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How to Clean Retractable Awning Fabric?

Every owner of a retractable awning knows that everything does not end with its purchase. It is necessary to take regular care of the product, whether intended for your home or business. Proper care and cleaning are crucial as they protect the retractable awning from damage and extend its life so that you can use it for many years.

As for the retractable awning cleaning, it is essential to share that it has its requirements. In this regard, it is necessary to treat it with care, especially when cleaning the fabric of your retractable awning.

This article will share tips on efficiently cleaning the retractable awning fabric in a few short general steps. Keep in mind that we will pay special attention to natural materials, acrylic, and vinyl. In addition, it is crucial to add that some cleaning solutions are suitable for each type of fabric, but others are suitable for one specific fabric, and they should not be used for another. That is why you must be careful and check whether certain ingredients are harmless to the fabric.

It is essential to clean your retractable awnings because dust and dirt can accumulate on the retractable awnings. It depends on your home or business location and the frequency and method of cleaning your awning. The recommendation is to clean the residential retractable awnings once or twice a year, and you should clean the commercial retractable awnings every 4 to 8 weeks.

Moreover, when we talk about cleaning the retractable awning fabric, we should say that you can clean it yourself, but you can also trust a professional company to do it instead. It is convenient to hire a company if you do not have enough time or are worried about damaging the fabric. Professional retractable awning cleaning companies offer their services for both residential and commercial retractable awnings.

If you are new to cleaning retractable awning fabric and are unsure what to do, then below, I share with you helpful tips on maintaining your awning in the best possible way.

Lay down protection underneath your retractable awning

The first step is to prepare for cleaning. In this regard, you can put down a tarp to protect from damage to the area under the retractable awning. However, this fun activity aims not to increase your work and costs but to minimize them.

Sweep off any dirt or dust

Before using any spray or water to clean the retractable awning, you must sweep off any dirt or dust. Otherwise, the dirt and dust could turn into mud, which can only create extra work for you instead of helping you. To be able to remove dirt, use a suitable soft broom or towel. Clean carefully so as not to damage the fabric.

How to Clean Retractable Awning Fabric?

Apply 1/4 cup of soap and water to the retractable awning

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to clean your retractable awning fabric is to add in a gallon of water and mix it with 1/4 cup of soap. This homemade cleaning solution is best suited for general cleaning. If there is mildew or mold, you should add 1 cup of non-chlorine bleach, but be careful when you use it.

Let the cleaning solution soak for 15 minutes

When you leave the product to soak into the fabric, you will get better results. Let the cleaner soak for 15 minutes. That is enough time for the cleaning solution to absorb all the dirt. 

Rinse with water

Rinse thoroughly after cleaning with soap or other detergents. Make sure there is no detergent left on the fabric, otherwise, you risk damaging the awning. 

Hose down the retractable awning

You can use the garden hose to clean your awning, but we recommend you be careful. It is crucial to know that the retractable awning can withstand light rain and is not intended for heavy rain conditions. In this regard, it is essential to be careful, as the forceful water pressure from a pressure washer for example can damage your retractable awning just as heavy rain would. Never use a pressure washer to clean your retractable awning fabric or frame.

How to Clean Retractable Awning Fabric?

Air dry

Let your retractable awning fully extend so that it dries. If you retract the awning, it stays wet and cannot dry well. In this way, the moisture turns into a mold or mildew, leading to huge damage later.

Besides dust and dirt, your retractable awning is exposed to grease, bird droppings, insects, airborne pollutants, tree pitch, chemicals, and many others. They can also be challenging to clean if you do not use suitable detergents and clean the awning regularly.

How to remove different types of stains?

Today, you can find various commercial cleaners suitable for any fabric, or you can make your own cleaning solution. Usually, the price of the commercial products can vary between $ 8 and $ 60, depending on the selected one. If you are looking for a detergent for general cleaning, dish soap mixed with cold to lukewarm water in a bucket is all you need. However, if you are looking for a cleaning solution for specific stains and other contaminants, you may need a professional product.

How to Clean Retractable Awning Fabric?

Bird Droppings

One of the most common contaminants is bird droppings. Make a mixture of water and dish soap. Use a soft cloth to wet and clean the bird droppings, then blot with a dry cloth. For stubborn spots, mix equal parts ammonia and hydrogen peroxide.

Tree Pitch

Depending on the fabric of the retractable awning, you will need to use different cleaning solutions. For vinyl, use a grease remover or rubbing alcohol. But if you want to remove tree pitch from acrylic or natural materials, mix turpentine and liquid dish soap. Work it gently into the pitch. After that, you can wash the area with mild soap and water. 


If you want to clean rust from vinyl, acrylic, and natural fabrics, mix water with citric acid, vinegar, or oxalic acid, then gently clean the area.


In most cases, algae, mildew, leaves, and fruits from trees leave stains. That is why it is essential to remove them regularly to prevent stains. To do this, use an organic stain remover. It would be best to let it sit on the stain for up to 30 minutes. After that, you can gently wash it. If stains are not removed, try a cleaning solution of ammonia and water or bleach and water.

Grease and Sprays

You can remove the sunscreens and cooking grease by using dish soap and cold water. Some  commercial cleaners are also suitable for cleaning. Keep in mind that in this case, vinyl fabric requires more specific care, so use either dish soap and cold water or a commercial cleaner for vinyl.


The appearance of mildew is a common problem for owners of retractable awnings. Mildew cleaning is possible with dish soap and non-chlorine bleach mixed in water. That is the best cleaning solution for acrylic and natural materials. If you want to clean a vinyl fabric, use vinegar and water or choose a high-quality commercial cleaner. 


If your retractable awning fabric has oil-based paint or water-based (latex) paint, don’t worry, you can clean them. Clean the oil-based paint by using orange citrus cleaners that are best for vinyl. However, use oil, grease, or paint cleaner for acrylic and natural materials. And when it comes to cleaning water-based paint, the best cleaning solution is dish soap and water. 

However, it is perfectly normal to contaminate your retractable awning. So if you want to enjoy a well-maintained awning for many years, it is crucial to take the necessary care. In conclusion, I would recommend that you be careful when using a product.

First, find out how to clean the different types of dirt, stains, or paint and what detergents can be used for the given fabric. Last but not least, check if the selected product is suitable for the respective awning fabric. If you are unsure how to clean the retractable awning fabric, you can always contact a professional awning cleaning company.