Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. Today he discusses the maintenance of RV awnings.
My wife and I have a Jayco North Point 5th wheel. I am going to retire in 2022 and we are planning to live in our RV in Florida. Do you have any idea what I can use to protect the awning and slide toppers from the sun? Thanks. —Tim
There are dozens of awning or fabric cleaners flooding the market. However, most awning manufacturers recommend using a mild dish soap and water to clean the fabric. There are two materials used for awning fabric, acrylic and vinyl. Both can be cleaned with dish soap and water. I recommend and have used Dawn Dish Soap (blue), as it’s a great cleaner for bird droppings and tree sap and also is environmentally friendly. Remember the oil-soaked wildlife in Alaska and other oil spill disasters?
Cleaning an awning
Dometic, the parent company of what used to be called A&E Awnings, recommends using ¼ cup dish soap and ¼ cup bleach with 5 gallons of water. I typically only do this if there is mold present on the underside. Liberally coat and scrub the top of the awning fabric and then roll the awning up for 5 minutes. This will apply the cleaner to the underside as well. If there is mold present on the underside, I also clean that with a soft bristle brush or small broom. It is messy, though!
Dometic uses a vinyl material on their 8500 and several other models and recommends using VINYL FORMULA 201 spray with UV blocker to maintain color and gloss and extend the fabric’s life. They recommend using ACRYLIFE™ by Dometic once a year on the acrylic fabric of the 9000 models. Check your owner’s manual for the most up to date recommendations.
Lippert recommends washing the awning periodically with mild dish soap on their Solera model, but the owner’s manual does not have a conditioning recommendation.
Dry a wet awning as soon as possible
One thing all awning manufacturers do recommend is to make sure the awning fabric is not retracted wet as it will form mold and mildew. Or make sure you extend it to dry as soon as possible.
There are other products labeled as awning conditioners, UV protection, and cleaner/protectant. But over the years I have used 303 Protectant, which now has an awning product. Just recently, ProtectAll has come out with an all purpose conditioner that has a UV protection for vinyl. I would suggest finding the type of fabric your awning has and look at the appropriate conditioner.
Weather and the sun will be the most damaging to your awning fabric, so cleaning it periodically and conditioning are recommended. I would also suggest retracting the awning whenever you are not using it, especially in the heat of the day.
Read more from Dave here.
HAVE A QUESTION FOR DAVE?
We have started a new forum link for Ask Dave. Please be as brief as possible. Attach a photo or two if it might help Dave with his response. Click to visit Dave’s forum. Or send your inquiries to him using the form below.