How to clean an RV awning

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RV awnings are a must-have if you plan on staying comfortable in the great outdoors. On a hot day, they keep you cool and out of the sun; on a rainy day, they’ll keep you dry if you choose to sit outside of your rig.

However, a dirty and neglected awning can spell trouble. Taking the proper precautions to prevent your RV awning from growing funky substances is an important practice, and anyone can do them! All you need to do is a little routine cleaning. 

If you don’t already know how to properly care for your awning, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve crafted this handy guide to show you how to clean an RV awning!

Why it’s important to keep your RV awning clean

RVs are meant to be exposed to the elements and allow you to experience nature up close, so it's expected that they are going to get a little dirty from time to time. 

The RV awning is no exception to this rule, but some of the dirt that may accumulate there can be unsightly— or even unsafe— if you let it go too far. Mold is a somewhat common occurrence in dirty RV awnings, and the longer it goes untreated, the worse it gets. Wait too long, and you may have to throw out the awning’s fabric entirely and replace it. Even if the situation doesn’t get this dire, you want to keep your awning as clean as possible so that it can have a long lifespan. 


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How did my awning get dirty?

There are lots of ways that an RV awning can get dirty out in the great outdoors, but some culprits are more common than others. 

  • Trees that you park around or under may shed some leaves or drip tree sap onto your awning

  • Insects are also known to sometimes congregate on awnings and can get crushed up when you put your awning away, leaving behind nasty stains

  • Rolling up your awning when it is moist can lead to mold growth 

Regardless of the cause of your RV awning’s dirt, you can likely clean it and make your awning squeaky clean again.

What you need to clean your RV awning

There are many options for RV awning cleaning solutions out there. 

The easiest way is to go to your local hardware store and buy a solution specifically designed for this purpose. You’ll know you have the right one when you find a bottle that says that the solution is meant to be used on RV awning fabric in particular. The cleaning solution used for car washes is also a nice substitute.

It’s possible to make your own quick and easy RV awning cleaning solution at home, too! A simple mixture of liquid dish soap and water works wonders on awnings. Some may prefer to add bleach in their solution as well which can be a great idea, but be careful. Read over the instruction manual that came with your awning beforehand and see what it has to say about using bleach. Different awnings are made of different materials, so what works for one may not work for another, and bleach can be particularly damaging to certain materials. 

Some substances (such as sticky tree sap) are especially difficult to clean off an awning and may require some extra help. Isopropyl alcohol is your best friend here, usually clearing away any grime left over after the rest of your cleaning. We recommend keeping some handy for this process just in case you need it.


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Cleaning your RV awning

Once you’ve got your cleaning solution of choice at hand, it’s time to finally clean your RV awning. 

Step 1: Clear awning of any debris

Open up your awning and lower it to where you can easily reach the entire surface of it with a spray bottle and a soft-bristled brush. Next, you’ll get rid of any fallen leaves, twigs, or similar debris that’s easy to wipe away. Spray the awning down with a water hose to prep for the next step.

Before you begin the actual cleaning process, it’s wise to spray a little bit of your solution on a small corner of your awning for a test run. This way, you can ensure that the solution works properly and doesn’t damage your awning’s fabric or color. 

Step 2: Suds up your awning

Once you’ve determined that you’re good to go with your chosen solution, spray the whole awning up and down with it. A spray bottle is perfect for this, but you can also dip a brush into your solution and use that as well. Some may even go as far as using a pressure washer, but be careful not to damage your fabric if you do this. 

The solution needs to soak now, so roll your awning up and leave it for a few minutes to do its thing. After about five minutes, you can take your awning out again and start wiping off the solution. Be sure to be gentle during this step. If you scrub too hard, you risk damaging your awning’s structural integrity and its coloration. 

Step 3: Wipe down your awning

For this step, you can use a brush or rag for gentle wiping. Your awning’s material will determine what kind of brush works best. Typically, acrylic material needs a stiffer brush, and vinyl material needs a softer brush. 


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Step 4: Rinse the awning

When you’ve finished wiping and your problem stains are gone, it’s time to rinse the awning down. Use your hose to completely remove any cleaning solution residue. 

Step 5: Let it dry

Now, all that’s left to do is let the awning air dry! It’s important that it's entirely dry before you roll it up. You must let it air dry rather than using a heating instrument, which can damage, melt, or warp your awning. 

With that finished, you’re now an expert on how to clean an RV awning. Sit back and relax knowing your awning will protect you from the sun’s rays for a long time to come thanks to your careful maintenance.

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