How to Clean Pop-Up Camper Vinyl

How to Clean Pop-Up Camper Vinyl

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A pop-up camper gets dirty quickly. The vinyl of a pop-up camper collects dirt as soon as 2-4 weeks as soon as you get your camper out on the road. Most pop-up campers use vinyl and canvas materials which pick up dirt quickly.

You can use a flow-through wash brush to to scrub your camper. It has a hose attachment for water to flow through and rubber corners to protect from accidental dents while cleaning.

For tough stains, you can clean camper awning by scrubbing vinyl and canvas after spraying with a vinyl multi-surface cleaner. You can also get rid of mold with a mold removing spray. For a natural cleaning solution, you can use cleaning vinegar, a type of concentrated vinegar that’s tough on mold.

A camper gets dirty quickly. Some of the first signs of dirt on camper awnings include dust, sand, and dirt marks that don’t come out when it rains. These need to be scrubbed (typically with a scrubber or with a brush) with a cleaner.

It can take anywhere between 30 minutes and 4 hours to clean the vinyl on a mid-sized pop-up camper. Drying time also needs to be taken into account. It can take up to a few hours for vinyl to dry when cleaning the camper in cold weather and up to an hour when cleaning the camper in the summer sun. The following guide is a step-by-step process on how to do it.

How to Clean Pop-Up Camper Vinyl

Why Learn How to Clean a Camper Awning

Cleaning the pop-up camper isn’t just about keeping it looking good. It can also come with health benefits. Here are two reasons to always clean your pop-up camper vinyl, especially after a long trip.

Eliminate dirt

You only eliminate dirt when cleaning the vinyl of the camper with scrubbing with a flow-through wash brush designed for campers and RVs. Dirt piling up is going to eventually become more difficult to remove.

Clear bacteria

Clean vinyl on the pop-up camper is also healthier for you and your family. Every time a camper is deep cleaned, bacteria is eliminated. Bacteria loves hiding in dirt, and the more dirt you remove, the more bacteria you remove.

How to Clean Pop-Up Camper Vinyl in Steps

It’s now time to clean the pop-up camper vinyl. This article only refers to vinyl, even if some pop-up campers use additional canvas. Vinyl is easier to clean than canvas and it’s used on almost all modern campers.

Check the camper for dirt buildup

Dust and dirt are present on all surfaces of the vinyl. However, some areas are more exposed to dirt built-up. It’s best to start investing in the areas that need a bit more scrubbing and a bit more cleaner from the start.

Scrub with a flow-through wash brush and a vinyl multi-purpose cleaner

Dirt and grime can be removed from the vinyl by using a vinyl multi-surface cleaner.

You first start by spraying down the vinyl with fresh water. A garden hose is useful here. You then spray the multi-surface cleaner on the entire surface of the vinyl. More cleaning agent needs to be applied in the areas with high dirt build-up. 

A damp sponge, like the magic sponge, is then used to scrub the dirt off. 

A wet microfiber cloth can also work if the camper’s vinyl isn’t too dirty.

A multi-surface cleaner cleans vinyl properly. A cleaner such as the 303 Multi-Surface cleaner is applied on wet surfaces and rinsed down for the best results. Using a commercial cleaner means you can save time.

A multi-surface cleaner is applied evenly from top to bottom. The vinyl is then scrubbed from top to bottom. Small circular movements are ideal for removing dirt build-up. The same top to bottom approach is taken when rinsing the vinyl. Some campers prefer to dry the vinyl by hand with dry towels or microfiber cloth. This is also done from top to bottom.

Make your DIY vinyl cleaner

A 50-50 combination of cleaning vinegar and water solution for a homemade vinyl cleaner. A mild brush might be needed to remove all dirt and grime. Homemade vinyl cleaners for pop-up campers can leave a residue. This is why you need to rinse the vinyl properly after cleaning it with a vinegar solution.

Wipe the vinyl dry

A microfiber cloth is ideal for wiping down the vinyl after scrubbing and rinsing the material. You can alternatively use a sponge to remove all residue. If not removed completely, residue dries with visible marks which make your camper’s vinyl look dirty.

Apply a vinyl protectant

UV vinyl protectants play an important role in keeping your camper looking as new for as long as possible. UV vinyl protection solutions are applied only when the vinyl is cleaned, to get proper coverage.

The Aerospace Protectant works well for vinyl. You can also apply it on plastic and rubber around your camper for that ultimate UV protection that keeps your camper away from discoloration.

How to Eliminate Mold From Pop-Up Camper Vinyl

Mold can be eliminated from pop-up camper vinyl spraying mold and mildrew remover onto the camper vinyl.

This should only be done after the cause of the mold has been removed. 

Mold can appear on the camper in high moisture environments. Storing the pop-up camper in a garage or basement with high humidity favors mold appearance.

After the source of the high humidity has been dealt with camper vinyl can be sprayed down with vinyl mold remover. Then scrub with a brush and rinse with water.

If you prefer, you can also use cleaning vinegar, a concentrated strength vinegar, to get rid of the mold. Use a garden sprayer or professional spray bottle to make the spraying job easier.

Eliminating Musty Smell From Camper Vinyl

Pop-up camper vinyl should not smell musty. This is an indication of growing mold and mildew either on the vinyl or on the camper itself. It’s best to use a dehumidifier to eliminate all mold and the cause of bad smell inside the camper.

Humidity starts to form inside the camper from people breathing or from drying wet clothes inside the camper. A small dehumidifier with an auto drain hose can reduce in-camper humidity levels to around 50%, an ideal level of humidity.

This is How to Clean Camper Awning

Camper awning can be cleaned with a vinyl Multi-Purpose Cleaner. An alternative DIY homemade cleaner includes a mix of baking soda added to water. Clean spot stains with a magic eraser. These solutions are used as to clean and remove dirt from the camper’s awning.

How to Clean Pop-Up Camper Vinyl

What to Avoid When Cleaning Pop-Up Camper Vinyl

Vinyl is not the most sensitive among fabrics but it has its limitations. Here’s what to avoid when cleaning it.

Avoid using a pressure washer

Using a pressure washer on a pop-up camper vinyl is not recommended. High water pressure tears fabrics and diminishes the durability of the vinyl.

Never skimp on the drying process

If you prefer to put the pop-up camper back in storage before completely dry you favor mold formation. It’s best to clean the pop-up camper on sunny days where you can leave the camper out for a few hours to dry completely.


Pop-up camper vinyl is more difficult to clean the regular RV which can be pressure washed. Vinyl needs to be washed by hand with a multi-purpose cleaner or with a dishwashing liquid mixed with water. This is done by scrubbing techniques and then by rinsing and drying the vinyl.

Other methods such as using pressure washers aren’t recommended for vinyl. This material might be durable but it doesn’t resist high water pressure.

It typically takes a few hours to clean pop-up camper vinyl. Limitations of the cleaning process include not eliminating bad smells. These smells are normally a sign of high humidity and mold formation. Mold is removed with a dehumidifier and with water and bleach. A regular multi-purpose vinyl cleaner has little effect in eliminating mold.

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