by Randall Shatto
When summer winds down, it's time to start thinking about clearing off the patio. Begin by putting away patio furniture before winter sets in. Typically, patio furniture and table covers do the job. However, if patio umbrellas are stored incorrectly, mold and mildew can grow on them, leading to an unpleasant surprise the following spring when you want to set them back outside.
Fill a bucket half-way full with hose water. Put a rag in the bucket to soak.
Remove the umbrella from the patio table. Typically, the umbrella pulls out of a hole in the middle of the table or unscrews.
Place the pole of the umbrella on the ground and hold it steady with one hand. Open the umbrella and saturate the outside of the umbrella with a mild household cleaner. Allow the solution to penetrate the material. Dirt streaks will begin to form. Use the rag to begin wiping the umbrella.
Wipe in sections around the umbrella. Start at the center and move down to the edges. Rinse the rag often to squeeze out the dirt from the umbrella.
Dry the umbrella thoroughly with a towel when you are finished cleaning. If the umbrella is still a little damp after you have finished towel drying it, allow the umbrella to sit out and air dry completely before closing it.
Push the lever to close the umbrella. Lay a piece of plastic out on the patio; a paint drop cloth is inexpensive and large enough to cover the umbrella. The measurements should be about 1/2 foot longer and double the width of the umbrella.
Lay the umbrella down on the plastic. Encase the umbrella into the plastic by rolling it up. This will protect from mildew or mold during the winter months.
Tape the plastic around the patio umbrella. Start at the plastic opening and roll the tape around the umbrella. Complete this four times down the length. Additionally, secure the plastic around both ends with tape. Store the umbrella in a watertight shed, garage, basement, or attic.