If you need to know how to get stains out of RV awnings, you’ve come to the right place!
Having an awning is a wonderful addition to your RV. You can relax outside without burning in the summer sun. If your shelter is covered in stains, though, you might hesitate to use it as often. It’s time to change that.
Keep in mind that “awnings” covers more than just your main patio awning. Many RVs have window awnings, door awnings, and of course slide toppers, which are made of the same, or very similar, materials. Anything we reference in today’s post about “awnings” applies to all of these.
Get Stains Out of Your RV Awning the Right Way
So, how can you get stains out of RV awnings? Well, if you use harsh chemicals or scrub it too forcefully, you could damage the material.
Understanding what caused the stain, knowing the right cleaners to use, and following the proper cleaning method are important elements of the process. Later in this post, we’ll share some of our best-kept secrets for removing stubborn stains from the fabric.
What Causes RV Awning Stains?
There’s a difference between your RV awning getting a bit dirty and being stained. A stain won’t wash away with a bit of water and a casual scrub.
Understanding what causes awning staining is the first step in combating it. Hopefully, you can avoid future stains with this knowledge as well.
Here are the most common reasons you might have awning stains.
Decaying Plant Life
When you park your RV outside, either at a campground or even in storage, plants can cause stains. Leaves might pile up and begin to decay on an awning that’s been out for a few days. The moisture will leave behind unappealing stains.
Animals and Bugs
Bird droppings, anyone? It seems like birds sometimes use large vehicles as target practice. Your RV awning is no different. And depending on what a bird eats it can leave behind nasty stains.
If you have bugs on your awning when you roll it up, they can get crushed, leading to a stained awning. Some bugs also secrete chemicals that can stain.
Not only can tree leaves stain awnings, but they can also drop sap. Sap is one of the more challenging stains out there. It’s sticky and seemingly impossible to remove. But even this stain can be conquered. We’ll tell you how in just a moment.
Mold and Mildew
You might also have mold and mildew stains on your RV awning. If it’s damp when you roll it up, the trapped moisture mixed with any other dirt or dust is the perfect recipe for mold growth. If you’re staying for extended periods in humid areas, the moist environment might also cause mold and mildew because your awning can’t dry properly.
Even if you wipe it off with a color-safe bleach solution, mold sometimes leaves behind dark stains.
What You Need to Get Stains Out of an RV Awning
Fortunately, the trick to getting stains out of an RV awning isn’t all that tricky. There are only a few affordable supplies you’ll need, some of which you might already have on hand.
First, of course, you need a cleaner. There are some RV awning-specific cleaners you can buy at camping stores. Another option is to use any good quality car wash soap, like the one we use to wash the sides of our RV! If you have tree sap or other sticky stains, you’ll need isopropyl alcohol.
You’ll need a hose on hand to rinse the fabric. We recommend using an ordinary garden hose. It might be tempting to use your drinking water hose, but we suggest that that never be used for any purpose other than drinking water to avoid any possibility of contaminating it.
Cloth and/or Brush
Finally, you need a cloth and maybe a brush for gently scrubbing the awning. Microfiber cloths work best for many types of cleaning, and they’re great for travel because they take up less space than other cloths, and dry faster, too.
Choose a brush with soft bristles. Medium bristles might be okay, but rigid bristles will almost certainly be too rough and you’ll risk damaging your awning fabric. Another advantage a brush has is that you can mount it to an extendable handle/pole in order to reach the center of large expanses of fabric (like your patio awning).
How to Get Stains Out of RV Awning
Follow these directions to get stains out of RV awnings in just a few simple steps:
Soak Awning with Cleaner
First, add the awning cleaner or car wash mixed with water until your awning is well-coated. Then, roll it up and let it sit for 5-10 minutes, so the cleaner can get to work on those tricky stains. You can certainly let it sit for longer if you’d like, especially if it’s badly stained.
Letting the awning soak will mean you don’t need to do as much scrubbing. This is better for both your awning, and your hands and back, too!
Expand Awning and Wipe with Rag or Brush
After letting your awning soak, extend it again. Wipe stubborn stains with a rag or brush. Be careful not to scrub too hard, or you might damage the fabric.
You may have to scrub longer to remove the worst stains but keep the pressure light. Lightly-applied elbow grease often does the job without stressing the awning’s fabric (acylic woven awning fabric especially… vinyl tends to be more durable).
For Tough Stains, Use a Variety of Methods
If you need to get stains out of RV awnings when regular cleaning doesn’t work, there’s a straightforward solution: isopropyl alcohol. This cleaning ingredient is cheap, easy to apply, and won’t remove the color from your awning.
If that doesn’t work, try different kinds of soaps. Sometimes a particular ingredient in one soap is just what you need to remove a particular stain. You can even get a good deep clean of a stained area by gently scrubbing a stubborn stain with a used toothbrush.
Rinse Awning and Let Air Dry
After scrubbing all the stains on your RV awning, give it a thorough rinse. Run the water until all the soap suds disappear.
Then, let the awning air dry before rolling it up. As mentioned previously, a damp awning is a perfect place for mold and mildew to grow which is certainly not what you want after just getting it clean. Especially since some awning fabric is actually made of two layers of material that, over time, can have mold/mildew growing BETWEEN the layers (smelly AND hard to remove).
Now that you know how to get stains out of RV awnings, it’s time to get scrubbing! You’ll love relaxing with a shelter that looks brand new. Given how simple the job is, there’s no reason not to do it yourself.
What if Your RV Awning is Beyond Help?
If you’ve followed our blog or YouTube channel for very long, you know what big fans we are of Tough Top Awnings. We’ve created a DIY video library showing how to replace many of the most popular awning and slide topper models.
Torn fabric or stitching aren’t the only reasons RVers might decide to replace their awning or slide toppers. Sometimes they’ve gotten too badly stained to come clean, and you want to help your rig look more like new. Or maybe you don’t like the color or style of your current fabric.
Whatever your reason for deciding that the time has come for new awning or slide topper fabric, we probably have a DIY tutorial video to show you how to do the job. Check out our entire awning & slide topper video library, and don’t forget that RVgeeks viewers get a 5% discount on their entire purchase!
The original equipment fabric that comes on RV awnings and slidetoppers is... well, how do we say this?... CRAP!. It's no surprise, since the RV manufacturers are looking to cut their costs...Show More
The original equipment fabric that comes on RV awnings and slidetoppers is... well, how do we say this?... CRAP!. It's no surprise, since the RV manufacturers are looking to cut their costs. Instead of replacing it with the same stuff that failed in the first place, get high-quality replacement fabric from Tough Top Awnings, instead.
Plus you can save 5% on your entire order from Tough Top Awnings. The coupon code is valid online or over the phone!Show Less
Geek Out with Us Every Week
Join our newsletter to learn about all things RV-related. Every week we offer free tips, tricks, product reviews, and more to our online community of RVers. Whether this is your first time on the road or you’re a seasoned expert, we’d love for you to geek out with us!