Cleaning umbrella fabric

How to clean your outdoor umbrella fabric

Recasens acrylic canvas fabric is water and mould repellent and will last a very long time if maintained well. However, over time the accumulation of dust, pollution particles, organic plant matter, pollen and general dirt can embed itself into the fabric and shorten the life of it.

How to clean light dirt and marks from your outdoor umbrella fabric:

Although mould will not grow directly on clean acrylic canvas, as dirt and organic matter embeds itself into the fabric, mould will be able to grow on the embedded dirt and organic matter, so it is best to remove dirt before then. Keeping your umbrella canopy clean helps to give it a long life. A clean canopy also looks fantastic, affording you full enjoyment of your umbrella. Here are some tips to help your canopy look its best for many years.

Stand beneath the partially-open canopy and vigorously shake each panel in turn. This is an effective way to ‘dust’ the canopy, and is an especially good step to take in locations constantly exposed to pollen and dust; for example, a rural location.

Isolated spots of dirt such as dry bird poo can be brushed or dusted off then wiped with a damp sponge. A sponge and warm water is effective in removing many surface marks. Sunbrella also offers fabric cleaning products under their 303® label for stubborn spots.

It is a good idea to periodically give your umbrella fabric a light wash with water from a garden hose. If you use a water blaster, it must be on a gentle settling to avoid damaging the canopy fibres. Rinsing the canopy will help to dislodge and remove loose dust and dirt that has settled on the fabric before it can embed itself more deeply, whilst keeping the waterproofing in the canvas effective.

Depending on how often you use your umbrella, you may eventually need to give it a more thorough wash to remove embedded dirt or early signs of mould growth. To do this you can mix warm water and mild soap or mild dish washing liquid in a bucket. Use a soft bristled brush (or a long soft broom) to gently work this soapy water into a lather over the umbrella fabric. Focus primarily on the areas with visible dirt or stains.

Once you are finished cleaning the umbrella fabric, rinse it thoroughly with a hose until all soap residue is removed, and then air dry the fabric. If the canopy was removed from the frame, it is best to fasten the canopy back onto the umbrella frame and let it dry on the open umbrella.

If the canopy is lightly soiled and manually washing it is too big a job, you can remove the canopy from the umbrella and put it through a gentle washing machine cycle. A commercial laundromat is a great place for this if your washing machine is not big enough. Don’t allow it to be tumble-dried. Rather, take the damp canopy home, replace it on the umbrella frame, and allow it to air dry open.

How to remove heavy dirt or mould from your outdoor umbrella acrylic canvas fabric:

If you have heavy dirt or mould growth in your acrylic canvas fabric and the instructions above have not removed it, you may need to soak the canopy before repeating the above instructions. Be sure to remove any loose debris such as leaves and insect habitation before beginning.

Remove the debris-free canopy from the umbrella frame and soak the canopy in either warm or cold water with bleach, or a mix of bleach and a neutral detergent, or a laundry soaker such as “Napisan”. A good general ratio is around a cup of bleach added to a tub of warm soapy water . If using just Napisan or a similar neutral fabric soaker, follow the instructions on the package for soaking. If using bleach in the soaking water, soak for a few hours agitating the water from time to time before thoroughly rinsing. Change the water and repeat if necessary. Once soaking is finished, it is essential that the fabric is thoroughly rinsed with water to remove any bleach or detergent. A good way to do this is to put the canopy through a gentle machine wash with cold water. Once this is done, put the umbrella fabric back on to the umbrella wet and then allow to air dry.

Some final notes

The acrylic canvas fabric used by Shade7 should not fade or lose colour when using bleach (diluted with water) when cleaning. Feel free to test the bleach mixture on the canopy strap first to check that there is no colour loss. If considering using a commercial product such as a spray on-hose off product, read the label carefully to make sure solution-dyed acrylic canvas is listed as a suitable substrate.

Depending on how old the acrylic canvas is and how thoroughly it has been cleaned, you may want to re-treat the fabric with a waterproofing product like 303® Fabric Guard. This will replenish the fabric’s water repellency, causing water to bead off again and will also help to repel dirt and dust from embedding into the fabric.

Light-coloured canopies are vulnerable to staining from the buildup of dirt. If marks or discolouration still remain after cleaning, or if you suspect it is stained beyond redemption before starting,  a replacement canopy might be an option to consider.

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