How To Clean Your RV Awning

After many weekends away exploring nature, soaking up the outdoors, camping out, and taking full advantage of all life has to offer, you are now at a time to settle down. 

Maybe you have a few weekends at home before heading out again.

Or perhaps you’re getting ready to pack up the RV and put it back into storage until next year.

Either way, this is an opportune time to check the condition of your awning and thoroughly clean it. 

Why Do I Need To Clean It?

It’s pretty common to forget about routine maintenance for your awning.

It’s a downfall of many RV owners. 

When you arrive at your campsite, you pull it out.

You don’t think about it again until it comes time to roll it back up.

camper awning

Even though it’s present in your camping life day in and day out, it’s often not at the forefront of our thoughts. 

It’s a backdrop to our lives, and we definitely don’t think about cleaning it.  

But when you think of everything that the awning is exposed to, you have a change of heart.

At a minimum, our RV awning comes in consistent contact with:

  • Rain (which can cause mold)
  • Bugs
  • Campfire soot and smoke
  • Bird droppings
  • Sun (can dry dead bugs and debris into the fabric)
  • Tree Sap

When you consider all that, you realize why there is a need to clean this critical piece of your RV correctly. 

What Is The Correct Way To Clean An RV Awning?

There are a few steps to take to clean your awning correctly.

Although seeing a list that is several steps deep can come across as daunting, don’t be concerned.

The process is straightforward and fast.

Some experienced RV owners can even get the task completed in only five minutes!

How To Clean RV Awning

The first step to take when getting ready to conquer the cleaning project is to consult the manual for your specific awning.

The reason for this is to check for any chemicals or solutions you should stay away from using.

For instance, some awning fabrics cannot tolerate the use of bleach.

Therefore, you should refrain from the use of such a product.

Pick Your Position

For some RV owners, leaving the awning fully attached to the RV itself is the route to go.

However, others prefer to detach it from the RV completely and lay it flat on the ground for cleaning.  

There is no right or wrong answer for this; it is strictly a situation of whatever works best for the user. 

Round-Up Your Cleaner

When deciding what cleaner to use, you can go two different ways. 

  • Store-bought cleaner
  • DIY cleaner

Both are effective at removing dirt, debris, and most other items that an awning attracts. 

It is essential to check the ingredients on a store-bought cleaner to ensure it doesn’t contain anything harmful to the awning fabric. 

If making your own, a good combination is dish soap and water.

Many RV owners swear by Dawn brand soap and feel that it works better than others on the market.

For the more challenging items, like tree sap, you may need to turn to more robust solutions.

Isopropyl alcohol is successful at disengaging stubborn messes like sap.

There are also other options like peanut butter or special sprays. 

Hose It Down

With your house, give both sides of the awning a thorough rinse.

This first rinse will wash away any easy to remove items and residue.

Some RV owners may choose to use a power washer for this task.

Using one is fine, although you want to keep an eye on the material to ensure the pressure isn’t causing any damage. 

Apply Your Cleaner

For this step, take your preferred cleaner and cover both sides of the awning in it.

You can apply the cleaner with a spray bottle, rag, brush, or the aforementioned pressure washer. 

Pay close attention to the top, bottom, and edges of the material.

Once both sides are adequately covered, roll up the awning and let the cleaner soak in for at least five minutes. 

Unroll And Wipe Down

After the five minutes are up, unroll the awning and wipe both sides down.

While wiping, take time to address any problem areas like stains or sticky messes.

If you do encounter trouble spots, do not scrub them. It is crucial to wipe them gently so as not to remove any protective layers of the awning material.

Additionally, you don’t want to create any holes from rubbing too hard. 

If wiping with a rag is not sufficient, there are various brushes and tools you can use.

  • Car wash brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Sponge
  • Stiff handheld brush
  • Wire brush
  • Hose scrub brush attachment

Once all stains and messes are cleared from the awning, thoroughly rinse both sides once more. 

Double-Check

Take a few minutes to review both sides of the awning once more.

It is vital to make sure that all cleaning solution is removed from the awning.

If it is not, there can be damage to the material due to prolonged exposure.

This circumstance is more probable if chemical cleaners are used.

However, even DIY cleaners can stain if left on the fabric.  

Air Dry

To complete the cleaning process, allow your fabric to dry out while rolled out completely.

If you detached the awning from the RV to clean it, you would want to reattach it to dry.

At a minimum, you will want to find a place to hang it that allows both sides to dry out simultaneously. 

Leaving one side against the ground while allowing the other side to dry can cause damage to the fabric, even staining.

Proper ventilation is vital to properly drying the awning.

This process is likely to be lengthy, so be sure to pick a sunny day to undertake this task so that it has adequate time to dry. 

Conclusion

The awning on our RV is an integral part of the camping experience.

It allows us to expand our living to the outdoors while still having protection from the elements.

During the days of intense heat, it gives us shelter and respite.

It isn’t often that we think of the integrity of the awning itself. 

Cleaning your RV awning isn’t something that you need to worry about doing on a daily or weekly basis.

However, it is something that you want to make a mental note to do a few times over the camping season and when you are preparing it for storage.

Also, the more frequently you clean your awning, the quicker subsequent times will be.

To compare, if you do your dishes every day, it is more manageable and a smaller amount.

If you wash your dishes once a week, you are likely to encounter a giant mess. 

To keep this essential piece of equipment in top-notch shape, we need to take the time to clean and maintain it.

Doing so will prolong its life by removing damaging debris and residues that may otherwise cause it to wear down prematurely.

Please take steps to preserve this piece of equipment that helps you make memories and live life to its fullest. 

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