How to Clean a Polyester Gazebo Canopy


Buckley asked: The gazebo has been out all summer and is located under trees. The polyester material is stone colored, but is stained black. I don’t know whether it’s mildew or just dirt. I tried washing it at 40 degrees with non-biological detergent, which made absolutely no difference whatsoever. Any suggestions?

The black discoloration could be from a variety of things. The shade from the trees makes an excellent location for mildew to form. Trees also deposit all kinds of pollens and dirt that can settle and collect over time. In many cases, it becomes a mix of the two. Cleaning this black growth will take some time and effort but can be done with good results. Here are the steps and cleaning products needed for success.

You Will Need:

  • Mild detergent
  • Soft haired broom
  • Sponges
  • Buckets
  • Soft towels or cloths
  • Hose

Steps to Clean the Canopy:

  1. Fill the bucket with warm water and add mild detergent. The dirtier the canopy, the more soap that will be required.
  2. Agitate the water until it is mixed completely and suds begin to form.
  3. Dip a soft haired broom into the soapy water and brush it onto the canopy.
  4. Scrub gently with the broom to remove the mildew and stain build up.
  5. For stubborn areas, moisten a sponge with the soapy water and scrub carefully.
  6. After cleaning, rinse the cover completely to remove all of the soap residue.
  7. Repeat as necessary until the dirt and stains are removed to your satisfaction.
  8. Allow the canopy to dry completely. In the sun is preferred, if possible.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Removing sap and dirt immediately (or at least on a regular basis) will make cleaning much easier and more effective.
  • For mildew, a mild bleach/water mixture will help to kill and remove the mold spores.


  1. Raquel says:

    The tips to clean the Gazebo were AMAZING!! We are waiting for it to air-dry and we will pack it till next year!

  2. Renee says:

    Is it possible to machine wash the polyester screening? Instead of hand washing and scrubbing?

  3. Melanie says:

    There are several things to consider when thinking about machine washing the canopy. First, if there is any mold or mildew on the canopy, it would be deposited into the washing machine and drains. From the number of comments on the article How to Remove Mold from Rubber [Washing Machine] Seals, I would not recommend putting a moldy item in your washer, or even bringing it into your house. You can clean the washer afterward, but mold/mildew spores can be pesky.
    Next, you want to be sure that the canopy is not damaged in the machine, so you would need to use a washer that does not have the agitator bar in the center. Also, you would need to make sure that the washing machine is large enough to accommodate the canopy or it will still be at risk for damage (or even damaging the washer).
    The best plan is to just clean the canopy by hand on a nice day; put on some music and try to enjoy it. If you really don’t want to though, you could probably find a neighborhood kid who would gladly clean it for some extra pocket cash.

  4. Steve says:

    My canopy has shrunk, making it very difficult to open up. Any ideas on how to loosen it up?

  5. Melanie says:

    You can try using fabric softener, which will help to relax the fibers. Either soak the canopy for a few minutes in a tub of cool water with a couple cups of white vinegar added (it’s a natural fabric softener), or with some fabric softener added according to the directions on the bottle. If you don’t have either of those, you could try using hair conditioner instead. Rinse the canopy off well afterward. Another option is to dampen the canopy with cool water and put it in the dryer with fabric softener dryer sheets.
    If possible, you can try to put the canopy back on the gazebo while it is still wet and hope that will help to stretch it out. Also try opening and closing the gazebo several times while it is drying to help stretch it out.
    Another option is to try stretching out the fabric with small weights or canned goods. Dampen the fabric with cool water and have one person hold either side of the canopy and roll the weights or canned goods back and forth over the fabric for about ten minutes. An alternative to this could be to roll up the weights or cans into either side of the damp canopy (tie the ends of the rolls in place like a candy wrapper sort of) and hang the canopy over a clothesline. (You will probably have to iron it afterward to remove the wrinkles from the ties though.)
    Source: Planet Laundry – Wash with Wally: Too Much Fabric Softener?
    Source: DIY Natural – Homemade Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets
    Source: WikiHow – How to Unshrink Clothes
    Source: eHow – How to Stretch Polyester

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