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How to Clean Your RV Awning in 5 Simple Steps

by Doug and Michelle
Man cleaning awning

Your RV awning is one of the most useful exterior features of your RV. It provides shade, shelter and comfort for your outdoor living space. It can also take a real beating with frequent exposure to dirt, dust, rain and sun, which can make it look dull and dirty over time. Not to mention the dreaded mold and mildew that can fester if you roll it up while wet.

That’s why it’s important to clean your RV awning regularly to keep it in good shape. A clean awning will not only look better, but also last longer and perform better. Plus, it will make your camping experience more enjoyable and relaxing.

Cleaning your RV awning may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you can do it in less than 15 minutes of actual work. All you need are some simple tools and a few steps to follow.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Prepare Your Cleaning Solution

The first thing you need to do is to prepare your cleaning solution. You have two options for this: you can use a store-bought RV awning cleaner or make your own with soap and water.

A store-bought RV awning cleaner is designed to remove dirt, mold, mildew, and tree sap from your awning fabric. It also conditions the fabric and protects it from UV rays. You can find one at any RV supply store or online.

If you prefer to make your own cleaning solution, you can use dish soap and water. Dish soap is gentle on the fabric and effective at removing dirt and grease. Just mix a few drops of dish soap with a gallon of water in a bucket or a sprayer.

Whichever option you choose, make sure to avoid cleaners that are oil-based, caustic, or abrasive. These can damage the fabric or the paint of your RV. Check your awning owner’s manual for any specific recommendations or warnings from the manufacturer.

Tree Sap Solutions

If you have tree sap on your awning, you may need to use a different solution to remove it. Tree sap can be very sticky and hard to wash off with regular cleaners. Some common methods that RVers use to get rid of tree sap are:

  • Isopropyl alcohol: This is the most recommended method by RVers. It dissolves the sap without harming the fabric. Just apply some alcohol on a rag or a cotton ball and rub it on the affected area.
  • Turpentine: This is another solvent that can break down the sap. However, it has a strong smell and can leave a residue on the fabric. Use it sparingly and rinse it off well.
  • Clorox Clean-Up spray: This is a bleach-based cleaner that can also dissolve the sap. However, bleach can weaken the fabric and fade the color over time. Use it only as a last resort and dilute it with water.
  • Formula 409: This is another household cleaner that can work on tree sap. It contains surfactants that can lift the sap from the fabric. Spray some Formula 409 on the sap and let it sit for a few minutes. Then rinse it off with water.
  • Peanut butter: This may sound weird, but some RVers swear by this method. Peanut butter contains oil that can loosen up the sap. Just spread some peanut butter on the sap and let it sit for a few minutes. Then wipe it off with a rag or a paper towel.

With any cleaning solution, always try it on a test location on your awning first to make sure the solution won’t discolor your fabric or leave residue behind. If you use bleach or another toxic chemical, avoid washing the awning over grass or plants that might be affected by the runoff.

Step 2: Spray the Underside of Your Awning

The next step is to spray the underside of your awning with the cleaning solution. The underside is the part that’s not directly exposed to sunlight. It’s also where most of the dirt and mold accumulates.

To spray the underside of your awning, you can use a garden sprayer or a trigger sprayer. A garden sprayer is faster and easier to use, but a trigger sprayer works fine too. You just need to pump more often.

Make sure to cover the entire surface of the awning and be generous with the solution. Don’t worry about wasting it; you want to soak the fabric well so that the solution can penetrate into the fibers and loosen up the dirt and mold.

Step 3: Roll Up Your Awning and Let It Set

The third step is to roll up the awning and let it sit for an hour. This will allow the solution to soak into the fabric and loosen up the dirt and mold. Rolling up the awning will also create a closed environment where the solution can work more effectively.

You don’t have to do anything during this time. You can relax, play with your kids, or do other chores around your RV. Just make sure to set a timer so that you don’t forget to unroll the awning later.

Step 4: Roll Out Your Awning and Rinse It Off

Now roll out the awning and rinse it off with clean water. You can use a hose or a bucket for this. Make sure to remove all the soap and dirt from the awning. You may need to rinse it several times until the water runs clear.

Pay attention to the seams and edges of the awning, where dirt and mold can hide. You may need to use a soft brush or a sponge to scrub these areas gently. Don’t use a hard brush or a scraper, as these can damage the fabric.

If you still see some stains or spots on your awning, you may need to repeat the cleaning process or use a stronger solution. However, don’t overdo it, as too much cleaning can wear out the fabric.

Step 5: Let Your Awning Dry Completely

The final step is to let the awning dry completely before rolling it up again. You can do this by leaving it open under the sun or using a fan or a hairdryer. This will prevent mold from growing back on the wet fabric.

Drying your awning may take a few hours, depending on the weather and the humidity level. Don’t roll up your awning until it is completely dry. Rolling up a wet awning is the main cause of mold and mildew problems.

If you have to leave before your awning is dry, be sure to unroll it and dry it out as soon as possible when you arrive at your destination.

Now That's a Beautiful Awning

Cleaning your RV awning is not as hard as it seems. With some simple tools and steps, you can do it in less than 15 minutes of actual work. A clean awning will not only look better, but also last longer and perform better.

To maintain your RV awning in good condition, you should clean it regularly, at least once or twice a year. You should also inspect it for any signs of damage or wear and tear, such as tears, holes, cracks, or leaks. If you find any problems, you should repair them as soon as possible or replace your awning if necessary.

Cleaning your RV awning is one of the best ways to take care of your RV and enjoy your camping trips more. Do you have any tips or experiences with cleaning your RV awnings? Share them with us in the comments below!

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