How to remove stains from an RV awning


Your Recreational Vehicle (RV) is like your home away from home, but on wheels. The good thing about RVs is the ability to change your address whenever you feel like it! But just like a house, they do need to be cleaned. So how do you clean and remove stains from an RV awning, ensuring it stays looking fresh and clean?

RV’s awnings protect us from various natural elements while sitting outside. As you can imagine, they have a high tolerance for sun, dust, and rainwater. However, this does not mean they won’t get dirty and stained eventually. It is quite normal for them to gather dust and moisture, develop mildew and get tree sap or leaf stains when parked under trees.

To clean your awning, you will need to start by generally brushing it (or wiping in the case of vinyl) to remove dust and trapped dirt on the awning. You can then proceed to remove stains from RV awning using one of the following:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Bleach
  • Isopropyl alcohol 

What type of awning do you have?

To better clean your RV awning, you will need to understand the material used to make it and what the manufacturer says about it. Most awnings are either made from Acrylic or Vinyl.

Acrylic or canvas awnings have a high tolerance for UV rays and have a special coating added to make them resistant to water and oil stains, but exposure over time makes this repellant fade, and if not treated, it may start leaking. Vinyl, on the other hand, is plastic, and therefore, easy to clean.

Using the laundry detergent approach

Liquid laundry detergent is preferred to powder detergent for cleaning an RV awning because powder detergents are a bit harsh. You will just need a little liquid laundry detergent mixed with warm water to protect the protective finishing coating.

Prefer videos? Check out the How2RemoveStains channel.

Collect the following:

  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Two gallons of water
  • A soft brush or sponge

Procedure:

  1. Expand the awning and brush to remove excess dust and dirt.
  2. Mix a cup of liquid detergent with a gallon of water to form a mild soapy solution.
  3. Apply the solution on the stained areas and let it sit for a few minutes.
  4. Scrub gently, so as not to ruin the protective coating. The stains should disappear gradually.
  5. Then rinse the affected regions, and the RV awning will generally be clean again.
  6. Leave the awning open to air dry.

Bleach and mild soap

Bleach reacts with organic compounds, which makes it a good stain remover. However, it is an abrasive chemical, so leaving it on an acrylic awning for long periods may damage the fabric. If you use bleach, make sure to rinse it well.

When using bleach to clean your RV awning, you will require the following:

  • 1 cup of bleach
  • 1/4 a cup of liquid soap
  • A gallon of water
  • A soft brush 

Procedure:

  1. Expand and brush off the RV Awning to remove excess dust and dirt.
  2. Mix the ingredients into an even solution.
  3. Soak the affected places with the solution and allow it to sit for fifteen to twenty minutes. This time helps the solution to act on the stains thoroughly.
  4. Scrub gently on the stained areas using a soft-bristled brush to remove the stains completely.
  5. Afterward, rinse the RV awning completely to remove the bleach and avoid water rings and stains.
  6. Air the awning to dry thoroughly before retracting it into storage.

Isopropyl alcohol is great on natural stains

Isopropyl alcohol is the most recommended way for removing chronic stains such as tree sap, mold, and mildew from an RV awning. Mildew does not develop directly on the acrylic awning, but on the dust and dirt that accumulates on the fabric. Coupled with moisture, it forms as whitish patches on the awning.

You will need the following:

  • 1 cup of Isopropyl alcohol
  • A gallon of water
  • A soft brush 

Procedure:

  1. Expand and brush the awning to remove excess dirt and dust on it.
  2. Dampen the affected regions with isopropyl alcohol and let it sit for five minutes to act on the stain.
  3. Gently scrub on the stain with a soft brush to gradually clear it.
  4. Wipe the region with a clean piece of cloth dampened with plain water to remove any residue left behind.
  5. Rinse the RV awning to remove any traces of alcohol left behind.
  6. Air dry the awning to dry completely before storing it to remove traces of moisture.

Taking care of your RV awning

Some detergents and DIY solutions may have side effects on the RV Awning. How do I protect the awning from these?

Yes, some cleaning agents can damage the protective coating and finishing of the awning. Therefore, it is good to use mild soap detergents, and rinse them off well once you are through with the cleaning. Otherwise, traces of the soap left behind, coupled with moisture can ruin the material of your RV awning.

It is also advisable to a spot test to see how the cleaning agent will react with the awning material and its coloring before you proceed to use it on the entire awning. Do a spot test by applying the cleaning agent on an inconspicuous part of the RV awning to see how it reacts with the material.

Is there a remedy for a ruined RV awning finishing coating?

In the event that the protective finishing on your RV awning is worn off due to scrubbing or damage from stains, it can be saved. You can retreat the awning with industrial protectants available in local stores designed to repel dirt, UV rays, and water repellency. They can also be applied after regular cleaning to improve the fabric’s durability.

How often should I clean my RV awning?

First of all, it depends on how regularly you use your RV and awning. If you are in a dusty environment, you may need to consider cleaning more often, but if it is a calm environment, you may find yourself cleaning it just once a year! The best way to take care of it is to keep regularly checking your awning if you are an avid RV user. Better to clean it a bit too often than not often enough.

Wrapping up

If you use your RV regularly, you need to keep checking the awning for dust, dirt, and stains. This way, you will be able to get rid of them before the stains become permanent.

For vinyl, it is relatively easy to clean using the above methods. Do a spot check, and make sure the material won’t be affected.

Acrylic, on the other hand, dries quickly, and stains can seep in. Since it comes with a water-repellent finishing, it is wise to clean it carefully not to ruin this coating.

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