Palm thatch is an exotic and surprisingly effective roofing option for tiki huts, pool-side bars and other tropical structures. But, unlike shingles, this natural building material needs to be cleaned before it is used as well as routinely once it's in place. Freshly harvested thatch should be cleaned of any lingering insects before it is used. New thatch roofs can leach a dark material which should be periodically cleaned away. Older thatch roofs can develop mildew over time. If properly cleaned and maintained, a new thatch roof can last up to 15 years.
Clean newly-harvested palm thatch of bugs and dirt by beating them against a wall. This will be enough to clean most palm fronds. However, if heavy infestation is suspected, spread the palm fronds out in a small, sealed room and release a smoke-based bug bomb.
Clean freshly applied palm thatch of leached sap by hosing it off. Repeat every time the sap builds up enough to run down to the ground.
Clean any visible mildew by spraying it with a mixture of one part bleach to three parts water on a sunny day. Once the affected area is thoroughly wet, just before the point of dripping, leave the bleach to dry.
Hose off the palm fronds. Check the palm thatch periodically for new build-up.