Most camper or motorhome canopies are made of vinyl or acrylic.
They are treated chemically to provide protection from the sun’s rays without fading. They are also either water-repellent or water-resistant.
Commercial canopy cleaners are usually recommended and provide instructions on how to clean a camper canopy. Some RV owners have success with laundry detergent or vinegar, but these usually do not cut through tough grease, road dirt and tree sap the way commercial cleaners do.
In fact, depending on how long it’s been on the canopy, tree sap can be extremely difficult to remove even with a commercial cleaner.
Apply the cleaner according to the manufacturer’s directions. This may include diluting it in water or letting it sit on the canopy for up to several hours so that it can loosen ground-in dirt, grease and grime.
If you can, choose a cleaner that is phosphate free and provides the added protection of blocking UV rays. A high-quality commercial cleaner shouldn’t change or fade the color of the canopy or cause the fabric to lose its flexibility.
This is critical over time, as the canopy is rolled up during travel and winter storage.
Once the cleaner has set for the specified amount of time, you will more than likely have to scrub it with a soft-bristled brush. Camper canopies are extremely durable, but, while you’re up on your ladder scrubbing away at that red berry bird poop stain, make sure not to scrub so hard that you wear away any coating or fibers.
And, be sure to maintain your balance as you mutter expletives about that darn bird and his choice of diet.
If you choose not to use a commercial cleaner to clean the camper canopy, use non-lanolin laundry soap flakes dissolved in water, or a vinegar/water mixture. (Lanolin is a fat that is extracted from the wool of sheep that will interfere with the durability of the fabric.)
Don’t ever use a strong detergent or bleach to clean a motorhome canopy, as these will affect the durability of the fabric as well.
Mix the non-lanolin soap or vinegar with warm water and apply to the camper canopy.
You may need to clean the canopy for longer than if you use a commercial cleaner, but you should still be able to remove dirt, mold and mildew.
Keeping The Canopy Clean:
One final piece of advice for how to clean a camper canopy: Keep it as dry as possible. Damp conditions encourage the growth of mold and mildew.
While this of course is not possible in the rain, if you have to roll it up wet in order to travel, make sure to dry it off as much as possible first. Once you reach your destination, unroll it immediately and wipe it down.
If mold and mildew have already begun to grow, apply a small amount of the commercial cleaner or the water and vinegar mixture. Knowing how to clean a motor home canopy will go a long way toward protecting your investment and eliminating unnecessary repair costs.