How Do You Clean An RV Awning?

Did you just get back from your amazing RV trip or pulled out your RV from long-term storage only to find your awnings are covered in tree sap, mold, or dirt?

Understanding which camping awning cleaner to use depends on your type of RV awning materials. How you clean a vinyl RV awning versus an acrylic awning differs.

Cleaning an RV awning can be easy, whether you need to remove tree sap from the top surface or remove mold from the awning’s bottom surface – we’ve got you covered! Regardless of your type of camper, the solutions range from homemade or DIY RV cleaning solutions to off-the-shelf cleaners.

RV Awning At Dusk With Camping Chairs and table

Types of RV Awning Materials

Vinyl Awnings

If you mostly use or store your RV in temperate or humid climates, many awning manufacturers suggest using a vinyl fabric.

Since vinyl is typically a tightly woven fabric, it is water resistant and provides excellent shade. However, since the material is so tightly woven, the material is not breathable and the shaded area below the awning will not be as breezy as an acrylic option.

Vinyl fabric is also resistant to mildew – but not mildew or mold proof – making it an ideal choice for someone looking for a low-maintenance option.

Acrylic Awnings

If your RV or camper journeys or storage solution is in a warm and dry climate, such as the American southwest, awning manufacturers suggest using an acrylic awning fabric.

Due to the way the fabric is stitched, acrylic tends to be a more breathable awning option. This allows for fresh air to flow under the awning, resulting in cooler and less stuffy air.

Though acrylic awnings are more breathable than vinyl fabric they will completely block the sun making acrylic an ideal shade solution for warm and dry climates. Acrylic is also great at repelling water, making it possible to enjoy the outdoors during a rainy day.

RV Awning By Lake At Sunset and lady in chair

How To Clean A Camper Awning

Depending on the type of fabric your camper or RV awning is made of – vinyl vs. acrylic – will determine the type of awning cleaner and cleaning process you should utilize.

How To Clean A Vinyl Camper Awning

To clean a vinyl RV awning, we suggest using a soft brush, dish soap, and water. Avoid deep or hard scrubbing of either surface of the awning. Hard scrubbing has the potential to remove the factory applied mildew-resistant coating.

Another option is to utilize a protectant spray. If you plan to use a protectant spray to clean your vinyl awning, verify the product is vinyl-safe and confirm it provides UV and dust & dirt protection.

How To Clean An Acrylic Camper Awning

Cleaning your RV’s acrylic awning can be achieved by using a stiff brush, dish soap, and water. Similar to vinyl awnings, avoid scrubbing deeply, as it can remove the water-repelling finish and ruin your awning.

The second option for cleaning your camper’s acrylic awning is using a protectant spray designed to restore water repellency, but one that will not damage the fabric or factory finish.

InTech Sol Horizon at campsite

How To Remove Mold From An RV Awning

Chemical Cleaners

For acrylic camper awnings with mold you do not use bleach for cleaning. A diluted bleach solution will remove the surface issue, but the bleach solution cannot remove the mold spores/roots penetrating the fabric.

To clean RV’s with acrylic awnings we suggest using an antimicrobial cleaner to remove the surface mold and any deeply rooted spores. 

In contrary, campers with vinyl awnings can tolerate a diluted bleach solution to successfully remove the surface mold and the mold roots. Simply a diluted water and bleach mixture directly to the affected area.

After waiting roughly 10 minutes, use a soft brush to gently scrub away the mold. Rinse the area with clean water to remove any residual bleach solution.

A chemical alternative to bleach for vinyl awnings is the antimicrobial cleaner

DIY RV Awning Cleaner

With respect to both vinyl and acrylic RV awnings, a harsh chemical alternative is a DIY solution made with ingredients most people have in their homes.

A vinegar and baking soda combination can will remove mold in lieu of potentially damaging chemicals. First, soak the affected area with vinegar and wait for 5 – 10 minutes. Then, sprinkle baking soda on a soft brush and gently scrub away the mold.

This process may require a few passes but you will not have deal with harsh chemicals to rid your camper’s awnings of mold and mildew.

How To Remove Tree Sap From An RV Awning

We all love taking our RVs and campers to lush, tree filled campgrounds. However, tree sap can become a sticky issue for your recreational vehicle’s awnings that general household cleaners or soap and water will not remove.

For fresh sap or sap that has been baked in the sun you can try using a marine grade degreaser.

Dried tree sap that has been attached for some time is more difficult to remove. For this situation, we suggest using rubbing alcohol – Isopropyl Alcohol – to spot clean the areas affected by tree sap.