3 Ways to Clean Your Patio Umbrella (No Bleach Needed)

Outdoor umbrellas offer the shade you might be craving at the poolside, beach, outdoor dining tables, or patio. Since patio umbrellas get exposed to different elements for a long time, they might get dirty from air pollution, dust, bird droppings, and tree sap. 

The best way to keep your patio umbrella clean is to clean it regularly before storing it or slipping it on the cover. Most patio umbrellas have treated acrylic fabrics that can help repel stains, mildew, and moisture. 

Unfortunately, even the best umbrellas get bombed by birds and covered with airborne soil. Let’s consider how you can clean your patio umbrella when such a situation happens. 

How to Clean a Patio Umbrella

Below are ways you can clean a patio umbrella. 

How Often Should You Clean a Patio Umbrella?

It would help if you cleaned your outdoor patio umbrella at least once per month. It applies mainly to when your patio umbrella is in use. 

However, you may have to clean it more often if it’s closer to tall shrubs and trees.

Equipment You Need

  • Bucket
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Shop vacuum
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Spray bottle
  • Garden hose with a sprayer


  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent

1. Cleaning an Umbrella Having Unremovable Fabric Covering

Move to a Shady Area

The first step is to move your outdoor patio umbrella to a shady area. The area should be away from any direct sunlight. It’s critical, especially when cleaning umbrellas with non-removable fabric tops. 

Remove Loose Soil

At this point, you should vacuum or brush off loose dirt. You need to employ a soft-bristled brush to avoid driving soil deeper into your fabric. 

Mix a Cleaning Solution

Take a large bucket and mix ¼ cup of liquid laundry detergent per one gallon of lukewarm water. Here, we recommend that you use laundry detergent instead of dishwashing liquid. You’ll have a few bubbles that you’ll still need to rinse.

A good quality detergent like Persil and Tide will effectively break the stains. 

Scrub the Soil

Employ a soft-bristled brush to work your solution into your fabric in circular motions. Use extra elbow grease to the stained sections. There are stains such as a sunscreen that need additional treatment steps. 

Let the Solution Do Work

Allow the solution about 15 to 20 minutes to soak into your fabric and perform the function of loosening the soil. 

Rinse Your Umbrella

Employ a hose sprayer to rinse your fabric thoroughly. Ensure that you remove all soap residues. Leaving the material soapy is likely to attract more soil. 

Allow Your Umbrella to Dry

Move your umbrella to a sunny area and allow it to air dry. Never close your umbrella until it dries completely. 

2. Cleaning an Umbrella Having a Removable Fabric Cover

If you have a removable umbrella fabric with a care tag showing that it’s machine washable, cleaning it is more straightforward. 

Remove Loose Soil

The first step is to remove any fabric covering, give it a good vacuum, and shake to remove any loose soil. 

Pretreat Stains

Use an enzyme-based stain remover or heavy-duty laundry detergent to treat heavy stains. Employ a soft-bristled brush to scrub on the surface with stain remover. Allow the stain remover about 15 minutes to work before tossing the fabric in the washer. 

Select the Washer Water Temperature

Use heavy-duty detergent and cold water when washing. If possible, soak in a top-load high-efficiency washer or front-load washer without a center agitator to limit excessive wrinkling. 

Allow to Air-Dry

Avoid placing your umbrella cover in an automatic dryer. You can either return the covering on the umbrella frame to dry or let it air-dry on a clothesline. 

Remove Excessive Wrinkling

If you use a top-load center agitator washer, there is a high chance of experiencing excessive wrinkling. You can remove the wrinkling by ironing the cover using a low-heat iron setting. 

3. Cleaning an Umbrella Frame

Wooden Frames

Here, you need to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. For wood umbrellas, apply a mixture of two cups of warm water and 2-teaspoons of mild dishwashing liquid along with a soft-bristled brush or cloth to wipe down your frame.

Avoid making the surface extra wet. Rinse it by wiping it with a clean cloth. Allow the umbrella frame to dry. 

Aluminum Frames

For aluminum frames, still, apply a mixture of two cups of warm water and 2-teaspoons of mild dishwashing liquid along with a soft-bristled brush or cloth to wipe down your frame.

Rinse your fabric with clean water and dry it thoroughly using a clean towel. Avoid abrasive cleaners, bleach products, and materials that damage the finish. 

If you notice water spots on your aluminum frame, mix a solution of nine parts water and one part white distilled vinegar. Dip a soft towel in your solution and wipe the perimeter. You can also rinse using clear water and dry with a clean towel. 

How Do You Clean Mold off a Patio Umbrella?

There are times when your patio umbrella will be affected by tree sap stains, mildew, or mold. When you get yourself in such a scenario, you’ll need a more robust cleaning solution to correct the problem. 

Below are steps you can follow in cleaning mold from your patio umbrella. 

Choose Cleaning Location

The first step is to cover your working area using plastic sheeting or move your umbrella to any shady location that won’t be harmed by chlorine bleach. 

Mix a Cleaning Solution

Take a large bucket and mix ¼ cup of laundry detergent with a gallon of lukewarm water. 

Apply the Cleaning Solution

Pour your cleaning mix into a spray bottle and apply it, ensuring that it covers the whole umbrella surface. You can also wear protective gloves and use a soft-bristled brush to work on the solution. 

Allow the Cleaner to Work

Let your solution sit on the fabric for about 10 minutes. Scrub the stained areas using a soft-bristled brush. 

Rinse & Air-Dry

Rinse your umbrella fabric thoroughly to eliminate the residue. Allow your cover to air dry in the sun. Repeat the steps if necessary using a renewed cleaning solution. 

Can You Put a Patio Umbrella in the Washing Machine?

Patio umbrella cleaning is a straightforward process. You must first check whether you can remove the canopy of your umbrella.

If yes, remove the top of your umbrella and unhook the pockets from its frame. You can then wash the patio umbrella in the washing machine. 

However, ensure that you only use cold water. Instead of using a dryer, air-dry your patio umbrella. If your umbrella isn’t removable from the frame, you can use a garden hose to clean it. 

Before you put your patio umbrella in a washing machine, ensure that you clean off loose dirt.

You should also add a detergent to your washer. Avoid using a bleaching agent since it can ruin the color of your umbrella. 

Patio Umbrella Maintenance & Storage After Cleaning 

Apart from cleaning your umbrella, you should also carry out maintenance and proper storage to improve the durability of your patio umbrella. 

Below are different maintenance practices that you should implement on your umbrella:

  • Open it gently: Most umbrellas are developed to rest comfortably in any closed position. To safely and properly open your umbrella, you should push and extend your main canopy ribs from the pole before engaging its lift mechanism.

    If you realize that the umbrella isn’t opening easily, avoid forcing it. Take time to clear stray leaves and twigs that might be hindering the performance of the umbrella lift. 
  • Close your patio umbrella when you aren’t: Even if you have a sizable mounting fixture or base, always keep your outdoor umbrella collapsed and in its locked position, especially when not using it.

    High winds and poor weather conditions can affect your umbrella, especially when it remains open. Rather than launching your umbrella across the yard or risking destroying its ribs, take time to close it. Remember, most manufacturers don’t include wind damage on their warranties. 
  • Keep the umbrella dry: When your umbrella is in use, apply an umbrella cover. Apart from protecting your patio umbrella from the sun, it also helps with mildew-causing moisture.

    If you find putting a cover on your umbrella difficult, ensure that you fully dry it before closing it up. Even though most umbrellas are treated and designed to resist mildew and mold, moisture can collect and remain within the folds of your closed umbrella. 
  • Review your manufacturer’s recommendations: Each manufacturer is unique and comes up with unique tips and instructions on how to take care of your umbrellas.

    For instance, some woods need regular oiling while others don’t need it at all. Since different structural designs and materials have their guidelines for maintenance, ensure you brush on everything you need before setting up your umbrella. 

Apart from cleaning your patio umbrella, you should also protect and store it well. The best time to reserve your umbrella is during the off-season period when it lays idle. Remove the canopy and pole from the mount or base and store it well. 

Follow the below guidelines to protect and store your patio umbrella:

  • Ensure the umbrella is clean & dry: Before you store the patio umbrella, follow the guidelines listed earlier to clean it effectively. 
  • Apply a protective cover: The cover prevents the build-up of block dust, debris, and moisture and minimizes damage from items that might brush against the umbrella. 
  • Wrap the umbrella fold in one direction: To preserve the aesthetic qualities of the umbrella and minimize wrinkling, wrap the umbrella folds in a single direction and secure them within a cover. 
  • Cover pole ends: Cover the ends of the pole with heavy rugs or cardboards to minimize damages. 
  • Store your patio umbrella in an upright position: if you lay your umbrella on the sides, you’ll exert unneeded weight on the rib assembly. It presents great danger, especially if there is a risk of stepping on or other items to be stacked on top. 
  • Keep the umbrella in an enclosed area: During the off-season, store your umbrella in a covered and dry space such as the basement, garage, or pool house.

The Best Patio Umbrellas

Purchasing the best patio umbrella will translate into reduced cleaning costs. Below are some of the best umbrellas you should buy if you’re looking for durability and spending less on the cleaning exercise: 

Skagerak Atlantis Umbrella

The Skagerak Atlantis umbrella is the best option available on the market. Skagerak has high UV protection, versatile size, and classic good looks. 

The product’s neutral design means that it can match any outdoor furnishings. It also has a leather reinforced fabric. You also have a double pulley system to open the umbrella quickly. 

You’ll also be presented with various sizes and shapes, making it fit for all kinds of spaces, including a compact courtyard or generous terrace. 

If there is a feature you’ll like, it’s the stainless steel-tipped and weather-resistant aluminum pole. Everything about this patio umbrella makes it easy to clean. 

Tuuci Ocean Master Max Cantilever W/Heating and Lighting

If you don’t have a limit to your budget, this is the best outdoor patio umbrella for you. The umbrellas are designed from stainless steel and marine-grade aluminum to withstand the harshest of elements. 

They contain fabric canopies that offer mildew and mold resistance and block 98% UV rays. It means that you’ll spend less money cleaning the umbrellas.

The umbrellas also come with infrared heaters and LED lights. There is also an auto-telescoping mast having an automated lift. It comes with fully replaceable components that guarantee a lifetime of serviceability. 

Crate and Barrel Black Cabana Stripe Umbrella Canopy

The Stripe umbrella is the best option if you’re after making your pool area more entertaining. It’s a sure way of upgrading your pool area to create a resort-like retreat. 

The products blend stylish design with mold, mildew, and fade-resistant fabric to prevent 98% of potentially damaging UV rays. 

The umbrella is available in eleven unique color options, from focal-point patterns to neutrals. It’s also lightweight and easy to clean. 

Keeping An Outdoor Patio Umbrella from Being Blown Away

To enhance the effectiveness of your patio umbrella, it’ll help to prevent it from being blown away. Here, you need to:

  • Ensure that it’s attached to the base securely.
  • You should fasten the umbrella fabric to the ends of your umbrella. If any ends become loose, the fabric can blow away.
  • Ensure that the bottom of your umbrella is flat. It ensures that the wind tilts it and tips it over. 
  • Tighten the cap over your umbrella to keep your fabric in place. 

If you’re always worried about keeping your umbrella from being blown away, you can take it down. You can also collapse the umbrella when not in use. Open it only when you want to use it. 


As we have seen above, outdoor patio umbrellas get exposed to different elements for a long time, thus being vulnerable to getting dirty from air pollution, dust, bird droppings, and tree sap. There is, therefore, the need to clean your patio umbrella regularly before you store it or slip on the cover. 

The good news is that most patio umbrellas have treated acrylic fabrics that can help repel stains, mildew, and moisture.

You can select from any of the patio umbrellas that we have recommended above if you want an option that is durable and easy to wash. 

Ensure you strictly follow the cleaning guidelines highlighted above to achieve effective results. 


Photo of author

Hubert Miles

Hello! My name is Hubert Miles. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. One of my favorite parts of my job is inspecting decks and patios. I also enjoy spending time in our backyard with friends and family. My team and I started this site to share this journey. We hope you enjoy the content.

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