Most would agree awnings are a fantastic feature to have on your motorhome, thanks to their ability to provide shade and shelter in a number of ways. However, just like any other element of RV maintenance, your awnings require special care to ensure they function optimally as long as your RV does.
One of the most important parts of your RV’s awning is the fabric. Awning fabrics come in a variety of types and textures, each of which offers its own set of pros and cons. The two major subsets of awning material are vinyl and acrylic, and the way you wash your awning depends on which yours is made of. In general, you can simply use water to rinse away any dirt or debris on the surface. Be careful to minimize scrubbing, as it will eventually wear down the fabric’s water repellant coating.
When it comes to vinyl awnings, you can use a soft brush and mild detergent to scrub away residue when necessary. Since vinyl is usually equipped with an anti-mildew solution, it’s imperative to be gentle so as to not rub off this coating. Acrylic awnings can be cleaned with a stiff brush and regular soap if needed. For all awning materials, never use cleaners with an oil base or abrasive compounds, as they can damage the fabric. It’s also important to let the fabric air dry completely before rolling it back up to avoid mildew growth that may require replacing the entire cover.
Once your awning’s fabric is clean and dry, you may want to consider applying a protective coating to the material to help protect it from damaging UV radiation. The sun’s rays can fade and decay not only the awning material itself, but also the straps that fasten the fabric to the motorhome. Once these begin to break down, they require complete replacement of the awning cover. There are several solvents on the market that work to repel water and UV rays in a single application, and even help the fabric resist dirt and stains.
While you’re cleaning your awning, take a few minutes to do a thorough inspection of the fixture’s hardware. Since the bottom brackets support a majority of the load, be sure to check the lag screws in the awning brackets to ensure they’re tight. When you roll the awning out, take note of any warping of the roller tube, which can make storage difficult. Do a quick inspection of the arm pivot holes, looking for any broken rivets or enlarged holes in the handles, and make sure the awning rail is securely mounted to the side of the RV. Maintaining each of these fixture elements individually will help keep your entire awning functioning properly at all times.
As with all aspects of your RV maintenance schedule, continued care and upkeep of your awning is one of the best ways to ensure its quality is maintained for as long as possible. By cleaning and inspecting your RV awning every couple of months, it will provide you and your family with many years of use.