How to Clean a Outdoor Patio Umbrella- In-depth DIY Guide

The summer afternoons are best for enjoying outdoors.

Want to have a poolside lunch at home in the sunny afternoon or your leisure time at the beach?

The patio umbrella offers the ultimate protection from the scorching heat.

A well-designed, vibrant, and sassy canopy creates the ambiance you need to rejuvenate the mood.

But things can go awry when they become soiled. Even worse if molds develop on the fabric or you find cobwebs on the frames.

Outdoor sheds get dirty very soon due to continuous exposure to dust, bird droppings, air pollutants, dried leaves, twigs, etc.

With simple cleaning and maintenance regimen, you can retain the captivating appeal and enhance the lifecycle of your patio umbrella.

If you are stuck about when, how often, how to do it…read this entire post to know the ins and outs of cleaning an outdoor umbrella.

Table of Contents

When and How Often Should You Clean the Patio Umbrella?

The outdoor umbrella is in use mainly during the summers. Cleaning is easy if you do it frequently before it gets stubborn deposits.

The rule of thumb is to clean the patio umbrella (including the frames and roof fabric) at least once a month. You must do this before taking it down for winter storage.

Note- If your umbrella is placed too close to trees, it is vital to clean the fabric bi-weekly to remove the tree saps, bird poops, etc.

Cleaning Regimen Highlights

Expertise Level: Beginner
Total Duration: 2 hours
Working Time: 1 hour

Things You Will Need for Cleaning a Patio Umbrella


  • Broom/brush/vacuum cleaner (semi-soft bristles)
  • Scrubber/sponge
  • Bucket and mug
  • Garden spray hose
  • Spray bottle

Cleaning Agents

  • Strong powder/liquid laundry detergent (3-4 tbsp)
  • White vinegar (1 cup)
  • Warm water (1-2 lt)

Steps to Clean Outdoor Umbrellas with Fixed Fabric Covers

Step 1: Shift the Umbrella to a Safe Place away from Sunlight

Cleaning the patio umbrella under the sun can be a tough chore. Move it to a shady area where you get easy access to water supply and cleaning tools.

Step 2: Brush off the Loose Dirt

Umbrellas placed outdoors gather volumes of dust deposits on the canopy. Before proceeding to wash it, you must remove the loose debris. This eases the entire process.

Use a broomstick with soft bristles to remove the dirt. If you are allergic to dust, do this with a vacuum cleaner.

Step 3: Prepare the Solution for Wet Cleaning

Fill the 3/4th portion of a large bucket with warm water. Add 4tbsp of detergent per gallon of water to form a rich lather.

Step 4: Apply the Detergent Solution on the Umbrella Fabric

Wet the umbrella fabric with this cleaning solution. You may use a spray bottle for this purpose.

Don’t put the entire solution at a time. You will need more solutions later if required.

Allow at least 20 minutes for the mixture to soak into the cover material. This helps to break down and loosen the dirt particles.

Step 5: Scour the Tough Soil Deposits

Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the dirt away. Scrub the fabric in straight strokes to remove the residues.

If it feels too dry, you may apply more solutions during this step.

Step 6: Wash off the Debris and Soap Residues

Allow another resting period of 20 minutes for the detergent to act further on the fabric.

Use the garden hose to spray water on the umbrella to remove the bubbles and dirt. Rinse the entire fabric thoroughly to wash off the detergent completely.

Remains of soap particles can make the fabric sticky even after drying the cover. The canopy will get soiled very quickly and complicate the cleaning process in the future.

Note– If there are tough stains, you may need to work harder on those areas. If the stains persist after scrubbing, you may repeat steps 4 and 5.

Step 7: Air Dry the Wet Fabric in a Sunny Area

Open and Spread the umbrella on the lawn where you get plenty of sunlight. Keep it open to allow time for air drying.

Check the umbrella before closing it. Never keep a wet umbrella closed. It will ruin the fabric material.

Stepwise Cleaning Guide for Removable Patio Umbrella Covers

Cleaning a removable outdoor umbrella cover is easy. Even better if it comes with the ‘machine wash safe’ tag.

However, pre-cleaning is an eminent step before putting it into the washing machine.

Step 1: Get Rid of the Loose Deposits

Placing the umbrella cover directly into the washing machine can do no good for removing tough stains and residues.

Brushing/vacuuming is the integral pretreatment for removable patio umbrella covers.

Remove the loose dust and debris with a soft-bristled brush. Vacuum cleaning can speed up the process even further.

Step 2: Apply Detergent to Treat the Stains

Put heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent on the stains. Allow at least 15-20 minutes for the detergent to work on the sully patches. After the resting period, use a semi-hard bristled scrubbing brush to remove the tough deposits.

Step 3: Choose the Washer Settings (For Machine Wash)

You can wash the machine washable patio umbrella cover in a top-load or front-load washer. Choose the deep cleaning option that removes excessive soil. Settings for regular washing cycles cannot remove the dirt on an outdoor umbrella cover.

Don’t use the center-agitator if you have a top-load model. It can cause excessive fabric wrinkling.

Step 4: Spread the Umbrella Cover for Air Drying

Put the umbrella cover for drying on a clothesline. This is necessary if you have a steel or wooden umbrella frame.

These frames are rust-free, so there are no concerns about structural damage.
Allow air drying under the sunlight to speed up the process.

Step 5: Treat the Fabric Wrinkling

This step is optional and required for visual esthetics.

A wrinkled patio umbrella cover lacks the eyeball-grabbing appeal. You may do ironing to remove the wrinkling before attaching it back to the frame. Choose low-heat settings to avoid fabric damage/fading issues.

Instructions to Clean the Outdoor Umbrella Frame

Metal Patio Umbrella Frames

It is safe to use water for cleaning aluminum frames. You can follow these steps below for the best results.

  • Add 2tbsp dishwashing detergent in 1lt hot water
  • Soak a clean towel cloth in this cleaning solution
  • Rub the frame surfaces gently with this wet cloth
  • Allow 5-10 minutes to soften the tough grease deposits
  • Rinse the frame thoroughly with the garden hose
  • Wipe the remaining water from the frame with the dry cloth

Note- Don’t use abrasive detergents or a scrubber to clean the aluminum outdoor umbrella frames. It can damage the smooth glossy texture of the frame surface.

Wooden Outdoor Umbrella Frames

Harsh chemicals in cleaning agents can damage the varnishes on wooden umbrella frames. It is better to brush off the dirt and cobwebs with a broomstick. Use a soft cloth to wipe off the excess dirt from the frames.

If there are stains on the wood frame, you can a soft cloth soaked in a mild detergent solution for the cleaning purpose.

Outdoor Umbrella Cleaning: FAQs

#1. Can I wash the patio umbrella in the washing machine?

Yes, you can clean a removable umbrella cover in the washing machine. But there are a few considerations to retain the longevity of the canopy fabric:

  • You must pretreat the fabric to remove the loose dirt and stains
  • Use machine compatible laundry detergent
  • Always use cold water to wash patio fabric
  • Do not use the spin option to dry the cover inside the washer
  • Spread the canopy outdoors for air drying to prevent severe wrinkling
  • Do not put heavily soiled covers in the washing machine. The volumes of dirt may clog the drainage hose.

#2. How to clean mold and mildew from patio umbrella?

Patio umbrella fabric can develop molds and mildew during summers. High humidity and hot climate are perfect conditions for rapid mildew growth.

Try this quick and easy remedy to clean mildew/mold on the umbrella cover.

Note- Do this entire cleaning process outdoors. Things can get messy all around. Doing everything on the lawn can ease the chores.

Things You Will Need for the Process

  • White vinegar- 1 cup
  • Soft-bristled fabric cleaning brush
  • Laundry cleaning powder- 2tbsp
  • Spray bottle
  • Garden hose water

Mildew and Mold Cleaning Method

  • Get rid of the powdery mildew with a soft bristle brush
  • Mix the vinegar and detergent in a bucket full of hot water to prepare the cleaning solution
  • Spray the cleaning solution on the stains
  • Allow 15-20 minutes for the chemicals to act on the mold and mildew spots
  • Scrub the stained fabric with the brush to remove the residues
  • Rinse the cover thoroughly with the garden hose to remove the stains and cleaning agents

#3. How to clean green algae from patio umbrella?

Greenish spots on the canopy cover are sure signs of algae, mildew, and mold growth. Luckily there is an effective method to clean the green scums easily from umbrella fabric.

Things Needed for Cleaning Green Scums

  • 2 soft-bristle cloth washing brushes
  • Undiluted white vinegar- 2 cups
  • Warm water- 4 cups
  • Laundry detergent (non-bleach)- 2 tbsp
  • Bucket
  • Garden hose

Cleaning Method

  • Mix hot water, vinegar, and detergent powder to prepare a cleaning solution (keep half portion of the solution in a separate bucket)
  • Dip a cleaning brush in the solution and apply it on the scums in circular motion (repeat the action every 15-20 minutes)
  • Now take another brush and use the solution in another bucket.
  • Apply the solution with the brush on other parts of the umbrella cover. This will eliminate further green algae growth on the top cover.
  • Repeat the scrubbing action as required to get rid of stains
  • Wash the umbrella cloth thoroughly with a garden hose
  • Spread the fabric on the clothesline for air drying in a sunny area

#4. How to clean bird off patio umbrella?

Bird droppings on the outdoor umbrella seem to be a daunting task. Fortunately, there is a quick and simple method to ease your job.

Things You Need to Remove Bird Poop from the Outdoor Umbrella

  • Laundry liquid detergent
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Pet stain remover
  • Scraper or plastic knife
  • Hot water
  • Spray bottle
  • Soft towel cloth
  • Fabric brush (soft bristles)

Stepwise Cleaning Process

Step 1: Remove Loose Dirt and Bird Droppings

If you have a removable cover, detach it from the umbrella and spread it on the ground.

Remember, you must do everything outdoors. This is a messy job.

Using the brush, clean the excess dirt and bird poops. If there are fresh droppings, use the plastic scraper/knife to remove as much residue as possible.

Step 2: Prepare a Cleaning Mix

Put equal portions of dishwashing agent and laundry soap in hot water. Stir continuously to form a solution. Spread this solution on the bird offs and stains using a spray bottle.

To clean a non-removable cover, saturate the brush with the cleaning mix. Apply this on stains in circular motions.
Allow 15-20 minutes to soften the deposits.

Step 3: Scrub the Bird Poops and Stains

Now use the brush again to scour the spots. Spray more solution and warm water if required.

Step 4: Put the Removable Cover in the Washing Machine

It is best to set the washing machine on the eco-cycle mode for washing a patio umbrella. Put the fabric and add a cup of machine-friendly detergent.

Don’t run the dryer to remove the water. You must air dry the fabric in the sun.

Step 5: Check the Cover for Poop Remains

If there are stubborn deposits on the fabric after the wash cycle, apply pet stain remover with a sprayer. This unique formulation acts fast on the animal droppings.

Step 6: Rinse the Top Cover with Garden Hose

You must remove soap remains on the fabric. This is vital 0before drying to avoid viscid surfaces. This makes room for debris deposits.

Spread the patio cover on the floor outdoors. Spray water with the garden hose to remove the bubbles and soap residues.

Finally, you can put the cover for air drying at a place receiving sunshine. You may need to do ironing with low-heat settings to treat the wrinkling.

#5. How to clean a white outdoor patio umbrella?

Cleaning a white cover involves similar steps you would do for any tinted fabric. To get the dazzle effect, use chlorine (bleach-based) detergent. It helps to eliminate any possible stains on the fabric material.

If you have any laundry detergent for washing white clothes, this is useful for the patio cover.

#6. How to clean tree sap deposits on an outdoor umbrella?

This process involves using strong chlorine bleach. Make sure you choose an outdoor cleaning area that is not affected by bleaching chemicals.

Things You Will Need for Cleaning Sap Stains

  •  A large bucket
  • Chlorine bleach- 1 cup
  • Laundry detergent- ¼ cup
  • Warm water
  • Spray bottle
  • Soft-bristle brush
  • Gloves

Tree Sap Cleaning Method

  • Relocate your umbrella cover to a shady place outdoors
  • Prepare the cleaning solution with chlorine bleach, detergent, and water. If required, you may increase the quantity of detergent.
  • Pour a portion of the cleaning solution into a sprayer bottle.
  • Moisten the entire cover with the solution
  • Allow 10 minutes for the solution to work on the sap stains.
  • Scour the sap stains softly with the brush
  • Rinse the bubbles and bleach traces with a garden hose
  • Spread the fabric for air drying

Wrapping Up,

Cleaning the patio umbrella every 15 days eliminates the need to do tough chores.

I hope you enjoyed reading this guide and found the tips helpful.

Now that the patio umbrella is clean and dry, it’s your turn to reattach the fabric to the frame and enjoy a sunny afternoon outdoors.

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