If you’ve spent any time on the road with your RV, you know how precious your awning can be. It’s shade, it’s a place to congregate with family or camp neighbors, and it’s an extension of your living space. It’s important to keep that space looking nice and fresh, which all begins by learning how to properly clean and care for your RV awning.
Cleaning your awning may not be as straight-forward as you think, which is why we’ve put together this awning cleaning guide. Read on to learn our best tips and tricks for awning cleaning. Buckle up!
What are RV awnings made of?
To better understand how to care for your RV awning, it’s important that you know what material it is made out of. Generally, RV awnings come in one of two materials— vinyl or acrylic. The materials react differently to certain cleaners, so be sure to follow instructions that are specific to the type of awning that you have.
Each material has it’s own pros and cons, so if you’re buying a new awning, pick the one that holds up the best in the conditions you frequent most often.
Caring for Vinyl RV Awnings
Vinyl awning fabric is a marine-grade material. It’s mildew resistant, but not mildew proof. If you spend a lot of time RVing in hot, humid climates, mildew can form quickly if the awning is rolled up when wet.
The good thing about vinyl fabrics is that they tend to be pretty easy to clean. In fact, you most likely don’t need to buy any special cleaners to get it looking great again. A soft brush (a car wash brush usually works great) and soapy warm water will do the trick.
Many awning cleaners contain products like bleach, which can actually damage a vinyl awning. Avoiding harsh cleaners is key to keeping your awning looking fresh.
Instead, opt for a milder cleaner like Dawn dish soap. Use a soft brush, such as a car wash brush, to gently scrub the surface. Be careful not to scrub too hard, which can remove any coatings that the vinyl may have. Because vinyl isn’t a porous material, this simple clean will likely do the trick.
For vinyl awnings, apply Gold Eagle’s 303 Aerospace Protectant to prevent fading, cracking, and damage from UV rays.
Caring for Acrylic RV Awnings
Acrylic (also known as fabric or canvas) awnings can require a little more care. Although acrylic awnings will dry much quicker, the water repellent coating on this type of material can degrade over time. When this happens, the fabric will begin to allow water to pass through if it’s not properly treated. Also, if not properly treated, acrylic awning fabric can be permanently stained.
Most acrylic awnings are constructed using Sunbrella material. Sunbrella suggests monthly hose-downs to keep the fabric looking fresh.
For more thorough regular cleanings, start by brushing off loose dirt, hosing down, and scrubbing with a light soap like Dawn dishwashing liquid. After the soapy solution has soaked in, rinse thoroughly and air dry.
Sometimes you awning will need a little more elbow grease. This video from Editorial Services West shows how to give your awning a deeper clean.
Though acrylic awnings don’t promote mold and mildew growth, you still may encounter it— especially if you make a habit out of rolling up your awning while it’s wet. To do a deeper clean, follow these steps.
- Start by preparing a solution of bleach, soap, and water. Use one cup of bleach and a quarter cup of soap per gallon of water.
- Cover your awning in the mixture, allowing it to soak for fifteen minutes.
- Next, clean with a soft bristle brush.
- Rinse until all residue is removed.
- Lastly, air dry the awning.
Deeper cleans my damage the stain and water-repellant finish on the awning. Applying another coat should be done periodically, after a deep clean, or when you notice that the awning no longer repels water.
If you want to get the most life out of either fabric, you can use a product like Gold Eagle’s 303 Fabric Guard after cleaning your awning. If you have an acrylic awning, 303 Fabric Guard will restore water repellency if applied correctly.
Sit Back in the Shade
Now that your awning is fresh n’ clean, you can kick back and relax under the shade. Your awning will shield you from the sun, rain, or whatever else you may encounter on your outdoor adventures. Just remember to roll it up before you leave your campsite!