Open the Doors to Patio Season: Cleaning Your Outdoor Fabrics

June 06, 2018

Posted by D. A. Burns

Open the Doors to Patio Season: Cleaning Your Outdoor Fabrics

Now that the weather is warming up, it’s time to get your outdoor living space ready for relaxing and entertaining. After a few Winters in storage, most outdoor cushions and patio umbrellas will require a thorough cleaning.

Although outdoor fabrics are designed to be to sun and moisture resistant, they’re also exposed to other outdoor elements including some furry friends, insects and allergens. This means that they are vulnerable to other soils that can impact the life and appearance of the piece.

Here at D. A. Burns, we offer comprehensive cleaning services for your outdoor cushions, patio umbrellas and marine fabrics. Outdoor area carpets, boat covers, Bimini tops, dodgers and sails – we do it all.

Here is some insight on how we approach outdoor projects:


One of the best ways to extend the life of patio umbrellas, outdoor cushions and marine fabrics is to apply a stain protectant after each cleaning. Because of wear, and exposure to water and outdoor elements, we recommend the reapplication of fabric protector each time you have them cleaned.

Synthetic Fibers

Though most outdoor fabrics today are crafted from synthetic, weather resistant materials, they aren’t indestructible. Direct sunlight, natural contaminants in the atmosphere and the growth of moss and mildew are not kind to your outdoor fabrics.

Ultraviolet light can weaken and sometimes yellow with prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and heat. For outdoor area carpets, we use “UV stabilized” thread, for added protection, whenever we apply a weather resistant, Sunbrella™ binding to finish the carpet’s edges.

A common mistake with DIY cleaning is using inappropriate solutions that can result in dimensional changes or fiber damage. Improper cleaning solutions and methods may also void the warranty of your outdoor furnishings.  Sometimes, it’s best to leave the work to the professionals.

At D. A. Burns, we’re happy to be that resource for you. We stay up-to-date with leading carpet and fabric manufacturers, so our service technicians are always current with the best practices needed to care for your furnishings.

Natural Fibers

Outdoor furnishings made of natural fibers, such as cotton canvas, are more vulnerable and susceptible to damage during normal use than their synthetic counterparts. Natural fabric shrinks when wet and can experience loss of color with prolonged exposure to sunlight. Knowing this, manufacturers produce the fabric and treat it with a waterproofing agent, but it will wear away over time.

This can lead to the growth of mold and mildew if the natural-fiber items happened to be stored wet or contained in a space prone to dampness. Also, some can easily mistake mildew for regular soil build up and delay removing it, only to find that the staining is irreversible, forcing them to replace the item altogether. Mildew-resistant treatments can be administered but need to be re-applied on a regular basis depending on how often the items are used and exposed to such elements.

Another common reaction to mildew stains is to treat them using bleach. This is not a good idea, as it won’t remove the stains and can significantly impact the strength of the fabric, unnecessarily shortening its life.

To make sure you’re cleaning and protecting all of your outdoor fabrics the right way, we recommend professional cleaning and the application of stain protectant for your outdoor furnishings.

We want your patios and outdoor spaces to be beautiful and ready for the summer season. Drop off your outdoor cushions and fabrics at our Seattle or Bellevue locations and receive a 20% "cash and carry" discount, or schedule our pickup and delivery service, if that’s more convenient for you.

To learn more about our services for cleaning outdoor fabric, visit this page. To obtain a service proposal or schedule a cleaning appointment, contact us.

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