Guide on How to Clean an Outdoor Statue

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Guide on How to Clean an Outdoor Statue

Outdoor lawn ornaments, statues, and water features such as cherub statues or bird baths can add character to your garden and serve several purposes. They can be used to memorialize a significant person, honor a cultural tradition, or simply enhance the overall look of your garden. However, these outdoor statues are vulnerable to dirt, debris, and mold that can invade our lawns and gardens. To keep them looking as good as new, it’s important to clean them regularly.

The cleaning process for outdoor statues depends on the material they are made of. Stone-like figures are usually made from polyresin or cement, while wood is another popular choice for outdoor pieces. For statues made of polyresin, cement, and wood, a gentle spray with a garden hose can remove surface-level debris. However, marble and bronze statues require a much gentler cleaning protocol as they are more susceptible to damage. It’s important to identify the material of your outdoor statues to determine the best cleaning process.

While outdoor statues can create a peaceful and serene ambiance in your yard, learning how to care for them is crucial to maintaining their aesthetic appeal.

Clean the surface of outdoor statues with dish soap and water

Cleaning outdoor statue

glebchik/Shutterstock

You’ll want to prepare for the job of cleaning outdoor statues by gathering the following materials: a garden hose, soft cloth, and dish soap. Depending on the statue’s material, you may also want to use bleach, a soft bristle brush, and weatherproofing sealant. To start, use lukewarm water to spray or wipe the statue clean. Once you’ve removed any surface-level debris, apply a dollop of dish soap to the statue or rag to scrub off any lingering dirt. Be sure not to brush too harshly if you use a soft bristle brush — use a firm but gentle grip to make short strides across each section of the statue.

If the weather is warm, you may allow the statue to air dry overnight. During colder weather, gently wipe the statue clean to ensure water droplets don’t freeze overnight.

For mold and mildew (which outdoor statues are quick to harbor), the protocol is slightly different. For starters, you’ll want to mix 3 quarts of warm water, 1 quart of bleach, and ⅓ cup of dish soap to create a sudsy solution that you’ll use to wash the statue. Use your rag or soft bristle brush to make circular motions across the statue, opting for a toothbrush to reach delicate cracks and crevices. Once the statue has been cleaned, use a garden hose or wet rag to wash off any remaining soap.

Protect outdoor statues with weatherproofing sealant

Workers cleaning statue

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Like most items around the outside of your home, outdoor statues require upkeep if you want to prevent future issues. One way to do this is by weatherproofing — the process of making certain materials resistant to water, rain, and any additional environmental damage. This is a great way to protect outdoor statues if there are often harsh weather conditions where you live.

Depending on the material your outdoor statue is made of, a concrete, marble, or wood sealant can help protect the product at hand. Wait until the statue is completely dry before going in with a coat of your selected sealant. Finish the project by rubbing a wax seal across the statue to prevent rust and add a shiny top coat.

You’ll want to keep an eye on your outdoor statues since it’s natural for them to get dirty, rusty, and corroded over time. For example, start each season by inspecting the area around your outdoor decor and ensuring that there are no water, weeds, or debris collecting around the area. On days when the weather is unpredictable, placing a protective wrapping — such as burlap — on top of each statue will lessen the effects of rain, wind, and snow. As long as you remain vigilant, your outdoor statues shouldn’t be cause for worry.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.