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A Little Awning TLC Goes A Long Way

As Published In WBCCI Blue Beret Magazine
A Little Awning TLC Goes A Long Way

I’ve talked to a lot of newbie RVers who feel quite intimidated by their awnings. Starting out, it can seem as though every time you touch the darned thing, you’re destined to break it. (Especially the first time that spring-loaded mechanism yanks the pull-strap right out of your hands!) But once you become comfortable with how many foot-pounds of pressure it takes to set up and then retract your awning, you’re faced with a whole new set of concerns regarding ongoing cleaning, maintenance and care. Not to worry — just follow these easy tips and your awning will continue to smile at you for years to come.

Don’t Wait For Bad Weather

Make sure your awning is secured with a good “anchor strap” or tie-down at all times — that means even when you’re at home, and even if it doesn’t look like it’s going to be windy that day (it’s better to be safe than sorry). Also take a second to tip the far side of your awning one notch down — you never know when a freak storm may pop up out of a blue sky and dump gallons of precipitation on your unsuspecting awning. (Just that little bit of an angle will keep the water from accumulating and snapping your support struts). Then when the weather is really bad (like hail or hurricane-force winds), don’t risk it — just put the dadgummed thing away until things clear up. Sure, it’s a pain in the rear (and something that homeowners don’t have to worry about) — but everything else about full-timing is so much easier than having a house, you really shouldn’t grumble about this one little chore!

Keeping It Clean

During fall, make it a habit to regularly sweep the leaves, limbs, acorns and other accumulated detritus off of your awning. (If you deal with the drifts while they are dry, you stand less chance of finding a leaf-shaped stain on your fabric.) Of course, the same goes for bird poo and pollen during spring and summer. It also goes without saying that you should not let debris pile up around the awning’s opening/closing mechanism. It’s easy for the works to get clogged up when falling tree scraps get caught in those tiny little crevasses and wedged into small spots you can’t even see — but a good sweep with the bristles of a broom should get most of this out).

Feeling Soggy

Try hard not to put a wet awning away in close-to-freezing temps (for obvious reasons). If you happen to be in a situation where your awning turns to ice, don’t panic — this shouldn’t permanently damage anything, as long as you don’t try to put it away while frozen. Let the whole thing thaw and dry in the sun (if it’s too cold for that, you’re RVing in the wrong climate!) and then carefully and slowly roll your awning away. Generally speaking, it’s always best if you can let your awning dry completely before rolling it up (otherwise, you’re just asking for mildew streaks). But if you’re ever forced to put your awning away wet for travel, just be sure to unroll it and let it dry thoroughly as soon as you can.

Routine Repairs

Every couple of months when you’re doing your RV maintenance, double-check the mechanism on your awning — do any lubricating or adjusting while the problem is small (rather than waiting until you’re ready to hit the road and finding out at the last minute that your awning won’t retract). Once a year, scrub off your awning with a long-handled car-wash brush, some water and a little purex laundry detergent — this is the only cleaner I’ve found that does the trick (mild enough that it won’t fade or damage your canvas, but also has a bit of bleach so it really gets out stains). Scrub it on, rinse well, and let your awning dry in the sun — you’ll be amazed at how it sparkles!


Time, sun, rain, use and cleaning all reduce the ability of your awning to keep water out. (And it’s no fun to sit under a leaky canvas when it’s raining, with droplets dripping through on your head!) So after you’ve cleaned your awning well, take a second to re-coat the fabric with a good waterproofing spray. Any brand that says it’s safe for awnings, canvas or boat fabric should be fine, but check with the manufacturer if you’re not sure. Use a couple of cans and give it a good dousing (single THICK coat is fine) and you’ll be high and dry for the next 12 months!

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Copyright 2001

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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