The Unexpected Hack People Use To Clean Plastic Patio Furniture (& Does It Work?)

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Summer's almost here, and that means there's some outdoor lounging to be done. You pull your plastic patio furniture out of the garden shed and notice it's covered in dirt and scratches. Believe it or not, toothpaste works great as a mild abrasive cleaner, but is it worth using it to clean your patio furniture? Well, it depends. If you have an actual plastic cleaning product on hand, then probably default to that. It's purpose-made and likely the cheaper option. If you only have toothpaste in the house and need your patio furniture cleaned quick-smart for, say, the afternoon's backyard BBQ, then it's time to take advantage of one of the least discussed genius tips for using toothpaste at home.

Abrasive materials smooth surfaces. Think, for example, about how you use sandpaper to finish wooden floorboards. Most plastic patio furniture is made from polyurethane, which is susceptible to scratching. Cleaning the furniture with something mildly abrasive will remove gentle scratches; conversely, using a heavily abrasive product risks adding more dings. You can guarantee toothpaste's mild abrasiveness, at least in the U.S. The RDA (Relative Dentin Abrasivity) of toothpaste is regulated to protect our tooth enamel. Products scoring higher than 250 are rejected by the American Dental Association. Thanks to additions like calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, and silica, you can use toothpaste to get stubborn scratches off your glass cooktop. Yes, glass! So, it will have no problem smoothing out rough surfaces on even the toughest outdoor plastic furniture.

How to use toothpaste to banish plastic scratches and stains

Toothpaste also contains surfactants (foaming and cleaning agents) like sodium lauryl sulfate and stain-removers or brighteners like dimethicones, papain, and sodium bicarbonate. Yup, all that and more is in toothpaste; if it gets your pearly whites looking, well, pearly, imagine what it can do for your patio furniture. Any toothpaste should work, but the old-fashioned white paste should give you the best results. Plus, it's the cheapest option. Walgreens sells a tube of Pepsodent Complete Care for $1. Tom's of Maine Whole Care Natural Toothpaste is $12.19 for a 3-pack on Amazon. If you have super-stained furniture, look for an affordable toothpaste with stain-removing additives, like Colgate Total Advanced Fresh + Whitening, $6.01 at Walmart. It has a high RDA score.

Squeeze out just a dab of toothpaste — say, a pea-sized amount — onto a soft cloth or rag. A microfiber cloth is helpful here. You can also spot clean stains with toothpaste. To eliminate watermarks on your furniture, for example, really work the toothpaste into stains by rubbing the cloth back and forth over one spot. Use your garden hose, a bucket of water, or even a watering can to thoroughly rinse the toothpaste off the plastic furniture. While the fresh, minty smell is pleasant in the bathroom in the early morning, it's a little off-putting when sipping an iced tea on the patio after a day's hard yard work. If stains or scratches linger, repeat the process.