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How to Clean Awnings Fabric

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Fabric awnings need thorough cleaning at least once a year. While you can spot clean them or hose off any noticeable dirt every once in a while, eventually they’ll need a deeper cleaning. Don’t worry, you can learn how to clean awnings fabric yourself in a few simple steps.

How to Clean Awnings Fabric

You can clean awnings fabric even with basic tools. You won’t even need a pressurized hose. However, some heavily stained awnings might take longer to clean.

Before You Start 

When cleaning, you should pay attention to the type of awnings fabric that you have. Some materials like polypropylene need a more delicate type of cleaning than other types.  The size of the awnings and type of material also determines whether an awning fabric is suitable for machine wash or not.

House with clean awnings fabric

Before you start cleaning, make sure to prepare the following:

  • mild dish soap
  • hose
  • bucket
  • brush 
  • ladder and brush with a long handle (for awnings and canopies installed in high areas)

Once you’ve determined the type of fabric you have and gather all the materials, there are basically two ways to clean awnings: you can clean while it is attached to its frame or remove it from the frame before you start cleaning.

Wash The Awning’s Fabric

Wash the awning fabric during fine weather when you can. This helps speed up the drying process and avoids the bad odor. Also, try to separate the awning from the frame to make cleaning easier.

Here steps on how to wash fabric awnings:

  1. Don’t forget to remove all loose dirt including twigs, leaves, and other debris from the fabric. Remove all webs as well. They can be more difficult to get rid of once they are wet. Also, this is the best time to examine the awnings for any stained spots and damage.
  2. Lay the fabric flat on the ground if you can remove it from its frame. Make sure to choose an area where water would flow away from the fabric. Alternatively, hang it on a sturdy fence where you could easily brush and reach all areas. 
  3. Rinse the awnings with clean water first. Use a hose or dump a bucket of water to remove as much dirt and particles as possible. Doing so will help preserve the quality of the cleaning solution.
  4. Fill a bucket with warm water and add a small amount of dish soap. Mix well until the solution forms just the right amount of bubbles.
  5. Soak the brush in the cleaning solution, let it soak for a while, and then scrub the fabric carefully. 
  6. Brush the fabric in sections while paying more attention to stained spots. Use a brush with a long handle if you’re cleaning awnings attached to their frame. 
  7. Don’t forget to clean the underside of the awning, too. Use the same brush to remove stains and dirt.
  8. Rinse the awnings with running water. You can use a bucket or a hose for this. It is better to hang the fabric when you rinse so that dirty water would flow down and avoid leaving dirty streaks on the fabric.
  9. Hang the awning’s fabric and leave it to dry completely.
  10. Reinstall the fabric awning back to its original place.

Tip: You might not be able to remove all the stains in one wash. Repeat washing if necessary or use a different cleaning product. Just remember to do a fabric test to check for any harsh effects.

Cleaning the Awning Frame

The awning frame is an overlooked component of the supplemental roof that needs cleaning, too. Clean the frame at the same time while the awning fabric is drying to make the most of your time. You can even clean the frame using the same soap and water solution, a sponge, and dry cloth.

  1. Soak the sponge in the water-soap solution before scrubbing all areas of the frame.
  2. Don’t forget to check for any signs of damage like rust and paint chipping as you clean. Schedule another day to refinish the metal frame using the right paint.
  3. After scrubbing, rinse the frame using the hose.
  4. Wipe the surface of the frame with a dry cloth before reinstalling the awning’s fabric. 
Red and white awnings fabric

How to Remove Stains and Molds on Awnings Fabric

Awnings get 24/7 exposure against the elements. They accumulate almost all kinds of dirt and particles, from dried leaves to sap to bird droppings. Despite this, cleaning is rarely a priority for most people. However, this dirt build-up can stain the fabric and even develop some mold.

Remove molds using natural ingredients at home or by using a store-bought cleaning product. Some people do not use bleach for stains and mold and mildew, while others are completely okay with using bleach. 

Regardless of which procedure you will use, always consider the type of awnings fabric that you have. Also, check for tags or any instructions for cleaning. This is one way to avoid damage.

Use Multi-Surface or Fabric Cleaners for Molds and Stains in the Fabric

You would not know exactly how chemicals and ingredients in a cleaning product would affect an awnings fabric. In fact, some cleaning products also contain ingredients that are harmful to health.

The safest way to use any cleaning product is to do a fabric test first. Then, follow the instructions for use indicated on the label.

Also, note that some cleaning products are effective in removing specific stains only or for use on a specific type of material only. Some products should be applied directly to the stained area, while others should be diluted in water.

Do a Fabric Test

Always do a fabric test if it is your first time to use a product. Some products may be too harsh or contain a specific ingredient that can discolor or weaken the fabric strands. Perhaps it’s safe to do a fabric test even when using vinegar since it contains acetic acid.

To do a fabric test, simply apply a small amount of the cleaning solution to a hidden area of the fabric like the seams. Leave it there for a few minutes before checking for any signs of damage. If the fabric changes in color or the fabric feels different, then it may not be good to use on your awnings.

Use Vinegar to Remove Stains and Molds In The Frame

Unfortunately, the longer the stains linger on the fabric, the more difficult it gets to remove them. You can try making a vinegar cleaning solution to remove stains on your awnings. This solution is safe to use on most types of awning fabrics, yet, it’s best to do a fabric test first.

You can only use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar for cleaning surfaces. Other types would either stain the fabric or not clean at all. 

Here are the things you will need to make the vinegar cleaning solution:

  • 1 gallon of warm water
  • 1 quart distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup mild dish soap
Commercial establishment with awnings fabric

Instructions:

  1. Mix water, vinegar, and dish soap in a bucket.
  2. Soak the brush in the solution to accumulate the liquid. 
  3. Scrub the surface of the fabric thoroughly while paying more attention to the stained areas.
  4. Let the solution sit on the fabric for 20 minutes or longer to weaken the stain structure.
  5. Scrub again to remove all remaining dirt and stains.
  6. Hose off to remove soap and dirt.
  7. Let the awnings dry under direct sunlight.

How to Care for Fabric Awnings

With proper and recurrent maintenance, awnings will keep their nice appearance for a long time. Clean awnings will make any residential or commercial property look good. More than that, you avoid the risks of permanent damage which would later translate to fabric awnings replacement.

Here are some tips on how to care for fabric awnings so they remain clean and last longer.

Deep Clean Once A Year

The frequency usually depends on a lot of things. Residential awnings can wait for up to a year before a thorough wash. However, commercial awnings usually accumulate dust and stains sooner that they need more frequent cleaning.

Fabric awnings installed near the road are usually exposed to pollution, whereas those installed under trees would often gather leaves, twigs, sap, and bird droppings. You can determine when an awning needs general cleaning by how it looks.

Spot Clean To Avoid Stains And Dirt Buildup

Ignoring dirt on the awnings will leave stains eventually. They become harder to remove with time. Stains will only make the work more difficult and take longer when cleaning time comes. 

Spot clean when possible. At least, don’t leave those twigs, leaves, and other loose dirt lingering on the fabric. Use a broom with a long handle to reach the awning and get rid of dirt.

Don’t Forget To Clean The Underside

Do not take the underside of awnings for granted. This part needs cleaning, too, even though they are hidden from sight. 

Keep The Frame Clean

Wipe the frame as often as necessary. Watch out for any signs of paint damage and rust for metal frames and address them as soon as possible. For wooden frames, make sure you know how to waterproof wood.

Conclusion

You can clean fabric awnings using basic tools and a home-made or store-bought cleaner. Don’t let stains linger for too long because they become harder to clean. Always use a cleaning product according to the label instructions and perform a patch test first to avoid any damage to the awning fabric.

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.