Yes, you adore your RV that you have saved up for, but as well-equipped and comfortable your RV can get, it definitely is not the biggest space to stay in. As much as you enjoy time in your RV, sometimes you can feel a little bit cooped up in the limited space in it, especially if you are going on a long adventure on your RV. Exploring the outdoors is probably one of the reasons you are going on a trip on your RV, so why not get out as much as possible.
This is what makes a RV awning a great thing to have on your RV, as you will get to sit outside and enjoy nature to its fullest while still being protected from the elements and staying cool and dry. RV awnings have definitely saved many of us from bad sunburns or getting caught in an uninvited downpour while spending time outside on an RV trip. There are many different types of RV awnings that you can get fitted on your RV, ranging from window awnings, slide out awnings to patio awnings.
These awnings on your RV are built to last you a long time if they are regularly maintained and clean. After all, they are an investment, and you will want them to last for many future RV journeys ahead. If you are thinking about how to maintain and clean your RV awnings, fret not and read on, as we have a great guide to get you started!
Tips for maintenance
Frequent cleaning of your RV awnings is a definite must if you are looking to maintain your RV awnings in its best state for a long time, but here are some tips that you can follow to make your cleaning job an easier on. Following these simple tips will make your cleaning job less of a chore, and you will thank yourself in the future if you stick to them.
Do not roll up your RV awning if it is wet. Whether if it is after a small drizzle or a heavy downpour, never roll up your RV awnings when they are wet, or even worse store it that way. If moisture is trapped in the fabric of the awning, it creates a great environment for mildew and rot to grow. Before you know it, you awning will be a housing ground for them, and it might even start to emit an unpleasant smell.
To save yourself from having to deal with this, let your awning air dry before you roll them up and move on. If you really have to roll them up temporarily before you settle at your next rest stop, make sure to roll them out to dry completely once you make your next stop. Take note that in humid climates, your awnings might take a little linger to dry, so give it that extra time.
Different types of RV awnings
Get to know your RV awning so that you can choose the best way to maintain it. This most important difference between RV awnings is the material that it is made of. Different types of awnings require different maintenance methods, so it is essential to know what type you have installed. Do a check to make sure that you know exactly what material you are working with.
- Fabric/acrylic awnings
The acrylic fabric that is used to make RV awnings is a woven cloth that makes it breathable as air is able to move through it. This breathability allows it to dry rapidly after it gets wet. While they are water repellant due to a repellant finish, they are not waterproof.
However, this water repellant can fade with use and wear and tear, making it more prone to becoming damp. Such awnings should be treated to prevent them from becoming soiled permanently. Another of the advantages of an acrylic awning is that it has a high tolerance for UV rays.
- Vinyl awnings
Vinyl awnings are mildew resistant, but that does not mean that mildew will never start growing on them. Mildew can also start growing on the dirt and debris that is left sitting on the fabric of the awning, especially if you are in a warm and humid environment or if you roll up and store your awning when they are still not completely dry.
When maintained well, vinyl awnings are easy to clean and do not normally require the use of special awning cleaning solutions. Take note not to use cleaning solutions that contain bleach or other components that may be harmful to the vinyl to make sure that you do not damage it.
Steps to clean your RV awning
Now that you are ready to give your RV a good cleaning, here are the steps to do so! But before diving straight in, here is a tip that will come in handy that will make this cleaning job a lot easier for you. By removing the awning legs from their clamps and sliding them under your RV such that the awning is hanging flat against the RV wall, you will be able to reach those hard to reach areas that you have always found a struggle to get to.
Besides that, you will be able to put more force into cleaning it as you will have something hard to press on when you are scrubbing the surfaces of your awning. Simply put the awning legs back to their clamps when you want to clean the underside of the awning. Also, make sure that you have your RV parked in a shaded area before you start the cleaning process (a big tree will provide good shade), as you will be there for a while, and being under the hot sun will make the job a lot harder for you.
- Cleaning your RV awning
Before you start the whole cleaning process, take a look at the manual that comes with your RV awning when you first purchased it from the store. Take note of any special details regarding the cleaning of your specific awning. Also make sure not to remove the end caps of your RV awning when you are cleaning it, as the tension in the springs inside can cause serious injuries.
The gentlest way to clean your RV awning does not require any scrubbing at all. You will want to start off with this method as scrubbing can damage your RV awning by removing the water resistant finish on acrylic awnings. Always opt for a brush with soft bristles when you are scrubbing your awnings, as you do not want to scratch the surface of your awning.
First, remove any large debris such as leaves or stones from your awning. Mix some mild detergent with cold or lukewarm water, and apply this solution to the top surface of your awning using a soft brush. Make sure that the awning is saturated with the solution. Then, roll up your awning and allow it to sit for a minimum of 20 minutes. In this time, the soap will go deep into the fabric to break down the dirt and debris accumulated on it without running the waterproofing underneath.
After the wait, unroll your awning completely and rinse both sides of it well with water. Do this with a low water pressure, and do not blast a jet of water straight on your awning. After rinsing the fabric, check your awning for any stains, mold or rot. If these are still present, you might have to try a harsher method to get your awning clean, but if it looks clean, simply spread the awning out and allow it to dry completely before storing it again.
To tackle those stains that simply do not want to get off, try this method. Add some liquid bleach to the dish soap solution that you have made. Apply this to the stain on the top of the awning, targeting only the stains that remain and not the entire surface of the awning. Gently scrub the stain with a soft brush, moving the brush in a circular motion.
Leave the awning to stand for a few minutes, making sure it does not completely dry out. Then, rinse it out with water and check to see fi the stain is gone. If the stain is still persistent and does not want to go off, repeat the scrubbing process above with the addition of some baking soda to the stained area. Rinse and repeat until the stain is gone.
If all that scrubbing simply does not work, another method to try is the ice method. Get some ice and apply it to the stain. Then, chip the solid matter off gently. This will help to remove sticky stains without harming the waterproof finish on your RV awning.
- Protecting your RV awning
After the hard job of cleaning your RV awning, treat it with a surface protectant to protect it well. If you have a fabric awning, choose a commercial grade fabric guard. If you have a vinyl awning, use a surface protectant. Ideally, the protectant that you are using should be soil, water and stain resistant as well as being able to last for a long time.
Take special note if you are using a Sunbrella awning, as you should not use a silicone water repellant treatment on it. Doing so will put you at risk of voiding the factory warranty that comes with it, which you do not want to happen.
- Reapply the surface protectant regularly
Take the effort to reapply surface protectant to your RV awnings every once in a while to make sure that that protection lasts. This will not only make your next awning cleaning session an easier one, but also deter the growth of mildew and rot. Your awning will be less prone to stains, making sure that it continues to stay fresh and new.
Trying out other RV awning cleaners that you can make yourself
If you want to clean your RV awnings the natural way, replace the dish soap solution with a vinegar or hydrogen peroxide solution. Dilute some white vinegar with water to make a vinegar cleaning solution to clean your RV awning. Alternatively, combine one part hydrogen peroxide with three parts of water to make a hydrogen peroxide solution for cleaning.
Put all these RV awning cleaning tips into action, and start maintaining your RV awnings! Like all the parts of your RV, your RV awnings are an investment and deserve as much care as all the other parts of your RV. Regular maintenance and cleaning will keep your RV awnings good as new, allowing them to continue to serve you well for many years ahead. Stay well protected from the elements on your RV adventures without sacrificing being in the outdoors and taking in everything nature has to give!