How To Clean A Patio Umbrella: A Complete Guide

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A patio umbrella does not only provide you with protection and shade from the wind or the burning sun, but it is also an important design element of your patio. If you want to lengthen its life, but also improve its design, you need to clean it frequently. A clean patio umbrella does not only look good with the rest of your setup but will make sure that debris and dust will not cause it to break apart before its time.

But why do you need to clean it? Well, think about all the weather going on throughout the year – sun, wind, low temperatures, even snow. Like many of your outdoor decorations and facilities, your patio umbrella is always exposed to these elements, which slowly will bite into its lifespan. On top of it, consider air pollution, dust, and debris, tree sap, or even bird droppings.

Here are quite a few reasons why our patio umbrellas need proper maintenance and cleaning. Even if you only use a patio umbrella throughout the summer, for instance, it is important to clean it before you pack it away for the cold season. We will also take a look at how to clean patio umbrella to keep it in tip-top shape. So let’s get into it.

How to clean unremovable tops

There are a few steps you need to take when your umbrella is in use. Most recommend a routine clean-up for every month or so in use, but you should do it more often if you have trees nearby or anything which might cause extra dirt to build up.

Firstly, take your umbrella away from direct sun and place it in a shaded place. Use a vacuum first to remove any dust or dirt. After you vacuum the dust, take a soft brush and work your way carefully on the fabric. Do not use a cloth or a rag because you will drive the dust and dirt deeper into the fabric.

Mix lukewarm water with a cleaning liquid. You should avoid dish soap because it will leave quite a few bubbles that will be difficult to rinse away. It is recommended to get some laundry detergent. Mix a quarter of a cup of laundry detergent with a gallon of water. Once again, use a soft brush to apply the mixture to the fabric, in a circular movement. Pay extra care for any stains you might have, but do not wipe them away with a cloth; only use a brush for now.

Once you have covered all areas, leave the patio umbrella top to rest for about 20 minutes so that the detergent and water mixture will be soaked into the fabric and make the stains are easier to remove. After 20 minutes, use a water hose to rinse all the fabric. If you miss this step, you will actually end up making the umbrella even more soiled. Lastly, place the umbrella under direct sun, so it can dry. Do not close the umbrella until all fabric is dry.

a clean umbrella top

How to clean removable tops

If the umbrella top can be removed and it has a label stating that it is machine safe, you can clean it in a washing machine with cold water and detergent. Try to avoid a center agitator; otherwise, you might end up with too many wrinkles.

Before placing it in the washing machine, you can vacuum the dirt and dust to loosen it and make it easier to clean. If you have any stains, put a mixture of laundry detergent and water on them and leave them for 20 minutes to make sure they will be removed during washing. Do not place the umbrella cover in the dryer; instead, let it air dry – either back on the umbrella or on a clothesline.

In case your umbrella top becomes extra wrinkly in the washing machine, you can use an iron to fix it. Make sure the iron is on low-heat to avoid any damages to it.

How to clean the frame of your umbrella

The wooden frames should be cleaned as per instructions if they are available. Most wooden frames can be cleaned with dish soap and water and using a cloth or rag to remove the debris. Do not put too much water on the wooden frame in order to avoid potential damages. After you clean with dish soap and water mixture, wipe it again with a clean rag dipped in a bit of water and let it air dry.

If you have an aluminum frame, use a mix of dish soap and water. Use a soft towel to clean the umbrella frame and rinse with clean water. Dry the aluminum frame with a soft clean cloth and do not use any harsh materials or liquids such as bleach to clean it, as the finish will be easily damaged. If your aluminum frame has stains of calcium or water spots, clean them with a mix of nine parts water and one part distilled vinegar.

mixing vinegar and water

How to clean your patio umbrella with vinegar

Cleaning your umbrella with vinegar is an efficient way to get dirt and mildew off. One of the most popular ways is to use a water + vinegar solution. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Mix two cups of vinegar with three cups of warm water. 
  2. Using a brush or strong sponge, dip it in the solution and start rubbing the umbrella.
  3. Rinse the brush or sponge often, so that the patio umbrella gets clean throughout.
  4. After a comprehensive cleaning, rinse the umbrella with clean water and let the umbrella dry in the sunlight if possible.

And there you have it, several different ways to clean your patio umbrella with ease!

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