Published on 10/06/16

Cleaning favorite summer fun items before storing them away

By MaryBeth Hornbeck

Summer comes with its own set of toys and tools to maximize fun and adventure. Beach days, camping trips and even time on the patio require towels, sleeping bags, cushions and more. Now that fall has arrived, it’s a good time for a thorough cleaning to make sure these items will last through the winter and be ready to use next spring.

Follow these tips from the American Cleaning Institute and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension to get all your favorite things ready for storage. Nobody wants to be surprised by musty linens and smelly toys when it’s time for summer fun next year!

Sleeping bags: If you spent any time on the beach, your sleeping bag may have quite a bit of sand on, and in, it. Start by turning the bag inside out and drying out any dampness. Then shake the bag and vacuum any remaining residue from the surface. Once it’s sand-free, wash it according to the care label on the bag, as there are many different materials used to make sleeping bags.

Musty beach towels: Nothing is worse than a smelly, musty towel. To counteract this, wash towels in the hottest water setting that’s safe for the fabric. Most of the time, fabric softener is not recommended for towels as it can coat the fibers and reduce their absorbing power. However, for beach towels, it’s OK to add a small amount of fabric softener to the final rinse. Machine dry them thoroughly. Avoid overloading the washer or dryer to ensure thorough cleaning and drying.

Flannel-backed plastic tablecloths: After each use, the plastic side of tablecloths should be wiped with a soapy sponge to clean the surface well. To wash the whole tablecloth, place it in the washing machine and use the gentle cycle. Dry on the delicate cycle for 15 minutes; any longer and the vinyl could be damaged. Hang the tablecloth to finish drying.

Patio furniture: In humid areas, it’s common for resin furniture to get some mold and mildew over the summer season. Resin and plastic furniture can be cleaned with mild detergent and water. Bleach and abrasive powders are not necessary or recommended. For outdoor cushions, use liquid dish soap and lukewarm water to spot clean acrylic, polyester and cotton fabrics. Rinse the furniture with water and air dry.

Muddy sneakers: Hiking, biking and many other outdoor activities leave sneakers very dirty. Let mud dry completely, then take the shoes outside and clap the soles together to remove any big chunks of dry mud. Then, clean sneakers with a toothbrush and a mixture of warm water and dishwashing liquid. If there are stubborn stains, use a nylon pad. Wipe the sneakers with a wet paper towel or damp sponge, then let them air dry. Stuff paper towels inside the shoes to absorb excess moisture.

Plastic pool toys: These toys get a lot of love over the summer! Wash them with warm water and soap, then let them soak for five minutes in a solution of bleach and water — ¾ cup bleach in 1 gallon of water. Let the toys dry thoroughly before storing them in a closed container to keep dirt and dust away over the winter months.

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MaryBeth Hornbeck is the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension family and consumer sciences agent in Rockdale County.

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