How To Clean Awning Fabric
Intro to Cleaning Awning Fabric

Keeping awnings and other outdoor shades clean and bright requires regular cleaning, even if your awnings are made with high-quality outdoor fabricfrom brands like Sunbrella®or Dickson®. Depending on how routine your cleaning practices are, the climate and conditions where your awnings are located, and the type of awning fabric involved, a thorough cleaning may be as easy as using a soft brush and mild soap. Sometimes more vigorous methods and tools may be required.

At Trican, we approach awning fabric cleaning in a holistic way, since clean fabric is more easily maintained and longer lasting. For a directory of brand-specific cleaning guides, visit our Guide to Cleaners in our Product Guides.

  • Start with High-Performance Fabric
    • When sewing heavy vinyl fabric, feeding it through a sewing machine can be difficult due to its weight and stickiness. To aid in sewing, use polyester batting underneath the fabric. It will make it easier to feed the vinyl through.
  • Interested in becoming a Trican customer?
    Find out more about us to see if we’re right for you.

    Do’s and Don’ts of Awning Fabric Cleaning
    soapy yellow sponge
    • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning and maintenance strictly & carefully.
    • Always test how your cleaning solution will affect the fabric on a spot of the awning where any discoloration will go unnoticed before cleaning the entirety.
    • Use a clean cloth (or paper towel). The cloth should also be color-fast. In most cases, a white cloth is best.
    • Hose down awnings and outdoor shades with clean water (from a garden hose is fine) about once a month or so on a hot and sunny day.
    • Keep an eye out for objects, accumulated dirt, and the like, and remove promptly.
    • Keep the underneath of your awnings and outdoor shades clean of cobwebs and other build up by brushing with a clean broom or soft bristle brush.
    • Keep shrubbery, vines, and bushes away from awnings as some plants contain an acid that can harm the fabric.
    • Be sure to check awning frames regularly as any rust that forms could discolor or harm the fabric.
    • Never fold or roll your awning or shade material in cold temperatures.
    • Take care to avoid dragging awning fabric along potentially damaging surfaces like asphalt.
    • Avoid getting insect spray and other chemicals on awning fabric.
    • Avoid open fires around and under awnings.
    • Keep water from standing on awnings.
    • Avoid using harsh soap or other cleaning solutions.
    • Never store awning fabric while fabric is wet or damp.

    Click hereto access a more detailed PDF version of the above, containing general instructions for cleaning select awning, marine, and industrial fabrics. Read on to learn about specific cleaning instructions for different types of awning fabrics..

    How to Clean Acrylic Awning Fabric
    several assorted color and pattern rolls of Acrylic Fabric

    Awnings & outdoor shades made with Sunbrella, Dickson, or another acrylic shade fabric benefit from regular light cleaning. A more detailed version of the Sunbrella Awning Fabric cleaning instructions  can be found here.

    While the fabric is still on the awning frame, brush off any loose dirt or debris. Soak the fabric with a cleaning solution of mild soap like Dawn® dishwashing liquid and water, then clean with a soft bristle brush. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning so all soap residue is removed. Allow the fabric to air dry.

  • For Extra Stubborn Stains
    • Sunbrella awning fabric can be treated with a soapy cleaning solution, like that described above, mixed with diluted bleach. This mixture is especially helpful for cleaning mildew that has begun to grow on dirt or other detritus on the fabric. To make the bleach and soap cleaning solution for stubborn stains:
      • cup of bleach
      • 1/4 cup mild soap
      • 1 gallon of water (make sure the water is very clean)
    • After mixing, allow the mixture to soak into the fabric for as long as 15 minutes. Once the fabric is saturated, clean it with a soft bristle brush. Rinse thoroughly, reapply mixture, & continue gentle scrubbing, if necessary. Allow to air dry.
  • Important Note for Water Repellant Acrylic Fabrics
    • Special care must be taken when cleaning fabrics that feature additional water repellant features, like Sunbrella Plus, Sunbrella Supreme (discontinued), and Sunbrella Clarity (discontinued):
      • Use the bleach and soap mixture with caution on the coated underside.
      • Spray the cleaning mixture to apply, do not soak.
      • Rinse fabric thoroughly and let air dry.
      • After each cleaning, re-treat fabric with a professional spray protectant, like 303 Fabric Guard.
  • How to Clean FIRESIST® & Polyester Awnings

    Whether you’re working with residential or commercial awnings, polyester awnings & outdoor shade fabric, like  FIRESIST®, benefit from regular cleaning treatments. Fabric that is flame-retardant or flame-resistant requires consistent maintenance to maintain integrity and performance.

    First, brush off all loose dirt and debris. Next, hose the awning fabric down. Dilute a mild dishwashing liquid in clean, lukewarm water. With a soft bristle brush or soft cloth, clean the fabric with the cleaning solution. Allow the soapy mixture to soak fully into the fabric. Rinse with clean water until no more soap residue remains. Allow to air dry.

    For stubborn stains, dried grime, or bird droppings, try the following:

    Gently scrape off any hardened or stubborn material present on the fabric, removing large pieces while loosening the rest for removal. Make a cleaning solution of 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap to two cups of cold water. With a clean color-fast cloth, sponge at the stain with the cleaning solution. Blot at it until the fabric is saturated with liquid. Rinse. Continue to blot, saturate, and rinse until the stain disappears.

    How to Clean Vinyl Awning Fabric

    When cleaning PVC-coated or PVC-laminated vinyl fabric, use a neutral liquid detergent in a clean water solution. Adjust the solution — and the temperature of the water — to how difficult the cleaning project appears to be.

    • To clean, use soft cloths or soft bristle brushes.
    • After the awning fabric is clean, be sure to rinse it with plenty of water to get rid of every bit of detergent.
    • Use a clean cloth (or paper towel). The cloth should also be color-fast. In most cases, a white cloth is best.
    • Always clean vinyl material and allow it to air dry before storing.
    • Never use solvents like acetone, turpentine, or industrial degreasers to clean fabric.
    More Trican Resources

    Lightweight rope and cord are great for awning models that require lacing and tying. Made with high-grade materials, these awning lace products offer high strength and low stretch for years of service.

    Final Note

    The purpose of this guide is to give fabricators some general guidelines and product information. This guide should not be considered as the sole source of information on cleaning upholstery fabric. This guide is strictly informational.

    Copyright 2023 Trican Corp. All rights reserved.