How to Safely Clean an RV Awning

Modern Camper Van Recreational Vehicle Motorhome Awning Extending by Camper.

As we roll up the days of summer, it’s a good reminder to perform some year-end maintenance and cleaning tasks on your RV before storing it for the winter.  And one of the most used amenities on any recreation vehicle is the awning, which could probably use a thorough wash about now.  Here is some information that we’ve collected to show you how to clean an RV awning properly.

Types of Awning

Before attempting to clean it, you should know what type of awning your rig has.  They are usually created from one of two types of materials:

Vinyl

This material is waterproof and is UV resistant and scratch-proof, as well.  One drawback of a vinyl awning is that it tends to attract mold and mildew.

Acrylic

Acrylic awnings are made of canvas fabric and are a bit porous so that rain can soak through them.  But because they are not waterproof, they tend to have better circulation than a vinyl awning, and they dry faster.  Many of these awnings are treated with a water repellent that is also resistant to oil-based stains and UV rays.

Woman cleaning RV awning

How Often to Clean?

You may wish to perform a simple cleaning to keep your awning looking and performing great.  Deep cleaning once a year should be all that is required unless you attract a lot of debris and dirt or see stains or mold forming on the surface.  In that case, you’ll want to utilize the extra steps listed below the routine cleaning regimen.  

One note:  Remember to clean slide and window awnings to extend their life, as well!

Equipment Needed

For a simple cleaning to maintain your RV awning, you will need a bucket, water, dishwashing soap, a spray bottle, and a hose with a spray nozzle.

Routine RV Awning Cleaning Steps

Mix up this DIY cleaning solution in a bucket, then fill your spray bottle with it and go through the following steps to give your awning a fresh bath:

  1. Spray the solution all over the underside and the topside of your extended awning, saturating the material.
  2. Then roll the awning up and let it sit for an hour.
  3. Once the hour has passed, extend the awning back out and secure it.
  4. Using the hose with a spray nozzle, thoroughly rinse the awning on both top and bottom.
  5. Let the awning dry completely before rolling it up.

Extra Steps for Neglected Awnings

If your RV awning has stains, tree sap, or mold and mildew forming on it, there are a few extra steps that you can add to the process listed above for a deeper clean:

  • Once the awning is saturated with the soapy mixture, take a soft brush or broom and scrub the affected parts.
  • Bleach can be used (sparingly) on stains and mildew, with one part bleach to ten parts water.  Do not use bleach every time you clean your awning. However, it will shorten the awning’s life and dull the colors in the material.
  • Vinegar is a safer option than bleach to combat mold and mildew, and a more potent mixture can be used (one part vinegar to four parts water).
  • If care is taken, a pressure washer can be used on the awning fabric, but be vigilant not to tear the material.

Commercial Cleaner

Suppose you would prefer to use a commercial awning cleaner. In that case, they will usually hand wash the fabric with cleaning solutions, then treat it with a protective coating that will avoid color fading and guard against UV exposure.

wet awning, rain protection

Protection Treatment

You can add a protective coating to your awning as a DIY measure, as well.  As stated above, many acrylic fabric awnings are already treated to repel water and stains.  But several products on the market can be applied to vinyl and untreated acrylic awnings.  Most require a simple spray application, then a length of time to dry. 

STAR BRITE Waterproofing 64 Oz
  • Waterproofing + UV & stain protection for boat covers, car covers, bimini tops, sail covers, tents, jackets, backpacks,...
  • Great for use on new fabrics, greatly extending their service life by providing an additional barrier to moisture and...

Now that you are aware of the steps needed to clean an RV awning, it becomes apparent that this easy task is well worth the effort, extending the awning’s life for many trips into the future.  And by putting your rig away clean, you can start next year’s season off with equipment that is ready to hit the road to adventure at a moment’s notice!

Last update on 2021-02-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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