Patio umbrellas create a small oasis of shade during sunny months. But when the sun hides and nasty weather invades, what will you do with an 8-foot-long umbrella?

Leaving it outside in the weather is not a good idea. Even a weatherproofed umbrella will wear out more quickly when exposed year-round to sun, wind, rain, or snow. If you wish to preserve the appearance and usefulness of your purchase, follow these steps for storing yours at the end of the season.

1. Cleaning Patio Umbrellas

End-of-season cleaning will be easier if you perform maintenance cleaning throughout the months you use your umbrella. Instead of allowing stains to set it, clean spills immediately. Wipe away dirt as soon as you notice it accumulating. Keeping up with cleaning will make your job easier when you prepare the umbrella for storage.

To clean your umbrella for storage, first hose it down. Next, use a rag and soapy water to remove all soils. Hose it down again to remove the soap. Allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step. Wipe all metal parts dry. Ensure that any wood parts have also dried completely. Otherwise, the dampness could foster mildew.

2. Folding and Covering Patio Umbrellas

When the umbrella has dried fully, fold it up. Check that parts are locked into place. Your umbrella may have come with fabric ties to hold the canopy in place during storage. If not, you could use lengths of rope or string to secure the canopy. Overlap one fold of the canopy over the next, all the way around; fasten the ties to hold the folds in place.

To protect it from dust and insects while in storage, you may cover your umbrella with a number of different materials. Some stores sell polyester or vinyl covers designed specifically for patio umbrellas. However, you could easily use a garbage bag, old bed sheet, blanket, or other item you already own. Cover or wrap the umbrella.

3. Storing Patio Umbrellas

After cleaning, folding, and covering it, place the umbrella in a sheltered area, such as a garage or shed. If you don’t have a garage or shed, store it in the best place to keep it out of the elements. Perhaps you could store it in your attic, the corner of your laundry room, or in the back of a coat closet. A location away from moisture and sunlight should preserve the umbrella longer.

You will want to avoid storing it on a shelf. Laying patio umbrellas down can lead to warping of the frame. Be sure to store yours upright to avoid this possibility. You could prop it against a wall, hang it from the ceiling, stick it in a can, or move your weighted base inside during the winter.

If you have invested in an umbrella, make it last. Keep it clean and store it dry whenever you’re not using it. Then it will be ready to use when the sun comes out again.

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