When you’re living in the limited space of a motorhome, every square foot counts. And that includes your outdoor living space. Plus, getting outside was part of the reason you took up camping in the first place, right?
Of course, no one wants to lounge around in the beating hot sun all day. That’s why the vast majority of trailers and motorhomes come equipped with a camper canopy or awning, which you can pull out to provide shade for your front porch living area. It’s a whole lot easier to while away those long summer days when you’ve got a little bit of shelter from the elements.
But like everything else on your rig, your RV awning isn’t invincible. And if you want it to last for as long as possible, it’s important to keep up with proper maintenance — which, yes, means you need to keep it clean.
If you’ve owned a rig for even a short amount of time, you’re familiar with the fact that your entire motorhome requires regular maintenance. From checking for water damage to oiling moving parts to simply keeping things clean and shiny for the next camping trip, maintenance helps ensure your vehicle will continue operating in proper, working order for many years to come.
But how the heck do you clean an RV awning, anyway? It’s such an easy to-do to overlook, most of us never really think about the logistics.
But we’re going to walk you through how to clean an awning on a camper step by step, so you can rest assured your canopy will last as long as possible.
Cleaning a Canopy
Although cleaning your RV canopy might seem difficult at first, it’s really not that complicated. In most cases, all it takes is some good old soap, water, and elbow grease!
First, ensure your RV is parked in a shaded area. You’re going to be outside for a little while — and not under your canopy, of course — so you need to provide yourself a little bit of natural shade. You’ll also need a ladder, a hose with access to water, some simple dish soap, a soft scrub brush, and a bucket.
Now, be sure to clear your RV canopy of all large debris such as twigs and leaves. You can do this by hand or with a leafblower if you have access to one.
Then, hose off the canopy to remove smaller debris remaining and to get it wet — that’ll help the soap do its job.
Here comes the fun part of cleaning your RV canopy: It’s time to get up on your ladder, use your scrub brush, and get some soap on any tricky spots or stains. Regular dish soap should work well, but always be sure to test your soap on a small, discrete part of your canopy to ensure that it doesn’t have any adverse effect on the fabric finish. (RV awnings are made of a variety of different materials, such as vinyl and canvas, so you should never use harsh chemicals or bleach which might damage the fabric!)
Once you’ve gotten the canopy nice and clean, give it another hose down for good measure, and then allow it to dry naturally. Good as new!
Canopy Cleaning Products
If you want to make double sure you won’t damage your canopy’s fabric surface, you can look into purchasing commercial canopy cleaner for your rig’s particular type of fabric. These can be found at camping stores or online specialty vendors.
There are many different RV canopy cleaning solutions and chemicals on the market, and campers have many different suggestions for which is the best awning cleaner. You can find ratings and user opinions on camping forums online, and you can also ask other campers you know or the friendly representative at the camping store for their advice. But your experience will vary depending on the fabric your canopy is made of.
You may also have more stubborn stains or substances on your canopy, such as bird droppings, tree sap, or mold. But it’s not hard to remove even these toughies from your canopy with a little bit of work.
If simple scrubbing doesn’t work, you can try using the ice method, which involves letting ice adhere to the solid matter and then gently chipping them off. This will bring the sticky substance along with it, cleaning canvas awnings without harming their finish.
Cleaning an Awning
One of the best ways to keep your RV awning clean is to do what you can to avoid getting it excessively dirty in the first place. When choosing a campsite, always be on the lookout for sap-producing trees that can create hard-to-remove awning stains. (They can also have an impact on your roof’s finish, so you have lots of incentive to avoid parking beneath them!)
It’s also important that you maintain a regular cleaning schedule so that your awning never gets so dirty you can’t clean it up without doing damage to the surface. If you use your RV regularly, you’ll at least want to clean the awning once a season — but it’s really a better idea to clean it at least once a month, or even every time you camp if you use the awning heavily and regularly camp under tree-shaded areas, which can increase the chance of heavy staining and messes on your RV’s canopy.
We hope this article about how to clean your RV’s outdoor canopy will help you maintain a pristine, working awning for many years and camping trips to come. Although cleaning an RV awning is no one’s idea of a party, you’ll thank yourself for your hard work next time you’re relaxing in the shade in your camping chair with some hot dogs on the grill, not having to worry about whether or not your awning is going to quit working unexpectedly.
(And let’s be honest — not seeing any stains while you’re hanging out under there is a nice bonus, too!)