furniture. Allow it to slightly dry before you apply the second coat. Do this for an even finish and to smoothen any flaws from the first coat.

Step Seven: Let The Paint Dry Completely

Allow the paint to dry completely. Make sure to keep the furniture in a covered, well-ventilated area. Do not place the furniture under direct sunlight. With good weather, this should take 24 to 48 hours at least. To know when the paint has dried completely, the surface of the furniture should not feel tacky.

Step Eight: Return The Cushions And Pillows Back

Place the cushions back once the paint is 100 percent dry. To test for dryness, the surface should not feel tacky. Place the furniture back in your patio.

Tips on Wrought Iron Furniture Painting

Painting surfaces seem like an easy task – possibly when you know the ins and outs of the process. Yet, sometimes accidents happen, and you could end up doing more work and wasting materials. Here are some useful tips to achieve a flawless, durable paint finish on any outdoor wrought iron fixture.

  • Check that the humidity is above 80% before you start painting.
  • The temperature should not exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit to sundry. Not just the paint or the primer, but the metal parts also heat up. Too much heat will cause blistering.
  • The primer to use should only be one made for metal. Avoid using latex and water-based acrylic primers. Instead, use iron oxide primer for wrought iron.
  • Use enamel paint on wrought iron. This paint is ideal for outdoor applications.
  • Wear protective gear like a facemask and gloves when sanding and painting.
  • Never paint a wet, dirty, or unpolished surface.


Cleaning wrought iron patio furniture does not involve any complicated steps. You have all the tools you need at home. For finish problems like rust and chipping, restoration should make them look new again. Sanding and painting are the only major works when you restore wrought iron furniture.

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.