The material used in constructing Bimini tops and boat covers is made from 100 percent solution-dyed polyester fiber with a urethane coating to provide excellent water repellency and mildew resistance. This design allows the material to be easily maintained. By following a few simple care and cleaning steps, the fabric will continue to look good and maintain its fine qualities for seasons to come.
Important Background Information
Because the fabrics are woven, they are breathable. It's also important to know that these fabrics are treated with a fluorocarbon finish, which enhances water repellency. This finish requires replenishment after vigorous cleaning. Polyester fabric will not support the growth of mildew. Mold and mildew need something on which to grow and polyester fabric is not a desirable substance for such growth. Dirt or dust on the fabric, however, is a perfect source for mildew growth, which makes regular cleaning of the fabric important.
There is no set time for when the fabric should be cleaned, and the local environment has a great deal to do with determining cleaning frequency. Cleaning is required less frequently in a dry environment than in a humid one where heavy foliage exists.
The material has an applied finish that deters mold and mildew growth, but it does not make it mold-proof. Keeping the fabric free of dirt and foreign substances is important in deterring mold growth.
One of the best ways to keep the material looking fresh and new, and to delay the need for deep or vigorous cleaning, is to hose off fabrics with clear water on at least a monthly basis with clear water. This practice will help prevent dirt from becoming deeply embedded in the fabric, and it will eliminate the need for more frequent and more vigorous cleanings. In most environments, a thorough cleaning will be needed approximately every two (2) years.
The fabric can be cleaned while still in the boat. When cleaning, it is important to observe the following:
- Always use a natural soap - never detergent.
- Water should be cold to lukewarm, but never more than 100 degrees.
- Air dry only. Never apply heat to the fabric.
Begin by brushing off loose dirt, and then hose down the material. Prepare a cleaning mixture of water and a mild, natural soap that is free of detergents. Use a soft-bristle brush to clean, allowing the soap to soak in. Rinse thoroughly and allow the fabric to thoroughly air dry.
If stubborn stains persist, you can use a diluted chlorine bleach/soap mixture for spot cleaning of mildew, roof run-off and other similar stains. Please keep in mind that chlorine bleach will not change the color of the fabric, but chlorine bleach will eventually break down the fiber of any fabric. Therefore, this cleaning method should be used as infrequently as possible.
The cleaning mixture should be mixed as follows:
- Four ounces (one-half cup) of chlorine bleach.
- Two ounces (one-fourth cup) of natural soap.
- One gallon of water.
Clean with a soft-bristle brush and allow the mixture to soak no longer than twenty (20) minutes. Rinse thoroughly and allow to completely air dry. Repeat if necessary.
If the top or boat cover is suitable in size for a washing machine, these steps should be followed:
- Use only natural soaps - no detergent.
- Wash and rinse in cold water.
- Air dry. (Never put the fabric in a dryer.)
As part of the finishing process, the material has been treated with a fluorocarbon finish, which enhances water repellency. This finish is designed to last for several years, but it must be replenished after a thorough cleaning. Based on test results, the manufacturer recommends 303 High Tech Fabric Guard as the preferred re-treatment product.
After cleaning and air drying, apply 303 in a thin, even coat. When it has dried, apply a second thin, even coat. These two (2) light coatings are more effective in restoring fabric water resistance than a single heavy coating. Keep in mind that 303 High Tech Fabric Guard will work only as well as it is applied. This means that the fabric must be free of dirt and detergents or the Fabric Guard will wash away with the dirt particles.
Fabrics should be retreated after thorough cleaning or after five (5) years of use.