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How to Clean an RV Awning

This is a close look at an RV camping set up with outdoor chairs and table under an awning.

When you are interested in doing a lot of traveling across the country, there is no better way to experience it than with a recreational vehicle (RV). An RV can bring a significant amount of travel into your life. You can easily drive all across the country without having to worry about finding a place to stay. You can take everything you need on the road with you.

An RV does require some type of care, of which you should be aware. One of the things you need to know is how to clean an RV awning.

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Why Should I Clean an RV Awning?

We have all parked our RV at a site and opened our awning simply to find mold or something gross on your awning. If you have ever rolled up your awning while it was wet, that is a sure fire way to have mold build up on your awning. The good news is a little bit of mold is not going to ruin your awning. All it needs is a little awning cleaning.

Most fabric on an RV awning is meant to resist the growth of mildew and mold. Since it is left out in the elements, it does need some special treatment from time to time. Even if your awning fabric does not have mildew stain, you should give it a good cleaning. Cleaning your awning helps it to remain functional for many years. 

How to Clean an RV Awning

This is a close look at a man installing the awning of his RV.

You may think it is difficult to clean your RV awning, but it really is not. You just need the right cleaning supplies and a little elbow grease. Once you know the proper way to clean your RV awning, you will soon be a pro. Follow these steps to have a clean awning. 

Step One

The first thing you should do is check the user manual for your RV. Before you take on any maintenance, even cleaning the awning, you want to read the user manual to make sure there are no special instructions for cleaning your awning.

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Step Two

You want to make sure that your RV is in a shady place before you get to work. Once it is in a shady area, you want to gather all your supplies. If you cannot reach your awning, you may need a ladder or a long handle scrub brush.

Depending on the material of your awning, you may want s soft bristle brush. You need a hose to access water. You need a bucket and cleaner. The cleaner could be gentle dish soap or a special cleaner. There is more about cleaning solutions below.

Step Three

This is a close look at an RV setup with an awning over the outdoor chairs.

Now, you want to complete open your awning. You want it to be as low as possible. 

Step Four

You want to prepare the solution you are going to use to clean your awning. There are a few options from which you can select.

Solution from a Store

There are cleaning solutions, like Valterra’s RV Awning Cleaner, that are specifically intended to clean an awning. This product removes mold, mildew, dirt, and tree sap from your awning. It can also condition the fabric of the awning. If you buy a cleanser from the store, you want to make sure it is not oil based, abrasive, or caustic. 

Create Your Own Homemade RV Awning Cleaner 

This is a woman extending the awning of her RV.

You can make your own gentle cleaning solution for your awning with a gentle dish soap, like Dawn dish soap, and clean water. Some prefer to use bleach combined with water to clean their awning. You want to verify in the user’s manual that bleach is an acceptable method for your awning. Some manufacturers recommend not using bleach, while others have no problem with it. 

Solutions for Tree Sap

Tree sap can create stubborn stains that are difficult to remove from your RV awning. It is most difficult to remove from an acrylic fabric that is woven. If you do not see results removing tough stains from a standard cleaning product, there are some alternatives you can try. You can use Formula 409, Isopropyl alcohol, Clorox Clean Up Spray, and even peanut butter. You can also try turpentine. 

If you decide to try an alternative cleaning solution, you want to make sure you test it in a set that cannot be seen easily. You want to make sure the product will not leave behind a residue or change the color of the fabric. If you are using a toxic chemical, take care where you are washing your awning. You do not want the runoff to harm grass, plants, or trees. 

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Step Five

Once you have your solution ready before you use it to clean your awning, wipe away any debris or dirt that is loose on the awning. Then, you want to rinse off the top and bottom of the fabric to get any loose material. 

Step Six

A couple sitting under the awning of their RV that is parked by the beach.

You should cover the RV awning with a cleaning solution. You can use a brush or spray bottle. If you are feeling brave, you can use a power washer, but be careful not to tear the fabric. You want to clean both the bottom and top of the awning. You want to allow the solution to soak in by rolling up your awning for five minutes.

Step Seven

After five minutes elapses, open up the awning and wipe the fabric gently. You can use a sponge, rag, or brush. This is when a long handled brush comes in handy to get those hard to reach places. If you have an acrylic awning, you can use a stiff brush. If you have a vinyl awning, be sure to use a soft brush. If you see spots where there is a stain, like tree sap or mold, and they are on the small side, you can use a toothbrush. 

You want to make sure you are not scrubbing. You want to wipe the material. If you scrub, you can remove a protective layer on the awning. 

Step Eight

You should completely rinse the awning with your pressure washer, sprayer bottle, or hose. You want to get all of the cleaning solution off your awning. If you used a chemical, be sure to wash away all of the cleaning solution. If you leave any chemicals behind, it can damage your awning.

Step Nine

This is a full view of an RV with awning parked by the beach.

Let your awning completely air dry. You do not want to add heat to the wet awning, so it will dry faster. This step requires patience. You want to make sure it is completely dry. You never want to roll up your awning while it is wet. If you roll it up while it is wet, it allows mold to breed and will ruin your awning.

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If you are stopped in a humid area, it is going to take a little longer to dry. Whenever your awning gets rained on, make sure it is tilted to allow the water to runoff. This will make sure that the water does not get caught in the middle, which puts a lot of weight on your awning. 

Step Ten

Once your awning is completely dry, treat it with a fabric protectant like 303 Aerospace for vinyl or 3030 Fabric Guard for acrylic. The vinyl protectant also helps give it UV rays protection and repel dirt. The fabric protectant gives it the ability to repel water. 

How Do I Clean a Vinyl Awning?

This is a close look at a blue tarp with water droplets.

Vinyl awnings tend to be easier to clean. They are not porous like acrylic, which means dirt, grime, and tree sap do not settle into the material. A vinyl awning is great a being mildew resistant, but it is not mildew proof.

They do tend to collect a lot of dust and dirt, which allows mildew to form. You should use a soft-bristled brush with gentle dish soap and water to clean your vinyl awning. Do not scrub it because that will remove the coating that helps it resist mildew. 

How Do I Clean an Acrylic Awning?

This is a close look at the awning skirt of the RV with a yellow tone.

Acrylic is a fabric that is woven and breathable. This type of fabric allows tree sap and dirt to ink into the weave. This fabric can be problematic for those who have RVs with acrylic awnings. They do have a finish that helps them to repel water. You cannot scrub too hard when cleaning acrylic because you may scrub off the finish.

You can use a stiff brush, gentle soap, and water to clean an acrylic fabric awning. Do not scrub it because that removes the finish and will ruin your awning material.


How Often Does My RV Awning Need to be Cleaned?

You want to make sure you clean your RV awning at least once per year. You should clean your RV awning before you store it for the winter. You should also clean your awning any time it looks dirty. If you tend to park under trees, you may see a lot of sap on your awning. Ideally, you want to clean your awning every few months.