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No More Mold! RV Awning Maintenance Tips From a Pro

| Updated Aug 23, 2023

Mold, rips, awful odor? Avoid and fix those common problems with these RV awning maintenance tips from a certified RV inspector…

RV awnings greatly extend the living space of an RV, creating a comfortable outdoor area shielded from the sun and rain. In a lot of cases, it practically doubles your living space!

So, taking care of your awning is just as important as caring for your RV roof. But, don't worry, it doesn't take much to keep your RV awning in good condition.

Brenda of Queen Bee RV is a certified RV inspector and a regular guest on our RV Lifestyle podcast. In this podcast episode, she shared some easy tips to care for your awning that can save you money (and headaches).

This article shares Brenda's RV awning maintenance tips and helpful resources to get the job done! If you prefer to watch her tips instead of reading them, scroll down to the podcast video near the end of this article.

If you buy something through our links, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep our lights on so we can continue to provide helpful resources for RVers. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

RV Expert Advice on Caring for Your Awning

Maintaining and inspecting your awning from season to season keeps them intact and smelling fresh. 

Stained, mildewed, or torn awnings can lead to more significant problems if left untreated, and may require you to replace the entire awning. The following tips can help keep your awning intact and lasting for many seasons!  

1. Wash the Awning 1-2 Times a Year

No More Mold! RV Awning Maintenance Tips From a Pro 1

Brenda suggests a thorough washing once or twice per year as outlined in your owner’s manual. Your owner's manual should specify what kind of cleaning products are safe for use on your particular awning.

Keep in mind that a high-quality cleaning product can make the job much easier! Here is a list of the 5 Best RV Awning Cleaners.

(We give you tips on how to clean your RV awning down below.)

2. Allow the Awning to Dry Out Before Closing 

Allow time for your awning to dry completely before storing it so it does not grow mold or mildew. If you must retract the awning before it's completely dry, open it back up at your next destination.

Depending on the weather conditions, an open awning may take 24-72 hours to dry. On the other hand, a retracted awning can take weeks to dry if it is still wet when rolled up.

If you store the awning while it's still wet, it will not only mildew, but you'll be figuratively smacked in the face with a strong odor the next time you open it.

3. Inspect Your Awning During Each Use

Each time you use your awning, you should inspect the fabric for stains, tears, loose threads, pinholes, or excessive wear. 

You should also look at the mechanical pieces to make sure they do not look broken. Watch the awning while it is extending and retracting to ensure it rolls evenly. It is a telltale sign of mechanical damage or an issue if both arms aren't moving evenly.

4. Repair Rips and Tears ASAP

Once extended, look closer at the awning fabric from a ladder, rooftop view, or the ground. Most small holes can be repaired with a vinyl patch kit. If you see deterioration or tears, you'll want to patch it as soon as possible.

A small hole or tear can quickly expand if ignored, and it's easier to patch than you might think. Simply seal the tear with awning repair tape.

Using repair tape can extend the life and use of the current awning without having to replace the whole cover.

5. Engage the Awning Lock

If you have a manual awning, make sure to engage the awning locking mechanism when you travel. It's usually a lever-like mechanism at the end(s) of your awning. Check your owner's manual for specific instructions.

By ensuring the awning locking device is engaged before departure, you can avoid tears in the fabric or damage to awning mechanical pieces while traveling.

If you have an electric awning, you may or may not have a travel locking mechanism. So, be sure to check your owner's manual to learn if you need to engage a lock or not.

6. Don't Leave Your Awning Open in High Winds

Heavy wind or unexpected wind gusts can wreak havoc on your awning. It can even rip the entire awning off the side of your RV. 

Keep an eye on your weather app and the skies. If severe winds or weather is headed your way, retract your awning as necessary. Some RVs have auto-closing awnings when the wind picks up.

ON THAT SAME NOTE, be mindful whenever you're leaving your campsite for the day or turning in for the night. The weather may be fine when you're getting ready to leave, but it doesn't mean it'll be fine the whole time you're gone or while you sleep.

We know plenty of campers who have returned to their campsite or woken up to a badly damaged awning because it was left open in bad weather.

7. Lower One Side During the Rain

If you leave the awning extended during a rain shower, lower one side of the awning more than the other. This allows the rain to run off instead of pooling on top. 

Pooling water on top of an awning can tear the fabric or damage the mechanical pieces if it becomes too heavy or submerges items in water. 

This tip doesn't work for all awning types, as some do not allow you to extend the sides differently. But if yours does, this tip will really come in handy on rainy days.

Watch the Podcast Queued Up to Brenda's segment

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Prefer to listen to the Queen Bee's advice? In the above video, Brenda of Queen Bee RV walks you through her RV awning maintenance tips.

Be sure to tune into our podcast for more troubleshooting tips, camping recipes, and lots of great RV-related information. A new episode airs every Wednesday!

Subscribe with your favorite podcast platform: Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Email | TuneIn | RSS

How to Wash Your RV Awning

Over the years, folks have asked how to wash their awning. We have tried it all and have found the following to be the easiest and most thorough way to clean our RV awning. 

After each season, it gets all that weathering soot and stains from our rig’s awning. We always do a reasonable inspection of the awning while cleaning it. That way, we can repair rips and tears right then and there. 

1. Open the Awning

Stretch the awning to full length. You want to be sure that it is fully open so that you can clean every part of the awning. 

That also allows the fabric to dry completely, so you do not get mold or mildew issues once it is closed. 

2. Spray the Awning with Your Preferred Cleaner

Use a secure step ladder and spray the awning with your desired cleaner. 

Always refer to your owner’s manual to see if there is a suggested cleaner. 

You can also check out our Best RV Awning Cleaner Guide to see what is on the market. 

Let the cleaner saturate for about 10 minutes. That will help loosen hardened dirt and debris on the fabric. It makes your cleaning job a whole lot easier!

3. Scrub with a Long-Handled Brush

The 13 Best RV Wash Brushes

Once the cleaner has soaked in, use an RV brush to scrub the awning. We recommend lightly scrubbing the awning with a long-handled brush and a yellow sponge with the green scrubber side. 

If you do not have an RV brush that you like, check out our article, The 13 Best Rv Wash Brushes (2022). We have outlined the best brushes based on recommendations from real RVers. 

4. Rinse and Let the Awning Air Dry

After scrubbing the awning, rinse it thoroughly. Let the awning dry completely. 

Once completely dry, crank it slowly, watching for an even and steady closure. Then you are ready for next time! 

5. Spray Mechanical Parts with Lubricant

Before closing the awning, spray some lubricant on the mechanical parts. That will help keep the mechanism working smoothly. 

3 Best RV Awning Lights

Need more light outside your RV? We have a shortlist of the best RV awning lights. Click here to see the options…

Explore a hidden gem – Michigan's Upper Peninsula

No More Mold! RV Awning Maintenance Tips From a Pro 2

This ebook is a seven-stop guided exploration of the Michigan UP. We provide a suggested route and itinerary, links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, and the best spots to see along the way. Don’t plan your trip to the Upper Peninsula without it!

Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-08-23

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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