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How To Maintain and Clean Your Awning

DO NOT attempt to pressure wash your awning or canopy before reading this.

Fabric (canvas or vinyl) awnings very commonly have their maintenance neglected. As with most things, preventative measures are required to keep your covering looking and operating its best.

Often, it is only noticed that an awning requires attention after it is already too late to bring it back to its original condition. There are some things that can be done to restore a battered awning, however, it is much less labor intensive and more economical to implement this as part of an ongoing maintenance schedule. Doing this will prolong the life of the covering and avoid premature failure in the fabric or other components of the awning.

Below are a few keys to maintaining awning appeal and effectiveness:

Never pressure wash

As attractive as this solution may appear for its availability and ease when there’s a green coating of mildew on your awning DO NOT pressure wash vinyl or canvas coverings. Doing this will strip off the manufacturer’s embedded protective coating and drive dust, dirt and mildew deeper into the woven material. After an awning has been pressure washed there is nothing that can be done to revive the substrate aside from a re-cover.

Always use a gentle detergent and a soft bristle brush.

At Awnings West, we use a specialized detergent, however, regular laundry detergent, diluted with water at approximately 10:1, water to detergent, will remove most natural soiling that occurs. A more specialized product may be required in unique circumstances (eg. Pitch from trees, sediment from diesel fumes, etc.)

We recommend cleaning awnings every six months; the following is the simplest and most effective way to clean your awning:

Awning cleaning steps:

1. Ensure site, ladder and fall safety measures are implemented prior to beginning any awning work.

2. Rinse heavy debris and wet entire awning with regular hose at city supply pressure.

3. Apply detergent with sprayer to area to be cleaned. Do this in manageable sized sections - if the detergent dries on the awning, it becomes hard to scrub and harder to rinse.

4. Use a soft bristled brush (similar to a car brush) to scrub area and lift out embedded dirt, mold, mildew and water lines.

5. Rinse thoroughly.

6. Repeat as necessary.

Stubborn stains and dirt (ONLY on Sunbrella covered awnings):

Sunbrella’s material, regardless of colour, can be bleached, lightly. If stains on an awning are not coming out through the steps described above, try mixing:

¼ cup Detergent

1 cup Bleach

4 Litres Water

…repeat the above steps with bleach solution.

Note: If you are not sure if your awning material is a Sunbrella product, call a professional before using bleach. It is recommended to use the bleach mixture as more of a spot treatment or lightly across the entire surface of the awning. Although, Sunbrella can guarantee this mixture will not damage their substrate, the thread used to sew the awning may be affected by prolonged exposure.

Re-apply protective coating

This should be done after every cleaning to maximize the life and look of any awning. There are a few options available to seal and protect your covering, speak with a representative from Awnings West to find out which product makes the most sense for your application.

Always get professionals to install recovers.

When the time comes to replace a cover, either by way of time or rebranding, make sure you get qualified professionals to install for you. There are many cheap ways to reface an awning (paint covers, screw rather than staple fabric, not properly wrap corners, permanently remove frame components for ease of wrapping, etc.) but these are temporary fixes that may result in making it more difficult to fix in the future or could damage the structural integrity of the covering. It is always better to have this work done properly so the awning looks professional and is safe.

If the above steps are followed and a quality substrate has been used, a business or individual can generally expect to enjoy an attractive and effective awning covering for 10+ years without having to replace.

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