The terrace in my London garden, containing some furniture provided in exchange for coverage by John Lewis Partnership. All credits & links are at the end of the post. Apart from the dog; she wasn’t a gift with purchase.

I spent an hour or two yesterday, between cleaning the bathroom, working, and walking Lettice, trying to make the garden look a little less weather-beaten as we come out of the winter and approach warmer days. Whilst my summer garden – designed to be an extension of the house, is my pride and joy, I think it is fair to say that it looked very revolting by this weekend. (Catch up on the story of transforming the garden here.)

Quite apart from the mountain of dog poo which had accumulated, there was leaf detritus everywhere from the huge ash tree that towers over all of our gardens, umpteen gnawed marrow bones in the flower beds, and a disgusting amount of bird shit, green algae and general gunk seemingly perma-adhered to these once pristine cream canvas seat and sofa cushions.

This is just how revolting the covers were after a winter of being accidentally left to the elements. (Sitting soaking in the bath.)

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I did buy an excellent heavy duty tarpaulin to pull over all during the winter months, but inevitably the rain seeped under because I didn’t secure it properly.

So yesterday I started Mission: Tackle the Garden. The canvas covers were extremely stiff and almost impossible to remove from the inner cushions. Upon examination the labels said quite clearly DO NOT WASH, but although they have been easily brushable over the preceding two summers, by now they clearly needed more of an intervention.

Lettice was clearly Not Much Help. For a dog with extremely short legs, I am constantly surprised by her mountaineering skills. It’s as though she is part mountain goat. Once the cushions covers had been wrestled into submission it was time to get serious.

So here is my trial and error arsenal. Firstly, I soaked everything in a bucket (3 covers per bucketload) with half a bottle of Vanish Fabric Stain Remover ()xy Action Liquid for a couple of hours. Then I hefted everything into the bath, added half a tub of Astonish Oxy Plus Active, filled the bath with cold water to just over the tops of the covers and left them to soak overnight.

The next morning I let the water out, and sprayed everything liberally with Dettol Mould & Mildew remover. An hour or so later, I washed three covers at a time in the washing machine on a 60C cotton hot wash, using a generous slug of Aldi’s Almat Bio Detergent, another hefty scoop of Astonish, and a packer of Dr Beckmann Glowhite which I had found under the kitchen sink, and which I figured couldn’t harm, and might help. (Here’s a link to the Amazon page I’ve created for this story.)

To be frank, I wasn’t expecting a miracle, and presumed that most of the marks would remain, so I was extremely pleased to see this result after the first batch came out of the machine.

I line dried everything as UV light always helps with the bleaching process.

Those very stiff canvas covers became very soft and pliable like normal fabric post-washing. I am presuming that this is because the canvas was treated to repel water. This is also why I washed everything on a very hot wash because I presumed it would need to wash off the protectant.

My plan is to now spray the covers with a fabric waterproofer once they are bone dry – this is the one I have ordered from Amazon and, with luck, within days my garden will look like this again.


The entire John Lewis St Ives Collection is here

John Lewis & Partners St Ives Garden Lounging Chair (Press sample)
John Lewis & Partners St Ives 2-Seater Garden Lounging Sofa (Press sample)
H&M Striped Canvas Cushions. Mine were last year – this season’s here (Bought)
Carpetright Waterproof Outdoor Carpet: Out of stock but similar here (Bought)
IKEA KROKHOLMEN Outdoor Coffee Table (Bought)
Argos Water Repellent 2m Garden Parasol (Bought)
Wilko: Garden Canes & Terracotta Pots (Bought)

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A miracle! Congratulations! They look great.


It’s all about the small gains at the moment! I have to do routine stuff like this or I’ll go bonkers

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