Zap that filthy RV awning – with Mr. Clean’s help

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Living in the desert Southwest, dealing with dirt is a way of life. Seems like dust blows nearly year-round, and it finds its way into nearly every place. There’s no such thing as a “clean room” in this part of the country. One spot the dirt seems to congregate is in the folds of a rolled-up awning. Well, maybe it doesn’t really climb into the very center, but it certainly migrates in from somewhere because, sure enough, rolling out your awning in a crowded campground is a sure-fire recipe for a case of embarrassment. Kind of like those old “ring around the collar!” TV commercial taunts for a given brand of laundry detergent.

But cleaning an awning is usually such a tedious, difficult and “getting wet” job, a couple of folks that we know on a very close, personal level put it off as long as possible. But we may have hit on a method that will help you really get that grungy awning cleaned up in fairly short order, with a minimal outlay of sweat, and a fairly minimal on-put of wash water. Enter Mr. Clean.

Dirt just flies off the awning

Yeah, it’d be great stuff if Mr. Clean actually showed up at your RV with a water hose and implements and did the job. We haven’t figured out that part yet, but by using a “Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Mop,” we’ve really pared down on dirt and exertion. No special incantations are required to use the Magic mop – we just coupled the fancy mop with a five-gallon pail of water and a bit of dish soap.


Compare left (cleaned) side to the original dirt at right.

First stop – inside with the mop. We extended the awning out full length and, starting at one end, dipped the mop in the dish soap solution, wrung out the mop, and reached up and started scrubbing from roof level down toward the roller. The effect was immediate and pronounced: Filth just melted off the awning. Dip the mop, swish it, wring it out, repeat. Our 16-foot awning inside was cleaned up in about 10 minutes. The mop handle gave us enough reach that we didn’t even need a ladder, but folks with high-hanging awnings like those found on motorhomes and fifth-wheels might find an “altitude adjuster” handy.

All photos R & T De Maris

After we got the inside part of the awning scrubbed down, we rinsed off the residual soap and grime. Next, cleaning the topside of the awning. We simply took the awning arms loose from their mounting brackets and pushed them back under the trailer, allowing the awning to hang down more or less flat against the side of the rig. Scrubbing recommenced as for the “inside” – scrubbing from roof line down to the roller. When complete, simply hose the awning down and reposition the awning arms in the brackets. Leave the awning rolled out until dry.

Bird poop took a little more scrubbing than ordinary dirt; but in the end, the awning came out looking bright, clean and no longer an embarrassment. What didn’t come completely off (but was lessened in appearance) were a couple of dark marks up near the top of the awning where an aluminum ladder had marred it when it had been placed against the awning to access the roof. Why on earth did we lean a ladder against the awning? Well, it’s a long story and better related another time. Needless to say, we’ll do our best not to have to use the awning as a ladder prop in the future!

So where does one find one of these Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Mops? We found them on Amazon, but in the end, bought ours from Walmart – it cost a few bucks less than Amazon. No, we couldn’t find any in a store, so had ours shipped to us. It arrived in a rather large, reconstructed box (originally two boxes). We can only imagine the fun the warehouse guys had figuring out how to pack the thing up. Set us back less than $14, and we’ll get plenty of uses out of it.

So don’t let your filthy awning become the family disgrace – saddle up Mr. Clean and let his Magic Eraser Mop blast that grime out of town.

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We’ve always liberally sprayed a purple degreaser from Sams Club (something like 409) on the awning and then rolled it up. This lets it soak on both sides. After about an hour we open it and rinse. Has been quite a while since we’ve had to hit it with a brush…