How to clean canvas awnings

Keeping your canvas awning clean and looking new doesn't have to be a task to be dreaded. You probably already have most of the items that you need around your home or in your garage. A neglected awning can become an eyesore, detracting from your home's overall appeal. Most canvas awnings will need to be thoroughly cleaned once or twice a year, with occasional attention given to keeping its surface free of airborne debris or plant materials between cleanings. It is important that the underside of your canvas awning also be washed clean whenever the surface is cleaned. The underside of the awning should also be kept free of dust and insects on a routine (weekly) basis. More serious problems involve eliminating stains or mildew. If you find that your awning has holes due to rotting fabric, you should consider removal and replacement instead of cleaning.

Blend a mixture of 50 per cent mild dishwashing liquid and 50 per cent warm water (about 38.9 degrees Celsius). Pour into a large spray bottle.

Climb onto the ladder. Use a broom to brush away any loose surface debris.

Spray the cleaning mixture liberally onto the awning's surface.

Scrub the awning well all over with a scrub brush. If your awning is very large you may use a larger, long-handled broom for scrubbing.

Rinse the lather away with a water hose and apply a weatherproofing canvas fabric sealant to the surface. Brush or sweep away dust, dirt, insects and spider webs from the underside of the awning. Use the cleaning solution to scrub clean the underside of the awning in the same manner as the upper portion of the awning in Steps 3 and 4. Rinse the underside with a water hose and allow to dry. Apply canvas sealant to the underside of your awning to protect your work. Awning Guard 690+ by Winsol is recommended.


Be cautious whenever you are working from a ladder. Make sure that the ladder is stable and fully opened. If possible, have at least one trusted person assisting you from below who is able to pass items to you and help stabilise the ladder as you work. Avoid using a pressure washer or chlorine-based cleaners to clean your canvas awning. Pressure washers exert sufficient force to permanently twist or warp the metal supports of the awning, and chlorine tends to rot canvas over time.

Things You'll Need

  • Mild dishwashing liquid
  • Warm water
  • Large spray bottle
  • Ladder
  • Broom
  • Soft-bristled scrub brush
  • Water hose
  • Canvas sealant/protectant
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About the Author

Genae Valecia Hinesman, former banking executive, entrepreneur and fashion model, began writing professionally in 2002. She is a Cum Laude graduate of the University of Southern California where she studied business, finance and exercise physiology. Her articles featured in Living Healthy: 360, Life 123, the American Chronicle and Yahoo Voices.