Can I wash my outdoor umbrella in the washing machine?

So, you open your umbrella and notice loose dirt all over the canopy!

Can you wash my outdoor umbrella in the washing machine? While you might think it’s easy enough, here are a few reasons why we do NOT recommend this. Also some steps to keep your canopy looking fresh and clean all year long! A good high quality outdoor umbrella is an investment into your outdoor area and doesn’t come at a cheap price. It is important to ensure you are regularly maintaining your umbrella so it will continue to last you for years to come. 

The below steps on how to clean an outdoor umbrella not only apply for the wall mounted umbrella. Using these tips you can also clean your patio umbrella, cantilever umbrella, market umbrella or any outdoor shade umbrellas. 

olefin umbrella fabric

So, what’s wrong with the washing machine? It’s just umbrella fabric?

While nothing can stop you from choosing to machine wash umbrella fabrics, here are some cautions:

Can I wash my outdoor umbrella in the washing machine?

  • Umbrella canopies are much larger and heavier than you might think and require a lot more space than your regular size washing machine capacity – this has the potential to not only damage the fabric but also your machine.
  • Most high-quality upholstery fabrics or marine fabric comes with a layer of waterproofing and this can be stripped with washing machine use. This damage to the fabric can also impact the UV resistance. 
  • After using a  washing machine, the colour saturation in your canopy could begin to fade/be washed out (especially if you have a vibrant canopy colour).
  • While they may look like a standard fabric, they are a thicker high-quality marine grade fabric – this means you cannot treat them like your daily clothes.
  • Machine washing could potentially warp the fabric slightly which could lead to your canopy not fitting back on the frame.
  • The most important factor is that machine washing your canopy could void the fabric warranty.

* If after all this, you still choose to machine wash your canopy, this should always be done on a cold delicate cycle and your canopy should NEVER be tumble dried as the heat is often extreme and unpredictable. This will lead to the fibres being broken down and cause lasting damage to your canopy. They should always be airdried after any cleaning process. As a general rule, umbrella canopies are not machine washable.

So how can I clean my canopy and maintain its lifespan?

The best approach to maintain your outdoor umbrella’s appearance is with routine and frequent cleaning, just like with other furniture, especially fabric. Most umbrella fabrics, make for simple cleanup, weather resistance, with mould and mildew resistance.

Regular cleaning reduces the need for more frequent thorough cleaning by preventing dirt from being deeply ingrained in the fabric. Most umbrellas only require a thorough cleaning every two to three years.

To ensure your canopy remains fresh and clean for years to come, taking the time to properly care for your umbrella, can save you repairs in the long run.

Here is a list of items you will need to get started:

Can I wash my outdoor umbrella?

  • First things first, you need to find a good multi-surface cleaner*, that must be suitable for fabric, plastics, vinyl, stainless steel, and other metals (this way you can also use this for maintaining the rest of your umbrella).
    *303® Multi Surface Cleaner is recommended by Sunbrella fabrics for use on umbrella canopies.
  • Coarse Brush (perhaps not your hairbrush) – this will help brush out any stubborn spots on your canopy.
  • An old rag or cleaning cloth (I would avoid using your finest cotton sheets)

Cleaning your canopy

  1. Determine if you need to remove the fabric from the frame for a more thorough cleaning, or if it’s fine to remain stay fitted for a quick clean.
  2. Start by brushing your entire canopy down to loosen any debris, dust, or dirt with your coarse brush.
  3. Gently dampen the canopy with fresh water.
  4. Working in small sections to avoid drying, spray the canopy with your cleaner.
  5. Gently wipe down your canopy with the cloth or if the stains are stubborn, working in circles, scrub the canopy with the brush.
  6. Rise off the cleaning solution thoroughly with fresh water.
  7. Continue steps 4-6 until you have cleaned the entire canopy.
  8. Dry the umbrella or allow the canopy to air-dry completely before packing away or closing your umbrella.
  9. If you are not using your umbrella, make sure to use a protective cover to keep your canopy clean.

maintain outdoor umbrella

Cleaning your umbrella frame

Now that your canopy is nice and clean, let’s not forget about the rest of your umbrella! We want your entire umbrella to enhance your outdoor living for years and maintenance is the key to ensure your umbrella will continue to look great and work correctly over time.

In addition to the products, you have from cleaning your canopy, another useful product is:

  • WD40 – or similar – makes sure it has lubrication and anti-corrosion properties.

Maintaining your umbrella

 Maintenance is very similar on wall mounted umbrellas, patio umbrellas, garden umbrellas and market umbrellas. The below steps will assist you in keeping your umbrellas clean and well maintained. 

  1. Lubricate all moving parts or areas of high movement. Such as the rotation lever, locking pin, canopy ribs, gas strut and sliding trolley.
  2. Spray the umbrella mast and wipe down with your cleaning cloth. Including but not limited to; the umbrella mast, ribs, hubs, base, and any exposed stainless-steel components to help avoid any corrosion.
  3. Allow the umbrella to completely dry before packing it away. 
  4. As with your canopy, a protection cover will go a long way to help protect your umbrella from the elements. Make sure to invest in one today!

By taking the time to ensure you maintain and clean your umbrella, you will save yourself a lot of time, money and headaches by not needing to replace any damaged or broken parts and will ensure your umbrella will last you through the years and stand out.

Need more help?

We hope we’ve answered your question, ‘can I wash my outdoor umbrella in the washing machine?’ Need more help in caring for and maintaining your umbrella? We recommend visiting the Shadowspec Help Center where there are answers to the questions our customers are asking every day.

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