How to Clean and Store Your Summer Gear

Wooden chair cleaning with high pressure water jet

When summer begins to wind down and the chill days of autumn arrive, it’s not just time to break out the leaf rakes. It’s also time to clean up and store your summer gear to keep it safe from damage, mildew, and other issues over the winter. Leaving patio furniture out over the winter is not recommended in many areas, not just because of winter snowfall. Even just the extra sun exposure during the months when the furniture isn’t in use can lead to faded or damaged patio chairs. Make sure all your summer seasonal gear is ready for winter with this simple guide.

Patio Furniture and Grills

A grill is getting cleaned by a woman after a barbecue with a sponge.

You may wish for one last relaxing afternoon on your favorite patio furniture, but once temperatures drop, it’s likely to go unused until next spring. Letting patio chairs, benches, tables, and other furnishings, like umbrellas and ottomans, sit outside will unnecessarily fade the furniture. Keep your furniture looking good, especially if there are any cushions or upholstered materials, by cleaning the furniture and storing it in a garage or other enclosed area. If no storage space is available, use thick canvas covers to keep sunlight and moisture off the furniture. Check the manufacturer’s documentation for the patio furniture to learn how to best clean the pieces based on the materials they’re made from. Wicker patio sets will need different handling than powder-coated metal.

The grill can’t sit out without cleaning and some kind of cover, either. Moving it into the garage is a good choice, but before you do, you’ll still need to thoroughly clean it and disconnect the propane tank. Charcoal grills need any charcoal and ash removed, a scrubbing with a nylon brush, and a thin coat of vegetable oil across the inner surface to prevent rust. For a propane grill, brush the racks down and set them aside. Disconnect the inner gas tubes according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Spray it with a grill cleaning spray, then rinse it clean and let it dry. Coat it with vegetable oil to prevent rust, then store it wrapped in plastic or paper to keep insects from trying to nest in the tube. Remember to reinstall the gas tube in the summer when it’s time to grill again.

Pool and Beach Gear

Colorful Inflatable Pool Floats in a storage box on the Swimming Pool Deck

Deflate the floats and inflatable toys after giving them a quick rinse with the garden hose. Once they’re dry, pack them up in bags and keep them inside. More solid gear, like foam noodles and pool vacuums with long hoses, will need racks on the wall to keep them up and out of the way. Everything from the pool or beach should only require a good rinsing and drying before being stored out of the sun. If you notice any dirt or debris stuck on the gear, try brushing it off with mild dish soap and a soft-bristled brush before rinsing.

Lawn and Garden Equipment

View from inside storage shed as Caucasian man in late 60s wearing casual clothing and work gloves selects tool from hook on door.

With lithium batteries or gasoline powering these tools, it’s important to store everything correctly when it’s not going to be used for a few months. Remove any batteries and store them in a dry, cool environment that stays above freezing but is separate from the home. Gas-powered lawn and garden equipment should have its fuel either drained or stabilized with an additive before storage. Change out spark plugs and air filters as needed as well to make sure the equipment is ready to start on the first try next spring.


A young male mechanic cleaning the spokes and chain on a bicycle.

Bikes can rust and seize up when they’re just rolled into the garage or basement for the winter. Clean the bike from top to bottom, rinsing off dust and road debris so it can’t encourage corrosion. Remove the seat and handlebars, giving them an extra scrub and storing them separately in a well-ventilated area to prevent mildew. Avoid pressure washing, but use a strong stream from a garden hose to help loosen stuck-on mud. Replace worn handlebar tape and wipe down the tires with a rubber treatment. Give the gears and chain a thorough cleaning and fully lubricate them. This helps protect from rust through the winter and prepares the bike for next year’s use. Keep the tires inflated over the winter to protect the rims or remove them for storage. Watch out for moisture levels in the storage area and consider raising the bike for storage to prevent tire flat spots.

Hiking Gear

water drops on tarpaulin surface and beautiful purple color effect. shiny and wet banner material

The durable fabrics used for hiking packs, tents, sleeping bags, and even clothing aren’t always made for easy cleaning. Yet all these devices easily grow mildew when stored even a little damp after the hiking season ends. When there’s still some warmth and dry air available at the end of summer, spread out all your gear and do a thorough cleaning process. Most hiking gear needs dry cleaning methods, so check with the manufacturer of each piece of gear to determine how to clean them correctly without damaging waterproofing or insulating effects. At the very least, air out all the gear, spot clean any dirt and let everything dry fully before storage. Keep hiking gear out of the sun and in the driest possible storage area, although cold temperatures are not usually a problem.

Summer gear can quickly fill up a garage or storage shed. Consider extending your home’s storage area with a quick backyard shed project to ensure there’s always somewhere to put seasonal gear.

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.