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How to clean a camper awning

How to clean camper awning

For those of you that enjoy camping, there is nothing worse than rolling your awning out for the first camping trip of the season and seeing dirt, mold, or any type of bacterial growth on what is supposed to be a bright white surface. Here we will explain how to clean your awning, remove those black streaks, mold, fungus, or any type of organic growth stains.

First, let’s discuss what this debris is and how it got there. Your awning is to create shade, keep the camper cool and in the event your stuck camping in the rain, the awning will give you a dry place to still enjoy the outdoors. Your awnings exposure to mother nature (sun, shade, humidity, dust, and even bird droppings) will eventually build up and leave unsightly marks or streaks. Don’t Worry, your awning does not need replaced, just needs a good cleaning!

What you will need:

  • 1 Gal. of bleach
  • 2 cups of laundry detergent
  • 1 Gal. pump up sprayer
  • A water source with a garden hose
  • Long sleeves, pants, gloves and eye protection
  • Step ladder

Bleach will attack the bacterial growth and break down the components for easier removal. Clorox or any other brand name house hold bleach will work.

Laundry detergent is used for multiple reasons. 1. Laundry detergent is already made with small amounts of bleach. 2. Laundry detergent is used as a surfactant in this mixture to thicken, foam up and stick to the surface for a longer period of time, reducing run off of the water/bleach mixture (known as dwell time). 3. Laundry detergent helps mask the scent of bleach, leaving a refreshing smell even after the final rinse. We recommend using a laundry detergent with color additive, this helps as a visual to know when all the cleaning solution has been removed during the final rinse as well.

Water, detergent and bleach will be added to the sprayer and be sure to mix well prior pumping the spray and inventorying the hose and nozzle (this will reduce pluggage in the tip of your sprayer).

The garden hose is used to rinse the side of the camper during the dwell time and for final rinse.

Step ladder helps you access a close approach during the solution application.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) will reduce exposure to the body when applying. Since you have to stand underneath the awning while applying, some overspray or mist may come down on your body. So be prepared and use your PPE. In the event you get this solution on your skin, rinse well. In the event the solution comes in contact with your eyes, thoroughly rinse with copious amounts of water immediately upon contact.

Step 1: Applying the cleaning solution

Unroll the awning to its fullest length. Fill the pump up sprayer 1/4 of the way with bleach, add 2 cups of detergent, then top sprayer off with water. Mix the cleaning solution thoroughly. Stage your step ladder on stable ground in a position where you can cover the most real-estate in one location. Once the cleaning solution has been applied to the underside of the awning, you then clean the top of the awning. There are two ways of doing this. First option is to get on top of the camper and spray the awning down from the roof. You may not be able to hit the farthest sections with the pump up sprayer, so you may need to use the ladder from ground level to cover the perimeter of the awning. Second option will require two people. While one person slowly begins rolling the awning back in, the second person will spray the awning as it rolls up spraying back and forth to be sure to cover the entire section.

NOTE: Application of the solution is best when there is low wind, to reduce over spray. Over spray on camper siding and windows can cause haze marks that you will have to clean again.

Step 2: Letting the solution do the work

Once the solution has been applied and the awning is now in its store position, you should continually wet down that side of the camper with your garden hose. This will help rinse any cleaning solution that may have leaked out of the awning during the roll up process and any seepage that may occur during the dwell time. On a warm day, the cleaning solution dwell time should take about an hour. If your not sure how well the solution is working, run a test spot. To test, you roll the awning out a foot or two and rinse that exposed portion. If the awning still has debris and marks, re-apply the cleaning solution, roll the awning back into its stored position and increase dwell time.

Step 3: Rinsing the awning

Now that your dwell time has completed (you should already have a visible difference in your awning) Gently rinse the awning from the top side first, then move to the bottom side. As mentioned earlier in this Blog, the color additive from the detergent should give you a good visual once all the cleaning solution has been removed. Be sure to rinse the awning motor ends and lead bar thoroughly (you don’t want this build up settling in the motor ends). Keep in mind you want warm, dry weather conditions during the drying phase.

How to reduce the grime build up on your awning:

Prior to storing your awning for transport, use a leaf blower to blow dust and debris off the top of the camper, the rain gutters and the awning its self.

NOTE: Do not access top of camper when wet, the roof surface could be very slippery.

Unroll awning in a sunny unobstructed area once you have returned from your camping excursion to let dry.

There are many manufactures that make a silicone based spray to treat your awning, we like to use “CAMCO RV AWNING WATERPROOFER”. This silicone based spray will help moisture bead up and roll off the awning and reducing the time of standing water on the surface. This coating will also give your awning additional UV protection.

In conclusion, you should clean your camper awning every spring and usually every fall (weather provided). When used correctly as instructed, this low mixture of bleach will not harm the integrity of your awning.

It’s a good practice to label your pump up sprayer whenever you have chemicals in them, or you need to rinse thoroughly after your done using the pump up sprayer. Your wife would be devastated if she mistook the sprayer she was using to water flowers, contained bleach. Plants and flowers DO NOT like bleach!

With that being said; do not perform this cleaning at the camp ground.. Any over spray can damage surrounding plants, the camp hosts will not appreciate you using their water for this and take it easy, enjoy the outdoors! And always be cautious when using cleaning solutions and accessing step ladders or the top of you camper.


If you have additional questions about pressure washing to clean a camper awning, please don't hesitate to call us at 217-480-7122.

Call Your Mattoon and Surrounding Areas Pressure Washing Experts Today!