Can I leave outdoor cushions in rain?

Outdoor cushions are a great way to add comfort and style to patios, decks, and other outdoor living spaces. However, outdoor cushions are exposed to the elements, including rain, which can damage them over time. So can you leave outdoor cushions out in the rain or is it best to bring them inside when wet weather hits?

Quick Answers

Here are quick answers to common questions about leaving outdoor cushions in the rain:

  • It’s best to bring outdoor cushions inside when it rains to prevent water damage and mildew growth.
  • Outdoor cushions made from weather-resistant materials like polyester and olefin can withstand some rain.
  • Cushions filled with quick-drying foam and polyester fiber will dry faster after getting wet.
  • Mold and mildew can grow on wet cushions, damaging fabrics and fillings.
  • Storing cushions in a covered area like a porch can help keep them dry in rainy weather.

Are Outdoor Cushions Meant to Get Wet?

Outdoor cushions are designed for use in outdoor spaces which inevitably means they will get wet from time to time. However, most outdoor cushions are not intended to be left out in heavy rain for extended periods.

Cushion fabrics, fillings, and inner structures can sustain damage if they get overly saturated. Prolonged moisture can lead to mold and mildew growth inside the cushions as well. So while occasional light moisture from dew or sprinkles won’t hurt outdoor cushions, it’s best to avoid leaving them soaked in heavy rainfall.

Fabric Considerations

The outer fabric of outdoor cushions plays a big role in how well the cushions stand up to rain. Some common outdoor cushion fabrics include:

  • Solution-dyed acrylic – Very water-resistant and colorfast. Can handle rain exposure well.
  • Polyester – Naturally water-repellent and quick-drying. A good rain-resistant choice.
  • Olefin – Extremely moisture-resistant and quick-drying. Great for wet conditions.
  • Cotton – Not very water-resistant. Absorbs moisture and dries slowly.
  • Sunbrella – Proprietary all-weather acrylic fabric. Excellent water resistance.

The most rain-friendly outdoor cushion fabrics are solution-dyed acrylics, polyester, and olefin, as well as specialized outdoor fabrics like Sunbrella. These synthetic fabrics have innate water resistance and are designed to dry quickly.

Cotton canvas and other natural fiber fabrics are less ideal for cushions that will get rained on. The fibers absorb water readily and take a long time to fully dry out, promoting mold growth.

Filling Material Performance

The interior filling of outdoor cushions also influences rain resistance. Common outdoor cushion fill options include:

  • Polyester fiber – Maintains loft when wet and dries quickly.
  • Polyester foam – Somewhat prone to waterlogging but dries faster than other foams.
  • Polyurethane foam – Absorbs water more readily than polyester foam. Slow to dry out.
  • Natural fibers – Absorb moisture. Takes a long time to dry fully.

Polyester fiberfill dries the fastest when wet, while other synthetic fills like polyester foam and polyurethane foam absorb some water but dry out faster than natural fibers.

Materials like cotton batting, down, and feathers are very slow to dry when wet. Bacteria and mold can grow inside natural fillings that remain damp for too long. Moisture-resistant synthetic fills are best for outdoor cushions that will get rained on.

Inner Support & Construction

The internal structure and support system of outdoor cushions also plays a role in their water resistance:

  • Closed-cell foam cores drain and dry out faster than open-cell foam.
  • Waterproof barrier fabrics help keep inner materials dry.
  • Mesh and other breathable layers allow airflow and drainage.
  • Removable covers allow the inner cushion to be taken out and dried.

Multi-layer cushion construction with weather-resistant and breathable materials allows for better water drainage. Cushions with impermeable cores and removable covers are easiest to air out and dry when wet.

Risks of Leaving Cushions Wet

Even with weather-resistant fabrics and fills, leaving cushions soaked by heavy rains can cause a number of issues over time including:

  • Mold and mildew – Wet fabrics and fill provide ideal conditions for mold and mildew to grow, especially on natural materials.
  • Deformation – Prolonged moisture can misshape cushion cores and cause fills to become lumpy.
  • Fading – Some fabric dyes, especially darker colors, can fade faster when exposed to moisture and sunlight.
  • Staining – Dirt carried by rain can leave stains as it seeps into fabric.
  • Breakdown – Excessive moisture deteriorates materials faster, shortening cushion life.

For best results, cushions should be brought inside or kept under cover during rainy weather to prevent excess moisture exposure whenever possible.

Tips for Protecting Outdoor Cushions in Rain

If you can’t bring all your cushions inside when it rains, here are some tips to minimize water damage:

  • Invest in water-resistant fabric and quick-drying fills like polyester fiber or foam.
  • Check weather forecasts daily and bring cushions in ahead of rain when possible.
  • Store cushions tilted on end or upright to allow drainage.
  • Use covered porches, patios, and decks to shield some cushions.
  • Remove cushion covers after rain so interior fill can dry out.
  • Rotate and flip cushions to expose all sides to air circulation.
  • Allow cushions a day or two to fully dry before reusing or recovering.
  • Clean and disinfect cushions periodically to prevent mold growth.

Taking proactive steps to minimize moisture and allow for proper drying can help extend the life of outdoor cushions exposed to rainy weather.

Are Waterproof Cushion Covers Effective?

Waterproof cushion covers and fabrics provide an added layer of protection against rain. Options include:

  • Vinyl – Completely waterproof and very durable but can be hot and noisy.
  • Acrylic – Woven acrylic fabric resists moisture and is more breathable.
  • Polyurethane – Polyurethane-coated fabrics repel water well but reduce airflow.

Waterproof cushion covers keep the inner cushion drier than regular fabric. But condensation can still form inside waterproof outer covers when humidity and heat build up.

It’s important to check inner cushions for dampness and allow them to fully dry out periodically when using waterproof covers. Combining waterproof covers with quick-drying inner cushion materials provides the best wet weather protection.

Caring for Wet Outdoor Cushions

If your outdoor cushions do happen to get soaked in the rain, here are some tips for drying them out:

  • Remove cushion covers immediately so interior fill can dry.
  • Stand cushions on end or prop open to improve airflow.
  • Move cushions to a dry covered location out of sunlight.
  • Rotate and fluff cushions daily to expose all areas.
  • Allow 2-3 days for thorough drying before recovering.
  • Vacuum dried cushions to fluff filling before reuse.
  • Discard cushions with mold or mildew growth.

With proper care and drying, most outdoor cushions can recover after getting caught in the rain once in awhile. But repeated soaking will accelerate deterioration of even weather-resistant materials.

Can You Put Wet Cushions in Storage?

It’s not recommended to put cushions into storage while still wet. Enclosed storage blocks airflow and prevents proper drying. Trapped moisture leads to mold and mildew growth in storage.

Here are some tips for handling wet cushions before storage:

  • Never store cushions wet or even slightly damp.
  • Remove covers to allow interior fill to fully air dry.
  • Prop cushions upright and rotate periodically while drying.
  • Use fans, dehumidifiers, or heat as needed to accelerate drying.
  • Allow at least 2-3 dry sunny days before storing.
  • Vacuum dried cushions to restore loft before storing.

With some time and care taken to thoroughly dry cushions after rains, wet weather doesn’t have to cut the outdoor cushion season short. Just be sure to check forecasts and have a wet weather plan in place to protect your cushions.


Outdoor cushions can withstand occasional light rains, dew, and sprinkles thanks to weather-resistant fabrics and synthetic fills. But prolonged soaking in heavy rains can lead to mold, mildew, deformation, and faster deterioration.

For best results, outdoor cushions should be brought inside or kept covered when heavy rains are forecast. Quick-drying materials like polyester and specially designed breathable constructions allow some cushions to handle more moisture. But all cushions need a chance to fully dry out after getting wet before being put into use or storage.

With some preventative care and proper drying when needed, outdoor cushion can provide comfort and decor all season long, rain or shine.

Leave a Comment