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How To Clean A Stained RV Awning

an RV with an RV awning at a campsite - feature image for How To Clean A Stained RV Awning
Here’s how to clean a stained RV awning so you can keep your camper looking good as new. Photo: Shutterstock

How To Clean A Stained RV Awning

RV awnings provide shade and protection from snow and rain when we’re outside. However, every part of an RV will need to be cleaned and maintained from time to time, and RV awnings are no exception. They can become stained due to mold, mildew, bird droppings, dust, or other debris that builds up over time. This is why it’s important to know how to clean a stained RV awning.

Awnings are typically made from either vinyl or acrylic fabric. The cleaning process is similar between the two types, but it’s important to note that the water-repellent coating on fabric awnings becomes worn down after a while if the awning is treated harshly or cleaned too often.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll mainly be discussing vinyl, but information about acrylic fabric awnings will be provided as well. Keep in mind that most of the treatments should work just fine for all types of awning fabric.

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How to clean a stained RV awning: Step-by-step

Before you begin, perform a thorough examination of your awning. If you notice tears or cracks in the material, a simple cleaning might not be enough. At this stage, it’s better to consider replacing the awning fabric because cleaning a damaged awning will only make the problem worse.

If your awning is intact but dirty, it’s time to get to work with the cleaning process.

Gather equipment

The first step to take when you’re learning how to clean a stained RV awning is to gather the proper tools and equipment. Awnings can be tough to reach, so you’ll need gear that can either bring the awning down or lift you up to the roof.

For this job, you’ll need to gather:

Extend awning

Next up, it’s time to pull out the awning! Extend it fully so you can clean the entire surface. In order to reach the top, you may need to use your ladder to get up to it. You can also pull the awning downward, but this may require the help of another person, and it will be harder to keep it in place for the entire time.

Wipe off surface buildup

Now you need to get through the outer layer of grime. There is usually some dirt, pollen, ash, mildew, and other materials on the top of the awning. You can scrape most of this away without help from cleaning products. You’ll want to do this step so that you can get down to the root of the problem.

If the top layer is still in the way, you won’t be able to tackle the stains underneath. Simply spray the awning with your hose and use a soft sponge to wipe it down. You’re not doing a deep clean yet, just scraping the top layer. Don’t worry if the stains haven’t budged yet!

Spray with the cleaner of your choice

Once your preparatory work is done, it’s time to get down to business. Either spray or pour on your awning cleaner of choice. We’ll discuss some of the best options for this below.

Let the treatment sit on the surface for about 5 minutes so it can penetrate the stains. If you’d like, you can roll up the awning while the cleaner takes effect. As long as the entire top was coated, it doesn’t matter if it’s rolled up or exposed to the air.

Gently scrub awning fabric

Now it’s time to scrub the stains away. This is where the material of your awning will matter. If it’s a vinyl awning, you should use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the stains. If it’s acrylic fabric, a stiff-bristled brush is better. Wet down the brushes with some water and gently wipe the surface of the awning. You don’t want to be too rough because you could strip away the protective coating or create scratches and tears in the fabric.

Hose off the surface

If you’re satisfied with the cleanliness of the awning, you can move on to the final steps. Thoroughly hose off the awning. It’s best to do this a couple of times so you can ensure that no cleaning products are left on the surface. Some cleaners can weaken and fade the fabric if they sit on the surface for too long.

Let awning dry and apply protective treatment

Almost done! Now you just need to let the awning dry out. Make sure the awning is completely dry before you put it away. Wet storage conditions can lead to mildew growth, which would undo all of your hard work.

Finally, you can apply some protective coatings to keep your awning water-resistant and safe from mold and mildew. A good product for this purpose is 303 Marine UV Protectant. This is perfect for vinyl awnings! Just spray it on, let it dry, and store your awning as usual.

Best awning cleaners

If you want to know how to clean a stained RV awning, you need to have the best product for the job. There are lots of products that can remove stains on vinyl and acrylic fabric, so you have a wide selection to choose from.

Store-bought mixtures

If you want to go for a simple store-bought route, there are plenty of great options. Some of the best cleaners for RV awnings include:


Bleach is another common cleaner for awnings. It’s a powerful chemical that is especially good for killing and removing mildew. Because it’s so potent, you usually need to mix it with water and dish soap to make it safer to handle. A good ratio is 1 gallon of water, 1/4 cup dish soap, and 1 cup of bleach. Use gloves if you handle this mixture because it could irritate your skin!

Laundry detergent

Laundry detergent is another tried and true method for cleaning awnings. Liquid detergent is preferable because powdered detergent can be too harsh for many awnings. A mixture of 1 gallon of water and 1 cup of liquid detergent is great for cleaning awnings! It’s also handy because this is something that most people have on-hand anyway.

Isopropyl alcohol

Finally, isopropyl alcohol is a good awning cleaner that won’t fade or damage the material. Mixing 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol with water will help you keep your awnings clean and mildew-free. This chemical is particularly great for removing organic stains like those that come from pollen, mold, or mildew.

Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance from RV LIFE. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.

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