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We have a set of patio furniture with a steel frame, but a loosely woven cloth seating surface. Since we live in a very wooded area, a chair was recently dive-bombed. I have a bucket and scrub-brush - should I use laundry detergent, or something stronger or is there a preferred product or method?

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Laundry detergent and dish soap should both be find. –  Adam Davis Jun 21 '12 at 15:35
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I think I would stay away from soaps that suds up a lot since it will make rinsing more difficult. A general around-the-house cleaner should do the trick just fine - you can even use a mixture of vinegar and water.

The sooner you clean it off the better as bird droppings tend to eat away at materials over time (they will even etch car paint!)

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+1 I can attest to the car paint damage, having left my car unwashed for a while, only to find the clear coat was damaged –  Dolan Antenucci Jun 21 '12 at 19:30
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