Is it safe to clean it using a pressure washer?
You can pressure wash an RV awning, but you have to be very careful not to damage it. Awnings can be easily damaged, but vinyl materials are especially vulnerable to the extreme power of a pressure washer. If you have a garden hose, consider that before reaching for your pressure washer.
Of course, we all want to take good care of our awnings because our awnings take good care of us.
This article will explore how to wash your awning with a pressure washer, as well as other tips to keep it in the best possible shape.
Whether you’re a first-time camper or you have done it a hundred times, I hope you learn something from this article.
Types of Awnings
The most popular types of awnings are acrylic and vinyl.
In particular, vinyl is a great choice for an awning because it is waterproof, fade and scratch-resistant, and blocks UV rays.
However, it attracts dirt and dust and is very susceptible to mold and mildew.
This just means you have to be diligent about caring for it.
Acrylic is also a fine choice for your awning.
It is typically water-resistant and durable to wind, rain, and sun. However, its woven material makes it difficult to remove dirt and grime.
Cleaning Your RV Awning With a Pressure Washer
Pressure washers make so many tasks faster and more manageable, but their intense pressure can be tough on delicate surfaces.
As I said earlier, using a pressure washer to clean your RV awning is not ideal, but will work in a pinch.
However, please take care not to damage the awning materials with high pressure.
For this process, you will need many of the same materials with which you would wash a car.
To get started gather the following materials:
- A pressure washer with low PSI (pounds per square inch) and high GPM (gallons per minute)
- Some sort of scrubbing brush (soft-bristled for vinyl and stiff-bristled for the acrylic to protect the material)
- Use an RV awning cleaning solution such as the Thetford Premium RV Awning Cleaner. These RV awning-specific solutions are safe on all materials and keep your awning looking new for longer. In a pinch, you can use two parts water and one part dish soap as well.
- A large bucket for the cleaning solution
Now that you have all of your materials, follow these simple steps to clean your awning:
- Brush off all of the excess dirt and dried leaves. Your awning likely accumulated some extra debris during its use, so make sure that is knocked off, to begin with. Your long-handled brush will make this simple. Don’t forget to use the appropriate brush for your awning materials. This Carrand Deluxe Soft Brush is perfect for vinyl awnings, and this Fuller Brush E-Z Scrubber with stiff bristles will be just right for an acrylic awning.
- Wet the top and bottom of your awning. For this step, remember to use the lowest possible setting on your pressure washer.
- Begin cleaning. Using your long-handled brush, begin gently scrubbing the cleaning solution into the awning. Let it sit for a few minutes, but don’t let it dry. Please note that acrylic surfaces are porous, which makes them a bit more difficult to clean. Keep this in mind as you scrub.
- Rinse. Again, using your pressure washer on the lowest possible setting, rinse the cleaning solution out of the awning. It is best to go from the top down to ensure all of the cleaning solutions get out.
- Allow it to dry completely. This step is vital. Ensuring it is completely dry will keep mold and mildew from growing while it is rolled up.
- If desired, apply protectant following instructions on the package. Protectants will keep it looking newer longer and, most importantly, make the cleaning process easier next time.
- Soft Bumper Guard Around The Head Keeps The Head From Hitting The Body Of The Vehicle
- Features Foam Grips For Extra Control
- All Mast Is Metal
- Designed And Built To Last
- Unique Design: Featuring a specially designed tufting pattern with flared polyester bristles, the Fuller Brush Tub & Shower E-Z Scrubber Brush easily scrubs away grime and stains without scratching surfaces.
- Thorough Cleaning: The flared bristle design allows scrubbing of all surfaces while helping you reach into corners easily and thoroughly. It’s perfect for tubs and showers, safe to use on fiberglass and hot tubs, and suitable for linoleum and tile floors.
- Durable Construction: Built to last, the durable 7" x 2½" foam block won’t chip, crack or rust, while the resilient, chemical-resistant bristles handle the toughest stains and then bounce back to their original shape to stand up to countless uses.
- Telescopic Handle: Easily reach those unattainable areas without bending or stooping. The E-Z Scrubber Brush comes with a telescopic handle for easy cleaning, adjusting from 29-52 inches and outfitted with a handy hanging hole for convenient storage.
- Trusted Brand: Since 1906, Fuller Brush has provided high-quality, American-Made products that are designed to work and built to last. Whether you're looking for cleaning tips or the specific cleaning products to do the job, Fuller Brush has you covered!
As I said earlier, a pressure washer is not the ideal tool to clean your awning because of the high risk of damage to the material.
A safer option would be to use a garden hose instead.
While these are specific instructions for cleaning your awning with a pressure washer, you can use these steps as a guide, but substitute a garden hose for the pressure washer.
How Frequently Should You Clean Your Awning?
The answer to this question depends heavily on how frequently you use it.
If you are a seasonal user, once per year should do the trick. Typically, you want to do this at the end of your camping season as you begin to prepare your RV for winter.
It will have collected tons of dirt, bugs, and other grime over the summer.
Now, if you live in or use your RV year-round, you should plan on cleaning it a lot more often.
It should get a quick clean about every 2-3 months, but give it a thorough cleaning at least once or twice a year.
The important thing is to maintain a regular cleaning schedule based on your level of use.
Additional Ways to Care for Your Awning
While your awning might not be your top priority in terms of RV maintenance, but perhaps it should be up there.
It can cost a fortune to repair or replace it, so it’s important that you properly maintain it.
Taking good care of your awning may ensure that it lasts the lifetime of your RV.
One easy way to help maintain your awning is to avoid getting it dirty in the first place.
This may seem like an absurd suggestion, but carefully choosing where you park your RV could have a major impact on the lifespan of your awning.
If it’s parked under a sap tree, for example, that will make it particularly difficult to clean.
Vigorously scrubbing sap off of your awning, puts it at high risk of scratches, rips, and overall wear.
There are a lot of great products that help maintain your awning.
Fabric protectants are widely available, affordable, easy to use, and extend the life of your awning.
If you have a vinyl awning, 303 Aerospace is an excellent choice. It provides superior UV protection, dust, and dirt repellant and will keep surfaces looking newer longer.
- 303 UV Protectant brightens surfaces and keeps them looking newer, longer. This formula provides superior UV protection for any rubber, finished leather, plastic, vinyl, eisenglass, PVC, gel coat & fiberglass surfaces. Not for use on unfinished leathers (such as suede), fabrics (canvas) or floorings.
- 303 UV Protectant not only protects against fading, discoloration and cracking from harmful UV rays, but repels dust and stains too helping to extend your cleaning.
- Rinse-free formula leaves a non-greasy, dry matte finish with no odor and is non toxic and water based. 100% free of grease-producing silicone oils and petroleum distillates.
- 303 UV Protectant is an easy to use spray on formula that comes in a 16 fl. oz. bottle with trigger sprayer.
If you have an acrylic awning, definitely check out 303 Fabric Guard.
- RESTORES WATER REPELLENCY – Recommended by Sunbrella, a leading outdoor fabric manufacturer, 303 Fabric Guard restores lost water and stain repellency to factory new levels when applied to clean and dry fabrics. This product will leave behind a protective coating which is an active defense against all spills and stains.
- PROVIDES STAIN RESISTANCE – This powerful, unscented protectant can be used to rejuvenate your fabric's shield against frustrating spots and stains. Simple and easy to use, 303 Fabric Guard helps protect against both water-based and oil-based accidents. While drying invisible, using this product will assist in keeping your fabric color to stay vibrant and spotless.
- VERSATILE – This protective spray does not alter fabric color, feel, flammability, or breathability, and it is safe for use on all fabrics, as well as synthetic and natural fibers, including upholstery, cushions, umbrellas, life jackets, suede, canvas, and several other outdoor fabrics. Coverage: The 32 oz. bottle of 303 Fabric Guard covers 80 – 150 square feet depending on material and application method.
- DIRECTIONS – Use product outdoors only, in supplied packaging. Spray product onto fabric until evenly wet, overlapping areas in a crisscross pattern, and let dry. Do not oversaturate. Treated material must be protected from rain/dew until completely cured. Cure Time: 12 – 24 hours dependent on temperature. If these steps are performed correctly, the material will be water repellent at this point. Re-application will be as needed, depending on fabric exposure to sunlight and weather conditions.
- SHELF LIFE – All 303 Products are good for use up to 2 years from the bottle fill date which can be found as a Julian Date being a 5-digit number on the back of the bottle and is read as YYDDD. YY indicates the last two digits of the year of production, and DDD represents the number of the day of that year of production. Proudly made in the USA by a family-owned company in Chicago, Illinois.
I recommend this product because it makes your awning water repellant, helps prevent stains, and is safe for your acrylic fabric.
For both of these products, make sure to wait until your awning is completely dry before applying them.
The overall message in this article is simply to take care of your awning.
They can be extremely expensive to repair or replace. Maintenance is relatively simple.
It is worth the time and energy to keep your awning a lifetime.
Taking proactive measures such as regular cleaning schedules to protect your awning will make cleaning day swift and easy.
To wrap up, using a pressure washer to wash your RV awning is perfectly acceptable.
Just remember that some materials (especially vinyl) can be quite vulnerable to damage from such high water pressure.
However, using a regular garden hose will significantly reduce this risk, and it is just as simple.