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Cleaning Canvas Awnings

Described in poetry as early as 50 BC and originally made using hemp, canvas awnings are extremely durable, and provide shade and protection from weather. As recently as fifteen years ago, canvas awnings were truly made from canvas, which is a plain weave cotton fabric. But the majority of canvas awnings are now manufactured from synthetic, canvas-like materials made from acrylic and polypropylene fibers.

Ideally, a canvas awning should be cleaned at least once each year to remove grime, pollution, and soil, extend life expectancy, reduce the chance of fading, apply protectors, and to restore it to its original color. No matter the material of your canvas awning, the method of cleaning is the same:

  1. Cover all plants and bushes near your work area.
  2. Carefully position and climb a ladder to reach the top of your awning. Use a long broom to sweep away all debris from the awning.
  3. Sweep all of debris from your roof and gutters. If the leaves and twigs fall from your gutters onto your awning, rain and moisture will cause them to rot, subsequently causing damage to your awning.
  4. With a broom, knock away dirt and cobwebs from the underside of the awning.
  5. With your garden hose, completely wet and rinse your awning.
  6. Mix 3 ounces of dishwashing detergent per gallon of warm water for your cleaning solution. Always start cleaning from the bottom of the awning to the top. Scrub the awning in circular motions with a broom or a stiff brush until you generate quite a bit of suds.
  7. Continue scrubbing, rinsing as you go, and then move on to the next section. It is important to remember to scrub an area no larger than you can keep wet until you are ready to rinse. Never allow the cleaning solution to dry on the canvas.
  8. When you've finished completely, rinse the entire awning once more.
  9. Clean the valance last, if your awning has one. Mold and slime collect in large amounts on a valance. Continue to scrub and rinse until it is thoroughly clean.
  10. Apply a protector or a water repellant if you so choose. Follow the label directions on the product.

Never use products containing chlorine bleach when cleaning a canvas awning, since bleach will rot the fabric. While scrubbing, continue to scrub until the soap is clean. If the soap is dirty, rinse, reapply soap, and scrub again until the soap is clean. Always rinse thoroughly until all of the soap is gone. Remember that wet canvas can still look dirty. When it dries completely, it will be evident that it is clean.

 

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