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Can You Use Car Wax On Patio Furniture?

Our patio furniture is starting to look a bit tired, so can we use car wax on it to bring it back to life?

Car wax protects metal on your vehicle against corrosion, so it does the same for your metal and plastic patio furniture. However, car wax can contain polymers that damage wood, so for wood patio furniture choose paste wax that includes natural ingredients like beeswax, Carnauba wax, and orange oil.

In this article, we’ll consider the relative merits of using car wax on metal, wood, plastic, and rattan patio furniture – and give you some pointers to watch out for…

Can You Use Car Wax on Outdoor Furniture?

Yes, you can use car wax on outdoor furniture (or at least, some types of furniture, and we’ll go through those in a moment). 

Firstly, forget the word “car”. There, now it’s just “wax”, it doesn’t sound as crazy. Because that’s all you’re doing: waxing the exposed metal sections of your patio furniture.

Like a car, the metal parts of outdoor furniture are exposed to the elements and need looking after, and car wax is a great way to do this.

Can You Use Car Wax on Metal Outdoor Furniture?

Car wax is designed to protect your vehicle’s chassis from corrosion, and it also does a fine job of caring for your metal patio furniture.

Many of us have aluminum patio furniture, and we choose this because it doesn’t rust. However, it can still oxidize, which results in an unattractive pitted texture. A treatment with car wax can help prevent this.

Iron patio furniture can rust, which is why it’s super-important to treat it with something like an automobile wax. 

How do you apply car wax to your metal outdoor furniture? It’s really simple:

  • Remove cushions or covers, so they don’t get marked by the wax
  • Wash the metal parts with water and dish soap, then dry then thoroughly
  • Apply a light coat of car wax. Use it sparingly and leave it for a few moments to set
  • Gently wipe it with a soft cloth

Treat your metal furniture at the start of the season and again before winterizing it.

Can You Use Car Wax on Wooden Outdoor Furniture?

Let’s not get carried away… car wax can contain polymers that can damage wood. However, waxing wooden outdoor furniture is a good idea, as wax forms a protective barrier: just make sure you use a special wax that’s designed for wood.

If your furniture is a blend of wood and metal (some traditional-style garden benches combine both materials), you can carefully treat the exposed metal with car wax.

Can You Use Car Wax on Wicker & Rattan Outdoor Furniture?

The best way to take care of wicker and rattan furniture is with a brush, followed by a gentle clean with dish soap and water, finished off with a gentle dry. Car wax really isn’t an appropriate treatment.

But… most rattan and faux rattan furniture has a metal frame, commonly aluminum. You can carefully treat the exposed metal parts (such as the legs) with car wax, being careful not to get it on the rattan.

Can You Use Car Wax on Plastic Outdoor Furniture?

Yes, you can use car wax on plastic and resin on outdoor furniture, and it’s a good approach if the pieces are grimy or stained.

Start out with soap and water, a scrubbing brush, and the willingness to work hard. Plastic can be stubborn to clean, and you’ll need to work at it. When the plastic is washed and dry, apply a coat of car wax. It really can bring dull old plastic chairs and tables back to life.

Can you use car wax on outdoor furniture?
Can you use car wax on outdoor furniture?

Can You Use Turtle Wax on Outdoor Furniture?

Yes, because Turtle Wax is a brand of car wax, you can use it on your metal or plastic patio furniture. In fact, Turtle Wax is a good choice, as it’s light and easy to apply. 

Make sure you choose the wax-only variety. Turtle Wax and other automobile detailing brands also make a two-in-one, wax and polish compound. This is slightly abrasive, so won’t give you the lovely finish that you’re hoping for.

Can You Use WD-40 on Outdoor Furniture?

Here’s a brilliant cleaning hack for quite a lot of outdoor projects: use WD-40. It does much more around the yard than fix a squeaky gate or shed door, and it’s actually fantastic at cleaning outdoor furniture.

This is because the main ingredient in WD-40 is a petroleum-based solvent, and this should shift even the most stubborn grime. As well as cleaning metal furniture, an application of WD-40 will also add a protective layer, thanks to the lubricating agents in its formulation.

And even better, you can also use WD-40 to clean wooden patio furniture. Just please be careful around fabrics like cushions and seats, as WD-40 will mark them, and you won’t be able to get it out.

Here’s how you clean patio furniture using WD-40:

  • Remove or mask off any fabric, such as chair seat and cushions
  • Brush down the furniture to remove any loose dust, dirt, and debris
  • Squirt some WD-40 from the can onto a soft cloth
  • Apply this to the furniture, working with the grain (if applicable)
  • Buff the furniture with a clean, dry cloth

It’s always a good idea to try a new product out on an unobtrusive part of the furniture. Before you wipe WD-40 over your entire table, maybe try part of a single leg first. Like the result? Carry on with the rest.

Can You Use Beeswax on Outdoor Furniture?

Beeswax is a great treatment for your wooden outdoor furniture. It looks and smells wonderful, as well as creating a water-resistant protective layer. The wood will acquire a beautiful, rich finish, which has the added benefit of being stain-resistant.

However, it’s not the easiest wax to apply (car wax is far easier), and once it’s there, it’s very hard to remove. The stain goes deep into the wood, so you really need to commit to the finish before you start. It’s also more expensive than alternative treatments.

Don’t use beeswax for wooden furniture that goes close to your grill or BBQ, for example outdoor kitchen shelves and work surfaces. This is because it starts to melt in the heat. Probably not the best product to use on a garden bench in New Mexico either, thinking about it…

But for us, its heritage helps tip the balance in favor of beeswax. Humans have been using it for centuries to take care of their wood, and it’s always good to use a natural, non-toxic product whenever possible. If you want to know more about beeswax, watch this short film, which takes a closer look at this fine, natural wax.

What’s the Best Paste Wax for Outdoor Furniture?.

There’s a choice of different paste waxes on the market. A paste wax is a thick type of wax that you apply directly onto wooden furniture, rubbing it into the grain and then buffing it. 

Many paste waxes contain a wax that derives from Carnauba palm trees. The wax is extracted from these Brazilian trees and used for a variety of products including cosmetics. Beeswax is another example, and this is sometimes blended with Carnauba wax.

You can get a variety of pastes at homeware stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. The main thing you need to look out for is one that specifies outdoor use. That way you’ll know that it won’t be adversely affected by the sun and the rain, and is hopefully pretty robust.

One name to look out for is Howards SunShield range, which has a formulation designed to both resist rainwater, and to prevent the wood from drying out in warm, sunny conditions. It’s a blend of beeswax, Carnauba wax, and orange oil.

You can check the latest prices for the Howards SunShield range over at


So now that I’ve waxed lyrical about the relative merits of – erm – wax, it’s time for a quick recap…

You can use car wax (including Turtle Wax and WD-40) on metal and plastic outdoor furniture.

You can use organic car wax that doesn’t include harmful polymers on wooden patio furniture – such as beeswax, Carnuba wax, and orange oil.

You can’t use car wax on rattan and wicker patio furniture.

And that just about covers it – like the wax! 🙂

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >