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Homeowner’s Guide to Awning Cleaning: Tips and Techniques for Every Type of Awning

Homeowner's Guide to Awning Cleaning: Tips and Techniques for Every Type of Awning

You want to get the most out of your awning, so cleaning it is naturally a part of maintaining it and extending your awning’s longevity. Depending on the material, you should strive to clean your awning at least once every one to two months. This will prevent buildup, making it easier to maintain over time. 

How to clean awnings depends on the type and materials. We’ll discuss that in more detail below. 

Awning Types and Materials

Awnings come in different shapes and sizes and have specific functions depending on where you use them. Window and door awnings specifically cover windows and doors for added protection from the sun and rain. Patios and porches are great for awning coverage since they’re exposed areas that receive more light based on the direction they face. Solar shades are similar but used externally on windows to block the sun, while pergola canopy shades are motorized and function the same way retractable awnings do. 

Other awnings include freestanding and vertical drops. Freestanding awnings are independent structures, separate from buildings, while vertical drops are automated to cover windows with the touch of a remote-controlled button. Some materials awnings are manufactured in include:

  • Vinyl-coated fabrics
  • Acrylic-coated fabrics
  • Cotton
  • Polyester
  • Natural fiber
  • Vinyl
  • Metal
  • Aluminum
  • Fiberglass

Cleaning Different Awning Materials

While these methods provide an overview of the different ways you can clean your awnings, each type of awning requires the use of specific cleaning products and techniques to deliver the desired results. Below are a few awning types and steps on how to clean them.

Vinyl and Acrylic Awnings

Since vinyl and acrylic are synthetic materials, their plastic-based properties make them easier to clean than some other types of awnings. Here’s how:

  1. Add a vinyl or acrylic cleaning solution to water. Alternatively, use a dish soap and water solution that’s not too soapy as a cleaning solvent. 
  2. Wet the awning with clean water, using a hose. 
  3. Scrub the surface of the awning with a hard brush, removing all marks and stains as much as you can. 
  4. For spots that are harder to remove, use the force of the hose but try to avoid damage by standing back.
  5. Dry with a cloth or towel or leave it to air-dry.

Whenever you use cleaning solutions, check the product description to ensure it’s suitable for your type of awning. 

Natural Fiber and Fabric Canvas Awnings

Natural Fiber and Fabric Canvas Awnings

Most retractable awnings are made of vinyl-coated fabrics, acrylic-coated fabrics, polyester or natural fiber. These materials can be susceptible to the damaging effects of the sun and rain. The material soaks up moisture, which may lead to mold and mildew forming in exposed parts, especially if it’s left in shaded areas that prevent it from drying completely. It must be dry before you retract it, too. 

Here are some steps to cleaning your fiber and fabric awnings thoroughly:

  1. If you don’t have a proper fabric awning cleaner, mix a few drops of dish soap or a few spoons of laundry cleaner with water. Don’t make it too soapy, or it could leave soap marks when it dries. 
  2. Wet the awning with a bucket or hose.
  3. Depending on the type of stain, use a stain solution and spray it directly onto the stain.
  4. Scrub it thoroughly and leave it to soak for 30-60 minutes. The tougher the stain, the longer you should ideally leave the solution to work through. Bleach is also recommended, but you risk the chance of permanent bleach stains if it’s not mixed according to the ideal ratio. 
  5. Once you’re confident that the stains are reduced, wash the solution off with a hose — do not use a pressure washer or you could damage the awning.
  6. Double-check that all the residue of the solution is washed off, and let the awning air-dry. 

Metal and Aluminum Awnings

Metal and aluminum awnings follow the same cleaning process. These are usually fixed awnings, so it should be a quick and easy procedure because these fixtures are tough and solid. However, it depends on the size of the awning and how high it’s located. Follow these steps:

  1. If you don’t have a suitable metal awning solvent, add a cup of bleach and a quarter cup of soap to a gallon of water and mix well.
  2. Wet the awning with a hose.
  3. Using a ladder, if needed, step up to reach the top and scrub the surface with a medium- or hard-bristle brush, using the solution in the bucket to clean it. For stubborn dirt, you may have to use a stronger cleaning agent like stove cleaner and target the areas with a hose.
  4. Rinse off the soapy solution completely to avoid streaking. 
  5. Repeat the steps for the bottom side of the awning, paying special attention to the corners where spiders may be nesting. 
  6. Allow the awning to dry naturally.

The best way to clean an awning is by regularly rinsing it with a hose to prevent dirt from building up. Doing this at least once every three to four weeks in between soap washes will help keep your awning in good condition. 

Cleaning Retractable Awnings and Other Awning Styles 

Retractable awnings are cleaned in one of the same ways as above, depending on the material, but you should be mindful of the motorized mechanism if your awning has one. Here are a few tips for maintaining the mechanism:

  • Lubricate moving parts frequently to avoid rust and dirt buildup.
  • Check that the mounting, arm and roller are functional each time you use it.
  • Routinely inspect the mechanism for damage, especially before and after use.

If you use your motorized awning often, check it regularly, and if you notice any damage, it’s best to get a professional awning company to inspect and repair it. 

Environmentally Friendly Options

To help you protect the environment when caring for your awning, choose cleaning products that contain environmentally friendly ingredients that won’t cause harm when you’re rinsing them off. Avoid harsh chemicals that leave marks on your awning and impact the environment adversely, like bleach. Many products are effective without the need for strong chemicals.

When cleaning your awnings, you can also move any potted plants out of the way to prevent cleaners from dripping into them.

Importance of Regular Awning Cleaning

Caring for your awning once every month or so, regardless of the type and material, will undoubtedly extend its life span. Even if you don’t clean it as often, washing it off with a hose every now and then will help keep debris and dirt from accumulating. Keeping your retractable awning surface clean is especially important to prevent dirt from clogging the mechanisms each time you retract it. 

Get New Awnings or Repairs With Liberty Door and Awning

Get New Awnings or Repairs With Liberty Door and Awning

If you notice your awnings are in need of repair or replacement when you’re cleaning them, we can help. At Liberty Door and Awning, we have years of experience in all awning issues and offer solutions for your needs.

Call us at (732) 384-1772 so we can get to the bottom of things without delay. Contact us today if you’d like an estimate or want to schedule a service.


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