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How to Clean Mold Off RV Awnings and Keep Them Clean

How to Clean Mold Off RV Awnings and Keep Them Clean

RVs are exposed to the elements whenever they’re in use or parked outdoors. That’s why many who have an RV awning have encountered mold and mildew on it over time. In today’s post, we’ll tell you how to clean mold off RV awnings and keep them from getting moldy again.

Why Do RV Awnings Develop Mold?

RV awnings are really useful, but just like anything else used outdoors, they get wet. Unless you keep your rig indoors just about all the time, it’s hard to keep the awning dry. Making things worse, they have to be rolled up for travel, even it rained right before we break camp (or while we’re in the process).

It’s easy to forget that we stowed an RV awning wet until we unrolled it again at another campsite. That’s when we’ll likely see that it’s still wet. Storing a wet awning on our RV allows mold and mildew to grow on the awning material over time. The combination of moisture, dirt, debris, bird droppings, leaves, and tree sap tends to create an ideal environment for mold & mildew to grow.

When you roll in your awning, any trapped moisture can lead to mold formation if it’s not properly addressed. However, regular cleaning and maintenance can help prevent this issue. Let’s look at how to effectively clean mold off RV awnings and then we’ll share some tips on keeping them clean and mold-free.

How to Remove Mold Stains From RV Awnings

If you’re already seeing signs of mold and mildew, you’ll need to remove the mold from your RV awning, and then we’ll talk about how to keep it from returning.

There are a few different ways to approach the cleaning process. Some people find dish soap and water work well, while others prefer a combination of vinegar and baking soda, or even a dedicated RV awning mold cleaner.

What works best for you may depend on the extent of the mold stains, sap, and other dirt and debris you’re dealing with and how long it’s been since you last cleaned your awning.

Materials Needed for Cleaning

Before you begin cleaning your RV awning, you’ll want to gather the following:

Ladder

Use caution when working on a ladder and, if possible, have someone with you for support (both literally and figuratively).

16.5FT Aluminum Telescoping Extension Ladder 330lbs Max Capacity A-Frame Lightweight Portable Multi-Purpose Folding with Support Bar Anti-Slip EN131 Certificated
  • ▶Weight: Net weight approximate 37.5lbs (16.9kg), Maximum 150kg/330lb load-bearing capacity; Compacting from handy 2.8ft to 16.5ft (86cm to 5M),...
  • ▶Warm Reminder: Before using, please kindly confirm the ladder is put upright, the locks are locked in placed and do not move the ladder when...

Rubber Gloves

It’s always good to use rubber gloves to protect your hands when doing any kind of RV maintenance tasks. We prefer disposable nitrile gloves.

Sale
Comfy Package, Black Nitrile Disposable Gloves 6 Mil. Extra Strength Latex & Powder Free, Chemical Resistance, Textured Fingertips Gloves - Small [100 Count]
  • Multipurpose disposable gloves- pack of 100 6 Mil. small black nitrile plastic chemical resistance disposable gloves. Popular in janitorial...
  • Textured, Touch Friendly Surface- for a tougher grip on items, these ambidextrous black disposable gloves are slightly textured, allowing for detailed...

Soft Brush or Broom

You may need some sort of soft brush or broom to remove loose dirt and debris from the awning.

Bucket

You’ll also need a bucket for mixing whatever cleaning solution you decide to use.

Mild Soap or RV Awning Cleaner

Be sure to avoid any harsh chemicals that can damage the fabric (or your RV’s finish). If you’ve got tough mold stains, you may want to use a solution of water, baking soda, and vinegar. You can also use a specialized RV awning cleaner, which is appropriate for cleaning vinyl awnings or acrylic awnings.

Sale
Camco 41024 Pro-Strength Awning Cleaner - 32 fl. oz.
  • Restores the appearance of RV awnings
  • Removes mold stains, dirt, tree sap and road grime

Otherwise, you can use a mild dish detergent or a good, mild car-washing soap in some warm water. Our personal favorite happens to be Meguiar’s Gold Class.

Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash, Ultra-Rich Car Wash Foam Soap and Conditioner for Car Cleaning, Car Paint Cleaner to Wash and Condition in One Easy Step, 1 Gallon
  • ONLY ONE STEP: Meguiar's Gold Class foaming car wash soap simplifies your car cleaning routine by combining cleaning and conditioning into one easy...
  • CLEAN AND PRESERVE: Featuring an advanced formula, this powerful car shampoo and conditioner not only cleans your car, but it’s also gentle enough...

Soft-bristle Brush or Sponge

You’ll need a soft brush or sponge to scrub the awning. We prefer the same brush and extension pole we use to wash our entire rig.

Sale
Carrand 93086 10" Bi-Level Soft Fiber Car Wash Brush , Yellow
  • 10 inch bi-level brush head
  • Use for flow-thru or dip brush
Mr. Longarm 3206 Medium Duty Extension Pro-pole 3-6 Ft
  • Fluted fiberglass handle for a comfortable grip in any climate
  • Anodized aluminum slider won’t rust

Hose

And finally, you’ll need your garden hose, preferably with a spray nozzle, for rinsing the awning. If you have a pressure/power washer, it’s okay to use, as they save a lot of water. Just don’t hold it too close to the awning fabric, as the pressurized water could tear it. We carry our Kärcher pressure washer with us everywhere!

Sale
Kärcher K 2 Power Control Max 2000 PSI Electric Pressure Washer with 2 Spray Wands and 26' Hose - 1.45 GPM
  • Outstanding Performance: The K 2 pressure washer's highly reliable universal motor and non-corrosive N-COR pump means a longer operation life, all...
  • Versatile Cleaning Options: Includes a pressure-regulating Vario Power spray wand for light-duty jobs, and a patented DirtBlaster spray wand for...

How to Clean Your RV Awning

Here’s how to remove mold and mildew from RV awnings:

  1. Park your RV on a level surface.
  2. Fully extend and secure your awning.
  3. Remove all loose debris from the awning, using a broom or soft brush.
  4. Mix your cleaning solution in a bucket. Start with about a gallon of water to dilute your mild detergent or baking soda & vinegar solution. If you’re using an RV awning cleaner, follow the directions on the container or spray bottle.
  5. Dip your brush or sponge into the cleaning solution and gently scrub the awning, focusing on the mold or mildew stains, leaf stains, etc. Be gentle to avoid damaging the awning fabric.
  6. If you have some heavy areas of mold, scrub or spray your cleaning solution onto those areas and let it sit for 15 minutes or more (longer for significant stains).
  7. Use your water hose to thoroughly rinse the awning, removing all soap residue and debris until the water runs clear.
  8. if stains persist after you’ve thoroughly rinsed the awning, repeat the scrubbing process.
  9. Allow the awning to air dry completely before retracting it.

Here’s a neat tip:

Our friend Brian from RV with Tito sprayed the underside of his vinyl awning with Clorox CleanUp with Bleach. Then he rolled the awning closed and let it sit so the Clorox coated both sides. We thought that was pretty clever. Check out Brian’s video showing this tip to clean mold off RV awnings.

How to Prevent Mold Growth on an RV Awning

Now that you know how to get mold off an RV awning, it’s important to prevent any further mold growth. Here are some tips to help you keep your awning clean and mold-free:

Regular Inspections and Maintenance

Periodically inspect your awning for signs of mold or mildew growth. Catching it early can make cleaning so much easier.

Proper Storage

When your RV awning isn’t in use, retract your awning to keep it dry and prevent moisture buildup. Try not to retract your awning when it’s wet.

If you need to retract a wet awning in preparation for travel, fully extend it as soon as you get to your next destination, especially if the sun is shining. You want to dry out that awning as soon as possible. That single step is the most important way to prevent mold from growing.

Keep the Area Around Your RV Clean

Regularly sweep the area around your awning to prevent dirt and debris from accumulating. That dirt and debris can hold moisture, which is the single greatest cause of mold growth.

Check Your Awning Before Retracting It

Before retracting your awning, always check to make sure there are no leaves or other debris on the awning material. That’s especially true for slide topper awnings. This goes a long way toward preventing stains from forming and helps to keep mold and mildew at bay as well.

Use a Mold Inhibitor

If you have a significant issue with mold development on your RV awning, or if you tend to camp in damp/humid environments, consider using a mold inhibitor spray designed for RV awnings. Apply it according to the instructions.

MOLD ARMOR Mold Blocker Spray, 32 oz., Fresh & Clean Scent, Cleans & Prevents Mold & Mildew for up to 3 Months, Effectively Eliminates Musty Odors, Bleach Free
  • CLEAN AND PREVENT MOLD AND MILDEW for up to 3 months with MOLD ARMOR Mold Blocker Spray. Effectively clean dirt and grime stains on hard non-porous...
  • LONG-LASTING CLEAN: Ideal for homeowners and renters, Mold Blocker creates an invisible barrier to prevent the growth of mold, making the clean last...

By taking steps to clean your RV awning and implementing preventive measures to keep mold, mildew, and stains at bay, you can enjoy your RV awning while preserving its longevity and appearance. Regular care and attention go a long way.

Unfortunately, most OEM (original equipment) RV awnings are made with cheap fabric that can allow water to get between the layers, resulting in mold that can be hard to get rid of completely.

If your RV awning is in really poor condition, replacing the fabric may be the best option. If you’re wondering if your RV awning is ready to be replaced, you may be interested in our post “5 Signs Your RV Awning Needs Replacement.”

We recommend using quality replacement fabric like Tough Top Awnings. Their awning fabrics are strong and durable, and they’re single-layer. That won’t allow mold to grow between the layers, because there are no layers!

We’ve got lots of articles on awnings and slide toppers here, including articles on how to replace your awning fabric.

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Chazman

Friday 6th of October 2023

Wet & Forget, and Krud Kutter - both are excellent products for cleaning your awning.

Bonnie Wenners

Monday 2nd of October 2023

Thank you for all your great articles!

TheRVgeeks

Tuesday 3rd of October 2023

Aw, thanks Bonnie!

D. Vanden

Tuesday 26th of September 2023

Great article about cleaning my awning!!! Came just at the right time.

Thanks for posting your article’s.

TheRVgeeks

Tuesday 26th of September 2023

Thanks so much! Glad this was helpful for you!

Susan

Tuesday 26th of September 2023

Hi - I appreciate your newsletter but I am receiving 2 at a time…could I only receive 1 please? Thank you. Susan

TheRVgeeks

Tuesday 26th of September 2023

Hi Susan. Sorry about that! At some point in time you must have used a second email address (probably to enter a giveaway) which added it to the mailing list. The easiest way to get one of them removed is to scroll to the bottom of one of the newsletters and click on the "Unsubscribe" link you'll find down in the footer. That will take just that one address off the list... and you'll be back to receiving just a single copy!

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PLEASE NOTE: We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

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