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The Importance of Maintaining Your Shade Umbrella

25th March 2021

If you're one of the 8.3 million homeowners in Australia or work for one of the nation's 2.3 million businesses, you likely are constantly looking for new ways to spruce up your space.

Outdoor shading is essential for those who have outdoor living spaces and business patios. It's also a great way to make your area both more functional and aesthetically pleasing. However, to get the most out of your outdoor shade, you'll need to understand outdoor umbrella maintenance and invest the time necessary to perform routine cleanings.

Here, we're going to talk about how to take care of the outdoor umbrella that you choose for your home. Read on for some tips on how to keep your shade solutions in great shape for many years to come.

Correct Opening Procedure

The correct opening procedure for your umbrella varies since there are many different makes, models, and styles out there. Some, like the Shadowspec Serenity and Unity, are very easy to open and close. Check out this video to see how simple it really is!

However, a lot of outdoor umbrellas will have a pulley or a handle. When this is the case, avoid getting the canopy caught in between any of the frame's arms as you close it as this can damage some umbrellas. 

It’s best to try and find the manual for the specific umbrella that you have. It's possible that you received a paper manual when you purchased it, but you also can probably find a manual online. Contact us if you need help determining the model of your umbrella. We're happy to help you find the correct opening and closing procedure for your shade.

Some umbrellas may also require a small amount of force to open and close when they have been in the same position for a long time. Be careful not to use too much force as this may damage your umbrella.

Most importantly, it is crucial to keep your umbrella clean. This will prevent the building up of dirt, grime, and other materials that inhibit the process of opening and closing your umbrella. Read on to learn more about the cleaning process and techniques you will need to use.

Outdoor Umbrella Maintenance: Your Complete Guide

Many people wonder and ask about how often they should clean their outdoor umbrellas. Honestly, it's a lot like cleaning a car- you should do it more often than not. About once a month is the ideal time frame, but it's better to do it every two weeks or so when possible.

Before cleaning, you should try to see if your product has a manual or owner's guide that may have some specific recommendations for your product. If there is no manual, there are some general specifications that you may like to follow!

There are a variety of ingredients that you'll need for outdoor umbrella cleaning. You will need:

  • A tarp
  • A water hose
  • A soft-bristled broom
  • A bucket large enough to hold your cleaning agents
  • A soft, clean washcloth (for the pole)
  • A hose with gentle settings

You will also use the following household materials to make your cleaner:

  • 1 litre of warm water (make sure that it isn't too cold- this will not clean your umbrella properly)
  • 1 litre of white vinegar
  • 100 millilitres of dish soap (any brand)

Note that these ingredients produce the appropriate amount of cleaner for one regular-sized umbrella. If you're maintaining shade solutions for your business patio and have multiple umbrellas to contend with, you will need to adjust the above amounts accordingly. This is also the case if you have a larger umbrella.

How to Clean Your Umbrella's Fabric

Now that you have all of the items you need, it's time to get down and dirty. In fact, why not kill two birds with one stone and clean your umbrella at the same time that you clean your car?

Grab your umbrella and your soft-bristled broom so that you can remove any debris from the surface. You can clean the fabric while it is still on the pole and frame unless it is extremely dirty, in which case you will need to remove it.

Once your fabric is free of lint, dirt, and other coarse particles, you can begin to make your cleaning solution. Put the warm water, vinegar, and dish soap into your bucket and stir it all together until it is foamy. Your solution will be complete once it looks sudsy and soap bubbles form.

DetergentSoft Bristle BroomWater Bucket

It's at this point that you're going to use your broom. Dip it in the cleaner and make circular motions evenly across the entire surface of your umbrella. Pay special attention to areas that look dirty- there are sure to be some since your umbrella is constantly exposed to outdoor elements.

Let it sit there and soak for 20 minutes. This will let the cleaner set and remove any hard-to-eliminate grime and stained areas. After that, you will want to rinse the fabric and leave the umbrella out to air-dry.

Cleaning Poles and Frames

While the shade is absorbing the fabric cleaner, you can get to work on cleaning your umbrella poles and frames.

Spray them down gently with your hose and grab your washcloth. Wipe it down thoroughly. You should then get a cream cleanser such as Jif products to eliminate the dirt, grime, and dust that come with an outdoor umbrella pole.

Use these products normally and remember to rinse your frame when the job is done. This is also a great opportunity to rinse the attached canopy of your umbrella, which you need to do anyway to eliminate the cleaner from its surface.

The entire process (sans waiting for the fabric to dry) will likely take you less than an hour, so it is a fairly simple task. Make sure that you complete it frequently!

What Happens to Poorly Maintained Umbrellas

Even the most heavy-duty umbrellas corrode and deteriorate when they aren't cleaned frequently. The first thing you will notice is likely discolouration of the canopy or shade sail. White spots may appear, but colours may simply appear lighter or darker than they should. Unless you want your navy blue umbrella to get big sky-coloured spots on it, you're going to need to clean.

Poorly maintained umbrella canopies also will become more brittle over time. Mud and other materials will corrode them until the fabric ultimately breaks through and the umbrella is destroyed. Make sure that you also clean your umbrella after rainstorms in addition to the routine cleanings.

If you do not pay attention to wooden poles and frames, they may also succumb to both water damage and that from pests. Wood-boring insects will jump at the opportunity to destroy your umbrella. Luckily, they're easy to get rid of assuming that you take the time to clean and maintain your shade.

Finally, mould and mildew are likely to build up on your canopy if you don't take the time to clean it once or twice a month. Read on to learn about the problems that this can cause and how you can prevent these issues from arising even after noticing mould.

How to Clean Outdoor Umbrellas With Mildew

The cleaning process may be fairly easy and straightforward, but what if there is mildew built up on your canopy?

Eliminating mould and mildew is critical to not only your umbrella's aesthetic and longevity, but also to ensuring the health of yourself, your family, and your clients (when used in commercial venues). Inhaling mould can cause a plethora of respiratory issues including long-term heart and lung problems.

If you catch mould or mildew early and there is only a small amount, you still have some time. As we discussed in the previous section, you can use a soft-bristled broom to remove the mould. You may have to apply a bit more pressure in this instance, but be careful not to damage the canopy with vigorous brushing.

However, if your umbrella has gotten to the stage where it has accumulated a lot of mildew and mould, it is most likely time for a new canopy or umbrella. Not doing so can prevent a safety hazard. To make the process easier, contact us in regards to replacement canopies. 

In some instances, you may be able to use a high-pressure washer such as a Gerni. However, you must be very careful as if you stand too close you may blow a hole in the canopy. It likely is simpler and more efficient to invest in a new umbrella when things get to this point.

How to Store Your Umbrella Safely

You should have been provided with a strap when you purchased your outdoor umbrella. If not, then you could use something like a pool tie strap to strap it up. Be careful not to tie it too tight as this could damage the shade or crack the frame.

Make sure that you clean the umbrella thoroughly before storing it so that mould does not build up. You also will need to keep it in a dry place to prevent mildew and water damage. Areas with less sunlight are also beneficial for stored umbrellas because you will reduce the risk of sunspots and fading.

Weather Conditions and Storage

Sometimes, you will need to store your umbrella because the weather is destructive.

Make sure that you bring the umbrella indoors when the weather conditions appear to be snowy or icy. Though this is rare for Australia unless you are in the alps, you may encounter issues with your umbrella in the wintertime.

A more common scenario where taking your umbrella indoors will be necessary is in windy weather conditions. Wind can outright destroy umbrellas by breaking the frame. Make sure that you're aware of the weather conditions and don't forget about your outdoor shade in extreme cases.

Where to Go to Repair Shade Sails or Umbrellas

If you begin to notice discolouration of your canopy or have a crack in the arms or pole of your umbrella, you may want to take it to a repair facility. However, this is not always the best idea. In a lot of cases, the cost of repairing your outdoor umbrella or shade sail may be similar or even more expensive than the cost of purchasing a new one would be.

Additionally, umbrellas that are repaired are more likely to break again than a new one would be. You might as well just replace the entire thing since repairing and needing to replace it in the future will just cost you twice as much money.

If you are really attached to your umbrella, you can repair it despite this recommendation. Contact Project Shade to learn about some repair facilities in your area (or to learn about some adequate high-quality replacements for your broken umbrella).

Get Started With Awesome Shade Solutions

Now that you know all about outdoor umbrella maintenance and are equipped to deal with any issues that might arise, it's time to get cracking. Shop for shade solutions in our online store to get the best deals on umbrellas.

We're proud to provide shade to both private homes and commercial businesses, so you can choose the perfect umbrella from our huge variety of products. If you have any other questions, please visit our contact page and reach out so we can help you find and maintain the perfect umbrella for your specific needs.

Please note the contents of this post is information only and general in nature.
If you require advice it is best to contact one of our shade specialists who can review your particular circumstances and then provide tailored advice according to your needs.