How to Clean Advertising FlagsFEBRUARY 10, 2020| SpeedPro
Keep your custom flags and banners looking as perfect as they did fresh off the printer with this go-to vinyl graphic cleaning and care manual.
How Often Should I Clean Branded Banners and Flags?
Cosmetic damage to commercial flags and banners often occurs when graphics are kept outdoors for extended periods, subjecting graphics to:
- Direct sun exposure: Frequent sun exposure may begin to alter the appearance of banner and flag colors. Fading may occur when full-color vinyl banners are kept outdoors, in direct sunlight, for months on end. If you put banners and flags outdoors from time to time, then bring indoors for storage, you might not have to deal with fading.
- Inclement weather: Heavy rain, wind and snow are the most common causes of banner and flag wear and tear. Bad weather can dull a vinyl’s protective laminate coating.
- Dust and air pollutants: Dust, smoke and air pollutants, particularly in urban areas, can contribute to cosmetic surface damage on business flags’ and banners’ light-inked features.
Overall, consider the outdoor usage and application of your custom graphics to determine a proper cleaning schedule.
- Vinyl banners and flags that are on display outdoor s24/7/365 benefit from surface cleanings every 2-3 months.
- Vinyl banners and flags displays for periods of a few hours or less, then placed in proper storage, should be cleaned once a year.
Safe Detergents for Custom Outdoor Flags and Banners
You can use regular detergent or soap to clean your vinyl flags and banners. In fact, as a rule of thumb, the simpler the cleaning agents, the better.
Safe cleaning products to use on vinyl banners, flags and outdoor graphics include:
- Mild soaps
- Lukewarm water
- Microfiber towels or clothes
- Soft sponges
The following can damage vinyl graphics:
- Chemical solvents
- Paint thinner
- Acetone or acetone-laced products
- Rubbing alcohol
- Scrubbing brushes or abrasive cloths
Instructions for Washing Outdoor Marketing Flags and Banners
Follow these steps to clean and store flag and banner vinyl graphics, preserving its inks, substrates and laminates for years of use.
- Pat the flag/banner dry: Before washing, ensure your banner or flag’s vinyl surface is flat and dry. Smooth wrinkles with your hands. If creases persist, use a gentle heat source such as sunlight, steamers or a hairdryer on its lowest setting to work through wrinkles, taking care not to overheat the material.
- Prepare your soap-and-water solution: Mix lukewarm water with a mild detergent cleaner, such as dish or laundry soap. You might even consider purchasing a liquid detergent made for delicate items, which will also be gentle on your flags and banners.
- Gently wipe your banner/flag: Dampen your microfiber cloth, taking care to wring out excess water to avoid soaking the vinyl base. Begin wiping down your banner or flag, using long, gentle strokes, working from the middle of the graphic to its outer edges.
- Rinse thoroughly with clean water: Use a second microfiber cloth to rinse the surface, removing any soap residue. Remaining residue may cause discoloration, deterioration and peeling.
- Wipe dry: Use a third clean micro-fiber cloth or towel to gently wipe the entire vinyl graphic, again working from the inside out.
- Roll up for storage: Slowly roll closed your banner or flag once the surface has completely dried, taking care that graphics face inside, not out. Rolling is a better storage position for vinyl graphics compared to folding, which can result in permanent creasing.
- Ensure proper storage conditions: Keep your banner or flag in a dry, room-temperature area until its next use, or hang it back into position.
How to Treat Flag and Banner Spot Stains
Have a particularly difficult stain on your custom outdoor graphic? Use this spot-treatment method to work out the dirt, grime or debris while maintaining the vinyl print.
- Use soap and water: Use a sponge and a soap-and-water mixture on particularly dirty areas or spots. Take care to use gentle strokes when performing a spot treatment, to preserve the laminate coverings.
- Consider a mild glass cleaner: If dirt, grime or stains linger after you try soap and water, consider applying a small amount of mild glass cleaner, onto the surface of the banner or flag, then scrub lightly with a sponge. Read the ingredient list on your cleaner before use, though, looking for any harsh solvents like alcohol or bleach.
- Test everything: If concerned about the potency of your soap and water base or glass cleaner, simply test the solution on a tiny, inconspicuous area of the vinyl. Wait a few minutes to see if your product causes any discoloration or fading before applying the cleaner to the entire flag.
How to Repair Banner or Flag Tears
Professional vinyl banners and flags will come with small holes or perforations. The holes ensure air passes safely through your banners, rather than getting caught and trapped, turning your graphic into a kite or worse, causing tears.
Tears and rips will be rare with professionally printed outdoor vinyl graphics. When they do strike, though, you have a few options to quickly patch them:
- For signage tears: Apply a small patch of vinyl to the underside of the tear. You can also use specialty vinyl tape products or vinyl banner repair patches to underline these damaged areas as well. Then, rejoin the torn sides, pressing and sealing them back together over the adhesive underside patch.
- For tears near the hem: Banner of flag tears along hemlines can be resewn using a standard sewing machine.
- For grommet tears: Remove the worn-out metal grommets with pliers, then line up and connect the new pair with firm taps of a rubber mallet. Use a sewing machine or contact a professional tailor if grommets have damaged nearby hems.
Other Tips to Care for Your Custom Flags and Banners
From branded feather flags in front of your store to promotional banners hung up at entryways or designating your business’ booth at special events, these tips will help you keep your outdoor vinyl graphics in pristine condition, no matter how you use them.
1. Bring Your Graphics Indoors During Storms
High-quality banners and flags are made from durable inks, substrates and a protective laminate layer. However, it’s a good idea to bring your materials indoors during heavy rain, thunderstorms or snowstorms, preventing damage from whipping winds and heavy moisture.
2. Don’t Roll a Wet Banner or Flag
Well intentioned business owners may rush outside to take down their vinyl graphics during a storm. It’s important to let a banner or flag dry completely before it goes into storage. Wait until it’s dry before you roll it up.
3. Check Where You’re Hanging Outdoor Graphics
Rusty flagpoles and boulevard banners stands are one of the biggest culprits behind premature flag or banner wear. They’re easy to overlook, too. Inspect any poles, stands, rails or hooks you intend to hang your commercial or marketing graphics from, ensuring each is clean, sturdy and — most importantly — rust-free.
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