Outdoor cushions: everything you need to know!

Outdoor cushions: everything you need to know!

When it comes to outdoor furniture, it can feel like a contradiction to leave the cushions outside. However, it's not as strange as you may think; cushions make for very comfy garden furniture and it's even better if they are low maintenance and almost care free (think Cane-Line Conic as an example), and even scatter cushions can give a cosy feel to your outdoor living area. What you may not be aware of (yet) is that there are different categories of cushions and exterior fabric: some can be left outdoors all year round due to the material used, while others are water resistant – showerproof – but are better kept indoors over winter months. Manufacturers will generally tell you how to look after your cushions depending on the style and durability, but here is a quick guide on the various types of outdoor fabric available on the market:


Sunbrella is a breathable, mould-resistant and showerproof fabric which dries quickly, while looking good as new for several years. Gandia Blasco and Gloster are two perfect examples of exterior furniture manufacturers who trust Sunbrella to manufacturer fabric for their products. Even though Cane-Line has its own bespoke fabric, they partnered with the fabric specialist to develop a new material, SoftTouch, which is an exclusive mixture between Textilene and Sunbrella fabric.

Let’s talk maintenance and cleaning now… Although Sunbrella fabric is water resistant, in winter months it is better to cover your cushions or store them away; it will make cleaning much easier and will allow your upholstery to last longer. To clean Sunbrella fabric, start by brushing off any dirt, then use a sponge and a cleaning solution made with mild soap and lukewarm water. Once you’re happy with how clean your cushions looks, just leave them to dry. It shouldn’t take long!


Cane-Line Tex, Fermob OTF and Coro Flyer

Sunbrella may be big on the outdoor fabric market but they have some serious competition! Manufacturers such as Cane-Line (Cane Tex), Fermob (Outdoor Technical Fabric) and Coro (Flyer) like to develop their own fabric to fit their specific needs and requirements. This means that each type of textile has slightly different qualities.

When it comes to Coro, we love the interesting patterns of Coro’s outdoor fabric, which is UV-, mould- and stain-resistant, while made to stand wear and tear. It is also fungus- and mite-proof.

Fermob’s Outdoor Technical Fabric (OTF) is 100% water repellent, and is treated to withstand Mother Nature’s elements while resisting tears and mould. The OTF is easy to clean with soap and lukewarm water, and sometimes you can even remove the covers to wash them by hand (in lukewarm water), or in machine (cold cycle).

Cane-Line Tex, which is a coated polyester sling fabric, shares with Fermob’s OTF UV-resistance and a good resilience when it comes to poor weather.

It’s all about the foam

When it comes to outdoor cushions, having a waterproof, UV- and mould-resistant fabric is great, however it is not enough. Indeed, what makes a real difference in how quickly a cushion dries, and ultimately in how good it looks after a while (in terms of shape, not colour) is the foam. A foam like Dryfeel, with open pores that allow the water to drain out, will make for a quick-drying cushion; it is also UV stable and fungicide proofed, so the cushions are protected inside and out!

The foam used in scatter cushions is generally not water resistant, which is why you should store throw cushions away when the weather is poor.

Maintenance and winter time

From a general point of view, the best way of cleaning cushions – and garden furniture in general – is with lukewarm water and mild soap, provided that the foam is water-resistant. When possible, try only brushing your scatter cushions, and if it isn’t enough then go gently with the water and soap since you know the foam won’t dry quickly.

Now, winter… Depending on the type of fabric and foam used by each manufacturer, you may be advised to bring your cushions inside in winter months. What we generally advise is to store them in a cool and dry place, or to cover them. Storing them inside will prevent foxes from nibbling at them (we speak from experience!) and this way you don’t risk finding your cushions filthy when spring comes because of mouldy leaves, animal droppings and such!

Manufacturers who ask you to store away your upholstery in winter will tend to offer you solutions, such as Cane-Line which created the Skye cushion box for just this purpose. At Barbed we found a little gem we’re happy to share with you: Kover it. The company creates bespoke, waterproof covers that are just perfect to protect your outdoor furniture in style!

The best thing is that you can also use scatter cushions as a great accessory and what better than a bright splash of colour from Fermob with the Trefle, Graphique and new Cabanon ranges – or even the Cane-line cushions in lovely blue and turquoise tones, all of which can easily be stored in the great Skye box that we mentioned earlier?


If you need any more advice please feel free to contact us, we could discuss garden furniture, cushions and outdoor fabric all day!

15th May 2015

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