Frequently Asked Awning Questions

1. What will awnings do for my home or business?
2. How long will fabric awnings last?
3. Is there any maintenance required for an awning?
4. Sunbrella Fabric Frequently Asked Questions.
5. How do you clean Sunbrella and Dickson fabric awnings?
6. How do you clean Gulf Stream and Pee Gee fabric awnings?
7. How do you clean Calabana Cloth Fabric awnings?
8. Dos and Don'ts of Fabric Awnings.


1. What will awnings do for my home or business?

Awnings offer both beauty and function to your home or business!

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2. How long will fabric awnings last?

Normally the metal support frame should last your lifetime.  The life of the fabric will varies with the amount of sun and wind it sees.  Realistically 7 to 10 years is a good life for the fabric.  However, proper maintenance and care can extend the fabric's life.

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3. Is there any maintenance required to an awning?

It is a good idea to inspect your awnings at least every spring and fall for normal wear.

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4. Sunbrella Fabric Frequently Asked Questions.

Q: Is Sunbrella fabric waterproof?
A: Because Sunbrella fabrics are designed to be breathable, they are water repellent, but not completely waterproof.  Over time, the water repellency can be refreshed by using 303 High Tech Fabric Guard™ (www.303products.com).

Q: Will Sunbrella fabric mildew?
A: Mildew will not grow on Sunbrella unless there is food, dirt or other organic matter on the fabric.  Keeping Sunbrella clean is the best defense against mildew.  Bleach and other mildew removers do not affect Sunbrella, so cleaning mildew is easy if it becomes necessary.

Q: Can I hose down Sunbrella fabric?
A: One of the best ways to keep Sunbrella fabrics looking good and to delay the need for deep or vigorous cleaning is to hose fabrics off on a monthly basis with clear water.  This practice will help prevent dirt from becoming deeply imbedded in the fabric and eliminate the need for more frequent vigorous cleanings.  In most environments, a thorough cleaning will be needed every two to three years.  Remember after hosing down the fabric to allow the fabric to air dry.

Q: How can I clean bird droppings on my awning?
A: For those stains that are beyond our normal care and cleaning instructions, such as bird droppings, roof run-off, acid rain, pollution, rust, tree sap, insect stains, etc., we suggest the following products: an off-the-shelf product such as Goo Gone Grease Cutter (a hand cleaner), Greased Lightning, Clean Rite Purple Power (available at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, etc.).  Rub product into fabric, allowing penetration. Brush with a soft brush, rinse THOROUGHLY and repeat if necessary.

Q: In your cleaning instructions, you use the term "Mild" or "Natural Soap".  What is "Mild" or "Natural" soap?
A: By "Natural" or "Mild" soap we mean Ivory Snow, Drift or Woolite.  These gentle soaps rinse out easily and will not diminish the water-repellent "finish" applied to the fabric.  Regular laundry detergent will not harm the fabric, but the water-repellent "finish" will be removed sooner (laundry detergents do not affect the stain and UV resistance).  BE SURE to use cold water and to air dry the fabric when using laundry detergent. In addition, after several cleanings you will need to retreat the fabric with a water repellent product, such as 303 High Tech Fabric Guard™ (www.303products.com).

Q: Do Sunbrella fabrics provide UV protection?
A: Sunbrella fabrics have been tested and proven to provide up to 98% UV protection from harmful effects of the sun when used in shade applications.  Sunbrella fabrics have been awarded the "Seal of Recommendation" by The Skin Cancer Foundation, an international organization dedicated to the prevention of skin cancer (www.skincancer.org).   Whites and lighter colored fabrics provide less protection than darker fabrics, which have more depth of color.  This protective factor is inherent to the product and will not be reduced by usage and/or fabric exposure to the sun.

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5. How do you clean Sunbrella and Dickson fabric awnings?

Click Here for Sunbrella fabric cleaning instructions - PDF file.
Click Here for Sunbrella fabric stain removal chart - PDF file.

Sunbrella and Dickson fabric will look the same on both sides of the fabric and will have the same color or pattern on both sides of the fabric.

One of the best ways to keep Sunbrella fabrics looking good and to delay the need for deep or vigorous cleaning is to hose fabrics off on a monthly basis with clear water.  This practice will help prevent dirt from becoming deeply imbedded in the fabric and eliminate the need for more frequent vigorous cleanings.  In most environments, a thorough cleaning will be needed every two to three years.  Remember after hosing down the fabric to allow the fabric to air dry.

NEVER USE A POWER WASHER TO CLEAN AWNING FABRIC !  You run the risk of damaging the fabric by weakening the fibers, making holes in the fabric and remove the water-repellant treatment.  This will shorten the life of the fabric, cause expensive repairs and void any warrantee.

Sunbrella and Dickson fabrics should be cleaned regularly before substances such as dirt, roof particles, etc., are allowed to accumulate and become embedded in the fabric.  The fabric can be cleaned without being removed from the frame.  Brush off any loose dirt, roof particles, etc.; hose down and clean with a mild natural soap (like Ivory Snow, Drift or Woolite) in lukewarm water at no more than 100 degrees F.  Rinse thoroughly to remove soap.  DO NOT USE DETERGENTS like Tide.  This will remove the water repellency and require very expensive retreating or replacement to restore.

For stubborn stains soak the fabric for approximately twenty minutes in a solution of no more than ½ cup (4 oz.) of bleach and ¼ cup (2 oz.) natural soap per gallon of water at approximately 100 degrees F.  A non-chlorine bleach is recommended for "Sunbrella Plus" because of the urethane coating.  Rinse thoroughly in cold water to remove all of the soap.  Note: Excessive soaking in bleach can deteriorate sewing threads.

Sunbrella and Dickson fabrics can be machine washed if it will fit in a washing machine.  You can use your own washing machine for small awnings.  For larger awnings you can usually find larger machines at most laundry mats.  Take down the awning. For most residental awning you remove the frame from the awning much like a curtain rod by sliding the frame out of the awning pockets.  Brush off any loose dirt and debris with a rag or soft brush.  Wash the awning in water no more then 100 degrees using the normal wash cycle.  Use the recommended amount of a mild natural soap like Ivory Snow, Drift or Woolite for the machine that you are using along with the recommended amount of non-chlorine bleach.  Example: If you use 1 cup of soap, use 1 cup of bleach.  The bleach will help to kill any mildew and may also whiten the boarder's binding if it is white.  If you use a detergent like Tide it will not harm the fabric.  However, this may remove the water repellency and require expensive retreating or replacement to restore.  Line dry the awning or just put it back on the frame then back on your building for drying.  Sometimes the awning my need to be re-sewn after washing.  Check the sewing by lightly pulling on them.   If the thread brakes loose just bring the awning fabric in to us to be re-sewn.  Re-sewing doesn't cost much and will extend the useful life of your awning.

Sunbrella may be dry cleaned but a water repellent treatment must be applied to the fabric after dry cleaning to re-establish water repellency.  Sunbrella is made from 100% acrylic fiber and is heat sensitive.  When washing or cleaning, DO NOT SUBJECT TO EXCESSIVE HEAT as the fabric will shrink.  DO NOT STEAM PRESS OR DRY IN ELECTRIC OR GAS DRYERS.  Allow the fabric to air dry.

Be careful not to get petroleum based insect sprays on the fabric.  They will stain them!

If you want your awning to look like the one to the right then do not clean your awning.

Dirt was allowed to accumulate on the awning.  Mold and mildew began to grow on the dirt when the awning became wet. 

Dirty Awning

The picture to the right is the same awning after cleaning.  First the mold and mildew was carefully scrapped off this fabric.  Then the awning was cleaned in a washing machine using a natural soap (Ivory Snow) and bleach.

As you can see the mold and mildew may be gone but the stains did not completely come out.   This is why it is important to keep your awning clean.  A clean awning will never mildew.

Washed Awning

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6. How do you clean Gulf Stream and Pee Gee fabric awnings?

Gulf Steam and Pee Gee fabric will only have the color or pattern on the top-side of the fabric.  The top-side will have a ruff textured feel while the underside is pale green in color.

It's always a good idea to hose down the top side of your awnings a couple of times a year on a warm sunny day.  This will help to prevent surface dirt from collecting.  If dirt does collect you risk the dreaded "green stains" (mildew).  A clean awning will never mildew!

NEVER USE A POWER WASHER TO CLEAN AWNING FABRIC !  You run the risk of damaging the fabric by weakening the fibers, making holes in the fabric and remove the water-repellant treatment.  This will shorten the life of the fabric, cause expensive repairs and void any warrantee.

Brush off any loose dirt and wash with warm water (not to exceed 100° F), mild soap (such as Ivory Snow, Drift or Woolite), and a soft cloth.  Rinse thoroughly.

In extreme cases, most dirt can be removed by applying 1/3 strength bleach and brushing softly to thoroughly cover the necessary area.  Allow to remain for two to three minutes, thoroughly rinse with a hose, while protecting surrounding material or plant growth that might be damaged by bleach.   The use of steamhoses, stiff brushes, powered rotary brushes, wire brushes, or other aggressive cleaning appliances, including use of power washers will void any warrantees.

In areas particularly conductive to mildew, brush away any visible accumulation of dirt on the underside.  Mildew grows on dirt.  Clean the underside using a soft brush or broom to clear away cop webs and insect nests.

Be careful not to get petroleum based insect sprays on the fabric.  They will stain them!

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7. How do you clean Calabana Cloth fabric Awnings?

Calabana fabric will only have the color or pattern on the top-side of the fabric.  The top-side will have a smooth "vinyl" feel while the underside is pale green in color.

It's always a good idea to hose down the top side of your awnings a couple of times a year on a warm sunny day.  This will help to prevent surface dirt from collecting.  If dirt does collect you risk the dreaded "green stains" (mildew).  A clean awning will never mildew!

NEVER USE A POWER WASHER TO CLEAN AWNING FABRIC !  You run the risk of damaging the fabric by weakening the fibers, making holes in the fabric and remove the water-repellant treatment.  This will shorten the life of the fabric, cause expensive repairs and void any warrantee.

Calabana Cloth fabric can be cleaned using any general purpose cleaner as long as it is not abrasive and does not have any petroleum products in them.  First wet the top vinyl side to loosen the surface dirt then apply the soap or cleaner.  Use a non-abrasive sponge or rag to further remove the surface dirt.  Rinse with clean water and let air dry.  When cleaning large areas clean one panel of material at a time (from seam to seam).

Clean the underside of Calabana Cloth using a soft brush or broom to clear away cop webs and insect nests.

Be careful not to get petroleum based insect sprays on the fabric.  They will stain them!

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8. Dos and Don'ts of Fabric Awnings.

The appearance and life of your awnings depend a great deal on the way you use and care for them.   Your awnings are made from the finest awning fabrics available and have the best available water repellents and mildew retardants built into them.

NEVER USE A POWER WASHER TO CLEAN AWNING FABRIC !  You run the risk of damaging the fabric by weakening the fibers, making holes in the fabric and remove the water-repellant treatment.  This will shorten the life of the fabric, cause expensive repairs and void any warrantee.

Even the most durable materials require a certain amount of care.  Fabric awnings are no exception.  But with only a minimum amount of attention the beauty and serviceable life of your awnings can be extended.  Here is a list of Dos and Don’ts to help you care for your awnings.

Do:

Don’t:

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