We've put this guide together to help make sure your wooden playhouse or mud kitchen stays beautiful and healthy. It only takes a little TLC to keep them looking new and inviting all year round.
With a little cleaning here and there, a tiny bit of maintenance and protection from the weather, your playhouse or mud kitchen will be treasured by your little ones for many years to come.
Using a wood preserverThe base-stain we use to treat our playhouses and mud kitchens includes a mould inhibitor and UV protection, and the wood is heat treated during production to increase durability and prevent unwelcome guests such as termites and insects from inviting themselves in, but it's really important that you treat your playhouse to a coat of preserver on assembly and annually to prevent weathering.
Changes in temperature, moisture in the air, the sun and rain can all affect the natural wood. Treating the surface of the wood with a preserver will protect the wood from these elements. Without a preserver, the wood can dry out in a less controlled manner, which can then cause the wood to shrink, expand and in turn crack, splinter and warp. This is true of any wooden structure that's used in the garden, whether it's a garden fence, shed or decking; these are natural products that need to be protected.
This treatment will also make sure that any colour stain or coloured paint that has been used on the playhouse will remain vibrant and beautiful. If the surface of the wood is not treated with a preserver, weathering will cause the colour stains or paints to fade over time.
So, sparing a few minutes to treat your playhouse or mud kitchen will make sure that the wood stays healthy, vibrant and ready for lots of imaginative play with your little ones!
Be sure to also read the instructions specific to your product for information on maintenance.
Which preserver should you use?
First of all, make sure that the wood preserver you choose is suitable for exterior wood. It should tell you if it's suitable on the tin, but if you have any concerns your local DIY shop will be happy to help. There are different kinds of wood treatments available, including preserver stains, transparent sealers or paints with preserver.
To preserve the look and feel of the natural wood you might choose a transparent wood preserver - this will protect the playhouse or wood kitchen from the elements. Or to personalise your playhouse or mud kitchen you could apply a coat of wood stain in a colour of your choice and then once it's dry apply a transparent wood preserver over it. For creative inspiration head over to our Instagram page where many of our customers have shared their beautiful creations!
Rather than following the two stage process - stain and then preserve - you could choose to use a 2-in-1 coloured wood preserver. However sometimes this can prove more costly.
Using the wood preserver should only take a few minutes each time, but will provide many years worth of exciting play for the children!
Waterproofing Your Playhouse
While our playhouses feature very thick wood, they're not designed to be completely air-tight and waterproof. They're designed for children so there will be little safety gaps under the doors and between window shutters to keep little fingers safe, so a little rain water may come inside, but the playhouse is designed to withstand this and quickly dries out. So we don't recommend using the playhouses as storage units.
If you'd like to make the roof more watertight for heavier rain showers, try adding a silicone sealant along the grooves of the roof. Do this on the inside of both panels with one that dries clear. This won't affect the look of your playhouse but will give it that extra bit of rain protection.
Cleaning your playhouseWhen your playhouse is being used regularly it is likely to start to become a little grubby over time, especially during the winter months when it is damp in the garden and the children are running in and out! So how can you keep it clean and tidy?
If properly taken care of, a wooden playhouse should only really need to be cleaned a couple of times a year (depending on how muddy the garden has been through the year and how much of this has been walked in!). The type of wood and any stains or sealants used can affect the types of cleaning products that are best to use, but choosing a more natural and gentle cleaning method is ideal for most outdoor wooden products.
Firstly, it is best to sweep inside the house and around the windows, removing any unwelcome cobwebs or spiders in a kind and considerate way! This will prevent any dust build up and remove larger bits of dirt or leaves that have managed to get inside.
For a gentle clean, simply use a soft bristle brush and warm water to scrub away any dirt or grime. This is a friendlier alternative to bleach and chemicals, so it's safe for the little ones to start playing immediately after cleaning and treating! This is the best method of cleaning if you wish to simply maintain your playhouse by cleaning it a couple of times a year rather than completely recovering a playhouse after years of no use!
If your playhouse needs lots of TLC, use a gentle cleaning solution with warm water and rub away the dirt with a soft bristle brush. Then wipe over with a damp cloth to remove any excess mixture or dirt residue.
After cleaning, especially if only cleaning once a year, it is recommended to give the playhouse a new fresh coat of wood preserver. Please allow the playhouse to dry fully prior to giving it the fresh coat of wood preserver. Any wooden product left damp, or in a humid, shady area for long periods of time is susceptible to rotting and mildew. If the playhouse isn't too big, it's a good idea to have a plastic cover for those rainy days to help prevent natural weathering, and build it in a position with good sunlight for at least a portion of the day if possible.
Cleaning Plastic Playhouse WindowsPlastic windows on a children's playhouse might get a little smeary from time to time, living outdoors all year round and being thoroughly enjoyed by little ones, so they might need a little TLC from time to time.
Playhouses often feature plastic windows to give the appearance of real windows for imaginative play while offering a safe and secure alternative to glass. Having fitted windows also protects the playhouse from little inhabitants who may otherwise try to settle in by finding their way in through unfilled windows!
Plastic windows are much easier to clean than real glass windows, so it won't feel like you've doubled your window cleaning requirements.
To keep these windows clean and clear, we have three really quick and simple methods. (Of course you can mix and match all three if you like.)
These methods leave the windows completely grime-free and are very gentle so little ones can even join in and learn how to look after their home.
Soap and water mixWe all have washing-up liquid in our homes so this is a convenient method that doesn't require a shopping trip. Dish detergent breaks down grime quickly so it's perfect for removing those greasy prints left from little fingers! This will also wash away dirt and dust quickly and efficiently.
- Mix up a bubbly mixture of warm water and a bit of washing-up liquid in a bucket
- Use a sponge to wipe down the windows (rubbing in circular motions to lift more stubborn marks)
- Use a damp cloth to wipe away excess bubbles and loose dirt using water
- Use a dry cloth to wipe away any faint smears left from the detergent
Baking soda and water mixA baking soda and water mixture effectively lifts dirt and grime and is odourless, so you don't need to put up with any funny smells while cleaning your little one's playhouse. House cleaning products or even more natural ingredients like vinegar can smell quite strong, so this is a quick and pleasant mixture to use.
- Use a damp cloth to quickly remove loose bits of dirt or dust
- Mix three parts baking soda to one part water in a mixing bowl
- Mix into a paste - the consistency should be quite thick
- Apply some of the paste to the plastic window using a sponge or cloth
- Rub in a circular motion
- Use a toothbrush and more paste to brush the hard-to-reach joins between the window and frame
- Use a damp cloth to wipe away the excess mixture and loose grime
Vinegar and water mixA vinegar and water mixture breaks down grease and grime very quickly and removes mildew. It's also brilliant for removing water stains left from rain showers. The thin consistency makes it perfect for use in a spray bottle and it's very effective so you don't need much, making it quick and convenient to clean the windows without any mess.
- Mix one part vinegar with one part water in a clean spray bottle
- Spray the mixture generously onto the window
- Use the sponge to wipe the window in a circular motion
- Spray the mixture again, this time into the edges and corners of the window
- Use the toothbrush to clean those hard-to-reach edges and corners where the window and frame joins
- Use your dry cloth to wipe away any excess mixture