SUMMER CLEANING – OUTDOOR FABRICS
Sunbrella® specializes in outdoor treated fabrics as one of the best to withstand extreme weather and harsh treatment. Many designers I know recommend this company’s fabrics for boats furnishings and pillows. Their reasoning is if it is good to stand up to pounding waves and salt water, it will withstand lots of kid and animal usage abuse too. Canvass treated fabrics are used mostly for outdoor furniture but for years now are also found indoors as well. Petroleum or PVC derived fabrics we shy away from because of their adverse affect on the environment too long to get into here.
When I lived in Bali the fabrics we used outdoors were simple cottons that were naturally died and left untreated. They were washed weekly and the more they aged the more beautiful they became. Often sarongs doubled as our covers for chairs and sofas. Some cushions and pillows we covered in fabrics ranging from vintage to newly printed using wax application for the wonderful Balinese prints we created that morning! I also collected vintage sarongs and brought a great number back to the west with me enjoyed all year round by friends I gifted them to, and those I kept treasured for their special quality.
Our TIPS for cleaning Outdoor Fabrics for your needs are simplified here. We recommend you also research your fabrics for cleaning TIPS as provided by the manufacturer online. Regardless of manufacturer, everyone seems to agree the best way to keep these materials looking good and delay the need for deep cleanings is to hose outdoor fabrics off on a monthly basis. Do this with clear water as preventive and maintenance measure to preserve the fabric. This practice will help prevent dirt from becoming deeply embedded in the fibers, eliminate the need for more frequent vigorous cleanings, and keep the fabric looking best for long term usage based on the manufacturers lifetime guarantee. In most environments a thorough cleaning will be needed every two to three years, unless fabric is damaged by some mishap. It is impossible to emphasize enough how good plain water is for all cleaning. Much to my dismay I see way too much cleaning product used for household cleaning needs, which is solely created by manufacturers trying to get your money for their products. Not necessary, don’t do it. They destroy our environment and ground water.
I also believe you do not have to pay for costly fabrics to get a great look for outdoor use. Sometimes spending a bit extra helps keep it looking best longer then cheaper fabric, which tends to fray or fall apart. On the other hand, if you are a person who loves to change pillow and cushion covers seasonally or do not anticipate keeping them long term, then by all means buy the cheap ones that offer great design for the buck. Some of the best looks are offered at great prices found in mall shopping. Mixing it up with vintage furniture or fabrics is also a great way to customize. Keep in mind that vintage fabrics are more fragile and need extra gentle care. When it’s time for a thorough cleaning fabrics can be cleaned while still on (size permitting), they can be removed for cleaning in a washing machine or in the case of boats, dockside.
When cleaning outdoor treated fabrics, it is important to observe the following:
1. Always use a mild soap. I recommend one that is natural used for diapers. (Manufacturers recommend Ivory Snow, Dreft or Woolite). Any soap naturally good for babies is usually allergy free and environmentally friendly such as Berts Bees, or other baby soaps found in health food stores.
2. Water should be cold to lukewarm.
3. Never more than 100°F/38°C.
4. Rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residues.
5. Air-dry only. Never apply heat to treated fabrics.
GENERAL or LIGHT CLEANING
Follow these simple steps:
Carefully brush off loose dirt.
Prepare a cleaning solution of water and mild soap (no detergents).
Use a soft bristle brush to clean.
Allow cleaning solution to soak into the fabric.
Rinse thoroughly until all soap residue is removed. Air dry.
If stubborn stains persist, you can use a diluted chlorine bleach/soap mixture for spot cleaning of mildew, roof run-off or other similar stains. Always test cleaning materials that contain bleach. If the manufacturers tag on the fabric recommends Dry Clean Only then follow that instruction.
HEAVY CLEANING FOR STUBBORN STANS AND MILDEW: Sunbrella® Supreme fabrics do not promote mildew growth and why it is a leading material many spec out for furniture and accessories in homes or on boats. More folks are worrying these days about mold and its adverse affect on our health then in the past. Mildew may grow on dirt and other foreign substances that are not removed from the fabric using simple soap and water.
TO CLEAN MILDEW OR STUBBORN STAINS FOLLOW THESE STEPS:
Four ounces (1/2 cup) of chlorine bleach.
Two ounces (1/4 cup) of mild soap and/or detergent.
One gallon of water.
Carefully clean with soft bristle brush.
Allow mixture to soak into the fabric for up to 15 minutes.
Rinse thoroughly until all soap residue is removed. Air dry.
Repeat if necessary. Re-treatment of fabric for water and stain resistance will be necessary. Remember to protect the area around your fabric if using a bleach solution. Carpet or other fabrics that are not treated may have an adverse reaction to the bleach.
We recommend that you also consult with professional cleaning firms if you have a project or a problem that needs specific care. In evaluating the services of a professional firm, you should inquire about a firm’s experience in working with treated fabrics and learn if yours is among them. Ask if they have knowledge of cleaning and re-treatment requirements, and experience doing that as well.
Protect the area around the fabric when using a bleach solution – bleach may discolor fabrics so be careful when using it. Always rinse thoroughly to completely remove bleach. If fabric has some wrinkling, use an iron, if necessary, but only on the synthetic* setting. As some irons exceed the recommended 100°F/38°C temperature on the synthetic setting, test a small inconspicuous area before ironing entire piece. DO NOT utilize 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 components.
BEST OF ALL TIP TODAY: Have fun enjoying the OUTDOORS! We need more vitamin D in our lives as recently discovered. Just remember not to bake in the sun, only get 20 minutes a day of direct sunlight without a sunscreen, then slather it on all over and continue to do so throughout the day.
HAVE A HAPPY SUMMER!
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