When you’ve parked the RV and unloaded all of the outdoor furniture, an awning will keep you cool as the sun bears down. Bright sunshine and fair weather are great for RV maintenance, as moisture can often cause problems. The very thing that protects you from rain and sun alike – your RV awning – is also susceptible to moisture damage.
A buildup of mildew on your awning can cause deterioration, and at the very least an unpleasant smell. It’s a hassle to have to keep replacing your awning, so keeping it in top shape should be part of regular maintenance. The pressing question is: how do you prevent mildew on an RV awning?
The best way to prevent mildew on RV awnings is to ensure that they’re completely dry and clean every time they’re rolled up. You should also limit the exposure to UV rays and adjust them during heavier rains. You can also apply a treatment to your awning to prevent mildew.
If you do find mildew, there are a few ways you can clean it up, usually using household ingredients.
How To Prevent Mildew On An RV Awning
Taking care of your RV awning is a simple task, and doesn’t take a lot of thought or effort. Some RVs have more than one awning, and materials may vary from model to model. Proper planning and regular upkeep will ensure that your RV lasts as long as possible.
Keep It Dry
Obviously, if you’re using the awning to protect you from the rain, it’s impossible to keep it totally dry. As an external element of the RV, it is going to be exposed to all sorts of weather conditions. The awning should be built to withstand not just sun, but rain, wind, dust, snow, and anything else mother nature throws at it.
When the awning does inevitably get wet, it is creating an ideal environment for mildew to gather. In the event of rain or snow, ensure the awning is completely dry before you store it. The number one cause of mildew is improper or incomplete drying prior to storage. If not totally dried, mold and mildew have plenty of the moisture they need to develop.
You may be able to see via discoloration from water if it is dried or not. However, the best way to check that it is totally dried out is to feel it. Use your hands to test for moisture, and leave it to sun dry if it still seems damp.
Only roll it up again once it feels entirely dried out. This will prevent mildew from building up on your RV awning.
Limit UV Exposure
When you’re not using the awning, make sure it’s rolled up and put away. Like rain, sun exposure will eventually cause your awning to degrade. Most RV awnings have a protective coating that will help them last through the elements. Too many UV rays will eventually weaken the fabric and cause the protective outer layer to deteriorate.
If the layer gets damaged, it will harbor a better environment for mold or mildew. Keeping that layer safe will help prevent mold from accumulating on your RV awning.
Adjust Awning In Rain
Heavy rains and atoms are inevitable, no matter where you live. If the forecast calls for heavier downpours, make sure your awning is adjusted accordingly. If it must stay rolled out, make sure that it is angled in a way that will allow water to flow off. Having at a 90 degree angle will allow water to pool.
Pooling water will cause excessive wear, collect bacteria, and harbor mildew. Angling it down will allow water to flow off smoothly. If you don’t need the awning out, roll it up and keep it as dry as possible.
How To Clean Mold Off Of An RV Awning
In the case that mold or mildew has built up on your awning, quickly cleaning it up will keep the problem from getting worse. The steps you’d use to remove mold can also be used to clean it regularly, helping to prevent further molding issues.
Make sure your awning is fully extended before you lower it down as much as possible. Doing so will make it easier to clean the mold or mildew from the awning. When it’s at a low angle, the hard-to-access areas will be easier to reach.
Here’s where you’ll want to prepare the materials you’ll use to clean the awning. There are commercial mixes available that you can easily find in RV supply stores or hardware stores. Whatever cleaner you choose, be sure that it’s one that is made specifically for the material of your awning.
If you don’t want to buy one, you can also make a mold-killing solution using household materials.
- Dish soap that is gentle but still effective against grease or stains will work well.
- Diluting water and bleach will create a mixture that kills mold as well as brightens vibrant awnings.
- For something gentler than water and bleach, you could try baking soda and white vinegar. This is a classic cleaning solution that will easily clear out mold. It can even dissolve debris that might have accumulated on the awning.
To be safe, spot test your cleaning material on a small area of the awning to ensure it won’t have an adverse effect on the coating. Use a broom or handheld vacuum to clean away loose dirt or larger particles.
Use a hose to rinse the awning down. Make sure you’re hitting the top and bottom of the awning. Between this and a once-over with a broom or vacuum, you should have taken care of all of the surface dirt. You can now go in and focus on the areas with mold or mildew.
Locate all areas that have been damaged by mold or mildew and coat them with your cleaning solution. Wear protective gloves for this process. If you’re working with bleach or other harsh chemicals, wear a face mask to avoid inhaling any fumes.
You can use a soft brush or a spray bottle to apply the cleaner directly to the mildew. Let the solution soak for 10-15 minutes. If you’re using a commercial cleaner, the bottle may have a different recommended sitting time. In this case, use what is suggested.
Use a soft-bristled brush or a sponge to agitate the dirtied area. Don’t do it too aggressively, as you could risk damaging the awning itself.
Using a hose or a bucket, rinse the area with clean water until all of the cleaning solution and mold have been washed away. You might need to make an additional pass with the cleaner if the mold or mildew is particularly aggressive.
Allow the awning to dry completely. As stated, not doing so will only invite more mold or mildew to appear. Once the fabric is entirely dried, you can take this time to apply a new protective coating if you wish. If not, roll it into storage and put it away.
How Often Should You Clean Your RV Awning
Aside from in cases of mold buildup, you should clean your awning at least twice a year. If you’d like to clean it more, especially if your RV sees a lot of dirt and weather, you can go for once every three months. This will prevent mold and mildew, as well as keep the awning looking its best and brightest.
Another rule of thumb is to give it a light cleaning when you clean the rest of your RV’s exterior. A gentle wash with the hose will help keep it clear. As always, ensure that it is dry before rolling it back up or storing it again.
Keeping your RV awning clean is not a difficult task, but it should be part of the maintenance you perform on your vehicle. It’s the best way to prevent mildew on an RV awning, and will help it to last for years.
The best way to prevent mildew on your RV awning is to make sure it is totally dry before it’s rolled up. You should also try to keep it safe from UV rays and have it angled so that water rolls off easily.
If you need to clean your RV awning, you can use a commercial cleaner, or you can make your own blend of bleach and water, vinegar and baking soda, or even just dish soap.