Sign Cleaning

Your exterior sign works hard for you, advertising for your business day in and out. As a costly capital expense, signs should be inspected regularly to be sure they’re structurally sound and working properly. But there’s one aspect to sign maintenance that’s so simple yet often overlooked – keeping them clean.  

Let’s face it – we live in a dirty world, and anything outside 24/7 is bound accumulate dirt and other pollutants on the surface eventually. Outdoor elements such as sun, wind, rain, dust, pollen, irrigation, and even birds can all play a role in the appearance of your sign. Cleaning it can dramatically improve its luster and overall appearance, and keep it looking great longer.

Cleaning signs does have its challenges. If you plan to do this yourself, or with your own personnel, you need to be aware that this can be a liability issue. Signs are often hard to reach, are constructed of a variety of materials, and include electrical components. Also, most exterior sign faces are acrylic (or plexiglass), and the surface of this substrate can scratch easily. That said, consider carefully before forging ahead on your own. Instead, it’s highly recommended you contact a sign maintenance professional who has the experience, equipment, and know-how to get the job done quickly, safely, and effectively.

If you do plan to clean your signs, or even if you hire a professional, being aware of the following tips can help –

  • Visually inspect your signs every 3 months or so. Creating a schedule for this will help.
  • The best time to examine a sign is during the day when you can see it clearly.
  • The general recommendation is to clean signs once annually.
  • If you have multiple locations, maintain a record of which signs have been cleaned and when.
  • To remove dirt, use a non-linting, clean cloth (microfiber is good) and lukewarm water with a mild dish soap such as Dawn. Wipe the face and remove as much dirt as you can.
  • Do not use a dry cloth as it can cause the dirt to be ground into the acrylic and possibly cause tiny scratches.
  • Do not use – paper products, such as paper towels, cleaners with abrasives in them, acid cleaners, bleach, ammonia, or any bristled or rough brushes or scouring pads. All of these can scratch and damage the surface area. Windex or other glass cleaners should also be avoided as they can leave a cloudy, dull appearance.
  • For stubborn surface dirt, you can purchase a cleaning agent designed specifically for acrylic. These can typically be found at your local hardware store or online.
  • Be sure to rinse the surface of the sign off immediately after cleaning it to remove any excess dirt and wash away any remaining detergent.
  • A pressure washer should not be used on any acrylic sign face as it can cause severe damage to the material, leaving you with a potentially large repair, or worse – an entire replacement. You can use a pressure washer on harder surface material, however, such as porcelain or aluminum.

Don’t assume that signs should be maintained only when the lights are out. People take notice of your sign, linking it to something they need or want, and drawing them in to make a purchase. Your sign is truly one of your best sales-generating resources. Keeping them clean is a great way to extend their life, put your best business face forward, and show that you take pride in your establishment.