Sunbrella Cleaning & Care

Sunbrella Cleaning & Care

The best way to keep Sunbrella fabrics looking good and to delay deep or vigorous cleanings is to properly maintain the fabrics. This can be accomplished by simply brushing off dirt before it becomes embedded in the fabrics, wiping up spills as soon as they occur or spot cleaning soon after stains occur.

Try This First: Sunbrella Upholstery and Marine Interiors

  1. Brush off any loose dirt.
  2. Blot (don't rub) with a dry cloth. For oil-based spills, first absorb with corn starch, then scrape
  3. Prepare a cleaning solution of 1/4 cup mild soap, such as Woolite or Dawn dishwashing liquid, per gallon of lukewarm water.
  4. Spray or use a sponge or soft bristle brush to clean.
  5. Allow cleaning solution to soak into fabric.
  6. Rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue.
  7. Air dry.

General Cleaning – Sunbrella Sheers

Machine wash in cold water and line dry, or professionally dry clean.

General Cleaning – Sunbrella Shadow

Mild soap and water. The fabric 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. Air dry.

Spot Cleaning (for non-removable fabric)

  1. Apply a light mist of mild soap and water using a spray bottle.
  2. Work the solution into the stain by lightly cleaning the area with a sponge or very soft bristle brush. Avoid scrubbing.
  3. Rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue.
  4. Blot or wet-vacuum excess moisture with a clean, soft towel or sponge.
  5. Air dry. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all soap residue is removed.

Cleaning Awnings and Marine Tops/Covers

Hose fabrics off on a monthly basis with clean water. This helps prevent dirt from becoming deeply embedded in the fabric and eliminates the need for more frequent vigorous cleaning. In most environments, a thorough cleaning will be needed every two to three years.

When it's time for a thorough cleaning, Sunbrella fabrics can be cleaned while still on a boat or an awning frame, or size permitting, they can be removed for cleaning. If a boat cover or awning is suitable in size for a washing machine:

  1. Use mild soap.
  2. For heavier stains add 1 cup of bleach to wash.
  3. Wash and rinse in cold water.
  4. Air dry. Never apply heat to Sunbrella.
  5. Re-treatment for water and stain resistance will be necessary after machine washing.

To clean Sunbrella while still on a boat or an awning frame:

  1. Brush off loose dirt.
  2. Hose down.
  3. Prepare a cleaning solution of water and mild soap such as Woolite or Dawn dishwashing liquid.
  4. Use a soft bristle brush to clean.
  5. Allow cleaning solution to soak into the fabric.
  6. Rinse thoroughly until all soap residue is removed.
  7. Air dry.
  8. May not require re-treatment depending on the age of the fabric.

Cleaning Removable Sunbrella Fabric

Hand Washing

  1. Soak fabric in a solution of 1/4 cup mild soap per gallon of lukewarm water.
  2. Use a sponge or a soft bristle brush.
  3. Rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue.
  4. Air dry.

Machine Washing
Some removables can be washed in the washing machine, however, consult the furniture manufacturer before removing the casing. Remember to close all zippers. Pre-treat heavily stained areas with appropriate stain remover. Machine wash in cold water on delicate, using normal amounts of mild laundry detergent. Air dry.

Heavy Cleaning for Stubborn Stains and Mildew

Sunbrella fabrics do not promote mildew growth, however, mildew may grow on dirt and other foreign substances that are not removed from the fabric.

  1. Prepare a solution of 1 cup of bleach and 1/4 cup mild soap per gallon of water.
  2. Spray entire area and allow to soak into the fabric for 15 minutes.
  3. Clean area with a sponge, towel or very soft bristle brush. Note: skip this step when cleaning the coated side (underside) of Sunbrella Plus, Supreme or Clarity.
  4. Rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue.
  5. Air dry.
  6. If stain and/or mildew are severe, increase bleach quantities. It's best to clean entire surface to avoid water rings & stains. See our stain chart for removal of specific stains.

For Sunbrella Sheers Only:

  1. Add 1 cup of bleach to the cleaning solution.
  2. Soak fabric for 10 - 15 minutes in the diluted cleaning solution.
  3. Machine wash in cold water for best results (stop machine prior to agitation).
  4. Air dry.

Oil-Based Stains

Immediately absorb with corn starch, let sit for 10 minutes and remove excess using a straight edge or ruler. Then proceed with cleaning process.

Professional Cleaners

In evaluating the services of a professional firm, inquire about the firm’s experience working with Sunbrella fabrics and knowledge of cleaning and re-treatment requirements.

DO NOT dry clean Sunbrella fabrics (except Sunbrella Sheer).

Re-Treating Sunbrella for Ease of Cleaning

As part of the finishing process, Sunbrella fabrics are treated with a water and stain repellent finish. This finish is designed to last for several years, but may require replenishing after a thorough cleaning. Glen Raven® recommends 303® Fabric Guard™ as the preferred re-treatment product for Sunbrella fabrics. Fabrics should be re-treated after thorough cleaning or after five years of use.

Applying 303 Fabric Guard

303 should be applied to Sunbrella fabrics after each thorough cleaning, which typically removes the original finish and reduces the fabric’s water repellency.

  1. Clean Sunbrella fabric, using one of the above cleaning methods.
  2. Allow Sunbrella to completely air dry.
  3. Apply 303 in a well-ventilated area following instructions on the container.
  4. Apply 303 in a thin, even coat and allow fabric to dry completely.
  5. Apply a second thin, even coating of 303. (Two light coatings are more effective in restoring fabric water resistance than a single heavy coating.)

Note: A 16-ounce bottle provides coverage of up to 75-100 square feet of fabric.

Helpful Hints

Protect the area around your Sunbrella fabric when using a bleach solution as it may discolor non-Sunbrella fabrics. Always rinse Sunbrella thoroughly.

Please be aware of the environment when cleaning with bleach. Bleach can have harmful effects on the natural environment around you. We do not advise using bleach if you are surrounded by a body of water or other environment that could be affected.

Sunbrella air-dries very quickly. Machine drying is not necessary.

If fabric has some wrinkling, use an iron, if necessary, but only on the synthetic setting. As some irons exceed the recommended temperature on the synthetic setting, test a small inconspicuous area before ironing entire piece. DO NOT use a steamer or iron set to steam setting.

Use of bleach and/or advanced age of the fabric application may impact the deterioration of the sewing thread and other non-Sunbrella components.

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Sunbrella Stain Chart

This chart contains our recommended cleaning methods of Sunbrella fabric for some of the most common and toughest stains, including Carbona Stain Devil cleaning products. Carbona provides 9 formulas made to get out different types of stains. Apply the number indicated for your stain. After cleaning, remember to thoroughly rinse fabric and air dry.

OutdoorFabricCentral.com also recommends using 303® Fabric Guard™ line of products for Sunbrella fabric care and maintenance. For questions about use of 303 products, please contact us. For your convenience, stains are listed in alphabetical order.

Beer
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1/3 cup white vinegar / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 8]

Berry
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1/2 cup - 1 cup white vinegar / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 8]

Bird Droppings
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water. Or try Goo Gone Grease Cutter (a hand cleaner), Greased Lightning, or Clean Rite Purple Power (available at most major retailers)

Blood, Dried
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1/2 cup - 1 cup ammonia / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 4]

Butter
Absorb with cornstarch first. Remove excess, then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 5]

Charcoal, Pencil Marks
Vacuum. Then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 3]

Catsup / Ketchup or Mustard
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 2]

Chewing Gum
Isopropyl alcohol 100%, then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 1]

Chocolate
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 2]

Coffee
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water. Or white vinegar, or volatile solvent (acetone 100%) [Carbona Stain Devil No. 8]

Cola
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 8]

Crayon
Isopropyl alcohol (100%), then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 3]

Egg, Raw
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 4]

Food Color
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1/3 cup white vinegar / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 6]

Grape Juice
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 8]

Gravy
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 2]

Grease (Automobile)
Absorb with cornstarch first. Remove excess, then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 5]

Ink (India, Ballpoint)
Volatile solvent (acetone) 100%, soap and water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 3]

Iron Rust
303 Cleaning Solution [Carbona Stain Devil No. 9]

Kool Aid
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water; rinse thoroughly [Carbona Stain Devil No. 6]

Lipstick
Paint Remover, oil or grease remover (mix as directed) [Carbona Stain Devil No. 6]

Mascara
Paint remover (100%) or volatile solvent (acetone 100%). Then 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 8]

Mildew
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 cup bleach / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 4]

Milk
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 8]

Nail Polish
Volatile solvent (acetone) 100%, soap and water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 1]

Oil
Absorb with cornstarch first. Remove excess, then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 5]

Orange Drink
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 8]

Paint, Wet Latex
Absorb with cornstarch first. Remove excess, then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 1]

Paint, Dry Latex
Absorb with cornstarch first. Remove excess, then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 1]

Paint, Oil or Lacquer
Absorb with cornstarch first. Remove excess, then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 5]

Paint, Water Color
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water / white vinegar (3 oz.)

Shoe Polish Liquid
Absorb with cornstarch first. Remove excess, then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 7]

Shoe Polish Wax
Apply heated iron over towel, absorb with cornstarch, remove excess, then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 1]

Suntan Lotion
Absorb with cornstarch first. Remove excess, then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 5]

Tea
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 8]

Tomato Juice
Absorb with cornstarch first. Remove excess, then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 2]

Tree Sap
Absorb with cornstarch first. Remove excess, then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 7]

Urine
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1/3 cup white vinegar / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 8]

Vomit
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1/3 cup white vinegar / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 8]

Wax (Candle)
Apply heated iron over towel, isopropyl alcohol 100%, then use 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 1]

Wine
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid / 1/3 cup white vinegar / 1/2 cup - 1 cup isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide / 1 gallon water [Carbona Stain Devil No. 8]

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Shade Fabric Care & Fabrication Guide

Sunbrella® has been the leading brand of awning fabric for 50 years. Available in over 150 solids and stripes, Sunbrella shade fabric is guaranteed for 10 years against color or strength loss (see sunbrella.com/warranty for details). Sunbrella shade fabrics are breathable, water repellent and easy to clean.

Cutting

  • DO NOT TEAR FABRIC. Cut with scissors or a knife. A hot knife (wire or blade) or ultrasonic cutting instruments may be used for a fused edge. Provide proper ventilation when cutting with a hot blade instrument.
  • Under ordinary conditions, Sunbrella will not shrink provided the awning/canopy is undercut by approximately one-half percent both in the length and the width.

Sewing

  • For joining sewn panels, a double-needle machine equipped with a puller is ideal. Needle gauge should be wide, 3/4" if possible. A chain stitch is preferable in seaming widths of the cloth.
  • A lock stitch machine with a walking foot is ideal for hemming.
  • For seaming and hemming, the top thread for larger applications should be a PTFE M1000HKTR or comparable polyester thread such as Tex 138 or Tex 12. For standard size awnings, top thread should be M1000KTR PTFE or Tex 92/16 polyester. Use light to medium tension on both top and bottom thread.
  • Lock stitch machines should use the same size thread for the bobbin as for the top stitch.
  • We recommend 4.5 to 5 stitches per inch for shade and marine applications.
  • Use 92/16 thread for the looper, bobbin thread on chain stitch machines.
  • Use size 22 needle with size M1000KTR PTFE or 138/12 polyester thread on lock stitch machine.
  • For chain stitch machines use a Tex 138/12 thread (or comparable) and 0.60 needle. For size 92/16 thread use a 054 needle.
  • It is always recommended to use the smallest size needle with which the machine will stitch properly. Inspect and change needles for best results. Thread breakage is often related to a burr in the needle and not necessarily the size of the needle itself.
  • For shade/marine work, more commonly an R (regular round point), RG (round point, rounded tip) or FFG (light ball point) needle would be used. If when using an R point you notice that you are puncturing/cutting some of the warp or fill yarns in the fabric you may consider changing to an RG, FFG or other ball point needle. The ball point will tend to “push” between yarns instead of cutting them.
  • Most fabricators use an overlap seam, which varies from 1/2" to 3/4" that is either double needled or double stitched.
  • The use of acrylic braid or centerfold binding is recommended.
  • Maintain tension in front of and behind the needle during the sewing process to minimize puckering/gathering of fabric when seaming.
  • Avoid too much back stitching because this technique can weaken the fabric and cause the fabric to tear more easily.

Heat Sealing

  • Sunbrella can be heat-sealed using radio frequency, wedge, impulse and hot air welding machines. When RF welding, attach a layer of teflon to the bar to prevent fabric scorching. It may be necessary to experiment with temperature, speed and dwell time settings.
  • Consult the heat-sealing equipment manufacturer to determine optimum procedures and the proper heat sealing tapes to be used with a particular machine.
  • Test bond strength when changing rolls of fabrics and tapes. Use a fish scale to test the bond’s "peel" strength. Adhesion after 24 hours should be 4 pounds or higher. This should produce a side-to-side bond that is stronger than the fabric itself.

Installation and Fabrication Tips

  • Make sure the fabric does not flap or rub against walls, posts, concrete, shrubbery, etc.
  • There should be no sharp edges or rough spots on the framework to reduce wear and minimize opportunities for leakage. Reinforcements should be used where the fabric contacts the framework, especially over squared/sharp angles to reduce abrasion and possible tears.
  • Rafters should be no more than 36" apart and lacing/rafter bands should be used on canopy type application, including staple in canopies, to reduce wind whip of fabric against frame which can lead to possible damage and leakage.
  • The additional layer of fabric on lacing/rafter bands can help reduce or eliminate capillary action between the surface fabric and the frame in these areas.
  • On canopies and other large frames, cross members should be located below the standard vertical rafters. Cross members on the same plane as the rafters restrict proper drainage, and can lead to pooling of water which may cause dirt build up and affect water repellency in these areas.
  • A minimal pitch of one-foot drop for every three feet of projection is recommended for proper drainage and best overall performance of the fabric. For applications with less than optimum pitch, increase the number of rafters, install drain grommets (weepers) behind the front bar and use a double front bar to ensure maximum tension.
  • For installations with less than optimal pitch, especially where a high degree of water repellency is required, Sunbrella Plus, which has a urethane back coating would be a good option.
  • Installations that have underliners should have drain grommets.
  • Use large enough pipe in framework to ensure a stable installation.
  • On re-covers of an existing frame, inspect the frame for rust, corrosion or rough surfaces. If any are found, they should be sanded, primed and painted. If not attended, to these can lead to stains and abrasion damage to the new fabric in a short period of time.
  • Rope pull ups are not recommended, but if necessary the pulleys should be offset two to three inches to that the ropes "wipe" the fabric rather than concentrate their wear on one line.
  • The same general rules apply to marine applications. Avoid fabric rubbing by reinforcing areas where abrasion is likely. In high abrasion areas a reinforced vinyl may give added abrasion resistance as a reinforcement material.
  • Mooring poles are recommended for boat covers that span large areas to maintain adequate tension and drainage.
  • Completed marine tops should be handled with care. These tops are often collapsed/folded inside of a boot, should have spacers between the framework for transport. Abrasion between the top, the boot and components is increased exponentially when transported in the upright or "radar arch" position. The mounts should be dismantled and laid on the floor for transport.

Staple in Systems

  • Sunbrella is commonly used in staple-in awning frame systems. Consult your supplier for recommended staple guns, staples and staple cover (zip strip).
  • Ensure that the staple gun point is all the way to the bottom of the staple channel when stapling. This will help prevent staples from "blowing through" the fabric.
  • Do not cover too much area between stapled portions. Wide spans over rafters without being fastened will lead to wind whip, abrasion, leakage and eventual fabric breakdown.
  • Rafter bands should be used to secure fabric to the frame across these wide spans.
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