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Tech. Tent Clean Seal

ARSI tent Cleaning

How To Clean Tents and Tarps
( Large Fabric Panels )  

On examination you will notice that modern tents and tarps are nothing more than large panels of a heavy weight vinyl fabric.
ARSI cleaning tentsThese panels,can be cleaned faster and easier than awnings because you won't be working off the ground to clean and seal them.

It is important to remember the most damaging aspect to cleaning large panels is to let water or moisture set on the material prior to storing it. This is because all these panels are stored in rolled or folded configurations. This wet enviroment can promote mold and mildew growth. It can be very embarrassing to clean a large number of panels and find mildew stains have ruined all your work. It also makes for an unhappy customer.


1 - Clean the panel.
2 - Rinse the panel section thoroughly.
3 - Dry both sides of the panel.
4 - Seal the topside of the panel section

Tent and Tarp Cleaning Methods

Method #1
This is the easiest and least expensive method to clean panels of various sizes. You simply lay them on the ground for cleaning. Before you start unrolling the panels check the ground for debris that could scratch or puncture the material. If a paved parking lot has been chosen as a cleaning sight don't drag the panels over the surface. This can cause scratches to the panel. Once a sight has been chosen lay down a layer of economical plastic sheeting. This will prevent the ground dirt and grass from sticking to the back side while you are cleaning the topside. Keep in mind that some panels will be large enough that you might be walking on them, to clean them. If so, wear clean soft soles shoes to prevent damage.

Once placed on the ground, apply the cleaning solution to the dry panel. Let it stand for a few minutes to solublize the dirt then scrub if needed. Some people use the same brushes and sponges for awning cleaning. These will work fine on small panels but large panels will require larger tools for better productivity. Soft floor brooms 24 to 36 inches wide will work good for manual scrubbing. If the material is strong enough sometimes a powered floor buffer can be used. Keep in mind that only white pads or softer should be used. Keep the machine moving at all times. Don't allow it to sit on one spot too long or you might grind the fabric away. Don't run back and forth over seams with the machine or you might sand them flat. The use of powered machines is best left for perfectly smooth cleaning surfaces. Don't start and stop the machine on the fabric. This will cause swirl marks. And be sure to keep the panel well lubricated with cleaning solution.

Method #2
If you are going to do a lot of panel cleaning, build yourself a slant board. This is a wooden structure of exterior plywood over pressure treated 2 x 4's or 2 x 6's. It is a false floor with one side raised up. This slant allows rinse water to flow off the panel. Slant boards can be made adjustable so they can be flat for floor cleaning and then raised for rinsing. If a gutter is installed, the rinse water can be easily captured for disposal. If you can't slant your board, floor squeegees or wet and dry vacuum cleaners can be used to collect the cleaning or rinse solutions. A small heated warehouse with a slant board can keep you cleaning all year around.
Method #3
There will be sometimes when a tent or tarp will not be disassembled for you to clean. You will therefore have to clean it in it's standing position. Simply treat it like an awning or canopy. Be careful of your water drainage when working on these structures. You don't want to flood what the tents or tarps might be covering.

Method #4
Believe it or not there are extremely large washing machines being manufactured to clean vinyl panel sections. You simply send the rolled or folded sections to the cleaning companies and they do the cleaning. This can be very cost prohibitive because not only do you get a cleaning bill, but also a shipping bill. Plus, you can only guarantee your work not someone else's.

Since tents normally are stored either folded or rolled, one of the biggest concerns in tent cleaning is the drying process that must take place after the material has been cleaned. It is imperative that the material be completely dry before storage;ARSI tent Drying
otherwise, mold and mildew will readily thrive in the damp environment. The combination of light and a moist, warm environment create a "terrarium" effect from which mold and mildew can grow and multiply. For this reason, we will first take a look at the various ways of drying the material; on site and in-house. In this section, you will find different systems for permanent and temporary " drying stations ". Most of the companies we spoke with will dry only 10 foot panels on a temporary station, reserving larger panels for cleaning on a frame or in-house.

Method #1

Once you are done cleaning the panel on the ground simply place it on a clean piece of plastic sheeting and let the sun do the work. You must use plastic sheeting for several reasons :

1. It keeps dirt and grass off the backside.
2. The sheeting keeps ground molds and mildews from being spread to the panel.
3. It helps prevent ground moisture from condensing on the backside, this makes drying time shorter.                                                                     
Method #2
If you have built a slant board you are no doubt in a fixed base cleaning site. This will allow you to build permanent drying stations beside your slant board so multiple panels can be dried at one time. Remember when suspended off the floor, panels only need to be inches apart from each other to allow proper ventilation for drying. These drying stations are usually a system of lines and pulleys that allow the heavy panels to be hoisted vertical. Some can be as simple as a clothesline configuration where the panels are suspended from a central line.One side of this system can be set up against a building wall reducing the amount of space needed. Consider having beams at the 20 foot width and on larger panels run them crossways. Simply set the panel or tent down after cleaning, hoist and tie to boat cleats.

Method #3
If the structure is standing you will have to let it dry normally in place just as if it were an awning or canopy.

Method #4
This method is usually done by the companies that have the big panel washing machines. These drying machines are usually large ringer systems that feed the panels through a system of ringers that squeegee off the water. As the fabric exits the drying machine it is then rolled or folded for storage for shipping back to the supplier. Remember panels are very heavy and will incur high shipping costs because of it. Plus these extra steps create more time demands.
Sealing Tents, Tarps, and Large Fabric Panels

Now that the panel is dry, Sealing should be done to add protection and a longer lifespan to the industrial fabric. Most modern tent and tarps are a vinyl laminate. They can be sealed with any of the awning sealing methods. The most common technique is to use the:

1 - Wear protective clothing, breathing mask and goggles. Use only in a well ventilated area. Read labels for additional cautions and directions.
2 - This method results in the quickest application.
3 - Using a hand pump sprayer, spray a light coat of the sealer using a rapid motion across the material. The sprayer should be fully pumped at all times to ensure the best atomization for a fine mist.
4 - Should the sealer begin to sag or run, use your strip washer, pinned roller, or sleeve/towel to spread out the sealer. In some circumstances, some people find it easier to squirt on some sealer and then smooth it out as seen on this awning:
ARSI tent sealing
5 - With this style of application, it may require a second coat to ensure total protection. Remember two thin coats are better than one heavy coat.
6 - Any excess or build-up of sealer should be removed by wiping the area to prevent and eliminate any runs, sags, splotches, etc.
7 - Upon completion, release the pressure from the sprayer, hold the wand straight up and drain out any remaining sealer. This will prevent the sealer from deteriorating the "O" rings inside. The sprayer should be thoroughly clean and dry before sealer is put inti it.

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