You don’t need an industrial strength power washer for this job—in fact, be sure to keep the pressure to about 500 psi (pounds per square inch) only. Using your gas or electric pressure washer (especially with warm water, if you have that capability) can often remove much of the dirt awnings collect.
Folks seem to enjoy the comfort awnings imply…and so do bees, wasps, spiders, birds, and such. When preparing to clean any awning application, be sure to check for critters that may have decided to make the awning ‘home’. Don’t be surprised, and perhaps stung, by being a sudden intruder.
The one attachment you will need for awnings cleaning with your pressure washer is an extension or telescoping wand. This will keep you on the ground while the work is conducted 6’, 9’, 18’, or 24’ above you. That’s the versatility of today’s wands! If your pressure washer has a chemical injection system, and you find you need more cleaning power than plain water pressure, investigate the safest chemical cleaners for the type of awning.
If there are weird angles, or intricate hardware systems on the awnings, a spray flex wand, especially used for cleaning gutters, will come in handy for awnings cleaning, too. These attachments can be bent and shaped into any angle up to 90°, and stay that way until you reshape it. You can reach hard to clean areas and get cobwebs off intricate hardware easily with such a flexible reach.
The spray nozzle and pressure alone should do the trick for most awnings cleaning jobs. Be sure to adjust the nozzle for a light enough spray as not to damage the material. Try a 40° spray first. Keep moving the spray back and forth. This helps you keep an eye on any pending damage to the awning from the water pressure itself.
In certain cases, a cleaning solution will be needed to remove stains or soil. Before adding any pressure washer chemicals to your injection system, find out exactly what substance you are trying to remove. You also need to know what material you are cleaning. Is it fabric? Dyed? Is it aluminum, plastic, wood, or vinyl? Will the finish re-act poorly to chemicals—or even too strong a stream from your nozzle? Soap or other chemicals should help remove any stains, just be careful to chose the right ones.
The use of a power washer brushes should be considered carefully on fabric or lightweight awnings. The brush should be soft, such as a low-pressure 6” diameter rotating brush. Experiment on a small, out of the way area, and examine for damage before starting in heartily with a brush.
When you start awnings cleaning, start at the lower portion, and work your way up; this will prevent any chemicals from streaking through the dirt on the bottom as you do the top, or adding to it. While you are cleaning the top section, take notice of anything above the awning itself that can be dripping, steadily, onto the awning in the same spot. Such an issue, over time, can wear the spot thin, or create an un-removable stain on an otherwise good awning.
As with any cleaning job, especially when the extra power of a pressure washer is being applied, be sure to take note of your surroundings. You don’t want to rip apart an expensive door or window screen, or break an expensive light fixture while you’re aiming for the awning!
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