How To Clean Pop Up Camper Canvas & Waterproof

After a lot of regular use, it’s very common for the canvas on your pop-up camper to start getting noticeably dirty, and if you haven’t got round to cleaning it in a while there is a very good chance you will also start seeing mold and mildew which can actually be harmful.

But don’t fear, getting your canvas back to its former glory is quite an easy task with our helpful guide on how to clean a pop-up canvas the right way, as well as how to waterproof your canvas, and remove horrible mold, and mildew.

There are a few different products or substances you can use to clean that canvas. That said, the process is generally all the same, and very easy too. You more or less just wet the canvas, apply a cleaning product, scrub, and then hose it off.

Here is the complete guide;

How Do You Clean And Waterproof A Canvas On A Pop-Up Camper?

how to clean pop-up camper canvas

That canvas can get pretty dirty, and quite quickly too. The more you use your camper, the dirtier that canvas is going to be.

Cleaning the soft walls on your pop-up camper might seem like a very difficult task, but it’s actually very easy and only takes a few steps. 

Now, be aware that cleaning your canvas on your camper too much will likely remove some of the waterproof layer. For this reason, we’re also going to discuss how to waterproof your popup camper canvas. Let’s first cover how to clean your pop-up camper canvas.

Cleaning Your Pop Up Camper Canvas

The good thing about cleaning your pop-up camper canvas is that it’s actually very easy to do. If you are an efficient worker and you have the right cleaning products or substances, this is something that can be done in well under an hour. 

You really just need a few things, a bit of time, and some strong muscles. Some substances can really stick to canvas, so you’re definitely going to need to put those biceps of yours to use.

Let’s first talk about what you will need for this task, and then we’ll go through a step-by-step process.

What You Will Need

OK, so in terms of cleaning your pop-up camper canvas, there are actually a few different things that you can use. Exactly what you use is something we will leave up to you. 

However, for the best results, we do recommend purchasing a professional pop-up camper canvas cleaning product. This will undoubtedly produce the best results. 

With that being said, if you don’t want to purchase a canvas cleaner, and you would rather make your own for a much lower cost, as well as use something more eco-friendly, baking soda is a go-to option. 

All you have to do is mix a quart of warm water with a cup of baking soda and create a paste out of it. Below is a list of exactly what you need to clean your pop-up camper canvas.

  • A semi stiff bristle brush or broom 
  • A large bucket
  • A large sponge – preferably a car washing sponge
  • A soft scrub brush
  • Your garden hose and plenty of water
  • Your canvas cleaning product of choice OR Baking soda and water mixture 

Step By Step Guide

Yes, this process is going to take a bit of time, especially if you have a fairly large pop-up camper. Of course, the dirtier that canvas, the harder this job is going to be.

Pro tip: It’s easier if you regularly clean the canvas instead of letting that dirt build up too much. Either way, follow the steps listed below to clean your pop-up camper canvas.

  1. Use that broom or semi stiff bristle brush to brush away any loose dirt. The more dirt you can get off before you apply water, the better this process is going to go.
  2. If you are using a professional canvas cleaner product, you are going to want to follow the directions as listed. Generally speaking, this is going to include first using your hose to get the canvas wet, then applying the product. 
  3. Depending on the product, you might have to let it soak in for a while. Once it has soaked in, you will then be able to scrub at all of the dirty areas. Use your soft scrub brush and scrub away any and all dirt and stains present.
  4. You will then just have to use your hose to wash away all of the canvas cleaning product, as well as the dirt. You should now have a perfectly clean pop-up camper canvas.
  5. Remember to allow the canvas to dry completely before putting it back down. If you don’t let the canvas dry 100% before folding it back down, it will develop mold and mildew within a very short period of time.

If you happen to be using the baking soda and water combination, the process is more or less the same. Get the canvas wet, apply the baking soda and water paste, let it soak for a while, scrub all dirty areas, and then use your hose to wash it all away. As you can see, this is really quite a straightforward and easy process.

How To Waterproof Your Pop Up Camper Canvas

The canvas on your pop-up camper has a waterproof layer on it. This is of course designed so that it does not get wet, and moreover so that it does not leak water into the camper itself. However, over time, this waterproof layer is going to wear down. 

This is no more the case than if you regularly wash the canvas. Yes, water, and even more so, professional cleaning products will eventually remove that waterproof layer. Therefore, to prevent your canvas from getting wet in the future, and to stop it from leaking, you are going to need to waterproof it again.

What You Will Need

The most important thing that you are going to need here is a waterproofing agent designed specifically for canvas. There are a few different ones out there, so choose wisely. 

One of the best ones is known as 303 fabric guard. There are plenty of canvas waterproofing products out there, so go do a bit of research. Generally speaking, they’re all fairly similar. 

If you’re only waterproofing small spots, the spray bottle the product comes and will work fine. If you need to waterproof the entirety of the canvas, you might want to get yourself either a paintbrush or a paint roller. You may also want to get some plastic sheets or painter’s tape to cover the areas that you aren’t waterproofing.

Step By Step Guide

This process is also quite easy and it’s only going to take a few steps. Let’s figure out exactly how to waterproof your pop-up camper canvas.

  1. To apply the waterproofing product, the camper canvas of must be dry and clean. Therefore, if you haven’t yet cleaned it, refer to the steps listed above on how to clean your camper canvas.
  2. Generally speaking, you just have to follow the instructions on the product in question. If you are waterproofing small spots, simply spray the product on as instructed.
  3. If you are waterproofing the entire canvas, you will first want to cover off adjacent areas. You don’t want to get these waterproofing products on vinyl, metal, or plastic. It can cause damage or discoloration to everything and anything besides canvas. So, use either some plastic tarps or some painters tape to cover off all adjacent areas to the canvas.
  4. Now, use either a paintbrush or a paint roller and apply the product as needed.
  5. Whatever method you use, make sure that the product has completely dried before you pop your camper canvas down.

How Do You Get Mold And Mildew Out Of A Pop Up Camper Canvas?

Unfortunately, mold and mildew can grow on your pop-up camper’s canvas. This often happens when you put the canvas back down when it is wet. Mold and mildew thrive in damp conditions. 

This is especially the case if your canvas is no longer totally waterproof. If it’s not waterproof, the canvas absorbs moisture, which provides mold and mildew with a good breeding ground. Luckily, getting mold and mildew off of your camper canvas is fairly easy.

What You Will Need

OK, so many people might tell you to go buy some kind of professional mold or mildew removing product. Sure, these will work, but they are expensive, and usually not very ecofriendly. 

Do you know what kills mold and mildew really effectively? Vinegar, that’s what. 

All you need here is some water and vinegar. Other than that, getting mold and mildew out of the camper canvas is exactly the same as the cleaning steps that we talked about above.

Step By Step Guide

Refer to the simple steps below to get mold and mildew out of the canvas on your pop-up camper.

  1. Get a large bucket and mix one part vinegar with two parts water. If there is a lot of mold and mildew, you can increase the ratio of vinegar to water as needed. Just don’t exceed a one to one ratio.
  2. Get a relatively soft scrub brush, dip it in your solution, and scrub the mold and mildew. You can also pour a bit of the solution directly onto the canvas before you start scrubbing. You really want that mold and mildew to be saturated with the vinegar solution.
  3. You don’t even need to wash it off. You actually want to leave the vinegar on the canvas, as this will kill all the mold, and prevent mold from growing for a certain period of time in the future.

Yes, the vinegar is going to smell a little bit, but this odor will go away in a couple of days. if you happen to be using a professional mold-killing product for canvas, simply follow the directions on your product.

How Often Should I Clean My Camper Canvas?

There is really no set time or rule in terms of how often you should clean your camper canvas. If you use your camper canvas quite often, cleaning it at the beginning of the season and at the end of the season is recommended. It really depends on how dirty it is. 

If you are constantly driving through forested areas and desserts, then it is going to get really dirty really quickly. 

If this is the case, you might have to clean that canvas once per month. More than anything else, this is going to take some common sense on your end. If it looks visually dirty and if it smells, then it’s time for a cleaning.

Clean Or Replace: How To Know?

There is one way to know whether it is time to replace the canvas or not. If you clean the canvas and it actually gets 100% clean, then it’s fine.

However, if you just keep scrubbing and scrubbing, and you’ve used a bunch of professional cleaning products, but the canvas is still dirty, then you may want to consider replacing it.

Moreover, if it is permanently stained, or even worse, damaged in any way, then you will probably want to replace it as well.

Related: The Truth About AC And Pop-Up Campers.


There you have it folks, everything needs know about cleaning, removing mold, and waterproofing your pop-up camper canvas.

Madeline Cooper