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How to Clean Sunbrella Fabric: All Types Compared

Keep your Sunbrella fabric in top shape with these expert cleaning tips.

Sunbrella makes high-quality and vibrant fabric for upholstery, patio furniture, marine canvases, umbrellas, and more. Because it’s used in such high-traffic areas, Sunbrella fabric can become dirty and stained.

Thankfully, you don’t need to worry about the marks on your Sunbrella pieces. We’ll show you how to clean Sunbrella fabric according to the professionals!

Keep reading for an in-depth guide for cleaning removable and non-removable fabric, spills, stains, and more.

Key Takeaways

  • Sunbrella fabric can be machine washed depending on the type, but always check specific fabric instructions.
  • To clean removable and non-removable fabrics, use mild soap, water, and a soft-bristled brush or sponge.
  • Spot-clean spills and stains immediately with a mild dish soap and water solution, and air dry.
  • For mildew removal, use a mixture of dish soap, bleach, and water, and scrub gently with a soft-bristled brush or sponge.

Can Sunbrella Fabric be Machine Washed?

Some Sunbrella fabric is machine washable. But you will need to check your specific fabric to be sure. To help out, we’ve made a list declaring which fabrics are machine-washable and which aren’t.

Fabric Type Machine-Washable?
European Upholstery Yes
European Window Fabrics Yes
Upholstery Yes
With Sunbrella Graphics System No
Shade No
Sling No
Horizon No
Marine Decorative Yes
Marine Canvas No
Marine Upholstery Yes
Alloy No

Expert Advice

Even if a collection is labeled machine-washable, you should still check the particular fabric that you have. Some upholstery fabrics aren’t recommended for the machine, but it varies by type and color.

How to Clean Sunbrella Fabric

We’ll walk through the general cleaning of Sunbrella fabrics, broken down into two categories: removable and non-removable. For both methods, we’ll share hand-washing techniques rather than using your washing machine.

Removable Fabrics

  • Time: 45 minutes.
  • Difficulty: Easy.

What You’ll Need

  • Mild soap.
  • Water.
  • Sponge or soft-bristled brush.
  • Towel.

1. Prepare Solution

In a sink or tub, combine ¼ cup of mild dish soap per gallon of lukewarm water.

2. Submerge the Fabric

Submerge the fabric in the solution and let it soak for 15 minutes. This is a great tip for removable cushion covers.

3. Scrub

Use a sponge or soft-bristled brush to scrub the fabric, focusing extra time on spills and stains.

4. Rinse

Empty out the soapy water and run the fabric under clean lukewarm water to remove all soap residue.

5. Dry

Gently squeeze out excess water by pressing the material against the side of the tub or sink. Then roll it up in a towel, and squeeze a few times before air drying the material in a well-ventilated spot.

Non-Removable Fabrics

  • Time: 25 minutes.
  • Difficulty: Easy.

What You’ll Need

  • Soft-bristled brush.
  • Mild dish soap.
  • Water.
  • Towel.

1. Prepare the Cleaning Solution

In a sink or tub, combine ¼ cup of mild dish soap per gallon of lukewarm water.

2. Brush the Fabric

With a dry soft-bristled brush, gently wipe the fabric to remove dust and debris. This removes surface-level dust, debris, pollen, and more.

3. Clean the Fabric

Now dip the soft-bristled brush into the soapy water and apply it to the fabric, letting it soak into the fibers. Scrub gently to remove stains, spills, and marks.

This is a great cleaning method for Sunbrella couches, upholstery, and other indoor items that don’t have removable covers.

4. Rinse

Rinse the soapy residue off the brush before dampening it with plain water. Wipe it over the fabric to remove the soapy residue. Continue until the fabric is clean from soap.

5. Dry

Let the fabric air dry.

How to Spot-Clean Spills On Sunbrella

When you notice a spill or stain, clean it up immediately. This will prevent it from settling, and removing it will be much easier.

  • Time: 30 minutes.
  • Difficulty: Easy.

What You’ll Need

  • Cloths.
  • Cornstarch (optional).
  • Butter knife (optional).
  • Mild dish soap.
  • Water.
  • Spray bottle.

1. Blot the Stain

Use a dry cloth to blot the spill. Don’t rub it, as this can cause the spill to penetrate deeper into the fabric.

2. Apply Cornstarch

If the stain is oil-based (such as food or makeup), apply cornstarch to the stained area. Leave it for 10 minutes before using the top side of a knife to remove it.

3. Spray Cleaner

In a spray bottle, combine water and a few drops of mild dish soap. Shake well, then spritz onto the spilled area of the fabric.

4. Rinse

After a few minutes, rinse the soapy solution off by wiping the fabric with a damp cloth.

Repeat the above steps if necessary.

5. Air Dry

Leave the fabric in a well-ventilated spot to air dry.

How to Get Rid of Stains On Sunbrella

It’s natural for you to get stains on your Sunbrella fabric. The good news is that Sunbrella has made the fabric easy to clean. So no matter what stain you’re facing, there’s a way to eliminate it.

You will find a cleaning solution in the “Removal Method” column. Simply replace the dish soap method from above with the new cleaner, following the same directions. Check out the cleaning chart below:

Type of Stain Removal Method
Beer, Food Color, Urine, Vomit Combine ¼ cup of dish soap, ⅓ cup of white vinegar, and one gallon of water.
Berry Combine ¼ cup of dish soap, ½ cup of white vinegar, and one gallon of water.
Bird Droppings, Ketchup, Mustard, Coffee, Cola, Raw Egg, Grape Juice, Kool-Aid, Milk, Tea Combine ¼ cup of dish soap per gallon of water.
Dried Blood Combine ¼ cup of dish soap per ½ cup of ammonia, and one gallon of water.
Butter, Grease, Oil, Paint (wet or dry), Salad Dressing, Liquid Shoe Polish, Suntan Lotion, Tomato Juice Apply cornstarch for 10 minutes before removing with a ruler. Then clean with soapy water.
Charcoal, Pencil Marks Vacuum the excess, then clean with ¼ cup of dish soap per gallon of water.
Chewing Gum, Crayon Apply a little isopropyl alcohol to remove the residue. Then clean with ¼ cup of dish soap per gallon of water.
Chocolate Combine ¼ cup of dish soap with ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide and one gallon of water.
Ink, Nail Polish Treat with a volatile solvent (such as 100 percent acetone). Then clean with soapy water, rinsing well.
Iron Rust Treat the area with CLR and rinse well.
Mildew Combine ¼ cup of dish soap, one cup of bleach, and one gallon of water.
Wax Shoe Polish Lay a towel over the wax and apply a heated iron on top. Then sprinkle cornstarch over the area for 10 minutes before scraping off with a ruler. Clean up residue with soapy water.
Tree Sap Apply a solvent to remove as much tree sap as possible. Repeat until the excess is gone. Clean well with soapy water before rinsing.
Candle Wax Lay a towel over the wax and apply a heated iron on top. Treat the stain with isopropyl alcohol. Then clean with ¼ cup of dish soap per gallon of water.
Wine Combine ¼ cup of dish soap, ⅓ cup of white vinegar, and ½ cup of isopropyl alcohol (or hydrogen peroxide) per gallon of water.

How to Clean Mildew On Sunbrella Fabric

Mildew, unfortunately, can grow quite quickly on fabrics, especially outdoors. But not to worry — we can remove mildew from Sunbrella.

  • Time: 55 minutes.
  • Difficulty: Easy.

What You’ll Need

  • Dish soap.
  • Bleach.
  • Water.
  • Basin.
  • Soft-bristled cleaning brush or sponge.
  • Spray bottle (optional).
  • Towels or cloths.

1. Prepare Solution

In a basin, combine ¼ cup of dish soap, one cup of bleach, and one gallon of water.

Using Bleach

Sunbrella fabric is made with solution-dyed fibers and yarns. This means they can be bleached without risk of color loss. So go to town with your bleach! Just make sure to wear protective gear, like gloves and a face mask.

2. Apply Solution

We recommend pouring the solution into a spray bottle for easy application. But if you’d prefer, you can soak a towel in the solution and apply it manually.

It’s crucial that you clean the entire fabric, even areas that aren’t affected by mildew. This is to avoid water rings and residue on certain areas of the fabric.

3. Wait

Leave the bleach solution to soak for 15 minutes.

4. Clean the Fabric

Gently scrub the fabric using a sponge or soft-bristled brush, working hard to remove mold and mildew.

5. Rinse

Once you’re satisfied that you’ve removed the mold and mildew, dampen a towel or cloth in plain water and rinse the fabric. Continue until you’ve removed all bleach and soap residue.

Let the fabric air dry.

Cleaning Different Types of Sunbrella Fabric

There are various types of Sunbrella materials, including marine, canvas, and more. We’ll walk through them all and share specific cleaning instructions worth noting.

Indoor Upholstery

All of the above cleaning methods apply. You can also put indoor upholstery in the washing machine on a delicate cycle with cold water and mild laundry detergent.

Outdoor Upholstery

The above cleaning methods apply to outdoor upholstery. If you have mold or mildew, toss the fabric in the washing machine with cold water on a delicate cycle, mild laundry detergent, and one cup of bleach.


To clean sling fabric, you must never use the washing machine. Instead, use the hand-washing method above for either removable or non-removable fabrics. The bleach method will work wonders if you have mildew on the fabric.

Expert Advice

Sunbrella recommends 303 Multi-Surface Cleaner, Dawn Dish Soap, or Resolve for stains on sling fabrics.

Marine Canvas and Shade

For general cleaning of marine canvas, brush off any loose dirt. Then hose down before applying a soapy solution. Scrub this in with a soft-bristled brush.

Leave the solution to soak into the fabric for 15 minutes before hosing it down again. Then let the fabric air dry.

If you have mold or mildew, prepare a solution of one cup of bleach per ¼ cup of mild soap in a gallon of water. Apply it to the fabric and soak for 15 minutes.

Blot the fabric with a clean towel. Avoid this step on the coated side of Sunbrella Plus, Supreme, or Clarity.

Rinse well, then air dry.

Marine Upholstery

Use our general cleaning method for marine upholstery. You can hand wash or machine wash marine upholstery fabric. For mold and mildew, using bleach is suitable.

Sunbrella Graphics System

This system lets you create custom fabric with your own graphics and logos printed on it. It’s great for professionals and businesses.

To clean this type of fabric, you don’t need to remove the fabric from the awning frame. It’s important to always use a mild soap, rinse well, and only air dry.

Don’t use a power washer or spray, scouring actions, harsh cleaners, and never machine wash. You can follow the above method for cleaning non-removable fabrics when light cleaning.

If you have heavy stains, mold, or mildew, you can use the bleach solution from above. Just be sure to avoid the edge of the vinyl graphics, as this can lift it off the fabric.


Follow the same instructions as you would for cleaning marine canvas and shade. However, instead of using a soft-bristled brush, use a sponge instead. This is more effective on the alloy.

To clean stubborn spills and mildew, create the bleach solution from above. Apply it to the alloy for 15 minutes before removing it with a sponge or towel. Then follow the instructions as usual.

If the stains persist, apply isopropyl alcohol with a sponge or towel.

Tips For Caring For Sunbrella Fabric

To keep your Sunbrella fabric in beautiful condition, here are some hacks you should know:

  • Keep it clear of other items: Make sure your fabric isn’t near or touching walls, concrete, shrubbery, trees, and more. If it continuously contacts these items, it can wear down.
  • Careful when ironing: If you need to iron out wrinkles, use the synthetic fabric setting. Don’t use a steamer or the steam setting on your iron.
  • Water temperature: When cleaning Sunbrella, only use cold to lukewarm water. Never use hot water.
  • Treating the fabric: Sunbrella fabrics have a water and stain-repellent finish that might deteriorate after a few years. If you want to reapply, it’s recommended to use 303 Fabric Guard. Make sure to clean the fabric first, let it completely air dry, then apply the fabric guard following the packaging instructions.
  • Avoid stiff bristles: We recommend soft-bristled cleaning brushes or sponges. Hard-bristled brushes and abrasive cleaners can scratch the fabric.
  • Only air dry: Don’t apply heat to your Sunbrella fabrics. After washing, let it air dry. It will be quicker than expected!


Can You Dry Clean Sunbrella Fabric?

The only Sunbrella fabric that is suitable for dry cleaning is Sunbrella Sheer. You should not take the other fabric types to the dry cleaners.

Can You Use Oxiclean on Sunbrella Fabric?

The Sunbrella manufacturer recommends mild dish soap, 303 Multi-Surface Cleaner, or Resolve. They don’t mention OxiClean, so we can’t recommend it either.

Can I Power Wash Sunbrella Cushions?

Sunbrella advises you never to use a power washer on their fabric as this can wear them down and cause permanent damage. You can use a light spray from a garden hose instead.

Can You Put Sunbrella Fabric In the Dryer?

No — only air dry your Sunbrella fabric. The high heat from a dryer can cause permanent damage. Plus, Sunbrella fabric air dries really quickly.

Can Sunbrella Fabric be Dyed?

You can, but the results won’t be what you hoped for. Sunbrella is waterproof, so it won’t absorb dye and water.

Cleaning Sunbrella Fabric

Sunbrella fabrics are durable and easy to clean. Now that you know how to wash Sunbrella fabric by hand or in the machine, you can ensure yours is always stain-free.

Always double-check what type of fabric you have and the best methods for cleaning it. Don’t stray far from Sunbrella’s recommended cleaners, either. Stick to mild dish soap, 303 Multi-Surface Cleaner, or Resolve.

If you have mold or mildew, you can clean it with bleach. Always wear protective gear and keep kids and pets away.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!