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outdoor fabric roadtest

I have been looking at outdoor fabrics lately trying to choose a fabric for our bench seat cushions.  What I really would like is white, plain white bench cushions with some colourful cushions to bring some fun into the mix.  However everytime I tell someone this they say "are you nuts, they will show so much dirt!".  I'm a little stubborn and I reaallly want white, so I decided to test out the sample of white outdoor fabric I had lying around.  The sample feels just like cotton, really soft with a fine texture. It is a premium Marine outdoor fabric and I am told it is the best so lets see shall we?   

clockwise from top left:  tomato sauce; dirt; red wine; coke.

I cut half my sample up into four sections so I could test as many of the usual suspects as possible -  tomato sauce, dirt, red wine and coke.  I probably went a little overboard with the dirt sample, rubbing it vigously into our dusting decking boards. I don't think my bench cushions would ever be treated that badly! I left all the samples overnight to see if the liquid would absorb into the fabric.  I left the other half of the fabric as a control sample to compare after cleaning.

coke sample after leaving overnight

In the morning the red wine and coke were still sitting nicely on top of the fabric.  All that was required was a little bit of blotting with a wet cloth.  The red wine sample initially looked as though it would leave a stain but a few additional blots and it was gone.  I was really impressed with how the fabric dealt with the red wine spill - amazing!

Now to the dirt and tomato sauce samples.  I didn't even try blotting these first because I thought it would be useless, I went straight to sunlight soap and water.  It did take a while to get these stains out but they did come out. I am a little concerned that using the soap has changed the liquid repelling properties of these samples, possibly because I got the back of the fabric wet (the back is quite absorbent). If you were blotting with a mild soap and water whilst the covers were still on, the back of the fabric wouldn't get wet.

result after cleaning, with control sample on left.

So, the verdict?  I was really impressed with the liquid repelling qualities of the fabric but I'm not completely convinced with stains that permeate the fabric such as the tomato sauce and dirt. Overall, I was happy with the result though.  White is still a risk, considering the cost of the covers I would not want to replace them anytime soon, that's for sure.

If you have used outdoor fabrics before I would love to hear about your experiences with them. 

Images: Olive & Joy


  1. Looks like the samples all came up ok after your test though. Can the covers be removed and thrown in the washing machine or is that not an option?

  2. All the stains came out which is great, I believe you can wash the fabric on a gentle cycle with a mild detergent. From the result with the sunlight soap (the fabric doesn't seem as water-repellent after I washed them). Perhaps sunlight soap was too harsh for the fabric.

  3. I'm impressed, I need some new covers for my outdoor furniture, what brand fabric is it?

  4. Hi Engracia,
    The fabric is from Fab Outdoor Fabrics, they have a really good range of fabrics and can sew your covers too (although I found it a little pricey) :)


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