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7 Steps to Clean Your RV Awning, Prevent Mold, and Save Money

You're at the campsite, ready to relax. You pull out your awning overhead, and you suddenly see it: the unmistakable patch of mold creeping along the edge of the fabric. And that's when you remember that it rained last time you were out, and you committed that cardinal sin in the world of awnings: you rolled it up wet.Fortunately, this is not a death sentence for your awning. Although RV awning fabric is typically made to resist mold and mildew, any fabric left in the elements for an extended period of time is going to need some TLC. Even if your awning is not currently moldy, it's a good idea to clean it regularly so that you can prolong its functional life and enjoy it for years to come.Shop all RV awnings or read on below.
Learn more about maintaining your RV awning:
  • How to Clean Your RV Awning: Step by Step (with pictures)
  • How Often Should You Clean Your RV Awning?
  • Cleaning Vinyl vs. Acrylic Fabric

How to Clean Your RV Awning: Step by Step (with pictures)

Watch a quick video demonstration on cleaning an RV awning, or go step by step through our guide below.NOTE: Always check your owner's manual for instructions on caring for your specific awning. Manufacturers' recommendations can differ between brands and models.
Step 1Open your awning and lower it as much as possible. If it's too high for you to reach, you may need a step stool or a long brush.
Lowered RV Awning
Step 2Prepare your cleaning solution.Store-Bought SolutionsYou can use a store-bought solution like Valterra's RV Awning Cleaner # V88542, which is designed to remove dirt, mold, mildew, and tree sap from your awning, as well as condition the fabric. If you use a store-bought cleaner, be sure that it is designed specifically for awning fabrics. Avoid solutions that are oil-based, caustic, or abrasive.DIY SolutionsYou can also create a homemade cleaning solution. Dish soap (Dawn being ever-popular among RVers) and water form a great DIY cleaner.Bleach is also commonly used in DIY cleaning solutions. However, you should check your awning owner's manual before proceeding with this method. Some manufacturers recommend using the bleach and water method, while others highly discourage it.Tree Sap SolutionsTree sap can be a particularly stubborn substance to remove from your awning, especially if you have a woven acrylic fabric. If a regular cleaning solution isn't working, some other common methods recommended by RVers include:
  • Isopropyl alcohol (Most recommended)
  • Turpentine
  • Clorox Clean-Up spray
  • Peanut butter
  • Formula 409
NOTE: With any cleaning solution, always try it on a test location on your awning first to make sure the solution won't discolor your fabric or leave residue behind. If you use bleach or another toxic chemical, avoid washing the awning over grass or plants that might be affected by the runoff.
RV Awning Cleaning Solutions
Step 3Prepare the awning by clearing away any leaves or debris, then rinse both sides of the fabric with a hose to remove any loose dirt.
Rinse RV Awning
Step 4Cover your RV awning with your cleaning solution. You can use a spray bottle, a brush, or a pressure washer (just be sure not to tear the fabric!). Make sure to cover the top and bottom of the awning. Then, roll up the awning so that the solution can soak. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
Retracted RV Awning
Step 5Expand the awning again and gently wipe the fabric with your rag, brush, or sponge. A car wash brush with a long handle is often helpful for reaching difficult spots.For acrylic awnings, use a stiff brush. For vinyl awnings, use a soft brush. For stubborn small stains, mold spots, or tree sap, try a toothbrush.NOTE: Wipe, don't scrub. Hard scrubbing, especially on acrylic awnings, will remove the protective layer.
Clean RV Awning
Step 6Rinse the awning thoroughly with your hose or pressure washer. Make sure all traces of your cleaning solution are removed, especially if you used a chemical such as bleach. Leaving behind traces of bleach or other such chemicals will damage your fabric.
Rinse RV Awning
Step 7Allow the awning to air-dry completely (be patient; never apply heat to dry the fabric) before storing.If desired, once the awning is dry, you can treat the fabric with a protectant such as 303® Aerospace (for vinyl awnings, to repel dirt and provide UV protection) or 303® Fabric Guard (for acrylic awnings, to restore water repellency).
RV Awning

How Often Should You Clean Your RV Awning?

At minimum you should clean your RV awning once a year prior to storing your motorhome for the winter. (Read more about preparing your motorhome for winter storage here.) It's also time to clean your awning if it appears dirty, if you park beneath trees and sap drips onto the fabric, or, of course, if it's sporting mold or mildew. In general, it's a good idea to clean your awning every few months, or more often if you use your RV frequently.Essentially, if you're wondering whether or not it's time to clean your awning, it probably is.
RV Awning

Cleaning Vinyl vs. Acrylic Awning Fabric

RV awning fabric is typically either vinyl or acrylic. Each provides different benefits and requires a slightly different approach to maintenance.AcrylicAcrylic is a breathable woven fabric that presents unique challenges when it comes to cleaning. Because it is a woven fabric, dirt and tree sap can sink deeply into the weave. Acrylic awnings also come with a water-repelling finish. It's important not to scrub too hard when you clean the fabric, as you can actually scrub off the finish.How to clean: Use a stiff brush, dish soap, and water. Avoid scrubbing, which can remove the water-repelling finish and ruin your awning. If you use a protectant spray, make sure to use a product designed to restore water repellancy that will not damage the fabric or finish.VinylVinyl material is somewhat easier to clean. It doesn't share the porous surface of acrylic fabric, so you don't have to worry so much about tree sap and dirt settling in to stay.Vinyl awnings resist mildew, but they are not mildew-proof. You may have heard that vinyl awnings don't technically grow mildew; rather, they collect dirt and dust on which mildew forms. But for an RVer, the presence of mildew is a problem regardless of whether it formed on the vinyl itself or the dirt covering the vinyl.How to clean: Use a soft brush, dish soap, and water. Avoid scrubbing, which can remove the mildew-resistant coating. If you use a protectant spray, make sure to use a product designed to provide UV and dust/dirt protection that is safe to use on vinyl.
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Related ProductsWritten by: Amber S.Updated on: 12/14/18

Steve J.


I use dawn and water mix and I use bleach for the bad spots. Never had a problem.

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


Sounds like a good plan, as long as the awning manufacturer says using bleach is okay, the bleach is properly diluted and the awning is thoroughly rinsed afterward.

Al S.


Have a lippert vinyl awning, can you use an automotive vinyl top sealer on your awning? Everyone makes a cleaner, have not yet seen a vinyl sealer for rv awnings.

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


I honestly haven't looked into this before and so I reached out to my contact at Lippert who did a little digging and then replied that they don't recommend modifying an awning, but that's really because she couldn't find anything on the matter. It makes sense to me and from the limited amount of research I did it looks to be a viable option. I would do a little more research on your end and or wait and see if someone replies to this who has done it before. When/if you go to do it I do recommend testing it out first on a small part of your awning that won't be too visible so you know how it will interact with the awning just to be safe.

Jack V.


I have some stains that will not come out is there anything else I can do other than replace like paint it stains are on the white underneath side



Didn’t work for me. Found that a mr clean eraser, or a nice eraser worked fantastic. Got a little wet and took about 45 minutes but what a difference. That is my recommendation.

Etrailer Expert

Chris R.


Awesome. Thanks for your advice!



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