The Best Way To Clean The Underside Of Your Patio Cover

Of all the ways to ​​shade to your patio, investing in a patio cover is easily the most practical and durable. Patio covers, whether made from wood, steel, or plastic, are easy-clean and designed to last for years with good care. That means cleaning them regularly and properly. How often do you look up when lounging out on your patio, enjoying that steak you just cooked to perfection on the BBQ? Go outside and try it now. Chances are you'll discover a patio cover underside filled with spiderwebs, spots of mold, and maybe even a big patch of grease right above your outdoor grill. Did you notice that film of dust and dirt on the rafters? What about the poop from where that bird loved to sit in the spring?

While we often think to clear the gutters and pressure wash the top of patio covers, rarely do we turn our attention to the underside. It's usually a dingy spot that we can't really see much of anyway, so why bother even cleaning it? For one, cleaning your patio cover's underside will make it last far longer than one that never sees any maintenance. It will also be nicer to sit under: Not having to worry about a spider dropping on your head is always a good thing! What's more, cleaning it gives you the opportunity to check for damage — rust, holes, cracks, loose screws, dislodged fixtures, and more — and make repairs before the problem gets worse. Turns out the best way to clean is just with some soap and water. 

The best way to clean patio cover undersides

With the exception of clearing snow loads, avoid cleaning your patio cover in chilly temperatures — frozen water makes the roof dangerously heavy and prone to cracking or collapse. Instead, choose a warm, sunny day, so the roof dries quickly. Remove large debris (like leaves, needles, and twigs) using a broom, vacuum cleaner, or leaf blower. Built-up debris traps patio cover-damaging moisture. If you have a slatted roof, tilt the slats vertically to dislodge debris.

You can use soapy water and a telescopic mop to wipe down the supporting posts and other features. Use a ladder for hard-to-reach nooks. Spray the underside with a garden hose and your preferred mild cleaning solution — dish detergent will often do the job. This will simultaneously dislodge stubborn dirt and clean the roof. One thing to keep in mind is that you should not do this if you have electrical connections underneath your patio roof. Use a damp mop instead.

Pay particular attention to acidic substances (think animal poop and sap) since these will corrode certain awning materials — metal, in particular — if left on the surface for too long. Rinse the entire structure with your garden hose, washing away every last speck of sudsy water to avoid streaks and stains. This how-to works for most patio cover undersides and is a good way to make sure your creative DIY patio projects remain in tip-top shape. Opinion differs on how often to clean the underside of your patio cover, with advice ranging from weekly to just once or twice a year.

How to mix your own cleaning solution

If you've decided to add shade to your backyard patio with a retractable awning, mold collects in the folds. It's also a problem with immoveable patio cover undersides, where it hides in dark, shady spots, such as under eaves or beams. Apply and rinse away an ordinary spray-style kitchen cleaner where you see mildew. If you need something more heavy duty, try distilled white vinegar, baking soda, or hydrogen peroxide — separately, not together! For truly stubborn mildew colonies, don some gloves and (per Renaissance Patio Products) mix one-third of a cup of detergent, two-thirds of a cup of trisodium phosphate, three quarts of water, and one quart of 5% sodium hypochlorite. Fabric patio covers can be treated with a non-chlorine bleach diluted heavily in water.

Grease stains from BBQ or outdoor cooktop smoke need special treatment. If dish detergent and warm water doesn't work, try a degreaser or acetone. You could also create your own cleaner for those oily bits by mixing one-third of a cup of car washing or laundry soap and two-thirds of a cup of trisodium phosphate into one gallon of water. If you've tried and failed to remove stains using other techniques, you can pressure wash the underside of your patio cover. Just be sure to use the lowest pressure setting and hold the nozzle away from the structure, as too much pressure risks a leaky roof or dents. Alternatively, use a garden hose fitted with a pressure nozzle.