Cleaning Dirty Tarps

Cleaning Dirty Tarps

Your washable tarps are a valuable part of your toolset, just like your drill or saw. And like those tools, it’s important to keep them clean and serviced to maintain good working order. Cleaning dirty tarps can be a difficult undertaking, especially if messes have been left to dry or set in. But all hope isn’t lost: it’s possible to clean your tarps of even the grimiest messes.

Before Washing Your Tarps

Prior to washing your tarps, shake them out to remove as much dust and dirt as possible. Beat them as you would a rug or heavy blanket and scrape off any set-in gunk. The less dirt left on your tarps, the less you’ll have to clean them. Removing what you can while the tarp is dry just makes sense.

If your tarps or drops are made of canvas or another porous material, consider pre-treating any particularly dark stains with either a mixture of laundry soap and cold water or a specially formulated stain removal product suitable for the fabric.

Washing by Machine

It’s possible to wash most tarps in machines. Consumer or home machines may not have the capacity to handle tarps, and if they do, you’re stuck washing them one by one and cleaning any leftover debris from your machine afterwards. Instead, consider going to the local laundromat to clean all your tarps at once in commercial machines with higher capacities.

Depending on the mess, it may be necessary to use a mild detergent or stain remover to get them truly sparkling, but this isn’t always necessary. If you’ve pre-treated set-in stains, it’s possible to get your tarps clean with just cold water and a good spin through the washer.

Cleaning Tarps with a Pressure Washer

Some tarp materials don’t fare well in washing machines: vinyl tarps can be damaged by the agitator in most top-load machines, for example. Some messes are also tougher to remove when washing tarps by machine. Look no further than your pressure washer for a creative solution to your dirty tarp problem.

Lay or hang your tarps out flat and use a pressure washer to blast off dirt, dust and caked on messes. If you need a little extra cleaning power, add a bit of laundry detergent to the water and blast your tarps with soapy water.

Cleaning Tarps at the Car Wash

Your local car wash is another great resource for washing dirty tarps, especially if your laundromat isn’t keen on seeing tarps in their staging area and you don’t have easy access to a large enough area to hit your tarps with a pressure washer.

For the price of a few quarters, you can buy access to a large space to spread your tarps out and a high-powered washer to hit them with. No worry about cleaning up afterward, either, since car washes have ground drains already installed. Take care when using soaped washes from the car wash, as they aren’t formulated for fabrics. If you need soap, bring your own and apply it at the car wash prior to hitting it with rinse water from the hose.

Cleaning your dirty tarps can be an adventure. Many contractors choose to keep disposable tarps on hand for the times when their washable tarps are dirty and can’t be cleaned immediately. Different tarp fibers (canvas, vinyl and others) require different care, but all tarps respond to a little creativity,

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