Fabric patio and window awnings give you shade where you need it most, but the fabric can become dingy and weathered over time. Fortunately, these outdoor fabrics are made to withstand the test of time if they are properly maintained. These general guidelines can help you keep your awnings in good repair.
#1: Service the Mechanism
Retractable awnings, whether manual or motorized, will require some care to make sure they are working smoothly. Check the mechanism monthly to make sure it is clean and operating correctly. You may also need to lubricate the hinges, pulleys, and cranks if they seem to be sticking. It's best to check with the manufacturer to determine the best type of lubricant to use and the specific points to lubricate, but generally you will need to lubricate any moving part with a general purpose mechanical lubricant.
#2: Wash the Fabric
Hosing off the underside and upper-side of the fabric once every two or three weeks rinses off the dust. If the awning is especially dirty, scrub it gently with a soft-bristled brush. Awning cleaning solutions are also available, or you can use a mild dish soap diluted in water. Avoid hash cleaners and detergents, though, since these can damage the waterproof coating on the fabric. Rinse off any cleaner with clear water when you are done.
#3: Target Stains
Stains, whether from tree debris or birds flying overhead, can cause an unsightly mess on your window and patio awnings. Fortunately you can usually get these out with some water and soap. Once again, turn to a mild dishwashing soap to solve the problem. Wet the stain and then work undiluted dishwashing soap into the area. You can scrub lightly with a soft-bristled brush or mildly abrasive pad. Then, rinse the stain with cool water. Repeat the process until the stain is gone.
#4: Fight Mildew
Mildew can become a big problem on fabric awnings, especially if you have a retractable version. The simplest way to avoid mildew is to let the awning dry completely before rolling it up. You can also spray the fabric with a mildew-resistant protector spray that is made specifically for awnings and outdoor fabrics. If mildew does get on your awning, clean it carefully with a solution of 1 part bleach to three parts water. The bleach will kill the mildew and lighten the stain. Check the solution in a hidden area first, though, to make sure it doesn't damage the fabric.
#5: Schedule a Repair
A prompt professional repair may sometimes be necessary to save you a more expensive repair or replacement later. If you notice tears in the fabric or if the retractable mechanism isn't working properly, call an awning servicing company, like Lehman Awning Co, promptly. They can send out a technician to survey the damage and determine whether a repair is possible or if a replacement of the worn part is necessary.