Caring for your tarpaulins will properly extend their useful lives significantly and save you time and money. The proper care of a poly blue tarp is basically the same for a vinyl heavy duty one. In both cases, you will want to secure them properly, store them when they are not being used, and keep them clean. Canvas tarpaulins require the same care and can even be retreated to maintain their effectiveness.
Tie Me Down
The number one protection you can give tarps of all kinds is to properly secure them when in use. They are not meant for gale force winds or hurricanes. To be effective and long lasting, blue tarps, white tarps, and other heavy duty tarps must be securely fastened to a stable structure. Flapping erratically in strong wind will destroy even the best made product. In windy areas, it's a good idea to allow the air a path of least resistance to minimize the wear and tear on your tarps.
Treat Me Right
When you are not using your tarp, you can greatly extend its useful life by cleaning it properly. Both poly and vinyl tarpaulins can be cleaned simply with soapy water and a sponge. Canvas can also be cleaned with soapy water or detergents specifically designed to clean them. Canvas should never be placed in your washing machine or dryer as the waxes and dyes used can stain your machine. You can retreat your canvas with Canvac or similar chemicals to refresh their water and mold resistant qualities.
Stow Me Below Decks
When your tarp is not in use, it should be stored out of the sun and rain to help protect the integrity of the material. Leaving even a heavy duty tarp outside on a job site or in your yard will need it needlessly to the elements, reducing its effective life span. In addition, being blown around and rubbing against abrasive materials or sharp edges and corners can damage the tarpaulin, causing it to require replacement much faster.
The material will determine how much rough treatment it can withstand. A lightweight blue tarp is the most fragile and inexpensive. They are not designed for use on sharp or rough edges such as wood piles, concrete, or in shipping. White tarps, on the other hand, are more durable and can withstand rougher conditions. A heavy duty tarp made from vinyl is thicker and more durable than poly tarps.
You can protect your tarpaulins by keeping them clean, tying them down properly, and putting them away when not in use. Cheap or expensive, all tarps will last longer longer and perform better if they are kept clean and put away when not in use. Tying them down properly will also ensure their longevity and effectiveness.