How to keep your outdoor display clean

Outdoor displays are a really powerful tool that can grab a customer’s attention even in very busy or unexpected locations.  But outdoor displays are exposed to all sorts of weather and environmental conditions that can have an impact on their appearance and lead to a loss of performance.

The most common problem people have with outdoor displays is a build-up of surface contaminants – things like dirt, dust, grease and algae – that can obscure messaging, dull colours and eventually, cause damage to the materials of the display itself.

Keeping your outdoor display clean is important for ensuring that your investment is always looking its best, grabbing your audience’s attention and conveying a positive impression of your business or organisation.

So how do you keep your display in tip-top condition?

Removing dirt and dust

Depending on location and application, banners and displays can accumulate different kinds of dirt and dust.  In busy cities they often end up with a layer of traffic pollution – a gritty mix of microparticles and dust that can quickly result in a dull and grubby appearance.  In roadside locations, your displays will have to contend with traffic pollution plus splashes of muddy water, salty slush in winter and other undesirables like bird droppings.  At outdoor events like music festivals and sporting fixtures, large volumes of people normally result in wet conditions underfoot, and banner displays, signs or flags can quickly become caked in mud.

To remove dust, dirt, mud and traffic pollution from a vinyl or PVC-based display, a metal display, a wooden chalkboard or foamcore board, the best thing to use is a solution of dish soap in warm water and a soft, clean cloth or sponge.  Gently wipe away the build-up of dirt and then rinse the display with fresh water before drying with paper towel or a microfibre cloth.

For fabric flag banners, the telescopic poles can be cleaned using the above method but the flag itself should be hand or machine washed at a low temperature, using a small amount of colour-safe detergent.  Hang your flag banner up in a warm, well-ventilated area to dry – do not use a tumble dryer, and do not iron the fabric.

Removing grease

Grease spots can be difficult to remove from porous surfaces so for locations like gas station forecourts, it’s best to use outdoor displays made of plastic or metal that can simply be wiped down with a detergent solution.  However, grease stains are common in lots of other locations, particularly within the food and hospitality sector where fabric displays and other porous materials such as chalk a-boards and menus are often used.

To remove a grease stain from a fabric display flag, you should pre-treat the stain using a dedicated grease remover or a small amount of undiluted detergent like dish soap, making sure to check first that the fabric is colour fast.  Rub this well into the stain and leave to sit for at least 30 minutes before washing the whole flag in a detergent solution, then leave to dry.

To remove grease spots from a chalkboard, the best thing to use is chalk or cornstarch to absorb the grease.  Apply to the stain and leave for a while, then remove with a solution of dish soap and water, and leave the chalkboard to dry.  If the stain persists, you can repeat this process several times.

Removing algae, mildew and mould

Outdoor displays that are exposed to moisture such as rain or condensation are prone to developing a build-up of unsightly green or black algae or mould.  Non-porous materials such as vinyl and PVC tend to be the worst affected because their textured surface gives organisms something to ‘grip’, whereas metal or plastic displays have a smooth surface that’s easier to keep clean.

To reduce build-up of algae and mould on your outdoor display, try to position it away from overhanging trees or anywhere that it will be exposed to dripping water from an overhanging roof or gutter.  A location where your display will be exposed to some wind and sun will keep i dry and minimize growth of these organisms – although these elements can cause wear and tear of their own!

Algae and mould can be removed using a simple solution of detergent and water, but you may find that they leave a stain behind and that they grow back quickly with this method.  It’s best to use a biocidal cleaner that actually kills the organisms – a simple solution of bleach will work, or choose a proprietary cleaner designed for the task.  Please note that bleach should never be used on porous materials such as fabric flag displays.

For more advice on maintaining your outdoor displays, or to make an enquiry, visit our Customer Support section.