Spring cleaning your porch

A front porch, that covered entrance to the house, can serve many purposes. It protects us from the elements as we fuss with unlocking the front door when returning home and provides a place to sit and enjoy nature. A porch may be on the front, back or side of the house. Beyond curb appeal, giving your porch at least an annual cleaning conveys a good impression to your visitors and creates a welcoming location for your own enjoyment.

Getting started

Collect cleaning supplies, which may include bucket, grease cutting soap (like Dawn dish detergent), garden hose, broom, scrub brush, window cleaner and rags. Relocate furniture, rugs, planters or any other standalone items from the porch to a location for cleaning, like a sidewalk or driveway. Wearing old clothes and goggles, hose down the porch including the ceiling, walls, windows, railing and floor. This step can be accelerated with the use of a power washer. If there is a ceiling fan or ceiling light, avoid spraying them with water.

Scrubbing with the broom

Fill the bucket with water from the garden hose, stopping 3 inches from the top of the bucket. Squeeze 1 to 2 tablespoons of dish detergent into the bucket and then use the broom to swish the water, mixing the detergent. Use the wet, soapy broom to clean the ceiling of the porch. Frequently dip the broom into the bucket to rinse the broom and collect more water and soap. Water may run down the handle of the broom, so working quickly will reduce how wet you get. After finishing the ceiling, repeat the process on the walls, windows, door and porch supports. Replenish the water and soap in the bucket as needed. If there is a ceiling fan or ceiling light, use a ladder to reach them and to wash with a rag. Using more soapy water and rags or a scrub brush, clean the railing. Use the garden hose to rinse the porch, starting at the ceiling and working your way down.

Fine details

Use rags to clean a wall-mounted porch light, inside of mailbox (if applicable), and the front door even if there is a storm door. Make the windows, including the storm door, sparkle by washing them with a clean rag and window cleaner. On a wood floor porch, look for raised nails and pound them back in. Consider the condition of the wood flooring to determine if it should be scrapped, sanded and repainted or stained. Examine the house numbers to determine if they need replacing or painting, perhaps with reflective paint to make it easier for the fire company to identify your house at night.

Cleaning the furniture and rugs

Outdoor furniture is built for easy care, so your furniture may only need washing with the same grease cutting soap and water mixture used on the porch. Rinse the furniture and wipe with dry rags to hasten dry time. Plan to wash the furniture on a sunny day to speed up drying. Examine metal furniture for chips or rust and repair as needed. A coat of paste wax, like that used on a car, can help to repel moisture on steel, aluminum or wrought iron framed furniture. Read the labels on removable fabric cushion covers or hammocks to see if they are machine washable or dry cleanable. If not, vacuum the pieces. Outdoor rugs, too, should be vacuumed. Small rugs can be splashed with soapy water, hosed cleaned, rolled to force out water, and then draped over a fence or railing to drip dry.

The extras

Roll-up shades used to block sunlight or provide privacy can be removed, laid flat on the ground, washed with soapy water, and then hosed off to rinse. Apply a lubricant, like 3-in-1 oil, WD-40 or even cooking spray to the metal parts in the header of the shade to keep it functioning smoothly. Set the garden hose nozzle to a wide spray to sprits screens from the porch-side.