How to Use and Care for Vinyl Table and Furniture Covers
When temperatures rise and summer is in sight, there’s an excitement in the air you can’t help but sense. The backyard, perhaps covered in snow just a few weeks prior, begins to come alive with flowers and small green shoots that promise to become full-fledged blooms in a few short weeks. After being indoors most of the time during those colder months, you can’t wait to be outside again. Whether you’re gardening, playing with the kids or having friends over for a barbecue on the back patio, the excitement of spring can be contagious and exhilarating! Outdoor furniture is a must-have for your back yard is a mainstay in your outdoor garden décor. After all, it provides that essential seating that makes coming together as a family possible.
An Ounce of Prevention
First things first, however. That patio furniture or picnic table has been sitting outdoors throughout those long, chilly days, and has been out of sight and out of mind. Whether you live in a region where it snows or it gets cold and rainy for part of the year, any yard furniture is at the mercy of the elements. Rain, wind and the sun can do a number on even the most durable outdoor furniture. Even during the warmer months, your outdoor décor can be damaged by dirt, tree sap and UV deterioration from the sun.
That’s why it’s smart to use yard furniture covers when you’re not using your backyard furniture. Durable, waterproof covers are also available not only for yard and patio furniture, but for grills, air conditioning units, condensers and even lawnmowers. Often constructed from durable vinyl, a type of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), these covers can weather whatever the environment has to dish up. Well-designed covers are easy to slip on and off, wipe clean easily and can be elasticized around the bottom so they stay secure — even in windy conditions.
A Little History of PVC
Furniture covers are only some of the products that are constructed from super-versatile PVC. This unique material was invented in the early 1920s by a rubber scientist named Waldo Semon. Easily moldable and versatile, PVC is a durable product that can withstand time. It can be made rigid or flexible and is the top manufacturing material used in dozens of industries, including construction, automotive, aerospace, communications, health care, textiles and retailing.
Vinyl, a type of PVC, is the third most used plastic in the world. About 75% of all vinyl manufactured is used in construction because of its strength, resistance to moisture, corrosion and abrasion resistance, and its easy care and its low cost. Taking into consideration low greenhouse gas emissions, along with resource and energy conservation, PVC/vinyl life-cycle studies show that this material helps protect the environment, according to the Vinyl Institute.
Vinyl Furniture, Table Covers and Vinyl Tablecloths
Because of vinyl’s benefits, it is the perfect material for outdoor furniture covers. It is also an ideal choice for outdoor (or indoor) tablecloths. Many of today’s vinyl furniture and table covers are now coated on the back with soft, flannel backing to prevent wear and tear. With its cloth-like consistency, this new feature provides additional protective characteristics. It’s also super-easy to clean, which makes it a favorite for entertaining. Thanks to its ability to be printed with all kinds of attractive colors and patterns, vinyl is indeed a natural for tablecloths and beautiful furniture covers!
Vinyl Cover and Tablecloth Maintenance
While vinyl is easy to care for, there can be issues with vinyl cover or tablecloth stains, wrinkles or mold. Here are seven ways to care for your outdoor vinyl furniture and table covers that will help keep them clean, attractive and usable for years!
#1: Use Non-Abrasive Cleaning Cloths
To prevent staining, always wipe up spills from your vinyl tablecloth/cover quickly, using a soft, non-abrasive cloth or sponge.
#2: Opt for Gentle Detergents
Outdoor dirt or food stains can be removed by using a combination of dishwashing detergent and water. An antibacterial kitchen cleaner can also be used, especially if there was raw meat on the tablecloth. If the cleaning product instructions direct, wipe down afterward with a damp cloth.
#3: Treat Stains
Isopropyl (or rubbing) alcohol removes grease and ink from a vinyl tablecloth. Dampen a soft cloth with rubbing alcohol and rub the stain from the outside toward the center to prevent it from spreading. A stain from a food-based dye can be removed using a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide and one part water. Let the solution work on the stain for several minutes before wiping with a damp cloth. If the stain remains, try using full-strength hydrogen peroxide.
#4: Occasionally Deep Clean
Vinyl tablecloths should occasionally be given an overall deep cleaning, especially if one side is lined with a woven material. For this, you can use a tub, large sink or washing machine. Wash in cold water with mild detergent. If desired, use a non-chlorine bleach. After washing, the tablecloth can be placed in the dryer with other items and dried at a “low” setting. Monitor the cover in the dryer every five to 10 minutes. Remove it promptly when dry to avoid wrinkling.
#5: Iron with Low Heat When Needed
For wrinkles in your vinyl tablecloth, try ironing it on a low heat setting with material, such as a damp towel or cotton/polyester cloth, placed between the vinyl surface and the iron. Use quick strokes while ironing, being careful not to apply enough heat to melt the vinyl.
#6: Store Properly
To store your vinyl tablecloth, roll it up on a sturdy cardboard tube (rather than fold it) to prevent creases.
#7: Treat Mold Promptly
If mold grows on your vinyl tablecloth, spread it out in the direct sun for several hours. The sun’s UV rays will kill any active mold. After this, clean it with dishwashing, detergent, water, or a kitchen cleaner. Then, rinse the cover with water and wipe it down one more time with white distilled vinegar to remove any remaining moldy odor.
With these simple cleaning tips and a little preventative maintenance, your outdoor patio furniture covers and vinyl tablecloths will remain beautiful, colorful and protective for many, many years! Don’t miss the many different outdoor vinyl covers at Miles Kimball. From fitted table covers for your dining areas to protective covers that will keep your outdoor appliances and machinery in top working condition, you’ll find products that fit your needs — and your budget — on our comprehensive website.