How To Clean RV Awnings (6 Simple Steps)

Today, most RVs come with an awning. Awnings are a very handy addition to your RV. They provide some shade on hot days, give you a bit of added living space, and they also allow you to spend time outside when it’s raining. So, knowing how to clean RV awnings is an essential skill for any RV owner.

Cleaning an RV awning is actually a very simple process, and one that should be done at least once per year. The process is much like cleaning the outside of your RV, you rinse, scrub, rinse and let it dry.

How To Clean RV Awnings – Step-By-Step

how to clean RV awnings

When done correctly, the whole process shouldn’t take you more than an hour and a half (though most of that is waiting time).

Here are the basic steps of the process on how to clean your RV awning.

1. Unroll Your Awning

Start by opening up your awning, and setting it as low as possible, so it is easy to reach. If you’ve lowered it as far as possible and you still cannot reach the top, you’ll want to have a brush with a long handle or a step stool.

2. Mix Your Cleaning Product

Prepare your cleaning solution. If you’ve purchased a pre-mixed cleaning solution, you’re ready to go. Just make sure that you’ve purchased a cleaner that is free of abrasives, harsh chemicals or oils.

Many RV owners like to use a simple solution of Dawn dishwashing liquid mixed with soap. This cleaning solution is easy on your awning, and is also biodegradable, so it’s easy on the planet, as well.

Transfer your soap mixture to a spray bottle or garden sprayer.

3. Apply The Cleaning Product To The Awning

After you use a broom or air compressor to remove dust and debris (think leaves and bugs). Use fresh water to rinse off the awning.

Using a spray bottle or garden sprayer, thoroughly coat the awning in a cleaning solution. Then Close up your awning and let it sit for around an hour.

4. Unroll Your Awning And Scrub or Wipe Down

Unroll the awning, and gently scrub it with a soft brush or sponge to loosen up any stuck-on dirt or debris.

A soft car-washing brush with an extendable handle is helpful for reaching hard to get to spots.

5. Rinse With Fresh Water

Rinse off the awning with clean water from your hose. You’ll want to rinse the awning well, to ensure that all the cleaning product has been washed away.

Residuals of cleaning products can damage awning fabric, or if nothing else, make it sticky.

6. Leave Your Awning Extended And Dry Completely

Leave your awning open for as long as it takes to dry completely.

Putting away your awning wet, especially if you’re putting it into storage for the winter, can create the perfect condition for mold and/or mildew growth. Both of which can damage your awning.

Tips To Maintain Your RV Awnings

You’ve probably not put your RV awning at the top of your RV maintenance list. However, it’s one of the most popular features of RVs, and it will quickly become a priority when you have to replace it due to poor maintenance.

Here are some helpful tips for maintaining your RV awning.

  • Wash annually.
  • Dry completely before closing.
  • Make sure the awning is locked before hitting the road.
  • If you’re leaving your campsite, close your awning.
  • Close the awning during inclement weather.
  • Invest in an awning stabilizer kit.
  • Inspect your awning every time you use it.

Here are some additional details about these maintenance tips.

  1. Wash your awning annually.

Many RV owners like to clean their awning more than once per year, and this is a good habit to get into, but if you just don’t want to spend the time, make sure that you wash your awning at least once per year. This will remove dirt and debris from your awning that can cause damage over time.

  1. Allow the awning to dry completely before closing.

This is a big mistake that lots of new RV owners make. Closing your RV awning before it’s dry can cause mold and mildew to grow on the fabric. Both of these can degrade the fabric fibers. Sometimes you have no choice but to roll up your awning when it’s wet and hit the road. If this is the case, make sure that you open it up as soon as possible, and let it dry completely before rolling it back up again.

  1. Make sure your awning is locked before hitting the road.

We’ve seen other RV owners driving down the road with their awning partially unrolled. This is because they didn’t check and make sure that their awning was locked before pulling out of their driveway or camping spot. High wind and drag from driving can cause serious damage to your RV awning, or even cause it to rip completely off your RV.

  1. Roll up your awning when you’re not using it.

We make a practice of rolling up our awnings unless we’re at camp. This does two things: first, it reduces the exposure to UV rays which can weaken the fabric; second, it protects your awning from damage should hail or a strong wind come up while you’re not there.

  1. Close the awning during inclement weather.

Sure, you may want to keep your awning out to provide a bit of shelter over your picnic table or camp chairs during the rain, and that’s ok. However, if the weather gets serious, you should roll up your awning. Hail and strong winds are the two biggest enemies of RV awnings.

  1. Invest in an awning stabilizer kit.

These are great extra insurance just in case high winds happen and you’re not expecting it, or if you’re boondocking in a location that has high winds. Stabilizer kits add extra support and keep your awning secured to the ground so it won’t blow away.

  1. Inspect your awning every time you use it.

Lots of RV maintenance guides will suggest you inspect your awning a couple of times per year. This may be a good idea for focused, detailed inspections. However, we think it’s a better idea to give your RV awning a good look over, every time you open or close it. This allows you to catch damages when they’re small, instead of when they’ve become a big mess.

Things to look for include:

  • Resistance to opening or unusual noises.
  • Warping of the roller tube.
  • Check the awning arms for missing screws, broken rivets, bending or dents.
  • Check the awning end caps for damage or missing parts.
  • Check to make sure the awning is properly attached to the outside of the RV.
  • Look for tears or wear spots in the awning fabric.
  • When you roll up the awning, listen again for strange noises or resistance.
  • Make sure the locking mechanism is functioning properly and that your awning is tightly secured to the outside of the RV.

How Do You Clean Mildew Off An RV Awning?

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, your RV awning will grow a bit of mildew. It’s important to clean mildew from your RV awning as soon as you realize it’s there.

Cleaning mildew from your RV awning isn’t as difficult as it seems if you have the right tools and know what to do.

  • First, mix a dilute solution of vinegar, baking soda and water (or a pre-made antimicrobial cleaner works too).
  • Spray the cleaning solution onto mildew spots and let sit for 10-minutes.
  • After 10-minutes you can scrub gently with a soft brush to release the mildew.
  • Then rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  • Let the awning dry completely before closing (or you’ll be back to square one).

Can I Use Bleach On My RV Awning?

Bleach is a very popular cleaning solution used in our homes and in our RVs. Diluted bleach has great properties, and in the right place is a great cleaning solution.

We don’t recommend using bleach to clean your RV awning. Bleach, if not diluted properly can damage the awning fabric, causing weak spots, and can remove the color from your awning, leaving a spotty, ugly mess.

If you are thinking about using bleach, make sure to consult your RV owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Can A Magic Eraser Clean RV Awnings?

The Magic Eraser is a miracle of modern cleaning. And, it’s an item that we think should be in every RV. The Magic Eraser can clean just about anything. Including some types of RV awnings, or parts of your RV awning.

The Magic Eraser is great for RV awnings that are vinyl coated, or made of a smooth, slick surface. Fabric awnings shouldn’t be cleaned with a Magic Eraser.

Can I Use Simple Green To Clean My RV Awning?

Yes, you can use Simple Green to clean your RV awning! Simple Green is a great, biodegradable cleaning product and works well at removing dirt, oils, and even pine sap.

However, before you go spraying Simple Green on your RV awning, do a test spot to make sure it won’t stain.

Madeline Cooper