How to Clean Tarpaulin? An Ultimate Cleaning Guide

How to Clean Tarpaulin? An Ultimate Cleaning Guide

Learn how to properly clean tarpaulins to extend their lifespan and make other uses easier.

How you care for a tarpaulin affects how long it lasts. It will quickly wear out if you keep it muddy and wet. What is the lifespan of a tarp? Depending on the tarp’s type. If properly cared for, a canvas tarp can last for many years. Depending on the fabric, a tarp might be washable in a washing machine.

Some maintenance and storage advice will be helpful if you want to keep its quality over time and utilize it for numerous events.

Washing Your Tarp

Different materials call for various washing instructions. While some can be machine-washed, others cannot. Your understanding of how to clean a tarp will improve once you are aware of the material that it is made of.

Each and every tarp needs cool water—never hot—regardless of the material. Dish soap or a mild detergent should be used instead of harsh chemicals. Spraying the tarp with a solution made by combining rubbing alcohol and water is an environmentally friendly cleaning method.

Better if it’s gentler. Given all that tarps can withstand, it seems contradictory!

Fire Retardant Canvas Tarps

How to Clean Tarpaulin? An Ultimate Cleaning Guide

You shouldn’t use bleach, starch, or fabric softeners to clean a canvas tarp that has been treated with a fire-retardant substance. In that case, the fire retardant coating may have been partially or completely removed, necessitating the purchase of products that reapply the coating.

In order to prevent mineral buildup, fire retardant canvas tarps must be carefully washed. No hard water will result from this.


Use only mild, fragrance-free detergent, and only warm or cool water when washing. The tarp should always be line-dried. Fold it and store it until you need it once more after it has completely dried. Ask about specially formulated detergents that are intended to wash fire-retardant fabrics from suppliers like DuPont.

Mesh Tarps

Mesh tarps are simple to hand-wash. To clean them, use mild dish soap and a big bucket or kitchen sink. Pollen, dust, and dirt can be removed by soaking them. Completely rinse the tarp, then air dries it.

Poly, PVC, Or Vinyl Tarps

Tarps made of poly, PVC, and vinyl can also be cleaned up easily. Use mild soap to clean with. When it comes to dish soap, Blue Dawn is a good option. You’ve probably heard that it’s a top choice for cleaning oil off of bird wings after an oil spill. Tarps can also be cleaned of grime using it.

To make the sudsy solution, apply a small amount and hose down. For 10 to 15 minutes, let the soap solution sit on the tarp. After that, use a soft brush or sponge to remove any remaining dirt and grime.

While washing the tarp, try not to step all over it. Your back will thank you for having a pool brush attached to the telescoping handle. Washing the area around the grommets should be done gently.

Rinse the tarp well after cleaning it. On a clean, paved driveway or a clothesline, lay it flat to dry. Prior to folding and keeping it until future use, make sure both sides are dry.

How to Clean Tarpaulin? An Ultimate Cleaning Guide

Untreated Canvas Tarp

The simplest to clean are tarps made of untreated canvas. Use a mild laundry detergent and toss them in your washing machine. They can be dried on a line or in the dryer. You can fold and store them after they have dried.

Any tarp you have needs to be completely dry before being stored, regardless of the type. The majority of tarps are resistant to mildew, but if you’re not careful, mildew can still develop. When a wet tarp is folded up, mildew could develop while it is being stored. You don’t need to be concerned about mold or mildew growing if it’s dry.

The tarp can be damaged if it is kept wet over the winter in a shed that gets extremely cold, so you also want it to be completely dry. Not all poly tarps, PVC tarps, or vinyl tarps are made to withstand subfreezing temperatures and ice accumulation.

Drying Your Tarp

As you can see, the majority of tarp materials shouldn’t be dried in the dryer. The materials are frequently damaged by heat. Decide to lay it flat or hang it from a laundry line as an alternative.

A tarp’s maintenance and drying seem like every outdoor activity. If, however, you must dry it inside for some reason, make sure there is adequate airflow in the space. To expedite the process, you can run fans, but heaters should not be used. Prior to folding and putting away the tarp, make sure it is completely dry.

How Do You Maintain Tarps?

You can take care of your tarp in a few other ways besides washing and completely drying it. When not in use, storage is the most important consideration. The tarp’s lifespan will be shortened if you expose it to the elements.

Keep it in a space with moderate temperature changes, such as a basement or an insulated garage. Keep it away from direct sunlight and the ground as well.

How to Clean Tarpaulin? An Ultimate Cleaning Guide

Use the Tarp Properly

Whenever you buy a new tarp, be sure to get the one that best suits your requirements. An untreated canvas tarp would not be used outdoors in wet conditions. In the winter, you wouldn’t cover your firewood with a mesh tarp to keep it dry.

Tarps may come in cut size or finish size, so choose the appropriate one. They do not compare. The final seams and hems are omitted from the cut size. A tarp’s cut size and finish size can differ by a few inches on each side. You might try to stretch a tarp to fit your truck bed, only to end up ripping it if it is a few inches too small.

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Close Its Roll-ups When Not in Use

The best and simplest way to safeguard media and visuals against optimizing their long-term preservation is to do so. This specifically stops sunlight and light from degrading the images.

Avoid cleaning or maintaining your tarp with household products, detergents, black soap, white vinegar, or bleach. Your communication channel will suffer as a result. Builders’ tarps actually go through special processes during production that makes them impermeable, rot-proof, and frequently flame-retardant.

These treatments are gradually changed by UV rays and bad weather. Therefore, maintaining your builder’s cover properly will greatly increase its lifespan. The waterproofing and compatible products for each type of builder’s tarpaulin vary.

Conclusion: Clean Tarpaulin

Your builder’s tarpaulin can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth if you notice dirt over time. It is advised against using chemicals to clean a builder’s tarpaulin because they could harm and deteriorate the inks printed on it.

While untreated canvas can typically be washed in the washing machine, mesh and canvas tarps that have been treated with fire retardants should be hand-washed. Plastic tarps must be scrubbed and rinsed outside.


How Do You Clean Mildew Off of a Tarp?

You have two options: buy a premade solution or make your own. For every 2 cups of white vinegar, add 14 cups of baking soda. Let the solution sit on the tarp for 15 minutes after spraying or brushing it on. Rinse with a hose after brushing with a soft brush.

Can You Power Wash a Tarp?

A power washer is a possibility at a very low setting but be careful not to damage or dislodge the protective coatings, especially on vinyl tarps. To remove the dirt and rinse the Tarp, a garden hose will frequently suffice.

How Long Will a Tarp Stay Waterproof?

Tarps are constructed from polymeric materials that are air, waterproof, and ice resistant. Tarps typically last up to 90 days on the roof, while those constructed of more robust materials can last up to two years. It can cause additional problems if you keep it for longer than three months, so roofing contractors advise against doing so.

Can Tarps Get Wet?

Usually, only heavy-duty PVC (vinyl) tarps are actually waterproof, though there are some exceptions to this rule on the market. Although multipurpose tarps like nylon and polyethylene tend to be less resilient with water than poly tarps, they can still be water resistant.

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