Routine maintenance, including cleaning and reapplying protective solutions, can significantly extend your awning’s longevity by protecting it from the elements. Fixed and solar retractable awnings alike are exposed to extreme temperatures, rain, and snow which wear on them over time. Simultaneously, they are subject to airborne pollutants, dirt, grease, bird droppings, insects, leaf tannins, and tree pitches in addition to other substances which can stain or bleach their cloth. Rain washes away some of these blights, but even in areas with heavy rainfall, dirt can embed itself into the valance’s weave and introduce mold growth. Thankfully, staving off these harmful elements is a simple fix. Our experts have composed the following guide so that you can clean your awning with confidence every time, and enjoy your shady outdoor oasis for years to come.
Cleaning Methods for Awning Window Treatments
Both residential and commercial awnings should be cleaned at least twice a year. However, awnings situated under trees that frequently drop pitch, or which are exposed to many birds, or any of the other aforementioned substances may require additional cleanings. Fixed awnings also need to be cleaned more often than solar retractable awnings since they are always unfurled and exposed to the elements. Retractable awning manufacturers across the board agree that not all cleaning solutions or techniques are suitable for every type of material. Another important factor to consider is the substance you’re removing from your awning. Certain cleaning solutions are more effective for removing particular soils than others. In most cases, acrylic and natural fibers can be cleaned using the same solutions, but vinyl should only be cleaned with water because it is a more sensitive material.
No matter what product you use to clean your awning, always test it beforehand to ensure it won’t damage the fabric. Despite variances in the solutions used for different cleaning tasks, all awning cleaning jobs will require a soft bristle brush, a two to the five-gallon pail, an empty spray bottle, auto detailing wax, a tarp, and a hose.
Retractable Awning Manufacturers’ Recommendations for Maintaining Valances
The first step of cleaning your awning is superficial: brush the leaves, cobwebs, and loose dirt off of its surface. Then select a mild soap recommended for the specific type of fabric your awning is composed of and the substance you’re removing from it (see more on this below). Mix the soap with cold water. Solar retractable awning specialists have found that Dawn dish soap works for most materials.
Leave the awning on its frame while cleaning and wet it with a hose, not a power washer. Power washers’ extremely high water pressure can wear on awnings’ fabric over time and tear the fibers. Scrub the valance with a soft bristled brush in quick, sweeping motions beginning at the bottom edge and working your way up to the top. Then hose the awning down a second time from the top down making sure to completely remove all the soap and dirt. Allow the material to dry before rolling up your awning—covers retracted while damp often develops mildew.
Detailing the Underside, Frame, and Hood
Regardless of whether you own a Sunesta, Sunsetter, or Sunair retractable awning, cleaning the underside the same way you cleaned the top of the valance is a crucial step of mold and mildew prevention. Awning companies across New Jersey also advise users to wash and rinse the metal frame. Afterward, mist the frame and hood (the metal dispenser for the valance attached to the outside of your home or commercial building) with auto detail wax in quick spurts. This practice will maintain the luster of your awning frame the same way it does for a car.
Stain and Material-Specific Substance Removal Solutions for Awning Window Treatments
Similar to the way that certain cleaning solutions are better suited to acrylic and natural fibers, and not vinyl, some solutions are more effective at removing certain types of stains than others. The following recommendations are for awnings made of acrylic and natural fabrics and apply to both solar retractable awnings and stationary awnings. These solutions are not suitable for vinyl.
Eradicating Mildew from your Fixed or Solar Retractable Awning
If your acrylic awning has already developed mildew, pour a half cup of bleach and a quarter cup of dish soap into a gallon of water then mix them together. Brush the mixture into the fabric, then rinse it away thoroughly.
How to Lift Algae Stains from your Valance
Algae stains can be tougher than mildew, however retractable awning manufacturers assert that with a little extra attention, they can still be removed. To clean algae off your valance, fill a spray bottle with six parts water and one part hydrogen peroxide. Then spray the solution on the stain and allow it to sit for thirty minutes before rinsing it off. Repeat this process if necessary. In order to prevent algae from returning in the future, combine equal parts vinegar and water, spray the mixture on the material, and let it dry.
Removing the Cooking Grease and Sunscreen Coating Your Awning Window Treatment
This can be a hard transference to detect while it’s occurring, but your awning collects the residual vapor from your spray-on sunscreen, cooking grease, bug spray, and any other aerosols you use in its proximity. Fortunately, standard dish soaps and commercial fabric awning cleaners cut through the grease with precision.
Ridding Your Awning of Tree Pitch
To clean sticky or dried tree pitches from natural or acrylic awnings, mix together turpentine and liquid dish soap. Then scrub your valance with this solution.
How to Clean Rust Stains from your Awning Window Treatment
Most awnings’ arms and joints are constructed of metal which can rust after continuously being exposed to rainwater. However, removing it is simple and can be done with household items you probably already own. Mix lemon juice or vinegar with water and scrub the solution into the areas affected by rust, then hose off and let dry.
Seasonal Awning Maintenance Recommendations
The most imperative times to clean your solar retractable awning are right before you close it for the winter and the first time you open it at the beginning of the spring. After cleaning the awning for the winter and letting it dry, cover it tightly with a tarp to prevent any stray leaves or other debris from falling on it. If the fabric is rolled up while damp, it will be susceptible to mushroom growth. Additionally, if the awning is not detailed at the beginning of the winter, the dirt sitting on the valance’s surface will likely embed itself into the material’s fibers leading to a far more difficult removal process later.
Novel Awning Window Treatment Technology: Hi-Clean Finished Fabric by Tempotest
Tempotest offers fabrics treated with a specialized finish that produces an impermeable barrier around them without sacrificing their breathability. This technology gives the fibers the power to repel water, grease, and oil while simultaneously protecting against rot, mold, and fungus. Tempotest Hi-Clean fabrics are lower maintenance than standard varieties because they’re self-cleaning. They allow dirt, fine dust particles, and pollution on your awning’s surface to wash away with water or rain. Although they still require some cleaning, they need far less than traditional awning materials. Window Trends offers hi-clean options for most awning models.
Consult with Trusted Awning Experts at Window Trends About Your Specific Cleaning Needs
At Window Trends, we are proud to say we’re a leading awning company in New Jersey. Our top priority is to guarantee our customers’ satisfaction with all aspects of their awning, including maintenance. Our professional team of specialists will be happy to discuss your particular cleaning needs and answer any further questions you may have on the topic. Stop by our Window Trends Chatham or Window Trends Morris Plains locations, call us at (973) 401-9048, or fill out our online consultation form today to speak to one of our esteemed representatives.