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How to Take Care of My Shade Sail: A Dummy’s Guide

Have you been sitting outside, enjoying the comfort of your shade sail, only to look up and notice it’s getting a little extra grimy?

Do you find yourself frequently wishing your sail looked as good as it did the day you put it up?

Like it or not, it might be time to clean your shade sail.

Lucky for you, the Canopy Kingpin is here to teach you everything you need to know about shade sail maintenance, from start to finish.

This Dummy’s Guide will walk you through every step of the process and show you how to clean shade sails like a pro.

Okay, so maybe you’re not a dummy, but taking care of a shade sail can be a tough call for even the most experienced homeowners. You’ve been through the trouble of hanging the shade sail in the first place, and now, you just want to get back to enjoying the shade without all that unsightly dirt.

It might not be the easiest job on your to-do list, but don’t worry! Cleaning your shade sail isn’t nearly as tough as you might think. It’s important not to run outside, grab your hose and start spraying water everywhere, though! Take time to read up on all the best tips and tricks the Kingpin has put together below to help you return your shade sail to its original glory.

Why is Cleaning Shade Sails Important?

You might be sitting there wondering why cleaning your shade sail is really that important. Can’t you just hang it up there and let it do its job without worrying about it? Unfortunately, if you want to get the most out of your shade sail, you’ll need to do a little regular maintenance on it, for several reasons.

how to take care of my shade sail

First of all, it looks a lot better when you keep your shades clean! You don’t want to entertain in a back yard that’s got dead, patchy grass or mildewed old patio furniture, so why would you bring your friends and family over to a space with a dirty shade sail covering it? Keep your sails clean and you’ll feel a lot better about inviting company to your back yard.

Sometimes, a dirty shade sail can start to smell. EEEW... It’s rare that these shades retain water, but every now and then, they can start to mold or mildew just like any other piece of outdoor décor. If you keep your sails clean on a regular basis, you almost completely eliminate the possibility for them to start stinking. No one wants to relax under a sail that smells weird, so do yourself and your whole family a favor by keeping yours clean.

Of course, keeping your shade sail clean extends its life and keeps you from having to buy another expensive replacement as quickly, too. When you get used to the comfort a quality shade sail can provide, you’ll miss it when it gets worn out and too ragged to use anymore. Keeping yours clean can help it look great and function even better for years to come, and save you a lot of money in the long run.

By now you’re probably thinking, “Hurry up and teach me how to take care of my shade sail already!” Read on to learn everything you need to know to get started.

What Materials Do I Need?

Dare Platewarmer Clean Cleaning Material Cleaning

You don’t need a lot to get started cleaning your shade sail, but it’s a good idea to gather everything before you get to work. This is a long process, and it could take you several hours to complete it. You don’t want to interrupt yourself by having to run around looking for some item you’ve forgotten, so do yourself a favor and keep it all close at hand.

You’ll need the following before you can get started:

  • A large bucket. A pickle tub is a great choice, but if you don’t have anything that big, you can always refill it as you go.
  • A hose. This project requires a lot of water, so try to position your shade sail as close to the tap as possible so you won’t have to worry about whether or not your hose is long enough to reach. Set your hose to the lowest pressure, or attach a spray nozzle if you have one.
  • A large enough space to spread out your shade sail without getting it even more dirty. If you use your shade sail on a patio, just move all the furniture to the sides and spread it out there. Otherwise, you might need to clean it on the driveway or somewhere else big enough to get the job done.
  • A scrub brush with soft bristles. Be sure to get one that’s large enough to cover a lot of space in a short amount of time. If you can find the kind with a built-in handle, that’ll make it even easier on your hands and arms when you’re scrubbing.
  • Dish washing soap. Any dish washing soap will do, and you don’t need a lot of it. For each bucket of water, you only need about a tablespoon to get it plenty soapy enough to clean your shade sail. Keep it outside with you if you know you’ll need to be refilling your bucket periodically.
  • A helper. This job can be accomplished alone, but it’s a lot easier if you have someone to help you. Taking down your shade sail and putting it back up can be tough by yourself, and cleaning will go a lot faster when you have two people to work on the cloth at the same time. Don’t forget a second scrub brush if you have a helper!
  • Time. Set aside at least three or four hours to thoroughly clean the shade sail, and be sure you can lay it out in a safe place to dry overnight if you need to. Most sails will need at least 12 hours to dry, unless it’s extremely hot and sunny when you clean.

Now that you’ve got everything ready to go, it’s time to get cleaning!

How Do I Clean My Sail?

Now it’s time for the fun part. You’ve gathered all the items you need to get started cleaning, and now you’re ready to do the dirty work. Be sure you give yourself plenty of time to take care of this project. It could easily take up your whole afternoon, but it’s worth it!

cleaning the shade sail

Remember not to let young kids or pets get in the way while you’re cleaning. It’s always possible they could damage the shade sail while it’s laying down, but they could also get into the soapy water or otherwise get hurt somehow. For safety and for better luck getting the job done, too, keep the area clear from the little ones and from your furry friends.

  • Start by removing your shade sail. This is the step that makes most homeowners cringe, but don’t worry! If you put up your sail with D-rings and carabiners, all you have to do is unclip each corner and down your shade will fall. You might need two people to take it down safely.
  • Lay your shade sail out on the ground. Stretch it out all the way, but don’t over-stretch it.
  • Fill your bucket with dish soap and water, and bring over the hose.
  • Using your hose turned on low pressure, hose down the entire shade sail from top to bottom. Be sure to get it thoroughly wet, but don’t use too much pressure in doing so.
  • Get the scrub brush wet with your soapy water, and start scrubbing the shade sail from top to bottom. Every few feet, stop and rinse off the soap suds and any loosened dirt with the hose.
  • When you’ve reached the bottom, give it one more once-over with the hose.
  • Let your shade sail dry. This could take anywhere from all afternoon to 24 hours, depending on the temperature outside. Do not hang it back up while it’s still wet, as the added weight from the water could cause it to become warped or damaged.
  • Finally, you’re ready to put your sail back up. This is a little tough, and might require someone else’s help to get it accomplished. Clip each corner back onto its D-ring or carabiner, and don’t be afraid to break out the turnbuckles if you need to adjust the tension.

Now your sail is fresh, clean, and ready to be used for another several months.

How Can I Maintain My Sail?

make your shade sail clean

Now that you’ve got a clean sail, you might be wondering what you can do to keep it looking great even longer. There are a few different tips and tricks you can follow to get the most life out of your shade sail. Check them out below:

  • Clean your shade sail every two months while you’ve got it up. You might need to clean it more often if you notice major problem areas, but otherwise, two months should be just right.
  • Use a nylon broom to scrape solid dirt, animal droppings, and leaves from the top of your shade sail every week. This way, problem areas will be less likely to build up over time.
  • Never use bleach or harsh chemicals on your sail. Not only will this take off the color, but also it could weaken the integrity of the fabric and make it rip easily.
  • Never use high pressure when cleaning your sail. Higher pressure can cause the fabric to separate and become too thin to use.
  • If you have a vinyl shade sail, you can skip the initial hose step and go straight to scrubbing it by hand with a mild soapy brush. Hosing down vinyl could actually cause more damage over time.
  • If you notice a lot of mold on your shade sail, spray it with a mild outdoor bleach-free household cleaner. Let that sit for a couple of minutes, and then rinse and scrub it normally.
  • Take down your shade sail during inclement weather. Sails can stand up to a normal amount of rain or wind, but if it will be very stormy or if you expect heavy rains, take it down and store it. Don’t leave it up during snow or hail, either.
  • Never store your shade sail when it’s wet. Don’t hang it up while it’s wet after cleaning it, either. Always clean it before you put it away for the season.
  • Your sail should have come with a storage bag. If so, roll it up tightly and keep it in its bag until you need it again. If it didn’t come with a bag, put it in an airtight plastic bin with a snapping lid.
  • Be sure you keep your shade sail in a dry place, and check on it periodically while it’s in storage to be sure no mice or other pests have found it.

Conclusion

Have you got all the information you need to get started cleaning? Remember that cleaning your shade sail is an important step in extending its life, and in keeping your outdoor space as comfortable as possible too. Regular maintenance is a great way to keep weird smells and dirty appearances from interrupting your back yard plans.

Even though regular cleaning probably sounds like a hassle, don’t let it keep you from putting up a shade sail in your back yard! Your Kingpin enjoys his, and keeping them clean makes them even better for showing off to his friends during parties.

There’s a lot to be said for shade sails. They’re stylish, they’re functional, and they’re an affordable way to make your yard a great place for gatherings. You can even mix and match angled and square sails to make your yard look like the unique and incredible space it is. With a little effort, your sails can be clean, beautiful additions to your space for years to come.

So how long do sails last anyway? If you take good care of your shade sail, you can expect it to last you several years. Many include ten year warranties, but most sails start needing to be replaced after about five or six years. Give yours as much chance as possible to keep your family cool by taking care of it on a regular basis. Who knows? You might even be able to get to the end of that warranty without ever having to think about it again.

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