As the season begins to shift from colorful autumn to wintertime, a lot of people are starting to retire and store tools and products until spring. Tractors, machinery, gardening tools, farming tools, outdoor furniture, patio furniture – anything that will get little to no use over the winter is being stored away in a safe environment, and a common product that is stored alongside them is clear vinyl tarps.
Typically used on construction sites or for outdoor events/projects, many homeowners may not see a reason to keep a tarp up the whole winter season and will set it aside with the hope or expectation that the tarp will be ready for use in a few months. However, improper storage of these clear vinyl tarps could spell disaster for you: imagine being excited and prepared to resume or start a new outdoor project as the weather begins to warm only to find your clear vinyl tarp has clouded over during the winter and isn’t usable anymore.
4 Step to Maintain Your Clear Vinyl Tarps
With some easy preparation, you can prevent this from happening to your tarps and help maintain their longevity!
1. Cleaning Your Vinyl Tarp
The first step to properly storing your clear vinyl tarp is to probably clean it off! You never want to store anything while it’s dirty for the risk of nasty bacteria, mold, and odor building up over time.
Lay the tarp out and gently remove any dirt, debris, or spillage from both sides of the cover. While there are specialized cleaning products for tarps on the market, neutral/mild soap and water will work just as well. DO NOT USE DETERGENTS on your clear vinyl tarps. Once you’ve removed any debris from the cover, completely rinse off all the soap with lukewarm water. You must make sure your tarps are dry before storing, which leads us to step two.
2. Drying Vinyl Tarps
An important, if not the most important, step to properly storing your vinyl tarp is completely drying the cover. A lot of people either miss or don’t wait until the tarp is entirely dry before folding it up for storage, which is the main reason they find the tarps in a worse condition than when they were stored.
After you’ve cleaned the tarp, hang or spread the cover out above the ground to ensure both sides of the tarp dry. You can flip the tarp to help speed up the drying process.
Don’t wait until the tarp is damp or only a little moist to store it – any moisture that is left on the surface of the tarp will result in cloudy or discoloration of the cover, thus defeating the purpose of a clear vinyl tarp. Vinyl material, in general, shouldn’t be stored while damp or wet to avoid the growth of mold and mildew.
3. Folding Your Vinyl Tarps
After cleaning and totally drying your vinyl tarps, neatly fold or roll them up for storage. There is no recommended or “right” method to storing your tarps – folding or rolling your tarps is simply a matter of preference or however best they will fit in your storage area. However, it’s highly recommended to not toss, bunch, or cram the tarps into space as it could lead to tears, rips, creases, and wrinkles.
4. Storage Location
Once you’ve cleaned, dried, and folded or rolled your tarps it’s now time to find a nice, dry space to place clear tarps for the winter. Regardless of how long you plan to keep the tarps in storage, it’s integral to find a cool and dry area in order to avoid direct heat, UV rays, and humidity.
You can store your tarps in basements, garages, attics, utility rooms, warehouses – anywhere that will keep heat and moisture from seeping in and affecting your tarp. It’s a good rule of thumb to keep tarps off the ground and away from walls.
Tarps are a worthwhile investment that can last you years of good use, but they do require some maintenance to maintain and improve their lifespans. Taking the time to properly clean, dry, and store your tarps will improve their effectiveness and ensure they’ll be ready for the next season!