How To Prevent Mildew on RV Awning?

When you go camping or even hit the road for a short day trip it is common to hope for good weather. Bright sunshine and clear weather make traveling and caring for your RV simple. Even when the weather is hot outside, you can keep cool by extending your awning to lounge in the shade when you are not on the road. Just like the rest of your RV, it is important to take proper care of your RV awnings to ensure they last as long as possible before needing to be replaced. They don’t require much care, but one thing that you do need to keep an eye out for is mildew. We have a few tips that will help you clean and prevent mildew from damaging the awning on your RV.

The best way to maintain your awnings is by ensuring they are clean and dry each time they are folded or rolled in. If your awnings do develop mildew, getting rid of it can be accomplished through a few different methods depending on the material type. A mild gentle detergent and water are often enough to dislodge mildew, but you can also use a soft brush if there are mildew stains that are proving harder to clean. For mildew stains, you can treat them with diluted bleach and a cotton bud to restore the bright color to your awning. Commercial awning cleaners are also effective in both removing existing mildew and helping prevent mildew and mold from developing in the future. If you prefer a more natural solution, a simple mixture of vinegar and baking soda diluted in water is effective in killing microbes on the surface.

Taking care of your RV awning is simple and so is preventing mildew. It is important to know what type of awning you have as well as what material it is made of. Depending on your RV model, there may even be several awnings on the vehicle to care for. With a bit of planning and regular maintenance, caring for your awnings and preventing mildew is simple. To find out how to care for your RV awnings, keep on reading.

Cleaning Vinyl vs Acrylic Awning Fabric

Cleaning mildew from a fabric RV awning is different than cleaning mildew from an acrylic awning. Both offer a range of advantages and disadvantages. Vinyl RV awnings are typically crafted from premium marine quality vinyl while fabric RV awnings are usually acrylic fabric that is solution-dyed. The RV awning material type has a dramatic effect on how easy it is to remove mildew from the surface and if replacement will inevitably be required. Fabric awnings have a high tolerance for UV rays and tend to dry quickly. This can help prevent mildew before it has a chance to set it, but sometimes mildew is able to develop anyway. Removing mildew from fabric is a bit more difficult and in some cases, impossible. Vinyl awnings are mildew resistant, which makes it hard for mildew to develop, but it can happen when the surface is not cleaned properly or when there is too much humidity in the air. Removing mildew from vinyl takes a bit of elbow grease but in most cases, is easier to clean when compared to fabric.

How To Clean Mold Off RV Awning: Step by Step

We have put together an easy-to-follow guide that will take you through the steps of cleaning mildew and mold off of your RV awning. The same steps can also be used to deep clean your awning in between trips to help maintain its water and mold resistance. Make sure to always read the manufacturers’ recommendations that come with your awning as they can vary depending on fabric and awning type.

Step 1

Fully extend your RV awning and lower it down as far as you can. This will make it easier to reach and easier to clean mold off of harder-to-reach areas. Make sure that you have a step stool or short ladder and a long soft handle brush to reach higher areas

Step 2

Prepare your RV mold-killing cleaning solutions before you get started. You can use commercial mixes such as Star Brite Mold Remover, Valterra’s RV Awning Cleaner, or Borax. Make sure that the cleaner you are using is made for the awning material on your vehicle. You can also make an effective mold-killing solution out of items you most likely have on hand.

Dawn brand dish soap is a popular choice because it is powerful, yet gentle.

You can also make a mixture of diluted bleach to kill mold and brighten mold stains.

Baking soda and white vinegar are a staple cleaning combo that is effective against mold, stains, and even tree sap.

For a quick option, you can also use Clorox Clean-Up spray or Isopropyl alcohol to kill mold instantly.

Step 3

Spot test a small area on your awning if you are using a commercial cleaning agent to ensure that it won’t damage the material. Clear away any loose debris and then gently rinse the awning (top and the underside of the awning material) with water to get rid of surface dirt.

Step 4

Coat the mold or mildew spots with your premixed solution. You can use a soft brush, or a spray bottle depending on the size of the work area and the type of mixture you are using. Let the solution soak for about 10 minutes, or in the case of a commercial cleaner, whatever time is listed on the instructions.

Step 5

Use a sponge or soft-bristled brush to then agitate the areas that have mold growths. Avoid using too much force because this can damage the protective layer on the awning. 

Step 6

Rinse treated areas with clean water until all of the mold and solution has been washed away.

Step 7

Allow your awning to fully dry before rolling it up for storage. Once the fabric has dried, you can either store it or apply a protective treatment such as (product) to prevent further mold growth. All the treatment to dry fully before storing your awning.

How Often Should You Clean Your Camper Awning?

You should clean your RV camper awning at least twice a year to prevent mold and to keep it looking its best. Sap, dirt stains, and water stains can easily leave your RV awning looking worn down, and improperly cared for awnings can develop mold or mildew if left unchecked. It is a good idea to do a light cleaning each time you clean the exterior of your RV. A gentle wash with your hose is often enough to clear away debris and dust that can encourage mildew growth on the top and underside of the awning.

Make sure to allow the awnings to dry completely before closing them to prevent mold and mildew from developing.

For those who use their RV full time or who travel often, a deep cleaning is required at least once every three months. This will allow you to catch stains, mold, mildew, or any other damage early on. Always use gentle detergent or a proper awning cleaner when caring for your camper. Pair the cleaner or detergent with a soft-bristled brush for the most effectiveness. 

Tips For Preventing Mildew From Forming on the Awning

Preventing mildew formation is the best way to ensure your RV awning will serve you and your family for years to come.

Dry Them Before Storage

The number one rule to prevent mildew on both fabric and vinyl RV awnings is to always make sure they are completely dry before they are stored. Improper or incomplete drying is the main cause of both mildew and mold on both sides of the awning surface.

Following a light rain shower or after your regular cleaning, make sure it is dry before rolling it up. This also applies to awnings that were used in humid environments.

Limit Exposure to UV Rays

When you are not using your RV awnings, make sure they are dry and then roll them up. Too many UV rays can weaken the material and cause the protective layer to wear down much quicker than normal. The protective layer not only helps keep your awning in good condition, but it also protects it from water damage. Anything that damages that layer can result in the development of mold or mildew.

Adjust Awning During Heavy Rains

Pay attention to the weather as well. An awning will protect you from the sun and rain, but when there is heavy rain, make sure the awning is positioned in a way that allows the water to run off. Pooling water in the center can cause excessive wear and tear in addition to encouraging mildew to develop.

Treat Your RV Awning

Treat your RV awning with protective sprays or rubs to help prevent mold and mildew damage. For fabric RV awnings Better Boat is a highly effective option.

For vinyl RV awnings, you can use Star Brite Vinyl Guard to keep mildew from damaging the surface.

Final Note on Protecting An RV Awning

RV awnings are an essential part of your vehicle that can make your leisure time much more comfortable. Proper maintenance will keep them in good working order so that you can enjoy the benefits of owning an awning for years to come. Make a point of cleaning your awning at least four times a year and treat any mold or mildew you find right away. With these tips, your awning can last for years to come.

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