Care & Cleaning of Outdoor Fabrics and Vinyls
Before beginning, identify the brand of material you’ll be working with. Specifics for care and cleaning can differ between materials. However, there are some practices you can employ to maximize the life and looks of your outdoor fabrics.
Hose down your fabric periodically. This will wash away loose dirt, salt, etc. and prevent these contaminates from becoming ingrained.
Never store wet materials. Allow them to air dry first. Trapped moisture can lead to mold and mildew growth.
When it comes time for an actual cleaning, review and employ manufacturer recommendations. Failing to do so may result in damaging the material and even voiding the warranty. Below are cleaning instructions for some of the more popular marine fabrics.
Sunbrella® and Herculite Riviera®
When the time comes to clean your fabric, begin by brushing off loose dirt with a soft-bristle brush. Hose down the fabric. Prepare a cleaning solution of water and mild soap (dishwashing soap is ideal) and, using the same brush, clean the fabric. Allow the solution to sit and soak into the fabric before rinsing thoroughly. Allow the fabric to air dry. If retreatment is required, the factory recommends using 303® brand products.
Weathermax™ recommends using Ultramar Professional Textile Care Products for cleaning and treating their fabrics. The procedures are the same as for Sunbrella®, substituting Ultramar Sprayhood & Tent Shampoo for the cleaning solution. Follow up with an application of Ultramar Sprayhood & Tent Protector to restore water repellency and protection from contaminates.
Stamoid® strongly recommends using a sponge rather than a brush. Spray Stamoid® Marine Vinyl Cleaner on the immediate area to be cleaned, and lightly scrub with the sponge. Rinse thoroughly, and allow the fabric to air dry. Follow with an application of Stamoid® Marine Vinyl Protective Cream.
Strataglass™ stresses the use of IMAR products for cleaning and protection. Using harsh cleaners or wash-and-wax products will void your warranty. Never handle Strataglass™ with sunscreen on your hands. Begin by flushing thoroughly, not only to rinse off contaminates but to cool the glass as well. Using IMAR Yacht Soap Concentrate and a washing mitt or soft cotton cloth, clean the glass. Rinse the glass and dry completely with a high-quality chamois. Follow with a light application of IMAR Strataglass™ Protective Polish. With a soft cotton cloth, use a small, light circular motion. Once dried, the polish can be removed with a clean cotton cloth. Follow with a light buffing. For routine maintenance between polishing, use IMAR Strataglass™ Protective Cleaner.
Scotties Seaglass™ and Regalite®
Clean regularly. Leaving dirt and salt on the surface can result in permanent discoloration. Never rub these products when they are dry. Doing so could result in scratches. Flood the glass first with water before gently wiping it with a damp, soft cotton cloth. Never use products with silicones or alcohol in them. Use a mild detergent in water applied with a soft cloth.
Using bleach should be a last resort. Even if a particular fabric can withstand the corrosiveness of bleach, stitching usually can’t. Always check with the manufacturer before using bleach. Sunbrella®, for example, says you can use a solution of 1 cup bleach, ¼ cup mild soap and 1 gallon of water. Let the mixture to soak into the fabric for 15 minutes before blotting the stain with a sponge or clean towel. Always rinse thoroughly.
Outdoor fabrics and vinyls are continuously exposed to damaging environmental factors, causing even the hardiest of materials to degrade over time. By caring for and cleaning these materials on a regular basis, you can extend their lives by years.