How to clean an aluminum awning?

One of the biggest advantages that aluminum awnings are that they are both low cost and low maintenance. This makes them perfect for the homeowner on a budget. They can literally last for decades if they are cared for properly, and this includes an annual cleaning.

For all awnings created 1982 and later, you can follow these four steps during the yearly cleaning.

  1. Remove debris such as leaves, tree branches or other foreign material. These often get stuck in the gutters or in the frame so you will want to take the time to be careful. These items are not serious threats to the awning and the reason we start here is that they can become hazards when they are hit by the high-pressure water during the actual cleaning.
  2. Fill a five-gallon bucket with warm water and some standard liquid dish soap. For our outside chores, we personally use standard Ajax as it does a good job cleaning, and it does not have some of the more harsh chemicals of soaps like Lava or the heavy duty detergents. Stir the mixture fully and allow it to weight about 5 minutes while you complete the next step.
  3. If you have a high-pressure cleaner, we recommend using setting the pressure to under 100 PSI. Other guides recommend using a higher setting; however, we’ve seen this cause damage when the water stream hits windows, plants or hummingbird feeders. Using the lower pressure will still do the job; however, you may need to keep the stream on the soiled spot for longer. Once you’ve completely sprayed off the roof so that there are no visible dirt spots, you are ready to move on.
  4. With the roof free of debris and fully rinsed, we recommend using a stiff bristle push broom for the scrubbing. We’ve found that most awnings are reachable from the ground eliminating the need to climb a ladder. Additionally, there are some dedicated awning cleaning brushes for this purpose; however, we’ve found that most of our readers would prefer not to spend money on a tool they are only going to use once a year when a common household item will function almost as well.

    Dip the brush into the bucket of soapy water allowing it to set for 15 seconds to really pick up a lot of the detergent. Stand in front of the awning and place the brush at the peak of the awning, and then pull the brush forward. Take caution not to pull down too hard as you don’t want to scratch the aluminum; however, you can apply mild pressure to help with the scrubbing. Once you reach the front of the awning rinse the brush out in a bucket of clean water. From there, you can simply repeat the process of getting the broom soapy and cleaning one row at a time.
  5. Once you have complete scrubbed the entire surface of the awning, you can then rinse the entire awning with the garden hose from step 2. This is simply to ensure there is no detergent residue left on the roof.

Aluminum Awning FAQ

While the above instructions will help cover the process for most homeowners, we have compiled a brief list of questions that we’ve received on this topic.

  1. I have a spot that just won’t come clean. What can I do?
    For stubborn stains, we suggest getting a shop rag or old washcloth and soak it in a mixture of vinegar and water. We usually use a 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar solution in a small bowl, and then with it completely drenched place it on the stain. Vinegar will react with many compounds to make it less adhesive to the metal. After the vinegar cloth has set on the stain for about 5 minutes, place the brush on top of the cloth and move it back of forth rigorously. You may want to go side to side on this as well.
  2. What are the dry crystal patches? How do I get them off?
    These spots are caused by the uneven oxidation of the metal. The human-friendly cleaners that we’ve explained in our guide will not remove these. These spots can only be removed with either a strong acid or some industrial strength aluminum cleaners. Because these chemicals can cause damage to their user, we are purposely leaving them out of our guide. If you have an oxidized spot that you would like removed, we strongly recommend hiring a professional to clean and polish the awning. The polish is important as it will only add about $25 to the overall cost of the cleaning if the company is onsite, and will greatly decrease the risk of future oxidation spots for years.

  3. What if my awning was made before 1982?
    In 1981 and before, there was a separate chemical process used on the metal. If you are using the soap and water described in our guide, then you are fine. If you are hiring a professional for a clean, you will want to let them know this before they begin as they may choose to use a different type of acid for the cleaning.
  4. My awning is painted and it has uneven fading spots. What should I do?
    You are in luck as we received this question so often, we have written a guide to painting an aluminum awning.

Do you have any further questions about aluminum awning cleaning or maintenance? If so, send us an email through our contact form.

Marcion Albert

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